By Ukee Washington


NEWTOWN, Pa (CBS) — Newtown wears its history on its sleeve, proud to show off the ages of its historic buildings along its small business strip on State Street.

“I used to walk through here all the time, Friday, Saturday, with friends,” Newtown Township native Brandon Knotts said.

Even in the age of digital music, The Newtown Book and Recording Exchange is going strong, selling old CDs, books, posters, as well as old and new vinyl, which is back in style.

“It seems like every Christmas or graduation, the big gift is a record player for the kids, so they come in and stock up,” Cyndi Rhodin said.

She says the old records bring new people in.

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“The grandparents bring the kids into it and look at these albums and buy and reminisce,” she said.

Across the street, the Rhodes Newtown Flower and Gift Shop building was originally built in 1795. The gift shop has been there for 70 years and its owner Gary Schneider has been working there for 50 of them.

“I was 16 when I started and I just turned 66,” he said.

Generations have bought prom corsages, wedding flowers and funeral arrangements at Rhodes. Schneider says he is ready to retire and sell the shop, 2,800 square feet of retail with apartments on top and a whole lot of good memories of Old Newtown.

“When I was 16, we used to have a quaint little bakery. You could get a Danish for four cents,” he said with a laugh.

Newtown’s historic buildings drew Nancy Murphy to open the Tubby Olive in 2010, selling olive oils, balsamic vinegars and gifts inside the old Scott House, which was built in 1792.

“I think it represents the charm of Newtown to me,” Murphy said. “To be at a place that’s a couple hundred years old is really special.”

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She says preserving old Newtown has made it family-friendly in a way other suburbs are not.

“This street had significance to our family. When our children were little, we used to come to State Street. It’s very doable for small children to walk around,” she said.

Nearby, the building that is now Countryside Gallery and Custom Frame Design dates back to 1853. It has been a gallery or frame shop since 1980, this is where local artists drop by with works to sell and the gallery display is always hosting new artists.

Countryside co-owner Richard Fekete marvels at how many businesses have been there.

“A bank, it’s been an ice cream store, pharmacy, feed store. It was a trolley stop,” Fekete said. “You could buy a ticket, get on the trolley, take the trolley from right outside the shop to Christ Church, 2nd Street, Philadelphia.”

The local hardware shop started in 1869, now it’s Newtown Hardware House.

“Everyone knows each other in the borough. It’s a special place. It’s great,” Karen Jones said. “So if you’re into old school and retro, come to Newtown.”

Ukee Washington