A Brief History of Overbrook Farms

When Drexel & Co., major investors in the Pennsylvania Railroad, saw lucrative opportunities in the post-Civil War suburbanization process, they purchased the 168-acre John M. George farm in 1892 for $425,000 and turned it into a planned community.

Two prominent real estate developers, Herman Wendell and Walter Bassett Smith, were hired by Drexel & Co. to begin the planning of this commuter suburb. An 1893 announcement for the development proposed 500 homes and commercial, educational and religious facilities for the residents.

An impressive list of architects, some of whom would become nationally known and respected after their work in Overbrook Farms, were commissioned to design residential and nonresidential buildings. The work of architects Charles Barton Keen, Westray Ladd, Walter Thomas, Horace Trumbauer, William L. Price, Chester Kirk, Walter F. Price, David K. Boyd, Lawrence Vischer Boyd, Joseph Huston, Angus Wade and others can be seen in the neighborhood.

Magazines of the era extolled the virtues of leaving the city for the tranquility of the suburbs. At a time when nature had captured the fancy of the moneyed class, the pleasures of outdoor life, fresh air and exercise were a major promotional theme for Overbrook Farms.

Statement of Significance          Architectural Styles in Overbrook          Architect List

More readings on the history of Overbrook Farms:

Images of America: Overbrook Farms
by the Overbrook Farms Club.  Arcadia Publishing

Overbrook Farms: Its Historical Background, Growth and Community Life
by Tello J. d’Apery, M.D.