- About Us
Springfield Township was William Penn's gift to his first wife, Gulielma Maria Springett Penn. "Gulielma Maria Penn's Mannor of Springfield" was first designated on a map in 1681 and this date is prominently displayed on the Township Seal. The first reference to "Springfield Township" occurred in 1718.
Throughout the 18th century, farming was the principal occupation in the township closely followed by limeburning and milling. An ample flow of water found in the Wissahickon Creek and its tributaries supported at least three local mills. It was from this industry that "Flourtown" took its name. The abundance of lime and iron ore in its bounds gave "Oreland" its appropriate designation. "Erdenheim," originally known as "Heydricksdale" or "Wheelpump" was finally named after nearby farms and means "earthly home." "Wyndmoor," originally called "Tedyuscung," is the subject of many Native American legends.
It is believed the original Native American name did not translate to the English language and it was renamed "Windmoor," referencing the winds blowing through the valleys and over the rolling hills.
The American Revolution had a direct impact on Springfield Township between the Battle of Germantown on Oct 3, 1777, and the march to Valley Forge on December 19, 1777. The local inns along Bethlehem Pike served American soldiers and British Red Coats as the armies see-sawed back and forth through the Township from December 5 through 7 of that year. A military skirmish at Bethlehem Pike, Paper Mill Road and Stenton Avenue left many dead from both sides. Although never verified, it is thought that some of these men are buried at the Yeakel Cemetery located off of Montgomery Avenue.
Life in Springfield remained somewhat unchanged until the mid 19th Century when improved roads and new forms of transportation made Springfield more accessible to city residents. In 1854 the Philadelphia and Reading railroad was extended to Chestnut Hill and Springfield was much in demand for summer homes away from the heat of the City. In the 1880's the Pennsylvania railroad was continued to Chestnut Hill and serious development began. New homes were constructed for year-round living. Local farmers found farming no longer practical or desirable, as land had become too valuable for building purposes. Two types of development occurred: the "villages" and the "great estates."
The village of Oreland was laid out in 1889 near the North Penn Railroad running along the east side of town. In 1892, the village of Erdenheim was planned. Starting in the late 1800's, Wyndmoor became the site of the Great Estates. "Ropsley," better known locally as the "Poe House," still stands on Montgomery Avenue as a single-family residence. This era also produced "Whitemarsh Hall" (demolished in 1980) and "Lane's End/Guildford," which most recently housed the University of Pennsylvania Conference Center but has been returned once again to a private residence after extensive renovations.
Springfield had shown a slow but steady growth from 16 landholders in 1734 to 69 in 1776. By 1850 the number of residents had grown to include 743 persons among 114 houses, 124 families and 65 farms. In 1880, the population was 1,535 and by 1930 it had grown to 5,541. Between 1940 and 1950, the population doubled due to the post war construction boom and by 1970, had nearly doubled again. The 1980 census showed the first decline in population with the trend continuing as indicated by the 1990 census. Today the township consists of approximately 7,200 housing units with a population of 19,533 residents.
As the Township grew, so did the need for services. Initially, the Township was governed by the "Overseers of the Poor," whose records started in 1755. In 1802 this body became known as the "Supervisors of Public Roads." In 1899, a Commonwealth law was passed creating Townships of the first or second class. The first five Commissioners of Springfield Township took their oath of office on March 10, 1901 after township officials chose to incorporate as a First Class Township earlier in the same year. In 1952 a sixth Commissioner was added and by 1972 a seventh, and final, had been added.