In the late 1850s the railroad came to town. Two lines came to Chadds Ford — the east-west running Philadelphia & Baltimore Central RR in 1858 and the north-south running Wilmington & Reading RR a few years later. The two lines met at Chadds Ford Junction, while only a few hundred yards away on the east side of the Brandywine was Chadds Ford Station. The railroads played a significant role in the economic growth of the area. Spurs were laid out to accommodate the kaolin companies where fine white potter’s clay was mined at the turn of the century. The railroad also brought city people from Wilmington and Philadelphia who discovered the lush rolling hills of the Brandywine Valley. To have a summer house in Chadds Ford became the vogue.
It was about this time that Howard Pyle held summer art classes in Chadds Ford that attracted students from all over the country including Frank Schoonover, Maxfield Parrish, and Violet Oakley. One of them, young N.C. Wyeth from Massachusetts, came to study under Pyle and never left. Pyle’s studio and its students gave rise to the celebrated Brandywine School of Art, fostered by three generations of the Wyeth family.
In the early 20th century the village of Chadds Ford was still a quiet crossroads surrounded by acres of farmland. After WW II, better roads and the population explosion of the 1950s brought people from the cities to the countryside transforming the rural landscape into a burgeoning suburban community.