Stroll our streets and listen for the whispers of the past.
Our inviting front porches promise a warm welcome. North Wales treasures its independence and uniqueness, reflected in our history and architectural charm. North Wales is the oldest of the boroughs in Pennsylvania’s North Penn region, an area stretching from central Montgomery County north into Bucks County. In 1869, North Wales became the first Montgomery County borough to be incorporated by the authority of county courts, rather than by state court.
Before 1850, a cluster of farms, along with a pre-Revolutionary shared Lutheran and Reformed Church, dotted the present borough’s landscape. Today’s Main Street was laid out as the Great Road in 1728. By 1828, what had started out as a Lenape Indian trail had become the Springhouse & Sumneytown Turnpike. Sumneytown Pike was a toll road until 1914, with toll houses both north and south of town. To this day, Sumneytown Pike is an important route to Philadelphia.
When the North Penn Railroad extended tracks through the rural settlements north of Philadelphia in the 1850s, “North Wales” became a station stop and prospered. Hotels, services, and businesses flourished; change was in the air. Farmland fronting the portion of Sumneytown Pike nearest the railroad crossing was gradually sold off for home sites. Many of the early buildings survive. A number of the of the larger homes in the late 1800s catered to summer guests from the city. “Idlewilde,” still standing on S. Main Street, hosted the Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, when he visited Philadelphia to open the 1876 U.S. Centennial Exhibition with President Ulysses S. Grant.
Part of a 1702 William Penn land grant, this rich farming country was given the name “Gwynedd,” named after the homeland of the earliest European settlers. Predominantly Quakers, many came from the Gwynedd area in northwestern Wales, UK, once an ancient kingdom and now a county in North Wales. German emigres soon added their heritage to the mix.
The talented artist with paralyzed hands, William T. Trego (1858-1909) had his home and studio in North Wales. Costumed local residents often posed as his models. Trego’s realistic historical paintings, many of them scenes capturing the chaotic tumult of battle, are displayed at venues including the Pennsylvania Academy of Art as well as the Mercer and Michener museums. Trego’s most famous work, his 1883 painting The March to Valley Forge, may be seen at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia.
North Wales Historic Preservation District was established by Borough Council in 2000, with guidance from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The Historic District’s goal is the protection of the distinctive architecture that serves as an everyday reminder of the Borough’s rich heritage. Ours is the first Historic District in the North Penn boroughs.
Please note that the North Wales Borough Historic District is under the auspices of the Borough Historical Architectural Review Board. The HARB is its own committee, and is separate from the Borough Historic Commission.
Meet the Team
Volunteers appointed by Borough Council
serve as members of the Historic Commission:
I am a Vietnam vet who met a North Wales girl, settled down, and got married. We bought a house in the Boro in the early 1970’s. As a service manager for a local dealership, and an Army reservist, I got activated and put on active Army duty. I ended up serving 27 years and retired from the Army. North Wales has become my home town. A member of the North Wales 150th Anniversary Committee.
Ruth Dowlin Black
Joined the Historic Commission in 2018. Ruth’s ancestor, Joseph K. Anders and family have lived in North Wales Borough since they immigrated from Wales in 1825. A member of the North Wales 150th Anniversary Committee.
Beth Ann Welsh Sinotte
Beth Ann has lived in North Wales her whole life and is a 4th generation North Walesian. She served on Borough Council for nine years and was instrumental in the acquisition and creation of many of the borough’s open space parks. She is an original member of the North Wales Community Project Alliance and was a member of the North Wales 150th Anniversary Committee.