the mystery of bryn coed….what is going on?

bryn coed noticeWell what is going on at Bryn Coed? That giant land parcel mostly in West Vincent Township? Twice the size of what was cobbled together to form Chesterbrook in Tredyffrin Township?

I realize I am opening up Pandora’s box because I am supposed to be she who is not supposed to ask questions about anything in West Vincent (according to some) but someone sent me the above photo. Bryn Coed Lane IS Bryn Coed, right?

It came with a message about people recently seeing surveyors out there and speculation as to whether the surveyors were there because of a developer, the Deitrich family, a conservation group or any combination of the above? And rumors in the past of family meetings with boatloads of attorneys over this which would be completely normal if true since it is a giant property right?

This property has over 20 tenant properties correct? So if they are going in now to deal with lead pipes and lead paint and whatever deferred maintenance should’ve been done years ago at these houses are getting closed what does that mean exactly? Because you’re also clearing the rent rolls off a large property with each house that gets a notice like this,  so is that clearing the way for conservation or development?
Look conserving this at least in part IS possible just look at King Ranch:

King Ranch: Embryo of preservation In 1982, the Brandywine Conservancy and a group of residents collaborated to buy and save 5,300 acres, lighting the spark that fired the conservation movement in Chester County and beyond.

POSTED: September 21, 2005

Coming south out of Coatesville on Route 82, just beyond the Ercildoun crossroads, time seems to slow down…..This is the land where for almost 40 years steers from the fabled King Ranch of Texas spent blissful summers feeding on lush pastures before they were sent to the packing house.

It is the land of the Cheshire Hunt, where hunters ride to the hounds in pursuit of the wily fox.

And when this land came under threat of development in the 1980s, the Brandywine Conservancy and a group of farsighted residents jumped into the fray to save it, lighting the spark that fired the conservation movement in Chester County and beyond.

“We had to do something,” conservancy founder and chairman George ‘Frolic’ Weymouth said. “We heard they were going to sell to Disney. It was unbelievable.”….

An offer was tendered, but the first negotiations in Kingsville with Jim Clements, Kleberg’s successor, got off to a rocky start.

“Jim Clements told me: ‘I don’t like you and I didn’t like your father, either,’ ” Weymouth recalled. “That kind of took us back a bit.”

Clements turned down the conservancy offer, but on the spur of the moment, Sellers said he and Weymouth offered to buy it all. They asked for a six-month option, which Clements granted.

“It was an interesting time,” Sellers said. The conservation easement movement was in its infancy and the new rules governing such easements coming out of the IRS were untested, he said.

Sellers said skepticism over the deal was rampant. “I never took so many arrows, and I just got out of heart surgery.” Weymouth said he even put his own property up for collateral.

By the time the deadline arrived, 21 investors were persuaded to join a limited partnership, called Buck & Doe Associates, to buy 5,367 acres for approximately $12 million and protect it with conservation easements. A 771-acre parcel was carved out to protect The Laurels, which is now a preserve owned by the Brandywine Conservancy…..

“At the time, it was the biggest privately funded land-conservation deal in the United States,” Sellers said. “It was probably the best real-estate investment these people ever made.”

Boston lawyer Stephen J. Small, who wrote the IRS rules governing conservation easements, said the King Ranch transaction was “a home run of a deal.”

“They were way ahead of their time,” said Small of the Brandywine Conservancy. “They were really pioneers.”

 

There was so much written on King Ranch (including a great article from 2011 from Lancaster Farming about the cattle from Texas returning to Chester County.).  The articles are all fascinating and there is a lot to be learned from them – check out the articles going back a few decades now on the Philadelphia Inquirer website.

Here’s a little Bryn Coed history courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer circa 2005 (really long article, this is just an excerpt):

Deal aims to keep bulldozers at bay A 1,522-acre site, but only 27 lots.

POSTED: June 23, 2005

With Congress and the IRS taking a close look at the tax breaks landowners are claiming for conservation, U.S. Reps. Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.) and Tim Holden (D., Pa.) have started the Congressional Land Trust Caucus to ensure those benefits are preserved.

Their efforts come at a time when a major conservation deal is pending in West Vincent Township that depends on those tax breaks and would preserve at least 1,522 acres in an area under siege as one of the hottest addresses in Chester County.

