In 1975, with plans for the nation’s Bicentennial kindling an interest in local history, a group of Worcester residents met to discuss the township’s participation in the planned Bicentennial activities, as well as how to preserve the township’s rich historic heritage. These residents were aware that Worcester Township, still a largely rural township in the midst of suburban development, preserved the aura of an earlier, simpler time. Voter registration rolls showed a significant representation of the same surnames that appeared on the 1790 census.
The first meeting of the Worcester Historical Society was held in May 1975 at Farmers Union Hall. Officers and directors were elected, and committees were formed to prepare bylaws, handle fund-raising, and make plans for the Bicentennial. Priority was given to petitioning the federal government for recognition as an official Bicentennial community. In due course, the Bicentennial flag was presented to officials of the township and WHS. The flag was flown at Worcester Elementary School, in the village of Center Point, which is also roughly in the center of the township.
A committee of dedicated women began designing a quilt to commemorate the Bicentennial in Worcester. The 36 squares of the quilt depict scenes from the life and history of the township. Quilting was done by the women of the Schwenkfelder Church. The quilt was planned to be raffled off as a fund-raiser, but when it was completed, it was the general consensus that this irreplaceable piece of folk art should remain in Worcester. It was formally presented to the Worcester Historical Society and is now displayed in Farmers Union Hall. Its squares depict the five historic churches of Worcester, two early schoolhouses, two country stores, seven homes, and other scenes and activities unique to our township. The quilt made its public debut at the society’s Bicentennial Ball, invitations for which had been hand-delivered to every residence in Worcester by couriers in colonial costume, many on horseback.
Several special projects of long-range interest were undertaken in the early days of the society. Trees that were 200 years of age or older were identified and recorded. A map showing the locations of these trees can be found in A History of Worcester Township, and an updated map and powerpoint presentation of ancient trees in Worcester is available on this page.
The society’s most ambitious project was a documentation of the history of Worcester Township, including many of the historic homes in the township. The 556-page volume was published in 1978 and is now in its third printing. It remains the definitive reference on life in the township from pre-colonial times to the year of the Bicentennial.
A group of residents who were concerned over the disappearance of local historic landmarks formed The Friends of the Worcester Historical Society and purchased the Evangelical Congregational Church building (known as the Dutchie Church) on Valley Forge Road south of Center Point. Ownership of the church was transferred to WHS in 1984. For many years, WHS members decorated the church for Christmas in the colonial tradition and hosted a Holiday Open House in December.
A key element of the society’s mission is to preserve artifacts and memories that depict the history of life in Worcester Township. The founding members began this effort in 1978. Each item that the society received from donors was carefully documented, including information about how it was used. Today, this documentation gives us valuable insight into life in Worcester in earlier days. Eventually the collection outgrew its original location and was moved to Farmers Union Hall, which is owned by Worcester Township and leased to the society. The collection is now in the process of being cataloged and many new exhibits are planned to better showcase various aspects of life in Worcester Township from post-colonial days to the recent past.