History of the Farmhouse Property
People's Light makes its home on a seven-acre piece of land with an impressive pedigree that stretches back hundreds of years. Native Americans called the property and the surrounding acreage the "The Dark Valley" due to the trees and undergrowth that once blanketed the land. In 1621, Welsh immigrants settled in the area, and in 1704, named it Whiteland Township after Whiteland Gardens in Flintshire, Wales. In 1709, Governor William Penn signed 1,000 acres in East Whiteland Township over to the Malin family, whose forebears had recently immigrated to Pennsylvania from Cheshire, England and Armagh, Ireland. A nearby road (joining Conestoga and Lancaster Avenues) still bears the family's name and marks the location of their homestead, Malin Hall. On September 15, 1777, the Malin family allowed General George Washington to use their home as his headquarters. His troops had just suffered a horrific defeat at the Battle of the Brandywine. They camped around Malin Hall and along Swedesford Road up to the White Horse Inn three-and-a-half miles away. Washington then prepared for an impending encounter with British General William Howe. Luckily, tumultuous weather forestalled the "Battle of the Clouds", and the Continental Army packed up and moved on. In 1790, the Malin family built the structure that we now call "The Farmhouse". It served as a private boys' school, the first school in East Whiteland Township. In 1820 or thereabouts, the structure was redesigned and the barn, now our Main Stage, was erected. The frame portion of the house was added on during the Civil War. The Malin family held on to the property for over 227 years. In 1936, visual artist and U.S. Marine Corps sergeant C. Gager Phillips, Jr. bought the property, but as Phillips was only the second owner, he had to dig up the original land grants of 1709 to clear the title. In 1979, People's Light bought the property from Phillilps and became the third owner in 269 years.