“We want to make sure they are not taken away,” Gerlach said of the tax breaks during an interview earlier this week. Another goal is to preserve the programs that help land trusts survive and prosper, he said.

The land, most of which is owned by the Bryn Coed Farms Co., includes the homestead of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts and other historically important sites.

Bryn Coed Farms is owned by William, Daniel, and H. Richard Dietrich, all of whom are philanthropists. H. Richard Dietrich Jr. is a trustee of the Philadelphia Art Museum. They are heirs to the Ludens cough-drop fortune…..It is one of the largest conservation transactions in the county since a $12 million arrangement in 1984 that preserved 5,367 acres of the King Ranch.

If the sale goes through for one of the signature landscapes in northern Chester County, there would be 27 lots instead of a potential 700 new homes allowed under the current zoning. Lots would range from two acres to more than 100 acres….

The deal, which has been pulled together by the North American Land Trust, has been in the works for three years, said the trust’s president, Andrew L. Johnson.

North American Land Trust has formed a limited partnership with 12 investors, or founding members, and itself as managing partner, Johnson said. The partnership would buy the land and place conservation easements on it, and members would then be deeded lands with restricted building areas.

The members of the partnership would receive tax deductions based either on the purchase price or, if they wait a year, on the market price, Johnson said….The West Vincent deal stands in contrast to the plans announced for the 450-acre Jerrehian estate, another prized tract outside West Chester, that calls for the construction of 530 new homes.

Since I can’t find this on the North American Land Trust website, I am guessing this fell through, never to be heard of again? Pity.

Saw smatterings of discussion on Pottstown Mercury site years ago, and the last mention I seem to be able to find is in The Phoenix in 2006.

Rolling the years back a bit (14 almost to the day), there was a fascinating and extremely LONG article in The Daily Local in 2002:

Buying the farm By MARGARET FITZCHARLES

Farmers Who Have No Roots In The Suburbs, Short Leases On Coveted Land Are The Rule.

POSTED: May 24, 1992

Steering the massive, green John Deere 4440 tractor over loamy Chester County earth, leaving corn seed in his track, Rick Schlosberg is the picture of the modern metropolitan-area farmer: Tending borrowed land on borrowed time.

“I don’t own a stitch of ground,” admitted the rangy 37-year-old. “The day is gone when someone can buy land around here and think they can farm it.”

Schlosberg farms more than 2,000 acres of suburban Philadelphia. Not a stone can he call his own….

The two Holy Grails of rental farming – a large parcel and a long lease – recently were united in one Chester County tract, creating a sensation in the farming community.

Offered for lease was the 1,000-acre Bryn Coed farm in West Vincent, which the Dietrich family, former owners of Ludens candy and the Nan Duskin boutiques, had privately farmed for years.

If they had gone public with their intention to rent, the Dietrichs likely would have been overwhelmed by responses. Instead, their retiring farm manager and his agent quietly asked five area farmers to bid.

The winner was Schlosberg, who was already farming 1,100 acres close to his home in Newtown Square, Delaware County, and had a good track record with large properties.

“The last thing the owners wanted was someone that couldn’t handle it,” said Schlosberg, who was busy planting 700 acres of corn and 200 of soybeans at Bryn Coed.

Schlosberg was coy about the lease, but reliable sources said he was paying $62 per acre for three years.

So there hasn’t been talk of North American Land Trust in conjunction with Bryn Coed for the past few years, but rather Natural Lands Trust which just saved the Haas Estate in Villanova, PA.  I am a big believer of the Natural Lands Trust, so if anyone can save at least a chunk of Bryn Coed it would be them.

But ….BUT this is such a large land parcel. And developers are willing to pay. Hoping for the best, yet fearing for the worst here. If a conservation deal is actually in the works, it would be nice to hear about. But who knows? This is one of the last large prime plums like this in Chester County, right?

Thinking about Bryn Coed of course begs the question of what is happening in Chester County overall with regards to development and when do residents regardless or municipality REALLY have a say?

From one end of the county to the other, open land is under siege. Constantly.

Thanks for stopping by.

west caln house moving day

move4All photos courtesy of John Hashem. He happened to be in West Caln driving on Cedar Knoll Road when it was occurring.

