By Brian McCullough, Daily Local News
WEST CHESTER >> A developer who fell in love with the Farmers and Mechanics building while he was still in high school is about to begin renovating the historic structure at Market and High streets in the borough’s central business district.
A. Thomas Myles IV and three partners in the Myles Development Co. plan to turn the building into a boutique hotel with 40 rooms, a restaurant on the first floor and a rooftop bar.
Myles bought the building in November 2013 for $3.2 million, and he expects to spend $8 million to $8.5 million on the renovations….Work, which will include extensive interior renovations to turn former offices into hotel rooms and restaurant space as well as pointing and cleaning the outside facade, will begin next week. It is expected to be completed in the spring of 2017, Myles said Monday.
Couldn’t you just jump for joy if you are preservation minded? (Check out these cool photos from Thomas Myles website HERE.)
Thomas Myles is home grown – a 1990 graduate of Bishop Shanahan and according to the Daily Local his love affair with this building started in high school. (Thank goodness people like him still live in Pennsylvania.)
This is the best thing I have read in the paper when it comes to development in forever. Usually we hear about how developers want to tear things down – cue structures like the Old Covered Wagon Inn located in Tredyffrin in Strafford. (The Old Covered Wagon Inn was featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer the other day too!)
If Mr. Myles has the time, we have lots of buildings that need saving – cue in addition, Loch Aerie and Linden Hall in East Whiteland, for example.
I am so happy to read this in the paper as I recall what could have been the fate of this glorious building. (read this old article penned by my pal historian, artist and author Catherine Quillman.) In 1997 one of the times the building was sold, the prognosis was somewhat grim for Farmers and Mechanics (see article from Philadelphia Inquirer archives.) We had a little hope in 2014 when the idea of converting this building to a hotel appeared in the Daily Local. But then I lost track of the issue of this great building and was so pleasantly surprised to read today’s article.
The Farmers and Mechanics Building is West Chester Borough’s historic “skyscraper” . Completed in 1908 in 1908 it is described everywhere as a “six-story skyscraper building, with a basement and penthouse in the Classical Revival style.”
The top floor of the Farmers and Mechanic Building once even featured a roof top garden. The exterior is faced in Indiana limestone and yellow hard face brick, with terra cotta decorative details. A fun fact is that in 1918 when the Boy Scouts were founded in Chester County, the Farmers and Mechanics Building apparently became their headquarters.
During World War II, the building was used to watch for German planes. (Seriously) I have seen Chester County Historical Society photos of people up in what looks like a cupola in the roof watching for planes during World War II.
It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since the 1980s. See the old application here: Farmers and Mechanic Building Historic Register Application.
Can we have a little more of that please in Chester County? And hey other developers? See? You don’t have to be so stuck on crappy new construction development. there is life other than Tyvec and slap dash construction. You can actually try adaptive reuse. Imagine that, right?
Bravo Mr. Myles, bravo.