historic preservation in east whiteland?

DSC_3517If you noticed I phrased the title of this post with a question mark at the end. I have to as much as it pains me, because after almost five years I am still trying to figure out what the East Whiteland Historical Commission actually does and what historic preservation means in East Whiteland.

Yes they have a page on the East Whiteland Township website. But it says nothing. Except they meet once a month. There are no meeting agendas posted or archived on the township website that can be found and the same can be said for meeting minutes.  Yes they meet once a month but people have lives and it is a nice theory to attend their meetings every month of every year, but wouldn’t it be easier if they simply posted an agenda? And meeting minutes after the fact?

For years all I did was go to municipal meetings.  We live in the Internet age, we should be able to discover what is going on via each township website if it does not happen via local access television. And every other historical commission or whatever a municipality calls their historical preservation committee pretty much does that. They post information. They host events. They interact.  They are generally speaking, really cool people who really care about the history of where they live. Willistown, East Goshen, Radnor, and Lower Merion Townships come to mind immediately. You might not always agree with what the various independent hstorical societies or municipality based historical commissions do or don’t do, but you can find them. They don’t act like a social club meets secret society.

Look at Historic Sugartown and Historic Goshenville. That is preservation in action. Those were two things I checked very soon after I came to Chester County. And the Historic Village of Yellow Springs was a favorite before I moved to Chester County.

East Whiteland as a municipality is one a lot of people do not recognize.  It is a place people go through. There is no town center. It’s identity gets lost in the “Malvern” of it all. And Malvern is in how many municipalities? None of this is East Whiteland’s fault, it is just the way the township evolved with it’s place in Chester County.

25436243550_70dfd2181d_oEast Whiteland has more commercial “residents” than residential “residents”. But it is a cool place with a lot of interesting history. And the history is at risk, because much like a neighboring municipality (Tredyffrin) there really is not anything written down anywhere that can save historic assets.  Not that a lot of municipalities in Pennsylvania are truly protected when it comes to their historic assets.

There are a lot of people with good intentions in Pennsylvania but the truth is if you go through the Municipalities Planning Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania there isn’t enough on historic preservation – there is guidance but the truth of the matter is Pennsylvania does not make it as enticing as some other states do with regards to rewarding people for historic preservation. A number of states offer a tidy bit of “encouragement” in the form of serious property tax abatements, credits for rehabilitation, including owner-occupied residential properties, and tax deductions for easement donations. (See preservationnation.org and truthfully historic tax credits in other states are a little shaky in a funky economy according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.)

I have watched as historic structures have fallen. Literally. I watched it happen with Addison Mizner’s La Ronda which stood until the fall of 2009.  And even the extremely well-heeled and politically connected Lower Merion Township could save that beauty. And they tried. It was one of those rare occasions in that politically over-active township when all residents and factions came together with the purpose of saving La Ronda. The sad thing there is the commissioners vowed after La Ronda fell to do better at historic preservation.  Residents, sadly, still wait for that as they fear every new development plan.

At a recent open house at Loch Aerie I encountered some woman from the East Whiteland Historical Commission.  Seriously, if she could have willed the ground to have opened up and swallowed me she would have. Her name escapes me. She mentioned that Loch Aerie was going to be discussed at an upcoming meeting. I asked what it was they were going to do to save the mansion, what could they do?  Blank stare. What did I mean? (Yes, really.)

So I asked about other historic preservation efforts namely Linden Hall also on Lancaster Ave at the foot of Route 352. She tells me it is saved. I asked if it really was since the only thing that had really occurred was the developer said they would save it during plan approval stage, but they in truth don’t have to save it as there was nothing to make them save it.

And Linden Hall just gets more and more sad by the day. The stick frame cheap looking townhouses are going up all around her and Linden Hall? Just sits there and continues to deteriorate.  If Linden Hall is being preserved and it was a condition of development approval from another developer different from the one now building the surrounding townhouses, when is preservation set to begin? Is there a date? A plan? A time line?

