save strafford’s old covered wagon inn!

Pattye Benson Community Matters photo

Pattye Benson Community Matters photo

Yesterday I wrote about the wrecking ball of doom hanging over a very beloved and well-recognized landmark, the Old Covered Wagon Inn of Strafford PA. Once it was a tale of two counties, and apparently at some point the structure got plunked 100% in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County. (Say, has anyone asked Radnor Township how they feel about this??  It is right on the border and they are always taking care of than intersection aren’t they?)

Today thanks to Pattye Benson I have these great photos to share with you.  And a new post:

Preserving Tredyffrin: Inside the Covered Wagon Inn Today

 

There has been questions about the exact date of the Covered Wagon Inn. According to Tredyffrin Township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey, the construction date is attributed to circa 1780. A team of professionals from Preservation Design Partnership in Philadelphia conducted the municipal survey documentation project, which surveyed and documented over 350 historic resources in Tredyffrin Township.

Interestingly in 2004, the Historic Resource Survey was given the Government Award by Preservation Pennsylvania. The project was described as “providing a usable preservation planning tool for a suburban township currently under intense development and redevelopment (in the form of “tear-downs”) pressure.”  The award description went on to say that, “Tredyffrin Township Historic Resources Survey represents a model for the use of technology to document and plan for the management, protection and preservation of historic buildings, sites and districts valued by a municipality.”

The township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey was funded with taxpayer dollars and was intended to aid the municipal officials and staff in the protection of Tredyffrin Township’s resources. The preservation of historic buildings like the Covered Wagon Inn is a one-way street.  There is no chance to reuse or save the building, once it’s gone.  Preservation and restoration is the ultimate form of recycling.  What is historic, and worth saving, varies with the beholder.

 

How horribly and sadly true. Not everyone sees the value in our old and historic structures.

Don’t you wish they would in this case?

http://tinyurl.com/SaveCoveredWagonInn   (Sign the petition!)

 http://www.facebook.com/SaveCoveredWagonInn (like the Facebook page and share your memories and photos!)

The Facebook messages and memories are pouring in – today one that just touched my heart:

 

I proposed to my lovely wife 64 years ago there

 

I.can’t.even. How beautiful.

All these people sharing all of these memories.

And less than 24 hours after launching the Facebook Save page…  1,141 likes and growing! The petition had 1893 signatures last count and that also has not been up a full 24 hours.

#ThisPlaceMatters Keep it up!  Thank you for caring!

Covered Wagon Inn fireplace. Photo courtesy of Pattye Benson Community Matters

Covered Wagon Inn fireplace. Photo courtesy of Pattye Benson Community Matters

 

 

 

for the love of community and history

 

photo courtesy of Pattye Benson and Community Matters. artistic filters applied courtesy of Simple Shots Photography: The Magic of Ordinary Days

 

When my friend Pattye Benson told me about what was up for discussion at a recent Tredyffrin Township meeting, I thought I misunderstood her. I thought they could NOT possibly raze the old Covered Wagon Inn located in Strafford on the corner of Lancaster and Old Eagle School. After all, it is one of the most rcognized landmarks on that part of the upper end of the Main Line in Tredyffrin, Chester County. It also is an ongoing example of adaptive reuse. No matter who rents or owns the site, it endures.

But it is true. (check it out on Scribd)

As Pattye writes for Community Matters:

The last item in front of the Planning Commissioners tonight has personal interest – a land development application to demolish a building a construct a CVS Pharmacy and drive-thru. Summit Realty Advisors will present a plan for the 1-1/2 acre property located at 625/629 East Lancaster Ave. in Wayne. This property is located on the corner of Old Eagle School Road and Lancaster Ave – the Paddock Restaurant (previously John Harvards Brew House) property.

I have no issue with the redevelopment of this property, including the demolition of the ‘new addition’ located at 629 Lancaster, which housed the Paddock Restaurant. But … I have a real problem with demolition of 625 East Lancaster Ave, the historic building that currently houses Thos. Moser Furniture. According to Tredyffrin Township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey, the building was built about 1780 as a private resident. John Palmer owned a farm which included this structure in 1873, indicated on the 1881 atlas map. The structure was enlarged during the 20th century and was known as the Covered Wagon Inn. Well-known on the Main Line for fine dining and dancing, in its heyday the Covered Wagon Inn featured big name bands and performing artists such as Count Basie and Duke Ellington and their orchestras.

