Finding History Hidden In Plain Sight

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Did you read the text in the magazine article? You have to be a pretty hard core history buff to want to read the whole thing. Even without reading the text, we now know what we're looking for thanks to the pictures.

Though Thomas Evans was a Quaker, Robert Evans belonged to the Church Of England. The first non-Quaker religious meetings in Gwynedd were held in Robert Evans house, with his brother Calwalader as lay-reader. This will make seeing the actual house even more interesting. Eventually, Robert and Cadwalader became Quakers and Robert donated the land for the Meeting House.

Anyway, we thought this was going to be easy! We have the statement made by Jenkins that Robert Evans lived "where Silas White now lives" and the House Beautiful article states to get to the house you "walk down a long lane, cross a rude bridge over the feeble descendant of Robert Evans's stream, and climb a steep slope."

We've even located the home of Silas White in the map shown below!

Portion of the J. D. Scott Montgomery County Atlas 1877
Note: Link to entire map can be found at the bottom of page 5.

 So now let's overlay a modern map on top of the old one.

We are going to use this map to walk from the Meredith house to Robert Evans' house. Note the thin gray line on the modern map. This is part of the Lower Gwynedd trail system. We've been down there a hundred times but have never seen a house. This time we'll take a good look.

Andrea on the "long lane" leading to the "rude bridge" during one of our many walks in the area.
 Unbeknownst to us, it wasn't the same "long lane" described in the 1927 article, but it did lead to the same "rude bridge"!
Here we have found the "rude bridge"! Actually, we already knew where this was but didn't know WHAT it was.
Andrea on top of the "Rude Bridge". July 13, 2011.

We crossed over the bridge as we had done in the past, but this time looking for the Robert Evans house. We were supposed to climb a steep slope according to the 1927 magazine article. There was a steep slope in front of us, but it was choked off with foliage. We climbed it a bit but then realized there was nothing there. The bridge seemed to have no purpose. It didn't go anywhere. We had walked down a long lane and crossed the rude bridge, exactly as the 1927 article said to do, but we didn't see any house whatsoever. *

* There is an update to this at the bottom of page 5.

We pass this place on Swedesford Road when we walk to Evans/Mumbower mill. Even though we felt it was in the wrong place, one day we stopped and wondered what it looked like before the additions were built. The owner came out, a nice lady named Phoebe. We asked her if this was the Robert Evans house. She said it wasn't, but she had heard of it and it was around here somewhere. Then she gave us a complete tour of the house and grounds!

Later, we were thankful we had taken the tour. Phoebe sold the property and the new owner GUTTED the house. Gutted is an understatement. At one end of the house the only thing left was the front wall, held up with an iron girder and some two by fours. We know the floors came out because we saw the lumber sitting on the ground.

These pictures were taken in 2013. The wall at the left has NOTHING left on the other side of it.
January 2015. Almost done. The house has been purged of most of its history.

Chapter 3. (Not) Locating the home of Robert Evans - Again.


Not finding the house wasn't a big problem. We walk the area all the time, and looking for the house just made the walks more interesting. Since the "rude bridge" must have led to somewhere in the past, we decided later to attack the problem by heading to where it must have once led, the State Road, now Route 202. Above is the route we took, through the graveyard of the Church of the Messiah and across a parking lot, skirting the woods, looking for a place to cross the creek that would lead to the rude bridge. Naturally, Robert Evans' house would be there.

Church of the Messiah on Route 202. We spent quite some time exploring the grounds and cemetery behind it.