West Chester to unveil walk of fame honorees

Posted: October 28, 2013

WEST CHESTER Hollywood has glittering granite stars immortalizing those who have graced the big screen. In Philadelphia, embossed treble clefs dot Broad Street to celebrate the city's great musical minds.

But what about West Chester?

On Sunday, the borough will unveil its own walk of fame of movers and shakers - dead and alive - who have made West Chester what it is today.

And these plaques, made of solid bronze and shaped like keystones, will be scattered all over town.

"West Chester has been around for a long time, and it didn't get to where it is now overnight," said Jimmer Breen, a local artist who designed the plates. "It took a lot of effort from people donating their time and their energy. And that's something that needs to be recognized."

The seven plaques being unveiled at 2 p.m. Sunday at Borough Hall will be displayed for a short time there and then installed around town in areas significant to the honoree.

Artists Phillip Jamison and N.C. Wyeth will receive real estate near the Chester County Art Association.

Charles Swope will have a plaque on High Street, near the former home of the First National Bank, where he served as president for 30 years.

Thomas Ustick Walter will have a spot on the sidewalk by the historic Chester County Courthouse, which he designed before going on to become the architect of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Organizers plan to make the plaques easier to find with a smartphone app that will provide directions and short biographies or videos.

"The plaque becomes a doorway into the history," Breen said. The app is in development.

Mayor Carolyn Comitta said she hoped the walk would take on the feel of a scavenger hunt, allowing families and students to uncover one of West Chester's lesser-known stars at each stop.

"Elinor Z. Taylor. You don't know that name. But Elinor Z. Taylor served in Harrisburg as a representative for the West Chester area for 54 years," said Jeff Brown, president of the county chamber of commerce as well as the walk of fame committee. "That's the longest term any female has ever served in any legislature in any state. Think about that. Fifty-four years."

Taylor's plaque will likely land in front of her old office on Miner Street.

Brown's friend Donald Moore first mentioned the idea of a walk of fame as they shared dinner one night in May 2012. Brown ran with it, proposing the project to the mayor and borough manager.

The inaugural group was chosen from 94 nominees narrowed down at first to 20. Local eighth graders then wrote essays on that group, which the selection committee read before casting votes.

Breen said the committee hoped to add more plaques annually and engage a new class of eighth graders each year.

"I was looking for a cross section of years, a cross section of talents, a cross section of men and women," committee member Ann Duke said. "We've been here for so long. I wanted to see us reach back but also acknowledge people who were doing significant things now."


tnadolny@phillynews.com

610-313-8205

@TriciaNadolny

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