I personally also have no issue with redevelopment per se (although I will admit I do not see the need of yet ANOTHER big box of a chain drug store or a big box store in general) but like Pattye I have a HUGE issue with razing this historic building. The old Covered Wagon Inn has stood for 250 years. It’s a local landmark in use currently, means something to the area, so why demolish it? Especially when the Summit Group ironically was involved with a very special adaptive reuse in Ambler, PA as Pattye continues:

In a review of the Summit Realty Advisors website, there are many, many CVS Pharmacy development projects, including a similar current project in Media. However, in the midst of their drug store building portfolio, I discovered a very special project by John Zaharchuk, owner/developer with Summit Realty Advisors. Zaharchuk oversaw the redevelopment of Ambler Boiler House, the 19th century power plant of an abandoned asbestos factory. Working with historic architectural firm, Heckendorn-Shiles (a former historic house tour sponsor) of Wayne, the project redesigned the circa 1897 brick building, preserving its architectural integrity and recycled it into a clean-and-green office development.

Now…what to do with this? You see a major stumbling block is Tredyffrin, like many Chester County municipalities, historic structures are NOT protected (you know like Linden Hall and Loch Aerie in East Whiteland for two other examples?)

 So what can we do?  Quite simply raise awareness and try to change the developer’s mind. Can we do it Chester County and beyond? The answer is we can darn well try! The building is in good shape and occupied and has been basically continually throughout the course of time.

 Yesterday we put our heads together as the blizzard swirled around us and we started a Save The Covered Wagon Inn, Strafford Pa page on Facebook, launched a petition on Change.org http://tinyurl.com/SaveCoveredWagonInn .

In less than 24 hours we have just shy of 500 signatures already on the petition (and growing!) and well OVER 1000 Facebook page likes and growing. Thank you to those who have joined us already and here is an invitation for any of you out there wherever you are to join us!

#ThisPlaceMatters so we have shared our early efforts with The National Trust For Historic Preservation too! In addition to the petition and Facebook page we invite anyone who is preservation minded especially when it comes the the old Covered Wagon Inn to take a photo outside the building with a simple hand lettered sign on a pie of copy paper that says #THISPLACEMATTERS and either post it on the Save The Covered Wagon Inn Facebook Page or post it on Twitter to @SavingPlaces @tredyffrin @TredyffrinTwp  .

Also we are looking for photos of the Old a Covered a Wagon Inn throughout the years. You can send them to Pattye Benson directly at tredyffrincommunitymatters@gmail.com or post them on or message them to the Facebook page.

 One thing that has come out of this since we launched the Facebook page is people sharing memories of The Old Covered Wagon Inn throughout the years. My friends and I in our early 20s danced many a night away at the then “Main Lion” . Here are some of the other memories:

“My parents met at the Covered Wagon! It was a family favorite…..for so many reasons.”


“I have a personal connection, it was the site of my wedding reception. More long term, my family, Davis’, have a long history in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County ,dating back to the 1600’s as shown by Graves in the Valley Baptist Church off Valley Forge Rd, Devon. Please preserve and protect the history of this area and this building in particular.

“My mother took me to see Harry James at the Covered Wagon. She convinced me to go backstage to get his autograph. He must have been in his 70s but he could really play. Nicest guy you’d ever want to meet.”

“They can’t do it!!! Our Saint Katharine of Siena eighth grade graduation celebration was there!! It’s like tearing down Independence Hall, or Betsy Ross’s house. Buildings that involved very very important people and/or events MUST be preserved, cherished and maintained.”


“I remember the 70’s when Mt. Zion AME Church Devon had many Fashion Shows at The Old Covered Wagon Inn. It was gorgeous. So much history. Hopefully it will be restored.”


“The Old Covered Wagon was a frequent advertiser in the Radnor Historical Society Bulletin years ago; feel free to use this ad if you wish to post it.”


 

from the Radnor Historical Society



There is also another post on Community Matters you should read:

Save the Covered Wagon Inn … Say No to Demolition of Main Line Landmark!

 

Community Matters/Pattye Benson photo

Well that is all from me on this snowy Sunday morning. Thanks for stopping by. We hope you will sign and share the petition. As an extended community our history matters.

name that storm (to be)…. #blizzardpocalypse

This was either from snowpocalypse or snowmageddon

This was either from snowpocalypse or snowmageddon of 2010

Sooo…what are we going to hashtag this thing. You know we can’t get through a weather event without a HASHTAG. What would the media do?

Coming up with hashtags and acronyms is amusing to me – games with words, after all.

They are calling this a “blizzard for the ages” and even the New York Times seems all hyped up about this storm.

PA Governor Tom Wolf has already declared a state of emergency.

The media to INCREASE storm hype are calling this Winter Storm Jonas. Since that makes you think of a bad boy band, that might make for an angry storm just out of storm lame name indignation.

