|Owen Josephus Roberts
was born May 2, 1875 in Germantown, Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated in 1895 as valedictorian. He then continued his education at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He built a successful law career which included positions as First District Attorney in Philadelphia and work in corporate and estate law. Roberts also devoted his time to teaching at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
From 1930 to 1945, Owen J. Roberts served as a Supreme Court Justice. He was best known for his position as a "swing justice" since he frequently cast the deciding vote, and thus determined the majority opinion between the liberals and conservatives on the Court.
Justice Roberts' connection to northern Chester County began in 1929 with the purchase of Bryncoed, a 700-acre farm in the Birchrunville area. He originally purchased it for a country home, but enjoyed raising both crops and cattle there.
Throughout his life, Justice Roberts volunteered much of his time to community service. Justice Roberts died May 17, 1955 at the age of 80 and is buried at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church.
The Owen J. Roberts Archives
is a special room designated for preserving a variety of items connected to both school and local history. Yearbooks, old school records, photographs, cans of film and some personal items belonging to Justice Owen J. Roberts, including his gavel, a lock of hair and an invitation to the Eisenhauer Inaugural, are beginning to fill the space.
The project began about five years ago with funding by the District. School Board member Mr. William LaCoff actively seeks and collects items of interest for the growing historical resource.
Locating the Justice ’s gavel proved an interesting story. An alumnus found the gavel on E-bay, offered for sale by a man in England. The former OJR student contacted the school, which subsequently purchased the engraved wooden gavel for $500.
Located directly across from the High School ’s Main Entrance, the Archives with its long table, comfortable chairs and surrounding bookshelves offers the public a pleasant research and reading area. This room is maintained by the OJR high school librarian, along with the National Honor Society.
If there are any volunteers in the community who would like to help with this project, please contact Amy Christman or Karen Oncay at the High School. To donate items, contact Mr. LaCoff through the District Office.