Carversville: An unincorporated community in Solebury has history on its side

NANCY ALBENCE


The Carversville Christian Church at 3736 Carversville Road.  


The sleepy hamlet of Carversville of today belies the fact that it was once a busy hub of commercial activity with as many as three mills, a hat factory, a carpenter’s shop, a bag manufacturer and a sash and blind mill, an inn, a general store, an antique shop, a tobacco factory and several gas stations over its long history.

Small businesses, including a creamery, a barber, a saddler, a cobbler, a blacksmith, a wheelwright, a harness maker and a tinsmith, also thrived in the Village Square during the 1800s.

Today, business activity revolves around the Carversville Inn restaurant owned by Chef Will Mathias and his wife, Denie; the Carversville General Store operated by renowned caterer Max Hansen; an antique shop, a furniture repair business, as well as a creative design firm and Dr. Howard Barsky’s dental practice.

The Carversville Inn was originally an overnight stop for businessmen from Philadelphia and New York in the early 1800s, but no longer offers hotel accommodations.

An unincorporated community in Solebury Township, Carversville is traversed by the Paunacussing Creek on it way to the Delaware River, rendering it an ideal location to grow and ship farm produce, wool, and lumber for settlers in the early 1700s.

Current residents regard their community as a treasure trove of historic properties and rural character. In 1979 the Department of the Interior designated Carversville a National Historic District to be included on the National Register of Historic Places under the protection of federal, state and local laws to preserve its historic value.

Once the rural village of the Lenni Lenape who dubbed it Aquetong (“many springs”) over 300 years ago, prior to William Penn’s granting large tracts of land to his stewards James Harrison and Joseph Pike, it was later called “Mill Town” for its various mills. Milltown eventually morphed into “Milton.” In 1833 the village’s name was changed once again to Carversville when a post office was established and Thomas Carver became the postmaster since a Milton Post Office already existed in Pennsylvania. The post office was closed during the Depression until 1939 when it was relocated in the village general store.

In 1859 the Excelsior Normal Institute was erected on the hill above the town to educate the village’s sons. A five-story stone structure on seven acres, it operated until the late 19th century when financial problems forced it to close. The site then became a summer resort for a short time, and later the Carversville Christian Orphanage. The building was razed in the mid-1900s.

Among the illustrious personalities who called Carversville home were Charles Hargens noted for his art of the American west. Much of his work graced the covers of The Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s magazines during the 1930s and ’40s. In 1947 local historian Ned Harrington moved to Carversville where he established a soil and water analysis business as well as a plant nursery. The flamboyant Robert L. Green, fashion director of Playboy magazine during the ’60s and ’70s, had a summer home in Carversville.

The Christian Church has served the spiritual needs of the community since 1838. The Presbyterian Church was established in 1872 but is now a private residence.

Conscious of the need to protect the history of Carversville, resident George Duval organized the Historic Carversville Society in 1980 and the organization was incorporated in 1981.

In 1985 the historic society launched Carversville Day, an annual celebration that brings the community together to enjoy fun, music, food and entertainment.



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