Anyway, every good storm needs a hashtag and I say …..(wait for it)….  ‪#‎Blizzardpocalypse‬

#Blizzardpocalypse has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Yes I know, I am being all glib now and this time Saturday I might be somewhat crabby and not wanting a repeat of Little House in The Big Woods 2014 or Modern O’Pioneer.

But for now? For now I am having a little fun.

Please remember to use common sense and stay off the roads and keep fire hydrants CLEAR of snow. And don’t forget to stock up on bread and milk.

Again, feel free to post photos of snow in your neighborhood on Chester County Ramblings Facebook page.

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misdirected emails.

  

Until I started getting misdirected emails a few years ago I never knew there was a Ms. Senior America pageant.

Yes seriously, the objectification of women now goes into our golden years. Is this what we have to look forward to?

Sorry but I think it is ridiculous.

Anyway all of a sudden a few years ago I ended up, or my email address ended up on a Ms. Senior America Pageant list for their Oklahoma chapter. And here I thought Oklahoma was reserved for Ree Drummond the Pioneer Woman. But it’s not. There are also pageant queens from 3 to 99. Who knew?

Anyway, for the past few years I’ve been getting these emails. I alternately go through phases of I contact the sender and say please take me off your email list I’m not who you think I am, to blocking their email addresses, to just deleting the emails.  These emails are like a bad case of poison ivy they just endure.

So yesterday I got this email:

I see that you have two new contestants for the 2016 pageant. I am

so excited about that. We will have a good fun pageant. Senior

ladies that are still active impresses me. You are a beautiful

woman that still cares about your appearance. I think that is so

good.

As you know I was able to arrange a nice facility for our 2016

pageant. I did that by phone and email while I am in Palms

Springs. Carol and I are in touch often making plans for the 2016

pageant.

I would love to see contestants go to National for the finals even

if they aren’t crowned Queen. I have been able to go to most of

the National Finals since 2008 to support our Queen. I was a

contestant in Palms Springs, Calif., then a volunteer. I am a

Cameo member here as well as Oklahoma. Calif. Cameo Club inspires

me. They are so active.

Best regards,

Ladell



Eyes rolling.

Cameo Club? I Googled it. Came up with an odd You Tube video or two (watch one HERE and another one HERE.)

OMG.

I kept Googling. Ms. Senior America is Serious Business. Check out this article I just found in Colorado where they are presently seeking contestants to compete in the national pageant in (of course) Atlantic City.

Supposedly they exist to make senior women feel better about themselves?  I have never *understood* beauty pageants so I definitely do not get this. I look at my mother who quite stylish as a “senior” and try to imagine her doing something like that. Oh my how her eyes would roll at the concept.

Anyway, this time the beauty queens got crabby me. How hard is it to correct an email list after all?  I told them this has been going on for years  at this point.

This is what I got back from “national”:

This is not coming directly from our organization. Each states is independently run. I will reach out to the Oklahoma Admin. and relate this issue to her. I apologize for any inconvenience but I would imagine it is a computer error and I will ask her to please rectify the error ASAP. Thank You for your patience and understanding,

Umm yes. Patience and understanding? Ok but seriously lady, this has been a computer error of a few years duration.

It’s frustrating and it’s also like receiving  someone else’s personal mail left opened in your mailbox. I would just rather not.

My friends find this hysterical and somewhat unbelievable. I don’t think that is what the pageant goddesses are going for.

 I predict some day we will see Sarah Palin in Ms. Senior Alaska…that I would pay good money to see. Caribou Barbie and all that jazz.  But what would be her talent portion of the pageants? (But I digress.)

Anyway, here’s hoping the geriatric Barbies finally remove me from their pageant list. I am just not the tiara type.

Oh and FYI from the Miss Senior Pennsylvania Facebook Page:

Ms. Senior PA Pageant is a pageant to emphasize honor women who have reached the “Age of Elegance.” It is a search for the gracious lady who best exemplifies the dignity, maturity and inner beauty of all senior Americans, the foundation of America.

And the bannner of the page is a lady of a certain age in sweats, a tiara, sneakers….in front of farm animals.

Sorry I just can’t get my head wrapped around this. It is like observing a parallel universe.

The moral of this story is watch where your emails go AND you never know where a misdirected email will end up.

development food for thought

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August 13, 2008.  O’Neill’s apartment buildings Riverwalk at Millennium go up in flames. It burned hard and fast and was awful.  A lot of the articles surrounding this have magically disappeared off of newspaper sites over time but for those of us who worked in Conshohocken during that time frame and watched them going from a dedication where then relatively new President Bush (as in George the younger) was at a brownfield ceremony to sign a piece of legislation known as The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act to a reality often have strong opinions about rapid development and so on.  This legislation was signed in Conshohocken PA in 2002. I know as I was there right in the first few rows watching it happen. My State Senator at the time gave me a ticket.

