a walk down memory lane

 In  2009 I documented through photographs the last few months of architect Addison Mizner’s famed La Ronda in Bryn Mawr.  The tale of La Ronda even made the Wall Street Journal back then.

Putting all the drama of the La Ronda and her demolition and the upheaval the demolition caused in Lower Merion Township and across the country aside, the saddest part of the tale of La Ronda is there was a man willing to have the mansion moved brick by brick, who was willing to buy it fairly. Only he was denied that by both the seller of the property and buyer of the property.  Those people sold La Ronda to be torn down and tore down La Ronda because they could and that is kind of sad especially since they were players in the socioeconomic levels where they could actually afford to be more preservation minded.

I am not getting into some protracted discussion about property rights, what this demolition has done is leave a lasting impression on me regarding historic preservation in Pennsylvania.

Historic preservation in Pennsylvania remain a lofty ideal, but is seldom a true reality. So when you hear on rare occasions that you might not like what a developer is doing, but they are saving and preserving a historic structure on a property they bought? Well that my friends is huge and doesn’t happen very often. See ( Linden Hall post July 24  and Farmhouse Post on July 27 and Adaptive Reuse from April 2013 )

Truthfully, all these years later and salvagers are still selling bits of La Ronda. And people still write about La Ronda and what happened (reference Proper Philadelphia in 2012 )

I watched and documented the last sad few months of La Ronda, and to me it is a glaring reminder of  what   lip service preservation is. In 2009, Lower Merion Township Commissioners (including the current Board President Liz Rogan) did much beating of the collective breast and waxed long and poetically on how they were going to do things differently and how they were going to preserve historic assets.

Flash forward to 2014 and well, much like other places, it’s all been talk. Or political gob smacking…. take your pick. Now the William Penn Inn is under a 90 day stay of execution err demolition, which means it will inevitably come down.  And that is the case even though people are saying it may have had something to do with the underground railroad (and see cool photos of the place here thanks to Main Line Media News.)

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Also facing an uncertain future is the historic Odd Fellows Hall and property and United Methodist Church and property in Gladwyne.  People have said for decades that there are Revolutionary War soldiers buried there.  Famous Phillie Rich Asburn is buried there and heck some of my friends have all their family buried there.  So Odd Fellows is in limbo. What is historic will survive if  the developers who are the owners, Main Line Realty Partners, do the proper preservation.  They can do the right thing if they want to.  They have in the past and truthfully the partners in these projects have done beautiful work.  Last I heard that Odd Fellows plan was tabled, but these same developers have now purchased another church, First Baptist in Ardmore.  They also bought the United Methodist Church in Narberth Now the developers are calling themselves Main Line rebuild.

3941005703_d390c4249e_oBut like I said, adaptive reuse and historic preservation by developers are the exception rather than the rule.

I do not know a lot of the preservation groups throughout Chester County as I have not lived here that many years yet .  I love the  Chester County Historical Society and they have lots of neat stuff in their headquarters in downtown West Chester and they do fun things like walking tours.

Also worth noting is the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust. Their 10th annual house tour is September 27th, 2014.

 

And if you like house tours you should also consider signing up for Chester County Day which benefits Chester County Hospital.  They have preview lectures starting in September which are open to the public.

Anyway, remember the La Rondas…once they are gone, they are gone.

Thanks for stopping by today!

are we hearing “voices” again in west vincent?

west vincent voicesPeople often ask me what it is that bothers me about the politics in West Vincent, Chester County. See above.

Above is a letter penned by a “concerned” West Vincent resident to another West Vincent resident.  I am hoping the author is not one of those “West Vincent Voices” because wow, do you think they could move on from anonymous missives like this and anonymous broad sheets on the United States Post Office wall?

The song remains the same meets Groundhog Day? Now I know these people don’t care for me or this blog, and well, good for them, everyone needs a hobby, right?

The man targeted by this latest bit of nastiness was in intensive care on one step removed from life support and these folks were running around calling him Chickenman. Until January 21st, 2014 when Chickenman posted an interesting update. Now this gentleman is the “source” of Chickenman’s “lies”. That makes me giggle because well, why let a little truth get in the way of local yokel politics, right? And if you can’t git him, well why not git his wife, right? (His wife is one of the loveliest and most genuinely nice people you will ever meet too.)

So now these people are back to penning poisoned pen letters? I hope they remember to wipe off their fingerprints, don’t you?

