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Exploring the Charming Architecture of Wallingford, PA: A Journey Through Time

09/13/23  |  Jenna Leggette

History and architecture blend in this Pennsylvania community.

The community of Wallingford is a quaint town in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania. Located just outside the Philadelphia metro center, Wallingford is a tight-knit community with a rich history dating back to the 17th century. With its gently flowing creeks, gorgeous tree lines, and charming historic districts, Wallingford is one of the most picturesque towns in the nation.

And thanks to this rich, storied past, Wallingford is home to some of the nation's most interesting examples of historic architecture. A look at the historic architecture of Wallingford, PA, is truly a journey through time.

The history of Wallingford

Wallingford has a rich history, spanning three centuries of culture, progress, and innovation. Wallingford’s first recorded inhabitants were members of the Lenape tribe, who lived along the area’s creeks and lush forests for over 500 years before the first European settlers arrived. In 1682, John Sharpless arrived as part of William Penn’s expedition. Sharpless came to the area with orders to claim a 1,000-acre tract of land and chose a lush area near Ridley Creek as the site for his home, building a cabin against a large rock that still bears his initials.

When William Penn arrived in the region years later, several settlements had bloomed here. These settlements were collectively called Providence Township and included Nether Providence and Wallingford. Industry and agriculture flourished with the construction of a major road between Providence and Chester. Several mills were constructed along the creek to process the crops grown by area farmers, placing Wallingford among the most important agricultural communities in the northeast.

At the turn of the 20th century, the area became a residential and resort community. Wealthy Philadelphia residents saw Wallingford as an idyllic rural escape, and several summer residences were constructed here. By the middle of the century, Wallingford had made a decided turn towards the quiet, charming suburban escape that it is today.

Historic architecture in Wallingford

The community of Wallingford is home to several residential and community buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. These significant historic homes were built by prominent town founders, academics, and business leaders essential to Wallingford’s history. These architectural landmarks in Wallingford, PA, help tell the story of Wallingford’s past.

Thomas Leiper House

This sprawling estate, also known as Avondale, was built in 1785 by Thomas Leiper, a Scottish-American businessman. This estate he built after his service in the Revolutionary War spanned over 400 acres and included a carriage house, warehouse, and quarry. Leiper utilized his estate as both a residence and a place of business, building a railway on the property to transport stone from the quarry.

The home is built in the Federal style with a yellow stucco exterior. With three stories of residential space, this expansive home shows all the hallmarks of this late 18th-century style of architecture, such as symmetrical windows, a column-lined entryway, and multiple chimneys. The Thomas Leiper House also features an ornate side porch and gorgeous interior details.


Constructed for Charles Essig, the first dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry, Westlawn is a breathtaking example of Queen Anne architecture. Built in 1882, Westlawn features a generous circular drive that surrounds the home and leads to a carriage house on the property.

Westlawn has an asymmetrical design and an exterior made up of a variety of materials, like brick, stucco, clapboard, beams, and novelty shingles. The home has a turret and a square tower, lending plenty of character to the building. A wraparound porch, multiple corbelled chimneys, and ornate decorative woodwork make Westlawn one of the most stunning examples of Queen Anne architecture in the area.

Wolley Stille

Also known as the Joseph Sharpless House, Wolley Stille is the oldest residential property in the community of Wallingford. Built as a home for the founder of the community, Wolley Stille was originally completed in 1700, with several additions made in the following years.

The exterior material is fieldstone, lending a unique historic flair. Wolley Stille exhibits features of multiple architectural styles popular in the 18th century, drawing inspiration from English and Swedish designs. The home was remodeled with Colonial Revival elements in the early 20th century and recently underwent a modern interior renovation.

Community Arts Center

The Community Arts Center in Wallingford was once the home of the Dixon family. Originally known as The Gables, the home was completed in 1889, with additions made in the following years to expand the primary residence. The Gables served as a summer home for the Dixon family throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This three-story stone mansion has a wide wooden staircase and many decorative touches. Ornate fireplaces in each room have unique grates, mantels, and surrounding tiles. The plentiful windows throughout the home feature pocket shutters, an opulent touch for this breathtaking historic home.

Architectural styles of historic Wallingford

A study of the historically significant homes of Wallingford shows common trends among home styles, building materials, and property features. And while these properties have been lovingly restored, they still maintain their historic charm. These are some of the most famous architectural styles of Wallingford historic homes.


Federal homes date back to the late 18th and early 19th century. These homes are often found in northeast cities and reflect classic details of Georgian architecture. The exterior of Federal-style homes is typically brick or stucco. Most have a flat front facade and symmetrical window placement. Typical interior features are a central hall, a grand staircase, and understated ornamentation.

Queen Anne

This Victorian-era architectural style is whimsical, showcasing a variety of exterior materials and color palettes. Typical structures can include turrets, wraparound porches, and steeply pitched roofs to lend a dramatic flair to the home. The interior of Queen Anne homes are just as elaborate, with many having stained glass windows, ornate metalwork, and intricate trim.

Colonial Revival

Colonial Revival houses became popular in the late 19th century as a reimagining of early colonial period homes. Most have the easy symmetry of colonial homes blended with the fanciful touches of the Victorian period. Hip and side-gabled roofs and brick and clapboard exteriors are common with this style.

An experienced real estate team

If you are interested in finding a historic, architecturally significant home in Wallingford, an experienced agent can help you find the perfect fit. Jenna Leggette has over a decade of experience in the Wallingford market and is poised to help you find your historic dream home. Her tireless devotion to helping clients, personalized approach to each sale, and vast experience in the area market set her above and beyond.