Past Meeting

At our public meeting on Sunday, September 21, 2014 the featured presentation was:

Colonial Springs bottling plant ruins on Mt. Misery Trail
in Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Photo courtesy of John O. Senior

The Hires Root Beer Family Story and Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships

Jeff Groff

This presentation highlighted the late 19th and early 20th century businesses and residences associated with the Hires family. It discussed the invention of root beer and the history of the business, as well as the condensed milk plant in Malvern, and the Colonial Springs bottling plant in Valley Forge with its Purock brand of spring water.

It included founder Charles E. Hires' house near the Devon train station, his son Edgar's historic farm “Rehobeth” near Valley Forge, his son Harrison's large stone residence on Cassatt Road, and his son Charles's country place on Yellow Springs Road. The Hires, like many families in the 19th century, had residences in Philadelphia but then moved to Merion, Wynnewood, and Ardmore, and in the 1930s went further west on the Main Line and into Chester County.


This presentation was held at the Easttown Library & Information Center in Berwyn, PA.

Jeff Groff is Director of Public Programs at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library and is the co-curator of its current exhibition “Costumes of Downton Abbey.” For sixteen years he was Executive Director of Wyck Historic House and Garden in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. He also directed an historical society on Cape Cod, and early in his career was Registrar/Asst. Curator at the Philadelphia Maritime Museum (now Independence Seaport). A native of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, he is a graduate of Bates College where he majored in history. He holds an MA from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture of the University of Delaware. For thirty-five years he has studied, written and lectured on the country places of Philadelphia's “Main Line” and surrounding areas, with an emphasis on architecture, country life and sports. Mr. Groff is the great-grandson of Charles E. Hires who founded Hires Root Beer.


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