I am touched by their fealty to those like Farmer Supervisor to the stars Ken Miller, but seriously, wow do they blame everyone else for everything?

And speaking of the Supervisor to whom they pay their fealty, is he going to step down as Supervisor at the end of his current term?  That is what the chatter has been for months, right?   Being an elected official is tough, so time will tell, right?

But as for Truth in West Vincent?  They need to by a clue.  But again, maybe they are just hearing “West Vincent Voices”, right?  After all, who else would be so deliberately unkind as to continually try to hurt one of their neighbors, right? But then again people like this love to hide behind a keyboard.

I just find it sad.  Why? Because they are correct that West Vincent is an awesome and beautiful place. But by their actions the show the world that their apple has a rotten core, don’t they?

Truth for West Vincent found HERE.

West Vincent Voices found HERE – a lot of very nice content. Here is a link to the latest newsletter - West Vincent Voices July 2014 – all sorts of cool tidbits! And if you want to see some beautiful photos and learn more fun stuff about this beautiful part of Chester County, check out ThisIsWestVincent too!

Community involvement is to be commended.  Sending anonymous hate mail, not so much.

 

 

 

 

 

are you thankful?

 

thankfulWhat is the thought process behind being thankful?

Are you thankful?  Why are you thankful?

I saw this quote the other day about happiness and being thankful. It is above, super-imposed over one of my photos.  It got me to thinking. (Yes, advanced warning this post is a flowing stream of consciousness.)  How is it we are thankful (and happy) and why?

Being thankful for what you have can be paid forward quite simply.  Human kindness, for example.

At fifty, have I lived a perfect life? No, but seriously, who here is without flaws on this planet? Life is a giant learning curve and we learn from our experiences good and bad, right?

I am thankful for my life, especially because it could have ended up so differently than it is now.  I got through the ending of an unfortunate relationship (and that is putting it kindly), survived breast cancer, and found the love and life I deserve.

If God and fate hadn’t done a literal lift-out for me a few years ago, I would have been quite literally stuck in a life that would have become rather unpleasant and devoid of love and affection. So I am honestly and truly thankful.

I have discovered that truly unhappy people are quite often very angry people.  They have a limited sense of personal accountability and are hyper-critical of everything and everyone around them.  The ex-factor and one of his sisters are prime examples.  I am truly sorry they aren’t happy, but their continued fascination with my life is well, psychologically interesting while also being creepy and pointless. It’s like they live on their own planet.

Obsessing over me is not only bizarre, but how can they waste so much negative energy? It’s just not healthy and well, life is short and they need to be responsible for their own happiness.   It has been almost five years, so why bother? Who cares? I sure don’t.

Will I reference things that occurred during a relationship that spanned nigh on a decade? Sure, it is part of my life experience. I write about all sorts of life experience and other relationships.  But why am I responsible for their happiness and/or misery of other people not part of my world? The answer is I am not, but  I have accepted they will probably never move on. However, that is their stuck, not mine.

People who are oddly warped like this make me really think about what it is to actually be thankful and happy.  I see what my life could have been and what it is now.  I have someone who loves me and shares their life with me and are committed to our family.  That is a far cry from being with someone who expected commitment but not only couldn’t really share their live, in the end even commit to a cell phone plan.

I am not the only person male or female my age (or younger or older) who has going through good and bad relationships. It’s life.  But for some reason, the simple act of being thankful and happy just drives some people cuckoo. Probably because they aren’t either thankful or happy.

The thing about being truly thankful is acknowledging what it took to reach the path of happy.  As human beings we are a work in progress, but to be able to roll with life’s punches and blessings is an acquired talent.  For me, for that light bulb to go off truly, it took having breast cancer. Having to face your own personal sense of mortality shows you what your true mettle is. It also made me dig deep and look at what I wanted out of the rest of my life and the type of people I wanted to surround myself with.

A dear friend from high school asked us her friends, something interesting today:

 “If you were on of 10 people still alive on the planet, how would you live differently?

Would you still wear make up, get dressed up in fancy clothes, put nice things in your home?

In other words, do you do the things you do now to make yourself happy or others happy?

 

It might seem overly esoteric and philosophical to some, but you know, I get it.  So what would you do? I would continue to  do everything possible to make myself and my loved ones happy.  I would be thrilled to give up make-up for the most part.

Another quote I read made me think:

 “Life isn’t all about the happy times we have.  It’s about living through all the challenges life has given us, and all we have ever been through.”

