|THE MYTHOLOGY OF THE PHOENIX
The Phoenix holds an exalted place in the myths of many of the great world cultures.
OF A TINSMITH’S SHOP ON MILL STREET IN PHOENIXVILLE
IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY
In China and Korea the Feng-huang was associated with the Empress and occupied the high position of ruler of the kingdom of birds. It was frequently paired with a dragon, the symbol of the Emperor, and was held to personify beauty and mercy. The double phoenix represents the male and female principle, feng being the male and huang the female. For centuries it has been a favorite motif of artists and artisans throughout East Asia who have used it to decorate every conceivable object. It most closely resembles an especially colorful bird of paradise with long, flowing tail feathers and a slender neck.
HOW THE PHOENIX BECAME PHOENIXVILLE’S NAMESAKE
In 1813, Lewis Wernwag, the owner of the first iron company built on the confluence of the French Creek and the Schuylkill River – known at the time as the French Creek Works – was looking at his furnaces one evening from a nearby hillside and saw a Phoenix in the flames. This vision inspired him to rename his company Phoenix Works. When the community that grew up around the iron works became incorporated in 1849 the name Phoenixville was a natural choice for the new borough.
This name has especial symbolic relevance for the borough today. With the closing of Phoenix Iron and Steel in the early nineteen eighties the town lost its principle industry, and subsequently went through a twenty year period of stagnation and decline. Since the turn of the new century Phoenixville has been enjoying a rebirth; with the opening of new shops and restaurants, a visitor’s center in the old Foundry Building, the continued renovation of the Colonial Theatre, the renewal of Bridge Street, and much more. Like its mythic namesake it is truly rising from its own ashes.