16860856838_1dcdf2a84c_oThere has been increasing media attention on the fate of Loch Aerie. That has not been generated by the East Whiteland Historical Commission. It has been generated by concerned Chester County and East Whiteland residents NOT part of the East Whiteland Historical Commission or having anything to do with the township at all. But East Whiteland residents and those in Chester County concerned with historic preservation would love it if the East Whiteland Historical Commission were more visible and consistently verbal. They had media at a recent meeting because residents told them when the meeting was, not because they were invited.

Look East Whiteland is not the only municipality that needs to be more active and consistent in historic preservation, but the needs are pressing in this particular township because of structures like Linden Hall and Loch Aerie.

Loch Aerie has been described by more than me as being Chester County’s La Ronda. Only there is a chance here if everyone pulls together of Loch Aerie NOT succumbing to the same fate as La Ronda, which ceased to exist on a brilliant fall day in 2009.

Here is the press thus far on Loch Aerie (and more is coming now that the Philadelphia Inquire put her on the front page of the Sunday paper):

Updated: APRIL 10, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
by Kristin E. Holmes, Staff Writer Philadelphia Inquirer

SavvyMainLine: Villa & Shipley alumna/author J. Knoll comes clean about the gang rape in Luckiest Girl Alive, plus other brave souls & a mansion worth saving

Philadelphia Magazine: Could Chester County Lose A Piece of Its History?

The historic Loch Aerie mansion goes up for auction next week. Local preservationists vow to save it. APRIL 12, 2016 AT 8:00 AM

Vista Today: A Diamond in the Sprawl, This Historic Chester County Mansion is Heading to the Auction Block Posted By: Lance KnickerbockerPosted date: April 11, 2016

changes at the daily local

IMG_0287 (1)Many moons ago in a time far, far away I wrote a very tongue in cheek e-mail as a blogger to a new newspaper editor for the local paper where I lived. I welcomed the “new sheriff in town.”  The editor laughed.

His name was Tom Murray, and I respect him a great deal.  He came up in journalism as a true newspaperman and when I first met him he had come in as the new Managing Editor of then Main Line Life. His job grew to run the day-to-day operations of the Editorial Department for three weekly newspapers, Main Line Times, Main Line Suburban Life and King of Prussia Courier – he was part of the transition to “Main Line Media News” as you know the papers today online.

I started blogging before it was quite fashionable, and when I started it was often perceived as a bit scandalous and definitely controversial – a lot has changed since the early 2000s, hasn’t it? Now it is sort of everyone-has-a-blog or website or vlog…and some still find me scandalous or controversial when they don’t agree with me.

During his many year tenure at Main Line Life/Main Line Media News I wrote a lot of reader’s editorials. I wasn’t the only one – Tom was a big believer in the vox populi or the voice of the people.  Tom is one the many traditional journalists I know that has helped me become a better writer. More importantly, this guy does good newspaper.

And guess what? He is a new sheriff in town yet again where I live now (Chester County). Tom is now Tom is the Lead Content manager at the West Chester Daily Local News, the top editorial position in the newsroom. The role includes newsroom contact with the public and administrative management of editorial employees in addition to content manager duties.

When I heard Tom was moving into this role at the Daily Local I was psyched.  Andy Hachadorian was an awesome editor in his own right, but this was the guy who edited the local paper I loved when I lived on the Main Line. So Andy stepped away from the helm in late February and Tom stepped up.

Chester County, we are lucky to have him.

He can be found not only in the newsroom of the Daily Local but back in The Editor’s Corner, his blog:

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 Welcome to Editor’s Corner

 Good day Chester County.
 I wanted to take a few minutes of your valuable time and  introduce The Editor’s Corner to West Chester Daily Local  News readers.

For some, it’s more of a reintroduction as I worked with many people in Chester County over the years, while for others, this is the chance to introduce myself as the new Lead Content Manager of the West Chester Daily Local News.

