Paoli takes its name from an early inn, first licensed in 1769, which stood about where the Paoli Post Office is now located.
The first innkeeper was Joshua Evans who was the son of William Evans, a Welshman who in 1719 bought 500 acres of land in Tredyffrin Township from the Penn family.
The story of naming the inn is quite interesting. The Hibernian Society, forerunner of the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, was having a gathering of the clan one evening at Evans new inn to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. After a big dinner of roast duck and venison had been consumed, the toasting began. When everyone from the King to the tavern dog had been duly toasted and the candles were flickering and going out, someone raised the 45th toast in honor of General Paoli [a Corsican freedom-fighter]. All who could still stand got up and drained their tankards of "royal cider" in one last cheer. Evans was so carried away with this enthusiasm that he decided then and there to name his house "The General Paoli." Soon afterwards, the "General" was dropped from the name, and the inn became better known simply as "The Paoli."
The Paoli Inn prospered and grew in the early 1800s and became an important stop on a number of stage coach lines running between Philadelphia and Harrisburg and the west, and for local stage lines to West Chester and other nearby communities.
After the Civil War, the inn was remodeled and converted into a summer resort and boarding house for prominent Philadelphia families seeking to escape the city’s summer heat.
This venture was not particularly successful and in 1881 the inn was sold and stood vacant until 1899, when it was destroyed by fire.
Information excerpted from an article titled "The Paoli Inn" by Bob Goshorn which appeared in the Great Valley News in February 1988.