Our First Forty Years, written by longtime resident John Darlington.
The North Hill development was started in 1938 when John D. Jacob purchased the William P. Marshall Farm and the Abner Hoopes Nursery. The nursery was located on what is now the North Hill Drive Loop. The original Marshall House at 800 Marshall Street became John's home, and has since been converted into apartments . The adjacent barn at 802 Goshen Road was used for storage until it was converted into a home for John Jacob's granddaughter Joanne Craig. The first homes were built about 1939 - 1940 on Marshall Street between the Monticello Apartments and the old Marshall Home. The one next to the old home was not built until 1954. The next homes were built on Goshen Road at 705-711 and 804. Construction was suspended with the outbreak of WWII.
Before 1938, John Jacob had worked at Schramm, Inc., a local manufacturer. During the war he returned to work in the purchasing Department. He was able to get construction started again in 1946 and built 3 small houses where the Monticello Apartments are located. These were used as temporary homes for people moving into the area that had contracted with John to homes in North Hill. These were also available at a nominal rent if you lived elsewhere in the West Chester area and sold your home before your new one was finished. When Monticello was built, two of these homes had to be torn down and the third was sold as a private home. Before many houses were built, John started the North Hill Water and Sewer Co., with the first well drilled near 711 Goshen Road, the second well near 921 North Hill Drive and the third by the Old Spring House on Owen Road. These wells supplied all the water for both sides of the by-pass until 1963. Two wells were added and drilled where the present North Hills Medical Building Parking lot is located, next to the trees that are remaining. Houses on Marshall Street were connected to the West Chester Water System with their own septic systems. Some homes on North Hill Drive had septic systems for many years because they were built before the sewer system was in place.
After World War II the residents organized into a non incorporated group called the North Hill Recreation Association. The first Committee officially met in 1957 with the following members:
Robert Platt - Chairman, Dorothy Yarnall - Secretary & Treasurer
Lew Edwards, Arnold Fletcher, Robert Jacob, Jim Lotts, Ted Martins, Walt Pederson, Wally Potter, Ed Steigerwald, Leonard Traines and Tom Young
Some of this group were active with John Jacob in 1951 - 1952 when he proposed a way to get better fire protection. The only water available was a pond at the intersection of Collins and Owen Road which was fed by a large spring under what we know as the Spring House on the south side of Owen Road. This was referred to as the duck pond because every Easter parents gave their children baby ducks and as you guessed, they were put in the pond when they discovered that ducks are not household pets. John's plan was to run a water line up Goshen Road from the Marshall Square Manor development into North Hill at Collins Drive, at a cost of $125.00 per household. This only covered homes on the south side of the bypass and resulted in the first fire plugs in North Hill. Construction was stopped in early 1953 because of the proposed 322 By-Pass around West Chester. John installed this fire hydrant system completely on his own.
John's original plan also called for a road (Sylvania Lane) leading to proposed lots along the valley. He had installed water and sewer lines on the north side of the present 322 By-Pass with roads only being roughed in, with no paving, before the West Chester By-Pass was even on the drawing board
Many efforts were put forth to have the state put the By-Pass on the top of the ridge, behind the houses on North Penn Drive, so our development would not be in two sections. This did not come about, but the state agreed to to build a bridge and run water and sewer lines under the highway's right of way. this agreement was in part a settlement of the land taken from the development. Before the By-Pass was constructed John built the present lake because our former swimming area was part of the Quarry and would be in the path of the roadway to be built.
The old recreation area was reached by way of Sylvania Lane or from the North Hill spur, past house #934 and sometimes through #928 which was an open lot at that time. In those days there were beach and picnic tables only. After the new lake was in operation the old lake was drained but the old concrete overflow still remains. The Jacob Family tried to buy land from the Jerrehian estate so the road could be built at the foot of the dam breast instead of on top of the dam, but the Jerrehians would not sell. This caused rebuilding of the dam, making it much wider and reducing the size of the lake. Due to the soil conditions at the present site, the bottom had to be lined with clay before it would hold water.
We were swimming in the present lake before the By-Pass was finished. John and son Bob Jacob were very active in maintaining the grounds such as cutting grass, etc. and built the first raft for the lake. In the beginning water was run into the lake from Taylor Run, the stream along the side of the lake. It was soon determined that everytime it rained, the lake received a lot of muddy water, so this inlet was blocked, and as we do today, depend on springs to feed the lake. The recreation committee was active in the beginning, planning events, etc. One of the early projects was planting 35 pine trees around the lake. Those are the big trees seen today along North Penn Drive and in the swimming area.
In 1957 John Jacob and the North Hill Recreation Committee members got together and agreed to incorporate as the North Hill Civic Association. Articles of incorporation for a non profit corporation were signed on January 3, 1958 and letter of intent dated February 26, 1958 was mailed to all 138 homes notifying of a meeting to be held March 16, 1958 at the Paoli Pike School. Enclosed with the letter was a copy of our present day by-laws. It was discussed and voted on Yes 131; No 7; assets at the time were $370.14, personal property none.
