Document Collection

Paoli Coal and Lumber Merchants

A series of supply merchants were located in Paoli on the north side of the railroad tracks and west of North Valley Road. The businesses were active for nearly 100 years, from 1887 to 1985.

In 1883 Henry Hall purchased a number of tracts of land on the north side of the railroad, and west of North Valley Road1. Sometime between then and 1887 he set up a Coal and Lumber dealership2.

1887 Atlas

In 1898 J. Hervey Dewees and Edward E. Bracken purchased a tract of 2.2 acres from Henry Hall1. They continued the Coal and Lumber business selling materials brought in via the railroad. Both Dewees and Bracken were charter members of the Paoli Fire Company3. Bracken was the first fire chief. Biographies of Dewees and Bracken by the Barbara and Herb Fry can be found in the article The Promoters of Paoli.

1912 Atlas

In 1912 Dewees withdrew from the enterprise. Bracken continued to own the business until 1926.

1920 Atlas

In 1926 Bracken sold the business to Great Valley Mills, although the Mills occupied the site previous to the sale as shown by the following 1925 Sanborn insurance map.:

Compare this plan of the buildings with the 1926 Dallin photograph of them below.

Dallin Aerial Photo, 1926
Courtesy of Hagley Museum

1926 Atlas

Great Valley Mills only held onto the property until 1928 when it was sold to the Paoli Coal & Supply Co.

Paoli Coal & Supply, pre-1932 fire4

Paoli Hardware

In 1932, George Clemmans5 (pictured below) applied to use the name Paoli Hardware Store, for his business. He was granted a license on 4/18/19326.

He set up his business in the Paoli Coal & Supply Company building:

Paoli Hardware, c. 19327

On the 29th July, 1932 the lumber yard went up in flames. Photos of the fire can be found in the Image database by searching on July 29, 1932.

George Clemmans moved his hardware business across the tracks on the south side of the Lincoln Highway, two doors west of South Valley Road8. In October 1951, Cordine Scartozzi bought Clemman’s business and soon renamed it The Hardware Center. It remained in Clemmans’ old location until 1955 when the Paoli Shopping Center was built, and “Cordie” moved his business there. Clemmans’ former location soon after became the Paoli Army and Navy store. - Roger Thorne

The Main Line Coal & Feed Co, continued in business after the fire. The 1933 atlas does not seem to show any damage to the buildings. Perhaps this part of the atlas was completed before the fire.

1933 Atlas

In 1940 Paoli Coal & Supply Co. sold the business to Edward A. Alleva.

1950 Atlas

Ed Alleva ran the business until he died in 1966. His widow, Bertha, became the sole owner of the business. Ed’s brother, John, ran the business until 1985, when Bertha sold the property to SEPTA who are using it as a station parking lot.9 Other members of the Alleva family participated in the business, such as Dan Alleva10.

John Alleva outside Paoli Business, 1985

Septa Parking Lot, 1985


Heidi Sproat, Roger Thorne, and Bart Van Valkenburgh helped with this article.


  1. The detailed deed history can be found here in the Tredyffrin History site. The maps can be found online at Andys Antique Atlases and at the Radnor Historical Society. Most of the atlases listed at the Radnor site are actually held on the Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network but are more difficult to locate.
  2. 1887 invoice and 1896 invoice.
  3. The Early Years of the Paoli Fire Company, by George Mathias. TEHS Quarterly, vol. 16, #4 (Winter 1978) and The Promoters of Paoli TEHS Quarterly, vol. 35, #1 (Winter 1997)
  4. Courtesy of Dan Alleva.
  5. In Memoriam: George W. Clemmans, TEHS Quarterly, vol. 32, #3 (July 1994)
  6. Image database image PA18.
  7. Image database image PA3
  8. Paoli Station area, 1933 atlas
  9. Suburban Newspaper photos, 1985, courtesy of Greg Prichard. It is unclear whether an article was published that included any of the photos.
  10. Dan Alleva obituary.