And then there was this cool thing I found on the Tiny Buddha website:

Why the Grass is Never Greener and How to Be Happy Today

“If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.” ~Unknown

Lifestyle. Opportunities. Wealth. Just think how far we’ve come in the past 100 years—especially when you look at what we have today compared with our great grandmothers’ generation.

My great grandmother married very young, lived in the same place her whole life, and had 11 children. She never had a “career” and never got a chance to go on a vacation. Her life was hard, poor, and lacking in any real opportunity.

I wonder if she ever dreamed about moving to another city, or transforming her life, or about seeing the world with just a backpack. I bet she did, but back then there weren’t as many opportunities as we have today…..But when there is a wealth of opportunities, choices, and places where we could choose to live, you’d think we’d all be happy, right? Wrong.

…..We can’t settle on what we already have or be satisfied with what we’ve got because we’ll always be wondering about the next big thing.

It’s called “the grass is always greener” syndrome. We think someone else is having a better time elsewhere. We make ourselves miserable by constantly thinking about the unknown in an endless quest to find happiness.

We lie awake at night torturing ourselves over what we should do next, wondering if we’re missing out on something big. We feel we’re wasting our lives if we’re not doing something more important.

There’s also this sense of time pressure, particularly with my generation who had the saying “The World is your Oyster” drilled into us from a young age.

This means there can be a sense of urgency, because we feel like we’re running out of time and should be doing something greater or somehow we’ll fail.

We also think we’re special and that our lives are destined to be adventurous, thrilling, and hugely successful. And when they’re not turning out that way? We become depressed. We want more. We get “grass is greener” syndrome.

….Focusing on things we don’t have is a recipe for disaster. It only leads to a miserable existence and causes us to forget what’s most important—and that’s what’s happening right now.

As John Lennon once said: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” And that’s certainly true……Mindfulness helps you to appreciate life as it happens. It stops us from agonizing over what might’ve been or what could be. It just brings us back to the present.….But whenever you feel yourself losing focus and wondering about where you’ll be happy next, bring yourself back to the present, look at what you already have, look around you and enjoy the moments that are happening right now.….Happiness is a state of mind.

Out of the mouths of others, but oh so true.

Life is an evolution. Part of that evolution is how we grow, how we love, how we appreciate life, and a sense of spirituality.

Thanks for joining me on my random flowing stream of consciousness.

Enjoy your weekend and be happy!

christmas in july barn sale!

It’s Christmas in July! The Smithfield Barn is open tomorrow Saturday, July 26, 10 am to 4 pm! 425 Little Conestoga Road in Downingtown!

This is a barn clearing sale loaded with furniture, vintage china, vintage linens, tons of vintage Christmas ornaments, vintage fishing rods, tools, you name it it is there !

Cash and carry works best!

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linden hall has a savior finally?

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I have written about Linden Hall on Lancaster Avenue in Frazer a few times the past couple of years.

Linden Hall has been rotting month by month, and becoming more and more vine covered. In recent months driving by , I have noticed more broken panes of glass.

According to eastwhiteland.org it was also know as “Wayne Tavern”. Although this location has some historic importance, I can’t find much about it.

On TEHistory.org I found one mention a while ago :

…at the end of #352, and again on the north side, stands the General Wayne Tavern, now a private residence. In 1777 Washington’s troops camped near the General Wayne.

So anyway….there was a Planning Commission meeting in East Whiteland last evening and Linden Hall was on the agenda:

5. Subdivision and Land Development: The Benson Companies, LLC, renovation of Linden Hall and the development of 60 townhouses on two parcels on the north side of Rt. 30 opposite the intersection of Rt. 352 in a VMX – Village Mixed Use Zoning District.

The site is 8.7 acres I am told. I don’t know if all of the land is usable, so I am not sure if 60 townhouse development is incredibly dense for the site, or moderate. It would be nice to get an online peek at the plans, but I don’t know if that will happen. And East Whiteland neither records nor televises meetings.

Previously I saw the property being marketed as things like “Linden Hall Shopping Center” which made me shudder because how many bad strip malls and mish-mosh shopping centers is needed along there, right? (But given what is up the road a bit, I guess everyone is lucky the site never became another run-down trailer park.)

