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HISTORY LIVES: Arabella and other “alleys”


When first laid out by William Magill in 1810, Arabella Street was an important downtown Doylestown passageway. It extended from West State Street southward toward Ashland Street between Main Street and the future Hamilton Street (which opened in 1914). The alley also formed a rear entrance to Alfred Magill’s schoolhouse, now the headquarters of the Doylestown Historical Society at 56 S. Main St.

William Magill named the small street Arabella in honor of his deceased daughter. He named another for his wife, Mary, and a third for his living daughter, Louisa.

These routes were donated by him for the convenience of the town and were called “forever alleys” as they were never to be privately owned or encumbered.

In the ensuing years, progress brought changes. Mary Street remained a well-known byway; but, in 1868, when Clinton Street was opened south of State Street, it was necessary to vacate Louisa Street. Arabella Street has survived only in part. When Frank Kolbe built his department store in 1891 at the present corner of Hamilton and West State streets, Arabella was a cobblestone access for the Kolbe store and others. When the site was turned into a parking lot in 1969, part of Arabella Street was absorbed into it.

Source: “Forever Alleys” by Wilma Rezer, Doylestown Community News, Fall 1991.