For my old friends, I’m back and hopefully better than ever. We met years ago when I was Executive Editor of Main Line Media News ….And for the rest of the Chester County residents, I’m excited to be the contact person here at dailylocalnews.com as well as the print edition of the West Chester Daily Local News…..Just a heads up, I won’t be talking about Kanye and the Kardashians, unless Kanye really does run for president, but other than that, I hope to use this space to not only give my insights on the hot local topics of the day, but more importantly, start a dialogue with everyone and hopefully this can turn into a conversation.

There is more to this post , so I hope you go read the whole thing.  And he means what he says: he is an editor you can talk to.

Glad to have you in Chester County, Tom. You always were my favorite new sheriff in town 🙂  I wish Jim McCaffrey was around to see this….

Want to connect with Tom? tmurray [at] 21st-centurymedia.com

if you have this book you have an illustration of loch aerie

 
If you have this Little Golden Book – A Child’s Garden of Verses illustrated by Eloise Wilken then you have an illustration of Loch Aerie from the rear that was done originally around 1957! The book is still in print today and you can buy it on Amazon for your children or grandchildren.

That is the cool thing about this old mansion which had its last open house before the April 21 auction today – the more I write about it the more people contact me to tell me about things where the mansion is pictured or featured in.

I can find almost nothing about the Lockwood family but I keep discovering things about the mansion.

Loch Aerie apparently has inspired artists, photographers, and illustrators since she was built.

Praying for a conservation/preservation minded buyer.  This old gal deserves more then a haphazard developer who won’t care.  There is enough of that going around these days already.

#thisplacematters  

this is progress?

Ann Pugh Farm todayIt was marketed as a “Main Line Classic”. A “Historic Estate Property.”  Only in the end it was just another demolition in the march of new development in Chester County.

It was the Ann Pugh Farm

pugh farm then

And then it wasn’t.

pugh

The property was idyllic. And updated. It was in short, amazing.  But although historic, there was nothing in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County to protect it. I wrote about it twice, Tredyffrin Community Matters wrote about it.  At the time both blogs took an enormous amount of guff for doing so.  We were being mean and unfair and so on and so forth.

A quote from one of comment leavers on Commuity Matters at the time:

You are losing sight of the issue, is it preservation, or is it simply opposition to new construction?

I thought Pattye Benson summed up everyone’s thoughts who were distraught at what we felt was wanton destruction when she replied:

Not opposed to new construction — just support the preservation of our community’s historic resources.

 

And that is the truth.  You can’t save every old mansion, house, farm, barn, and storefront.  But we need to preserve more in our communities than we are.  We need balance between the old and the new and progress should not erase our history. (Speaking of preservation, check out Savvy Main Line’s shout out for a preservation buyer for Chester County’s La Ronda known as Loch Aerie in this week’s column and news round up.)

The friend who sent me the photo of the Ann Pugh replacement today remarked that whomever built the house might still have their former home on Pugh for sale? I have no way of knowing, and do not really care but what I will never understand is living down the street from something that was as beautiful as Ann Pugh Farm and then tearing it down to make your mark on the landscape, can you?

The other thing I find so sad with all of this is the fact that in the two years between Ann Pugh coming tumbling down and today, Tredyffrin has not changed the way they protect historic assets in their township.  After all, if they had, perhaps the Old Covered Wagon Inn in Strafford would not be at risk for demolition, right?

And the thing is that Tredyffrin Township is home to some amazing historic preservationists that are active and visible in the community.  But when zoning and planning and ordinances don’t match up and the Municipalities Planning Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania do not match with a community’s desire to protect at least some of their history and architectural heritage what can you do? (The short answer is not much and you have to get lucky.)

I keep hoping East Whiteland will wake up before it’s too late.  As a municipality they are facing essentially wanton commercial and residential development, and it is not necessarily what the majority of residents want but does that matter? The East Whiteland Historical Commission has made a couple of public utterances lately, but what exactly is there to back up what they are saying?  Do they have a game plan? Or are they just beating their chests because they were awoken from their relatively inactive slumber?