There has been a Linden Hall Development LLC registered in PA since 2000 (Entity Number:2936326 , Entity Creation Date: 4/14/2000), and I found that mentioned in archived East Whiteland meeting notes from 2010.
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I think if a developer is offering to restore and do an adaptive reuse of the actual Linden Hall it is far better a choice than what was once contemplated. Reference please the article from the Daily Local circa 2001:

E. Whiteland OKs exception to moratorium By Pateen Corcoran
POSTED: 05/28/01, 12:00 AM EDT | 0 COMMENTS

Though some questioned the waiver, a proposal to start the planning process for 50,100 square feet of commercial space on Route 30, known as the Linden Hall development, was unanimously approved.

Officials have defended their decision to allow the developer to submit a new plan despite the building moratorium since a similar proposal had been given final approval before the moratorium was enacted.

“The moratorium allows exceptions to previously approved subdivisions,” said Supervisor Virginia McMichael. “This project falls under that.”

“In the moratorium ordinance there’s a provision for this exception,” said Township Manager Terry Woodman.

Residents, however, questioned the exception.

“Everybody’s much concerned that they allowed the exception to the moratorium,” said resident Renee Mott…..Originally approved at the site was about 60,000 square feet of commercial space to include a Super Fresh supermarket.

“We’ve had an approval for over a year for a shopping center and a couple of shops,” said Linden Hall attorney Wendy McLean.

The proposed development will be located on about nine acres on the north side of Route 30, opposite Route 352.

The new plan proposes smaller shops, while eliminating the supermarket. A Class One historical building on the site is proposed to be used for offices, said McLean…..The sudden death of the project’s developer caused a delay. “It took the family quite a while to figure out what to do,” said McLean. “In the meantime the supermarket backed out and we haven’t been able to get another supermarket interested.”….Davis and McMichael voted to approve the waiver. Chairwoman Michele Vaughn was absent.

(Yes, the same Michelle Vaughn who just finished her time as head of the Chesco Dems.)

Linden Hall has been on and off East Whiteland Township agendas over the years and as time has passed it has fallen into more and more disrepair. So with cautious optimism I am pleased to report that Benson Companies apparently presented what were described to me as “very nice sketch plans.” It appears to be a much better use of the property that planners are hopeful will clean up that particular area, which quite frankly looks like crap.

Discussed in conjunction with the plan were proposed crosswalks to be installed across Lancaster Avenue (Lincoln Highway, Route 30- take your pick) and Route 352. Traffic improvements there I am sure would be welcome, and hopefully that might deter drivers playing beat the light as well as running that light.

As for the actual adaptive reuse of Linden Hall on the site, my sources tell me the developer will actually make the historic structure his new offices (he is currently on Phoenixville Pike). Apparently (and welcome news as well), Benson Companies has been working with East Whiteland’s Historic Commission to keep the historic look of the structure, while modernizing and adding onto the back.

I had heard of Benson Companies before because of a development they are doing on Strafford Avenue near the farmers market in Wayne, PA. That development is the old Chef Tells/Villa Strafford site, which has been another somewhat concerning and contentious development site for a few years. The contention there started several developers ago on that site in 2011. I had no idea until recently that this was the developer that ended up with this site as that location has been a case of whose on first the past few years. However, in all fairness, I have heard that this development site is finally not as contentious.

Fingers crossed on this one. I am glad someone wants to save this old structure. After all, you don’t hear news like this very often when development news occurs, do you ?
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life is good

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Life is good in a summer garden.

Morning is filled with the sounds of bird song . I can smell the garden phlox and roses as I water the rest of the plants. The garden is exploding with the colors of the end of mid- summer.

In the background I can hear my neighbor’s chickens clucking with some indignation of an inter-chicken family squabble.

A brave jack rabbit hops tentatively up a garden path.

A hummingbird along with a hummingbird moth flit from flower to flower in the main perennial bed.

I can now also hear in the background the hum of cicadas. To me, that is always the signal that another stage of the season called summer is about to begin.

The day started out with a heavy humid dampness, and is no doubt going to be somewhat of a scorcher before all is said and done and the sun is down. But these are the beautiful days we should cherish in the middle of winter and in our memories forever.

People often mock anyone who refers to life’s simple pleasures, but this is indeed one of them. To be able to sit in a porch chair and look at what you have created and what is growing is such a rare treat.

It may be an old cliché that people need to stop and smell the roses, but sometimes you just have to. With all the ugliness that exists in this world, there’s nothing more beautiful than a garden in bloom. I feel really sorry for people that are so miserable, mired down, and stuck that they can’t experience the simple goodness of things like this. Gardening truly is good for your soul.

Thanks for stopping by!
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