Lower Salford was countryside without villages or any real geographic focus for the first one hundred years of its history. However, over the years buildings started sprouting up on the farmlands that would become Harleysville. About fifteen years after the Maxatawny Road was opened in 1735, John Isaac Klein built a new, two-story inn around which the village was to develop some one hundred years later. Traffic and business would increase greatly, as would the rate of activity in general, as Lower Salford, like rural communities throughout America, began to feel the effects of improvements in transportation and communication.
The First lot in Harleysville, of about two acres on the present Northwest corner of Main Street and Maple Avenue, was divided off around 1750, and is believed to have been used for a school. The hotel that John Isaac Keith built along the Maxatawny Road around that time passed by 1768 into the hands of Nicholas Schwenk, a blacksmith. Since Schwenk at one time owned most of the land on which the village was built, it should perhaps have been named after him, thought historian James Y. Heckler. But that honor went to Samuel Harley, a Dunker who bought the hotel in 1795 and kept it until 1835. During this interval, reported Heckler, it was claimed that no one had gotten drunk in Harley’s Inn.
Maple Avenue, known originally as Creamery Road, passed in front of the Harleysville Chapel and the feed mill, both still standing. Just beyond, toward Main Street, was the Harleysville Creamery. At the far left is Alumni Hall, and a bit to the right, on Main Street, the “News” building. The store in Harleysville, built by Samuel H. Cassel in 1848, was always one of the most vital businesses of the village, serving as the post office as well. It was owned by the Bucher brothers.
Adapted from information obtained from the Chamber of Commerce