Jul 30, 2014
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Bad Signs for Malvern Borough (Literally)

The signs at King Street and Sugartown Road, and Warren Avenue and Paoli Pike, bear incorrect information.

Bad Signs for Malvern Borough (Literally) Bad Signs for Malvern Borough (Literally)

How did Malvern become Malvern? Contrary to the note on one the Malvern Borough sign—which indicates that the area was named for Malvern Hills in Wales—no one really knows.

The Malvern Historical Commission has been receiving letters for years now that the sign is incorrect, Lynne Hockenbury, MHC member, writes in an informational document available on the Malvern Borough website (PDF). Malvern Hills is actually located in England, and there's not much evidence that the English town is actually the borough's namesake.

George Highly's book History of Malvern indicates a different origin, suggesting that the borough was named by founder David Evans, possibly after Malvern Hills, VA, where a battle was fought during the Civil War.

Hockenbury writes:

In the many and detailed journals of David Evans (which are now located at the Chester County Historical Society), there is nothing that suggests he had a part in naming the Borough, where the name came from. What we do know is that circumstantial evidence suggests that it was the railroad that changed the name of the town from West Chester Intersection to Malvern before the Borough was incorporated. We can't prove this, but neither can we prove any of the other options.

The historical commission's investigations led to Jack Graham, of the Keystone Marker Trust, who said that both the Malvern Borough sign and the sign at Paoli Pike and Warren (see gallery above) were put up some time in the 1920s.

Graham "indicated that we are not alone in having a marker with information that is either incorrect or at least suspect," Hockenbury wrote.

While the sign at West King Street and Sugartown Road is inaccurate, "The sign at Warren and Paoli Pike has left us with different questions," Hockenbury told the Borough Council in March. "Upon investigation, we discovered it is actually a directional sign that had been painted over."

Beneath the yellow-on-blue "Malvern: Site of the Paoli Massacre" text lie directional arrows and town names. One arrow points west and says "3 <-- West Chester" and the other points east and says "Norristown --> 10."

Graham summed it up well in an email to the historical commission last year. "Although your present marker is not correct, it's very antiquity makes it nonetheless a part of the fabric of Malvern history," he said.

And for right now, that's good enough for the Malvern Historical Commission. Its members decided last year that, for now, the borough would keep and maintain the signs as they are.

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