As the Inquirer article stated at the time:

The legislation that Bush will sign – the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act – creates a five-year program that can give states up to $200 million a year to clean up more than 500,000 polluted industrial sites, more commonly known as brownfields.

The act authorizes money for the cleanups and exempts small businesses from liability if they did not contribute a significant amount of the pollution. It also will create a public record of brownfields.

O’Neill Properties is one of the most familiar names when it comes to developments on sites like this.  Quite a few of the sites like this are actually in Chester County.  In East Whiteland. (Uptown Worthington or Bishop Tube anyone?)

2761103987_6629fc2f5e_oWhen Millennium went up in flames it was a crazy thing to watch, and SO many fire companies responded.  Here is what 6 ABC WPVI TV said at the time:

A multi-alarm fire was raged for hours Wednesday night in the 200 block of Washington Street in Conshohocken.According to Conshohocken Fire Department Chief Robert Phipps, 11 firefighters have been injured due to the multi-alarm fire at the Riverwalk at Millenium and three or four fire trucks have been damaged. The extent of the injuries is not yet known.

Officials also tell Action News that 80 fire companies from 5 counties helped extinguish the blaze…..”It’s surreal. People are just in shock; they don’t know what to do,” resident Hope Raitt said.

It was an emotional scene in the haze of smoke.

Residents were in tears.

Many made frantic calls on cell phones……The main concern for many was their pets.

The Riverwalk at Millenium allows animals, so many people arrived home from work only to learn their pets may be trapped.

 

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A little over a year after the fire, a settlement on it was reached (Click here to read about that).   In the fall of 2010 the project then completed was for sale (Click here to read about that.)  All of this occurred after a big huge article about the developer in Philadelphia Magazine.

After the fire there were enough articles to fell a forest. Again, most of them are no longer online, and who knows if they even exist in archives. Here’s a LINK to a related article having to do with the banking in 2012.) And today Riverwalk at Millennium has reviews on Yelp. A lot of the reviews aren’t exactly flattering. (However in all fairness reviews of Eastside Flats is not so fabulous either – see this and this and this and this.)

In 2010 a crazy lawsuit started in Federal Court about Uptown Worthington (where the Malvern Wegmans and Target and other things are today.) This think burbled and spat fire for a few years until it was settled (one article about this available HERE.)

The food for thought here is simple: what can we learn from other developments? That is a valid question because if you think about it, no matter where we live around here in Southeastern PA we share the commonality of the same or similar pool of developers from place to place.  These developers are like old time mining prospectors – they get what they can get and pull up stakes and move on to the next community. That leaves the reality of these developments for the community to deal with.

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Let’s talk about Eastside Flats. How are they renting really? And why is it these Stoltz people and Korman people don’t seem to care about issues? Or basic things like trash? I was there the other day to have lunch with a friend and there was trash on the sidewalk, like it was a true urban area versus downtown Malvern. And the fake “brick” sidewalks? They look fake, are fake, and are more slippery than the real deal. And what about trucks? Why is it delivery trucks can just block the street, block the only driveways into the parking lots? And the landscaping? Or lack there of?

img_1840And at the end of the day one of the biggest problems with Eastside Flats is still human scale and inappropriate design for the area.  They tower over everything and citify a small town in a way that is architecturally inappropriate. And I would still like to know how fire trucks can navigate this site in the event of fire. How will they reach the rear for example? Via the train tracks? That is another thing that is potentially worrisome.

Development also causes other potential issues. Things like storm water management. When I lived in Lower Merion all you ever heard from the township is how on top of the topic they were.  Yeah right, and they own the Brooklyn Bridge too, right?

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3934298722_d09f391eba_oAbove was my old neighborhood and one photo from Pennsylvania Ave in Bryn Mawr.  I documented storm water management issues for years because even with a summer thunder storm the flooding was insane.  A lot of it had to do with the railroad tracks that ran elevated up their hills through the neighborhood, but not all of it.   We would even have power and Verizon outages from Lancaster Avenue from the water underground. On a few occasions, PECO actually brought in people to pump the water OUT from underneath the ground.

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And have you ever seen what happens when the Schuylkill River floods? Check out this photo I took in Conshohocken in 2007:

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Radnor Township often doesn’t fare better. Next are photos of Wayne a friend of mine took here and there over the past few years:

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Ok so yes, this is the Main Line. Not us here in Chester County. But we can LEARN from their mistakes if our municipalities would kindly wake-up.

