C:History

Photographed in July 1926, Huntingdon Valley Country Club was situated at the intersection of Old York Road and the railroad tracks at Noble Station. Photo Courtesy of Hagley Museum & Library.

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Mission & History

The mission of the Rydal-Meadowbrook Civic Association (RMCA) is to promote the best interests and general welfare of Rydal-Meadowbrook and of Township of Abington. RMCA seeks and works at all times for all measures which will serve to protect the public health, public safety and property rights of the citizens of the community and the Township of Abington. RMCA's Board of Governors wish to advocate on behalf our neighbors in this beautiful Abington Township community.

snapshotWe will maintain a dialogue about anything that may impact our collective quality-of-life. RMCA "rallies the troops" when necessary to make positive changes in our community and maintains a presence and a voice at Abington Township meetings. Our top priority is preserving the safety and well-being of the residents. In order to continue working on behalf of the residents of the Rydal-Meadowbrook area, as well as the Township, we need your participation. It is important that when we speak in the name of our organization we have as many dues-paying members as possible. Numbers do have an impact.

artThis web site will also offer opportunities for your participation – including the use of polls, surveys and content posted by you. You may also follow Township meetings directly on Comcast channel 43 and Verizon channel 24 or online. The 25 elected volunteer members of the Board of Governors welcome your perspective. In turn, RMCA will share news and updates with you, based on local, state and national issues that may have an impact on our community. All members are invited to the RMCA Annual Meeting each Spring and participate in various events throughout each year.

 

History of the Association and Abington Township

RMCA is the oldest incorporated civic association in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1948, a year in which the Township of Abington collected taxes in the amount of $361,461 and received 361 applications to build residences.1

logoThe settlement itself has a long history. The land between Pennypack and Neshaminy Creeks was transferred to William Penn's representative on June 23, 1683 by the Lenni Lenape tribe. The eastern part became part of Abington Township. In 1687, additional land was granted to Penn by Chief Tamanend, which covered the balance of modern-day Abington.

In the years that followed, landowners included Stephen Jenkins, John Roberts Shoemaker and Philip Hill. For a time, it was called Hill Township, then Shepherds, and Moorestown, before the name Abington was reinstated. "Abington" is of English origin, based on thousand-year-old parishes of the same name in Northampton and Cambridgeshire, England.

portraitWilliam Penn himself was an English Quaker and entrepreneur. Penn planned and began the construction of six roads in and around Abington: Susquehanna Road, Old York Road, Welsh Road, County Line, Street Road and Bristol Road. Susquehanna was built from the Pennypack Creek to Bethlehem Pike (the oldest road in the Country). It was 33 feet wide, except where is crossed through the burial ground at Old York Road (part of Abington Presbyterian Church), where it was only 20 feet wide. Old York Road is the third-oldest road planned by William Penn and began at the Delaware River in Philadelphia and traversed through farmland northward to New Hope.

imageTraffic increased as the colonies population grew. Eight years before the War for Independence, John Paul's Tavern on Old York Road had stabling for one hundred horses. During the days when Philadelphia was occupied by the British, the Patriot Army marched through Abington several times and part of the Army was stationed here. British soldiers camped in Philadelphia made frequent raids into the country. At one point, the British marched up Old York Road toward Abington only to be repulsed by American soldiers entrenched behind the wall of the cemetery at Abington Presbyterian Church.

portraitThe most well-known local skirmish occurred at the Battle of Edge Hill (also known as the Battle of Whitemarsh), along the banks of the Sandy Run creek, which wanders from Abington Township into the Wissahickon Creek to the west. The confrontation happened in December 1777, and despite being greatly outnumbered, General Washington assisted by future Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, was able to neutralize (but not defeat) the British prior to taking his troops to Valley Forge for the winter.

logosDuring the period between the Revolution  and the Twentieth Century, nothing changed the face of Rydal and Meadowbrook communities more dramatically than the expansion of the railroad. The Golden Spike that connected North American continent was struck in 1869, 14 years after the first tracks were laid in Abington. The North Pennsylvania Railroad connected Philadelphia to Old York Road. Beginning in 1855, the line was operated by the Reading Roadroad, now Septa. A station was built on the location in 1879 and it was later named Nobel. In 1897, Huntingdon Valley Country Club was built on land that ran from the station to the north and east. The railroad expanded and in 1888, Rydal Station was opened at Washington Lane & Susquehanna Road, followed by Meadowbrook Station at Mill Road & Lindsay Lane. This enabled growth of housing, shopping and more traffic through Huntingdon Valley Country Club. As auto traffic on several holes became a harsh reality in the 1920s, the private club moved. The course was opened to the public and operated as Baederwood Golf Course until c. 1950.

logoThus began a protracted zoning battle to open John Wanamaker and Van Sciver stores. The retailers were successful and opened before the end of that decade. The Baederwood shops along the Fairway were opened thereafter. 3 This land continues to be the subject of zoning disputes. The Rydal-Meadowbrook Civic Association values the traditions of the community and knows how much our neighbors have invested in being here.

The beauty and character of land and its accessibility to railroads and primary corridors make the community an attractive place to live and work. The long and often complex history that has shaped the development of the Rydal-Meadowbrook informs many of the decisions that are made in the Twenty-First Century.

Abington history continued:
Betsy Ross lived in Abington during 1827-33 
Amelia Earhart attended Ogontz School 1916-18

Supreme Court handed-down Landmark Case in 1963

1. 1948 Annual Report, Abington Township, Board of Commissioners
2. Abington Presbyterian Church web site, history
3. Helene L. Schaffer, A Tour of Old Abington, published 1937, revised 1976

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