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6 Historical Facts You Didn't Know About Blue Bell, Pennsylvania


This sought-after Philadelphia suburb boasts not only a vibrant community but a long and rich history

Blue Bell has a ton to offer for prospective homebuyers: a small but thriving community, convenient proximity to Philadelphia, and a beautiful array of sprawling properties. It’s a quiet yet eventful town that brings out the best of a tight-knit community with the ease of a short drive to the city. However, it’s not just about the great shopping, beautiful parks, and easy commute: what you might not know is that buying Blue Bell real estate puts you a stone’s throw away from some truly fascinating landmarks, including many places that made a huge mark on American history—and are still standing today.
Like many small towns in the northeast, the community of Blue Bell still shows signs of this history everywhere you look, especially if you’re willing to explore. From the town’s namesake to its integral Revolutionary War ties, we’ve collected a few of the most interesting facts that you should know about this storied region.

A Safe Haven

Originally home to the Lenni Lenape people, the area we now know as Pennsylvania was granted to William Penn via royal charter in 1681, where his goal was to create a colony based on religious tolerance—known as the “Holy Experiment.” The state’s earliest settlers were primarily Quakers and others fleeing religious persecution, as well as German, Scottish, and Irish immigrants, among other Europeans. This set the tone for a community built on mutual respect and the desire to help others.
Whitpain Township, which contains Blue Bell, is one of the oldest townships in Montgomery County. Originally a 4,500-acre tract of land purchased by a butcher from London named Richard Whitpaine, Whitpain Township grew to encompass several small communities, including West Ambler and Franklinville. As Philadelphia quickly established itself as one of the most important early American cities, commerce and opportunity came to the region. Blue Bell and the surrounding regions saw a rapid rise in population thanks in large part to the vast swaths of fertile land, making it an increasingly important agricultural hub.

It Wasn’t Always Blue Bell

In its early days, the area now named Blue Bell was known as Pigeontown. This was in reference to the now-extinct passenger pigeons who traveled through the region in huge flocks as part of their migratory path until the mid-1800s. It’s said that these flocks were so enormous that they would blot out the sun for several minutes as they passed and were so loud that it was impossible to hear anything else, or even have a conversation.
The pigeons were a consistent source of food and income for residents but were gradually over-hunted by the settlers as time went on. Their impact on the landscape waned, but it wasn’t until 1840 that the town adopted a new identity with its current title, which came from the famous Blue Bell Inn. Today, much of the wildlife and natural beauty that made this area so appealing to early Americans is still clear to see, particularly in local parks like Prophecy Creek and Wentz Run.

The Story of the Blue Bell Inn

The undoubted centerpiece of this close-knit community is the aforementioned Blue Bell Inn. It’s a go-to spot for residents and visitors alike to socialize and celebrate, featuring great food in a historic atmosphere that makes it a popular venue for live music and all kinds of other events. Originally known as “The White House,” the Inn has stood since 1743 when it was built to provide lodging for hunters and other weary travelers making their way through the quiet town. In 1796, the tower housing the eponymous bell above the Inn was constructed, at which point the establishment took on the name that would later come to define the town around it.
The Inn has passed through several owners and survived countless changes in the many years since it was built, but its more recent history saw a formal reopening in 1967 as a restaurant that quickly amassed a stellar reputation—one it has sustained today thanks to its current owner. You can make a reservation at this local staple for a great meal and an intimate look back at some of the roots of colonial America. 

Boehm’s Church

Rev. John Phillip Boehm was a schoolteacher and religious leader who lived in and around the Blue Bell area in the mid-1700s. In 1725, he founded the Falkner Swamp Reformed Congregation, the first German Reformed Church to be established on American soil. Though he wasn’t an ordained minister—something that would later become controversial with denominational leaders—he served the people of the region dutifully, traveling between Whitemarsh, Skippack, and various towns to hold services for any residents who were in need of guidance. Because of this, he was seen as an invaluable member of the community—and has remained one of the area’s foremost historic figures.
In 1740, at the behest of a small group of German immigrants in Blue Bell, Rev. Boehm helped found what is now known simply as Boehm’s Church, holding services there as often as he was able to. During the Revolutionary War, this small chapel was converted into a makeshift hospital to care for sick and wounded American soldiers. The realities of the war were grim, but caretakers did their best to help those they could. The building sustained serious damage during this time, and has subsequently been renovated and expanded over the years to accommodate the needs of the community—but retains its historic qualities and friendly congregation.

George Washington in Blue Bell

Since Philadelphia had such a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War, nearby towns like Blue Bell often had a significant part to play as well. After the Americans’ defeat by the British at the Battle of Germantown, their forces—the future president George Washington among them— retreated to the Blue Bell area to regroup and strategize in safety. It’s estimated that, including non-soldiers, Washington’s camp likely consisted of around 15,000 people.
During a period of a few months in late 1777, a property known as Dawesfield, owned by a man named James Morris, served as Washington’s temporary headquarters in planning the continued war effort, while his troops were housed in the surrounding farmland. Facing waning trust over significant losses and a severe lack of resources, Washington had yet to become the beloved general we perceive him as now—but was well on his way to accomplishing great things. He and his men later relocated to the fields of another nearby estate, now known as Hope Lodge, before finally moving onto the famous Valley Forge, where they remained for the winter. Throughout his time in the region, it’s said that Washington frequented the Blue Bell Inn to eat and socialize with his comrades.

Whitpain and the Civil War

Thanks to its early Quaker roots, Whitpain Township and Montgomery County more broadly were deeply invested in the abolitionist cause. The area was also home to prominent and influential abolitionists like Lucretia Mott and Hiram Corson. When the American Civil War began, Blue Bell and other parts of Whitpain played a crucial role in driving support for the Union effort in defeating the Confederacy. In particular, the women of the region were active in organizing any help they could from the homefront—with a small group of women gathering at a home in Centre Square in 1862 to form the Whitpain Ladies’ Aid Society.
The Society met weekly to discuss how best to support the Union cause. They provided food, handmade clothing and fabrics, medical supplies, and more to the war effort. Their work primarily benefited hospitals on the front lines, which were in constant need of supplies during the tumultuous war. The Society also fundraised extensively in the community in order to provide monetary support to the institutions that needed it; they often hosted events such as lectures and musical performances with local professionals and performers, for which they charged a small entry fee.

Blue Bell Today

Blue Bell’s long and storied history makes it clear that it’s a region defined by community bonds that have lasted the test of time. These bonds are still strong and provide a powerful sense of value for the town and its current residents. But this history is just one of many things that have made this area so appealing to those looking for a charming community to call their own. Blue Bell also offers an array of practical benefits for residents, like great schools, friendly neighbors, and plenty of exciting festivals and events to keep families entertained throughout the year.
There’s a great selection of Blue Bell real estate for sale in a range of styles and price points, including one-of-a-kind historic properties—contact us today to find the perfect home for you! 

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