Or they love their history and work to preserve it actively like East Goshen and Willistown? Like the beautiful and historic homes lovingly preserved in the Boroughs of West Chester and Kennett Square? Wouldn’t you love more preservation like Historic Sugartown, Goshenville, and Yellow Springs Village?

West Vincent is another municipality in the throes of development. There residents are worried this once idyllic township is disappearing one development at a time and where you used to smell the smells of crops and live stock, on a sunny day if you are close enough, you smell plastic. The new plastic smell of tract houses and development with no soul. In West Vincent residents are wondering what it would take to get the zoning found in Willistown and Charesltown townships and other places in Chester County where they wisely added lot size requirements to their codes in an effort to at least retain some of the open space if they can’t save the old houses and farms.

People in West Vincent are terrified over huge tracts of land like Bryn Coed.  Bryn Coed is roughly twice the size Chesterbrook was amassed to be before original development, correct?  And it is an estate in more than one municipality, right? So what happens if Bryn Coed gets developed? Or is it more like when? It is a huge amount of land for people to be caretakers over in today’s economy, so I am just being practical as I do not see it surviving and neither do most people. But what will it become? The new Chesterbook? A Bensalem lite?

And that is the problem throughout Chester County: there is not enough to save the history and barely enough to hang on to some of the open space.  If we all do not come together in this county, what we love about Chester County will literally cease to exist.  And what of the farming? What happens when you develop away all of the farms? Or add chemical plants where they once stood?

It’s a lot to think about, but we must. We have an opportunity in a Presidential Election Year to demand more transparency from candidates for every level of office when it comes to open space preservation, land conservation, environmental conservation, farming, development, historic preservation.  Ask the candidates. Whether running for a local supervisor to Congress, to State House to State and U.S. Senate it doesn’t matter who you are, ask the candidates the tough questions and make them earn their votes.

It’s time to #SaveChesterCounty before what we love is all gone.

pet peeve: what happened to e-mail etiquette?

  Recently,a friend of mine who is running for political office did not check with his staff and they sent  out a giant email to a huge and completely unblinded email list. It was an honest mistake committed in haste. He apologized to all concerned.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it actually is. It was an enormous list of email addresses, and a lot of people like to keep their personal and business email addresses separate and off future lists of people they don’t know. A somewhat futile attempt to personal privacy in the electronic age.

Recently I have received a few non-profit solicitation emails from people I have zero connection to. We don’t live near each other, we don’t socialize, we don’t volunteer together. And they were nonprofit things that did not interest me in the least or would  have interested me. One was for a start up non-profit that I had never even heard of.

I decided to figure out what the commonality was and how they would’ve obtained my personal email address. Well, I discovered the commonality and was somewhat disappointed. The commonality is a person who sold me something close to a decade ago. So they would’ve had my email address for business purposes only. We aren’t friends on a personal level. We never socialized together.

I find that somewhat irritating. I volunteer with things that I find of specific interest to me. But in all the years I have been volunteering I have never added anyone’s name to an email list for funds solicitation or an invitation to buy tickets to an event without asking them if it was OK to add their name and email address.

And I certainly have never used addresses obtained for business purposes in this way. And it used to be that people used email etiquette not only in how they framed and phrased and wrote their emails, but to whom they sent them and when and how.

I really think that we should pay more attention to email etiquette whenever possible. We are in an electronic age and a lot of things go via email. We all get so much junk email even with email spam filters.

And besides, if you’re trying to interest someone in a charitable endeavor personal outreach is always preferred at first. That way you find out if the person you are connecting with is even interested in what you are doing. It is much nicer than selling or giving away your email list.

Just my two cents. And if the person I did business with once a decade ago reads this post, please stop giving out people’s email addresses you obtained for business purposes. It’s just not nice.

Thanks for stopping by.

thank you philadelphia inquirer for caring about loch aerie!

Loch Aerie at the most recent auction preview last week.

