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Chester County Press

Kennett Heritage Center officially opens

10/28/2020 04:42PM ● By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer

For years, the Sunrise Café that Lynn Sinclair owned and operated on State Street in Kennett Square served not only as a place to go for coffee, breakfast, lunch and conversation, it also served as the unofficial back room of Kennett Square’s history.

Place on the restaurant’s table tops and on its walls were the archival photographs of the borough and township’s rich past that documented the town’s continuing story of its impact on the Underground Railroad. In addition, it served as a place where the chapter markers of Kennett Square’s most prestigious stakeholders had a lasting shrine.

When Sinclair closed her café a few years ago, she sought to find another home for the story of Kennett Square to carry on its conversation. When Chester County Historic Preservation Coordinator Karen Marshall alerted Sinclair that a house built in 1901 and originally owned by Dr. Isaac B. Johnson on 120 North Union Street was for sale, Sinclair saw it as a possible full-time home for local history.

On Oct. 24, it officially became one, in the form of the Kennett Heritage Center. The two-hour grand opening allowed visitors to explore what will provide a multi-room overview of three distinct periods in the town’s history: the 1700s, the early 1800s and the late 1800s.

In addition to serving as the official home of the Kennett Heritage Center, it also houses the offices of the Kennett Underground RailroadCenter, with whom the center will collaborate on historical tours of the area, permanent and revolving exhibitions about local history, and special events, such as Juneteenth, that commemorates African American freedom and achievement, and Kennett Occupation Day – the annual commemoration of the Battle of the Brandywine on Sept. 11, 1777.   

“When I first looked at the building, I thought that everything that I had arranged at the Sunrise Café would easily transfer here,” Sinclair said. “Working with the center’s board of directors, it has always been our goal to provide a place for local residents and visitors to go to learn more, and keep the story going.”

Sinclair said that due to COVID-19, the center will be open only on the weekends, but will hopefully be able to extend its hours beginning in 2021.

To learn more about the Kennett Heritage Center, visit, or visit on Facebook.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].