Whitpain Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

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Coordinates: 40°09′21″N 75°17′02″W / 40.15583°N 75.28389°W / 40.15583; -75.28389
Whitpain Township
Township
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Montgomery
Elevation 259 ft (78.9 m)
Coordinates 40°09′21″N 75°17′02″W / 40.15583°N 75.28389°W / 40.15583; -75.28389
Area 12.9 sq mi (33.4 km2)
 - land 12.9 sq mi (33 km2)
 - water 0.0 sq mi (0 km2), 0%
Population 18,875 (2010)
Density 1,463.2 / sq mi (564.9 / km2)
Timezone EST (UTC-5)
 - summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code 215, 610
Location of Whitpain Township in Montgomery County
Location of Whitpain Township in Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the United States
Website: http://www.whitpaintosnwhip.org

Whitpain Township is a township in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded in 1701, it has grown to a total population of 18,875 as of the 2010 census.

Geography[edit]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 12.9 square miles (33 km2), of which 0.08% is water. Whitpain Township is approximately four and a half miles by three miles. There are two watersheds in the township, Wissahickon Creek (which was once known as "Whitpaine's Creek") and Stony Creek.

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 2,328
1940 2,451 5.3%
1950 3,063 25.0%
1960 7,331 139.3%
1970 9,245 26.1%
1980 11,772 27.3%
1990 15,673 33.1%
2000 18,562 18.4%
2010 18,875 1.7%

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 18,562 people, 6,960 households, and 5,206 families residing in the township. The population density was 1,436.3 people per square mile (554.7/km²). There were 7,305 housing units at an average density of 565.3/sq mi (218.3/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 86.31% White, 4.69% African American, 0.06% Native American, 7.82% Asian, 0.23% from other races, and 0.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.33% of the population.

There were 6,960 households out of which 34.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.3% were married couples living together, 6.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.2% were non-families. 21.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.10.

In the township the population was spread out with 25.0% under the age of 18, 5.1% from 18 to 24, 27.0% from 25 to 44, 27.9% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.2 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $88,933, and the median income for a family was $103,613. Males had a median income of $68,125 versus $44,079 for females. The per capita income for the township was $41,739. About 1.7% of families and 3.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.7% of those under age 18 and 3.3% of those age 65 or over.

History[edit]

Whitpain is one of the oldest townships in Montgomery County. Richard Whitpaine, a London butcher, purchased a 4,500-acre (1,800 ha) tract of land as part of William Penn’s "Holy Experiment". His 16-year old son, Zechariah, travelled to Pennsylvania on the ship Welcome with Penn in 1682 to settle his father's properties and escape persecution of his Quaker beliefs. By 1685, Zechariah had established a plantation house along Wissahickon Creek near Mount Pleasant, with his bride Sarah Songhurst, whom he had met on the Welcome.

In Holme’s Map of 1681, Whitpain Township is called Whitpain’s Creek. By 1701, when William Penn ordered a survey of all the townships in the Commonwealth, it appeared in public records as Whitpain’s Township.

The borders of Whitpain Township changed dramatically in 1733, when Worcester Township was created, taking away a chunk of land. By 1734, Whitpain Township had 24 landowners. It maintained steady growth for more than two centuries, expanding from 771 people in 1800 to 3,063 people in 1950. In recent years, the township has experienced rapid growth. Today, Whitpain Township is home to over 18,000 residents.

Early settlers to Whitpain Township were farmers. Industry came to the region in 1727, when Jacob Yost began a weaving enterprise in Centre Square. Charles Mather built an additional mill in 1804. Although a rural farming community for decades, the growth of recent years has included business development, making Whitpain Township home to several of the Philadelphia region’s largest corporations, including Aetna US Healthcare and Unisys.

Although today Whitpain Township is home to residents of many religions and nationalities, its earliest settlers were Protestant and Quaker. Prior to the Revolutionary War, the township had two churches: Boehm’s Reformed Church (circa 1740), and St. John’s Lutheran Church (circa 1769).

Whitpain Township earned a place in history during the Revolutionary War, when George Washington and many of his generals spent time in the township. In fact, Dawesfield, a home on Lewis Lane, is considered the most significant historic site in the township, because it was Washington’s headquarters from October 21 to November 2, 1777.

Whitpain Township has been an independent township since 1701. However, for a brief period in 1762, Whitpain and Plymouth townships, by act of the assembly, became one district with one supervisor from each township. Dissatisfaction by the populace of both townships dissolved the act in 1763.