This morning Loch Aerie a/k/a Lockwood Mansion a/k/a Glen Loch is front and center with attention where she deserves to be thanks to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Kristin Holmes wrote a beautiful article and I can’t thank her enough for the time she has spent over the past few months with my friends and I. We pitched her the story of Chester County’s LaRonda starting months ago, and the nature and cycle of news being what it was, only recently did the hard work on the article begin. Kristin told me the mansion’s story would be told again. She is a woman of her word!

Thank you Kristin.

East Whiteland’s Historic Commission ended up featured somewhat prominently in the article with a somewhat dramatic statement from it’s chair:

Loch Aerie will be razed over “my dead body,” vowed Timothy Caban, chairman of the East Whiteland Township Historical Commission

Hope he means it. Oh and he is welcome for the attention that Loch Aerie has been getting in the hopes of attracting a preservation buyer. 

  A small correction to the article is the misperception that Linden Hall also in East Whiteland is actually saved.  It’s not. The developer said they would save it if they could build the cheap looking stick frame townhouses going up around her at Routes 30 and 352, but nothing has been done restoration-wise that is noticeable to residents thus far, isn’t that true? If some restoration has actually begin, it would be nice if East Whiteland’s Historic Commisison would share the details, wouldn’t it?

And yes I drove past Linden Hall twice yesterday. (I will stop harping about Linden Hall when I actually see some restoration and preservation occurring. Until then she is just looking like demolition by neglect.) 

There is nothing substantive in East Whiteland Township to save historic structures.  That needs to change. What also needs to change is East Whiteland’s historical commission needs to join the modern era and cease operating like a secret society. It should not take a reporter to get a statement out of them. They should be publicly posting agendas and meeting minutes and preservation initiatives and they do not.

  Thank you to everyone who cares about Loch Aerie because #thisplacematters . And that includes the auction company. They have been so gracious and I think even they want the old gal preserved.

It will take a village and then some to save Loch Aerie. Holding my breath until it happens.

Thank you again Kristin Holmes for caring and writing a terrific article. Thank you Philadelphia Inquirer for the amazing, amazing placement!

Here is an excerpt of the article and please take the time to read the entire piece and look at the amazing photos he Inquirer took:

News: Squeezed by development, grand Chester County mansion goes on the block

by Kristin E. Holmes, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer Updated: APRIL 10, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT

Before the Sheraton moved in across the road, before Home Depot set up shop next door, Loch Aerie was the bewitching summer estate of a gentleman farmer who amassed a great fortune manufacturing paper shirt collars…..Loch Aerie’s admirers worry for its future.

“What tends to happen with sites like these is that because they are outside the city, they are viewed as only locally significant, when that’s not true,” said Aaron Wunsch, an assistant professor of historic preservation at the University of Pennsylvania. “This house is regionally significant, and we are losing the interesting big suburban houses of that period.”

La Ronda, a Bryn Mawr mansion by renowned resort architect Addison Mizner, was razed in 2009….The two-acre property is owned by the family of Daniel Tabas, who bought it in 1967. With his brother, Charles, Tabas amassed a business and real estate empire that included Mickey Rooney’s Tabas Hotel in Downingtown, Twelve Caesars banquet hall on City Avenue, and the Riverfront Restaurant & Dinner Theater in Philadelphia. He died in 2003.

The family attempted to auction off Loch Aerie several years ago, and turned down an offer of more than $600,000, said Bob Dann, the auction house’s chief operating officer. This time the family will accept the minimum bid, he said…Chester County historian Eugene DiOrio contends that Loch Aerie would easily qualify for the National Register of Historic Places

You have survived so much Loch Aerie. Finger crossed for your future.

  

the federal government is letting the kennedy-supplee mansion ROT

 

In case you’ve ever wondered why we can’t trust local government to protect historic assets or structures that should be historically protected  (like Loch Aerie and Linden Hall in East Whiteland Township, Chester County) look no further than the glorious example set by the Federal Government.

Witness demolition by neglect of the Kennedy-Supplee Mansion on the edge of Valley Forge Park as seen from Route 422.

