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Civil War Site and Pop Music Site Underground Railroad and Birthplace of Rock and Roll Media

  • 301 N. Jackson Street Media, PA 19063
  • P. (610) 566-5210

In the 1850’s & 1860’s, the famous Abolitionist and Underground Railroad Conductor Thomas Garrett resided in Wilmington, Delaware some 15 miles southwest of Media. The legendary Harriet Tubman was known to be very close associate of Garrett’s. While leading scores of escaped slaves north from tidewater Maryland and Virginia, Tubman often rested at Garrett’s home before taking her charges across the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania and eventual freedom. Once inside the Pennsylvania state line, “The Woman Called Moses” would direct these ex-slaves along three basic routes: West toward Kennett Square and Coatesville, North to West Chester, or East across Delaware County into Philadelphia. These pathways were chosen for their relative safety due to the strong visible presence of supportive Society of Friends (Quaker) Meetings and congregations located along the way. Providence Friends Meeting on Providence Road in Media dates back to the late 17th century and the days of William Penn; the present main building was built in 1814. A socially active congregation and community have worshipped there ever since – they were unquestionably active in the Underground Railroad. Historians have clearly established that many escaped slaves were assisted by local Quakers and were harbored by members of the existing African American community and Honeycomb UAME Church (founded 1852), just three miles west of Media along Barren Road in Lima, Middletown Township. Some of these new citizens ended there journey there, put down roots and raised families. Many of these African-American families eventually moved into Media and would become some of the founding families of this town. During the latter half of the 19th Century, Media became a very popular summer resort for well-to-do Philadelphians. Several large vacation hotels were built including the Idlewild Hotel (1871) on Lincoln Street at Gayley Terrace, Chestnut Grove House or “The Colonial” (1860) on Orange Street, and Brooke Hall on Lemon Street and Washington Ave. (now Baltimore Ave.). The Chestnut Grove was once used for a year as Swarthmore College due to a fire on their campus. Media was connected to Philadelphia by rail in 1854 as a part of the Philadelphia Baltimore Washington Railroad, with as many as 50 trains a day passing through Media. Trolley transportation lines spread to and through Media in the 1890’s and early 1900’s. Is Media, PA the Birthplace of Rock & Roll? No, but almost. We have our connection. In March of 1951, record producer Dave Miller of Media, PA persuaded Bill Haley (of nearby Boothwyn, PA) to add drums to his group, The Saddlemen, and record the Ike Turner / Jackie Brenston R&B hit “Rocket 88.” The release on Miller’s Holiday Label was Haley’s first Rock & Roll recording. It is considered by some musical historians to be the first ever Rock & Roll record.