Dawesfield was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.[2]

Communities within Whitpain Township[edit]

Today, Whitpain Township is a composite of several small communities established before and after the Revolutionary War. They include West Ambler, Center Square, Blue Bell, Broad Axe, Custer, Franklinville, Washington Square and Belfry.

Most of Whitpain Township is covered by the Blue Bell, Pennsylvania ZIP code. In recent years the name "Blue Bell" has become largely synonymous with much of the township, eclipsing many of the older community designations.

Government[edit]

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2008 43.3% 4,855 56.2% 6,299
2004 48.4% 5,334 51.1% 5,631
2000 49.4% 4,842 48.6% 4,763
1996 49.4% 4,086 42.3% 3,501
1992 47.6% 3,953 35.5% 2,954

Under Pennsylvania law, Whitpain Township is a Township of the Second Class. It is governed by a five-member Board of Supervisors elected at-large by the electorate. Members of the Board of Supervisors serve six year terms. Every two years, two of the seats come up for election. The exception is in the sixth year in the cycle, when only one seat comes up for election.

Most, if not all, of the executive and legislative powers allocated to Whitpain Township in the State Second Class Township Code are vested in the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors is empowered to appoint professionals to assist it in the operation of the Township and to furnish advice and counsel on technical matters. Additionally, the Board appoints all the members of the various boards and commissions as well as the Zoning Hearing Board and the Planning Commission. Also, the Board of Supervisors hears conditional use applications in accordance with the Municipalities Planning Code and the Whitpain Township Zoning Ordinance. The levying of township taxes and the appropriations to the various departments and subsidiary boards and commissions is the responsibility of the Board of Supervisors. During the months of November and December, public hearings are held for the purpose of reviewing the budget for the following year.

The current membership of the Board of Supervisors (as of the election of November 2013) consists of:

  • Frederick R. Conner, Chairman
  • Adam Zucker, Vice Chairman
  • Anthony F. Greco, Secretary
  • Melissa Murphy Weber, Treasurer
  • Ken Wollman, Assistant Secretary

The township government is located at 960 Wentz Road, Blue Bell, PA 19422.

Federally, Whitpain Township is part of the 7th Congressional District, represented by Republican Patrick Meehan.

Economy[edit]

Unisys is headquartered in Blue Bell in Whitpain Township.[3][4][5]

Top employers[edit]

According to Whitpain Township's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[6] the top employers in the township are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Aetna 2,323
2 Montgomery County Community College 1,316
3 The Carney Group 482
4 Unisys 394
5 Wissahickon School District 242
6 Hansen Properties 240
7 Kohl's 214
8 ACTS Retirement-Life Communities 213
9 Merck 207
10 Brokerage Concepts 90

Education[edit]

The Wissahickon School District provides public education to the children of Whitpain Township, as well as those from Lower Gwynedd Township and Ambler Borough. Within the township are three of the district's five elementary schools: Blue Bell Elementary School, Shady Grove Elementary School, and Stony Creek Elementary School. Wissahickon Middle School and Wissahickon High School are located outside of the township.

Also situated within the township is one college, Montgomery County Community College.

Transportation[edit]

Roadways[edit]

The major roadways in Whitpain Township are U.S. Route 202 (DeKalb Pike) and Pennsylvania Route 73 (Skippack Pike). The two roadways intersect in Center Square. Both roads are two-lane highways, except for the portion of US-202 which is four lanes (with additional turn lanes) in the vicinity of Blue Bell Country Club and Montgomery County Community College. Other key roads within the township include Penllyn-Blue Bell Pike and Walton Road. Butler Pike, North Wales Road, Township Line Road and Morris Road are all major roads that mainly form the boundaries of the township.

Interstate 476 (the Northeastern Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike) passes through the township but, as it has no interchanges within the township boundaries, is not directly accessible.

Aviation[edit]

The township contains one airport, Wings Field. It is used for general aviation.

Rail[edit]

Several train lines cross the township. There are no active passenger train stations within the township borders, but several are located in neighboring municipalities, including North Wales and Ambler.

Community associations[edit]

Whitpain Township Residents Association[edit]

A community association known as WhitpainResidents.org was founded in 2006 as a non-profit group with the stated goal of promoting "responsible development and preserving the quality of life in Whitpain Township."[7][8] The group rose to prominence through the vocal opposition to a planned hospital on grounds formerly occupied by Unisys.[8][9]

References[edit]

External links[edit]