  Yes, our government at work. This mansion is owned by the National Park Service. Apparently they are looking for a tenant:

National Park Service (NPS) at Valley Forge National Historical Park is accepting responses to the Kennedy Supplee Mansion Request for Proposals (RFP) until a responsive proposal is received or the RFP is cancelled. Please refer to the RFP for more information.
Site tours are now available. Please contact Patrick (Pat) Madden at pat_madden@nps.gov for more information.

How about that? Have they taken a good look at the mansion lately?

It is simply shocking.

The Daily Local had an article about the renting out of historic properties in Valley Forge in 2015.

  This mansion was once in the tiny town of Port Kennedy which was pretty much swallowed by Route 422. It has Route 23 on the other side. 

The Italianate style 19th century mansion was last used as a restaurant until they went belly up. Since then it has sat and rotted. It has it’s own Wikipedia page.

It is part of that same HABS study it seems that also wrote up Loch Aerie.

Summary from the Historic American Buildings Survey is found on the Wikepedia Page. It is very interesting.

But the moral of this story remains if our own Federal Government doesn’t maintain the historic structures or assets they own, how on earth can we ever be confident in historic preservation on a local and state level?

It’s just so damn pathetic.

#thisplacematters too.

Thanks for stopping by on spring snow Saturday.

 

went to loch aerie again today

DSC_3507I know, I must be pretty boring since I am stuck on this old mansion.  But I can’t help it. i love Loch Aerie. Or Glen Loch. Or Lockwood Mansion depending on what you know her as.

DSC_3538I went through today with a writer I know and a writer and historian. We explored Loch Aerie again, listening to tales people had to tell. There were people there today who had been in the house over the years.

DSC_3426Among the first people I spoke with was a gentleman whose brother was the motorcycle gang member who was shot on the front porch.  Apparently the brother had rented Loch Aerie along with a woman described as a “Campbell Soup Heiress”. The woman’s last name wasn’t Dorrance, however. And no, I can’t remember what her name was. IN fact I found out she wasn’t an heiress per se but her father was an Executive VP of Campbell Soup.

DSC_3347I saw the marks in the floor today a motorcycle had left.

Then there was the very much older lady who counted all the little steps up to the top of the cupola.  I spent some time up in the cupola today myself. The views are amazing.

There were people who had lived or grown up near by, people who were just curious and a lot of people interested in the property looking Loch Aerie over.  Truthfully the house was packed the entire time.

DSC_3451I smiled quite a few times because I overheard people saying they had come to see Loch Aerie because they had seen it on this blog.

April 21st is the auction.  I hope the right buyer finds her in time.  This really is a truly remarkable piece of American Architecture. Today I noticed details I did not notice last week.

And for all of those people who say “but it is next to the Home Depot” when you are inside, you forget. Everything else just melts away and there you are in this spectacular mansion of a bygone era. And I was pleased to learn from a volunteer from the Chester County Historical Society that there are a bunch of photos at the Historical Society of Loch Aerie when the Lockwood Family lived there.  I am thinking a field trip might be in order.

Follow THIS LINK TO TODAY’S PHOTOS.  And remember, #thisplacematters

DSC_3610

loch aerie photos courtesy of the library of congress

20329_454637497906327_220290741_n (2)

Who knew? Loch Aerie has her own page on a Library of Congress website.  It’s really cool – please CLICK HERE AND GO VISIT.

The photos except the black and white at the bottom which I took are all old ones taken for that August 1958 study. Only I never saw the photos until someone suggested I check the Library of Congress listing for the mansion. These photos are available to the public courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Even the folks at The Library of Congress thinks this Chester County symbol and gem are special.  See??? #thisplacematters 

132029pv 132033pv 132035pv FIRST_FLOOR,_STAIRHALL_ARCH_DETAIL_-_Loch_Aerie,_U.S._Route_30_(East_Whiteland_Township),_Glenloch,_Chester_County,_PA_HABS_PA,15-GLENL,2-6.tif

And finishing with one of my favorite photos that I have personally taken of Loch Aerie:

dsc_7016