After the by-laws of incorporation were approved, John Jacob deeded 7-1/2 acres of the lake property to North Hill Civic Associates recorded June 16, 1958. On November 19, 1962 John deeded another 16 acres to the Association making a total of 23-1/2 acres for open space. This last acreage included the old swimming area, Quarry and all ground between the By-Pass and homes on South Penn Drive. The first organization meeting, as a corporation, was held November 15, 1958 to elect first official slate of officers for the coming year. Those elected were:
John J. Darlington - President
Lewis Edwards - Vice President
John Yohe - Treasurer
Thomas Young - Secretary
Ted Martens, Robert Jacob, Arnold Fletcher, James Smedley, Herbert Stanton, Russ L. Sturtzebecker and Robert Green.
A dues schedule of $10.00 per home was determined to cover the cost of maintaining the Property, Liability Insurance, Lifeguards, etc. The Spring House 510 Owen Road was selected as the mailing address of the North Hill Civic Association.
After the By-Pass was finished a new sewage disposal plant was built on site of now #953 North Penn Drive and the drain field was the hill side part of #954 North Penn Drive. The old works above the old duck pond were closed. This new disposal system handled both sides of the By-Pass. After 1958 many of the homes were finished on the north side of the by-pass and John thought we needed more water. He had a contractor drill three wells between North Penn and South Penn Drive but none produced enough water to install commercial pumps. This is why two wells were drilled as mentioned before, in the present Medical Building parking lot.
In the spring of 1959 Bob Jacob donated a Swimming Pool for the children. It was a 15' X 30' concrete pool 3' deep complete with filter. The pool was located just south of the present storage shed. The children enjoyed this for three or four years, but since the water to fill the pool came from the lake, the Chester County Health Department made us close it down, even though we had a filter and clorination system. They claimed the water had to come from a Public Supply. The pool is still there but filled in with dirt.
In 1963 a committee was formed to study buying from John Jacob the Water and Disposal System, Chairman of this committee was Robert Harsch. After studying John's proposal and checking out legal matters such as forms, separate company run by trustees appointed by the North Hill Board, Liabilities, etc., the committee on September 1967 recommended to the Board that John's proposal be turned down. This was accepted by the Board.
In January 1965 John Muhs was asked to go before township supervisers opposing the township plan to make the lake areas of Jerrehian Public park. This was never passed by the township due to problems of policing and expense of operating the ground. Also, in 1965 a proposal was made to the township for an outlet for residents of Penn Drive, it was turned down by the township.
February 1965 brought another petition by a North Hill resident to township supervisers to stop cindering all of North Hill Drive so their children could sled. The nature of the petition was not known but the board took the stand that cindering must be continued for the safety of the community. The Board asked the township to disregard the petition and continue cindering as they had been doing.
North Hill had its own garden club. The club began its existence in the late 1950's. Besides educating the members on proper care of flowers, the club also took care of the flower box at the intersection of North Hill Drive and Goshen Road. This group had to disband for lack of officers per letter to North Hill Civic Association Board from Mary Clark dated June 15, 1965.
In December l965 North Hill Civic Association for the first time had to apply for a Pennsylvania Department of Health Permit for the lake. A Permit was issued in 1966 because of past testing of the lake for the prior 3 years.
Over the years, according to the North Hill Civic Association minutes, we were asking the West Goshen Police for help on traffic at the lake during ice skating time. Not only residents but town members skated. Skating was finally prohibited due to liability laws. On April 9, 1967 North Hill Civic Association Board revised the by laws to read "members of the North Hill Association be single family dwellings." This was brought about by the rezoning of ground on the corner of Marshall Street and Montgomery Avenue, which became the Monticello Apartments.
In the spring of 1969 the lake was drained to check the overflow stand pipe and clear debris around the shore line. In October 1970 North Hill Civic Association residents were notified by West Goshen township all street numbers would be changed to comply with the up to date postal numbering system, to assist police and emergency vehicles.
June 1970: John Jacob notified the North Hill Civic Associates that he was retiring and Bob Harsch agreed to operate the sewer system until the West Goshen sewer authority decided what to do with the system. September 1970, John Jacob and Robert Harsch met with the township sewer authority and its engineers on several occasions on under taking ownership of the North Hill Plant and System. The township was not interested in operating a private system, so Robert Harsch agreed to help John operate the system. Also in 1970 the West Chester Water Authority hooked their water system into the Fire Hydrant System in the south section of North Hill. In June 1971 Chester County Planning Commission gave tentitive approval to West Goshen's sewer treatment ammendment which included service to the North Hill Development and the North Side of the Township.
August 1971: The Borough of West Chester was authorized by Public Utility Commission to purchase the North Hill Water Company for the sum of $18,300. In November 1972, the North Hills residents were advised that they were now getting West Chester water. The old wells were not being used. Robert Harschwas still operating the North Hill sewer system.
1974: A new township ordinance went into effect regarding the posting of house numbers. Mail carriers must be able to see them. Failure to comply brought fines. Standard regulation township signs were now be used to replace damaged North Hill signs. A flag pole was installed near the Lake in memory of Betty Jo Err, our lifeguard who was killed by a car on route 100 while riding home from the lake.
1975 North Hill Civic Associates purchased a second hand tractor to replace the one John Jacob had loaned us to mow the lake area. 1980/81 saw the final tie-in of our sewer System to the township lines.