Development is an ugly fact of life. No way to seemingly avoid it. And the pool of developers, our veritable land sharks isn’t so big. It’s basically the same ones hop scotching around.

We are Chester County. We were known for great open spaces and farmland and horses and our beautiful natural vistas. I use past tense because development project by development project what Chester County is or was known for is eroding. Fast.

Take for example a project in Willistown I did not realize was happening. Passed by it the other day on Devon Road. Chapel Hill at Daylesford Abbey. People have been upset about this for years….and it finally is starting to happen. (read about it in an old Inquirer Article.)

Or the old DuPont Estate Foxcatcher Farm now Listeter or whatever by Toll?  How jarring is THAT development? And how is it selling? Yes it is neighboring Delaware County but again, it is another example of “is that really what the community wanted or needed”?

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Whenever we read about these developments in the newspaper we hear the talk of “demand”. Whose demand and is it real or imagined?

It doesn’t matter where we live in Chester County, I am reminding all of you once again in 2016 that if we aren’t better stewards of where we live, what we love about Chester County will cease to exist and as we get more and more development we will experience more and more issues like from a lack of true storm water management much like our Main Line neighbors and so on.

Whatever happened to the SOS or Save Open Space initiative in Chester County from the what 1980s and 1990s?  In my opinion we need something like this more than ever. Or we will be seeing more ugliness like the last photo I am going to post. Taken from the Schuylkill Expressway head west as a car passenger recently.  Not sure where the project is, but I think Lower Merion Township near the river?

Bottom line is we need more than lip service when it comes to development from planning, zoning, or elected officials. Doesn’t matter what municipality. We don’t exist in a vacuum and what happens where we live affects our neighbors and vice versa. If your idea of Chester County is well, Chesterbrook or Eastside Flats you will be steaming by now.  But I am betting most of you want more moderation and more land and open space and area character and historic preservation.  Saving land saves us all.

Thanks for stopping by.

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snowy sunday

It’s a lazy slightly snowy Sunday on a holiday weekend. Not much snow in the way of accumulation, just Mother Nature giving us a little frosting, reminding us it’s winter.
  Christmas is finally tucked away in labeled plastic tubs in the attic. Now I look at my house with fresh eyes and as much as I love my vintage ornaments, Santas , and nutcrackers I am glad everything is finally put away. I tried to be better organized this year putting things away, so we’ll see how well I did when December rolls around again.
  I got a really cool Italian print for my kitchen for Christmas and yesterday I took it and a new woodblock cut my friend artist Margery Niblock sent me (also for Christmas) over to Framers Market Gallery in Malvern yesterday for framing and matting.
 But adding two new pieces to my walls means something  has to give.  Which means I have been going from room to room to figure out what gets moved where…and what just comes down. I can always rotate on the walls.

  I have been sitting here with magazines strewn across the bed looking for ideas and future inspiration. Originally I wasn’t going to do this today but the family room has been commandeered as teen game central for hours,  and after cleaning up the kitchen and oiling the cabinets the sounds of gaming sent me up to look at magazines. Either that or I would start commenting on how is it they can yell “ouch” and “ow” repeatedly when we’re talking about what is going on via a television screen. 

(Oops my age and video game intolerance is showing. )

  Today I  have seen all sorts of just fun ideas and repurposing while flipping through my magazine pile which has been accumulating since mid- December. I just love the ideas and possibilities even if it is not something I will necessarily do.

 Old vanity tables repurposed. The beauty of old mismatched candlesticks clustered together.

  

 China cabinets showing up as unexpected storage. An armoire turning into pantry storage in a kitchen. A chippy industrial stool and old signage used as art. Vintage fabrics and linens, farm egg baskets as storage, old white milkglass, pretty vintage books, and more.

 Some of what I see in the magazines  is too fussy and over the top for me. A great deal of what they stage isn’t what you could live with every day, but taking elements here and there and adding it to your home is fun.
  From vintage linens to repurposing things as lighting, seating, and storage it’s a totally fun way to pass the time. You can get some fabulous ideas. And you realize how often you see some of what they are repurposing in thrift or consignment shops, garage sales, and even flea markets.  These are a lot of the things my friend Kristin picks up for the Smithfield Barn – and there sometimes it amazes me that people can’t see the possibilities… and then I see a similar item repurposed in a magazine. 

 And yes, I also went through a gardening magazine or two. 

All in all it has been a lovely and lazy snowy Sunday. (And Downton Abbey is on later!) 

Thanks for stopping by!