I have always been fascinated by these kinds of house moves. It’s very cool when an old house and building gets a new lease on life.

Apparently the home owner is moving the old house and then building an addition to make the house more livable by today’s standards.

Adaptive reuse and restoration. That is pretty cool in my book!

The company doing the moving is Wolfe. I think what they do is really cool!

move 1 move2 move3 move5

great lecture coming up: rediscovering devon – the history of the devon horse show

devon oldMy pals at the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust have this amazing lecture planned about the history of the Devon Horse Show. And  Jenkins Arboretum is hosting the event.  And well…my friend Michael Morrison is giving the lecture! No matter how you slice it, this will be terrific!

Devon Inn circa 1900I completely expect nouveaux Devon will be distressed but why fuss? It’s just history. It’s part of the Main Line, Philadelphia, and Chester County. This is not a horse show event, this is a local lecture that will be fascinating.  Our history belongs to all of us, after all.

The Tredyffrin Preservation Trust is a marvelous organization and I just love Jenkins Arboretum and have plants from their plant sales in my garden! And I love learning more about local history! We have such a rich history to draw on, so lectures like this are always interesting and informative.

Here are the Details:

On the eve of the opening of the 120th anniversary of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust is delighted to welcome guest speaker             J. Michael Morrison to the 2016 Spring Lecture Series on Thursday, May 25 at Jenkins Arboretum, 631 Berwyn-Baptist Road, Devon, PA. Reception will begin at 7 PM, followed by lecture at 7:30 PM.

Morrison will present, “Rediscovering Devon”, based on the Society’s book, created to commemorate the history of the Devon Horse Show since its inception in 1896. The oldest and largest outdoor multi-breed competition in the country, Devon’s history is interwoven with the history of the Main Line and Chester County and continues to be part of the fabric of our community.

A native of Upper Merion Township, Morrison has enjoyed a lifelong interest in local history and is currently involved in historic restoration and architectural interior design, featuring antique and repurposed materials.  In addition to serving as President of Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society, Morrison is the President of The King of Prussia Historical Society and has written three books, Images of America”, “Then and Now”’, an in-depth look at the history of King of Prussia and “Upper Merion Township: The First 300 Years”.  In the words of Morrison, “If you are unaware of your past, you are destined to repeat it, and not even know why”.

The Trust is grateful to Dr. Harold Sweetman and the Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens, for their generous sponsorship of the “Rediscovering Devon” lecture on May 25. Plan to arrive early for the lecture and enjoy the botanical gardens wonderful collection of trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns.

“Rediscovering Devon … The History of the Devon Horse Show”
Guest Lecturer: J. Michael Morrison, Historian, Lecturer & Author
Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Cost: $15/person
Refreshments: 7:00 PM – Lecture: 7:30 PM
Location:  Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens,  631 Berwyn Baptist Road, Devon, PA 19333

You can access ticket purchase through the Tredyffrin HistoricPreservation Event Page 

up home and delightful 

 After meeting my friend Pattye for coffee at The Buttery I did the rain crawl back to my car.

I stopped in Up Home for a Mother’s Day gift. I love this store! So pretty and the nicest staff! I especially love their selection of soaps, hand lotions  and candles and La Guiole cutlery. 

Up Home is the perfect store when you need a little accent for your home or a hostess gift or a Mother’s Day present or birthday present. They also have some beautiful art hanging on the walls that is for sale. I posted photos because actually the store carries a lot of items that you don’t really see with the same quality at other  stores.

Check it out – on King in Malvern!

   
    
 

private joshua johnson and the other old souls at ebenezer a.me. on bacton hill road in east whiteland

8585210935_52918cdd7f_o

Someone asked me what it was that made me want to save the graves in the ruins of the Ebenezer AME on Bacton Hill Road in East Whiteland or what old timers in East Whiteland like to call “that old black church”.  What first moved me was the grave you see above of Private Joshua Johnson(1846-1916) who was a member of Company K of the 45th of the United States Colored Troops in the Civil War.

How could he just be abandoned by his church? How could the others? These are people’s ancestors – you know like William Reason who died in 1892? joseph Thomas who was born in 1751? (list below at end of post along with very old article excerpts courtesy of a friend.)

The most history we have on Ebenezer AME was compiled by Eagle Scouts. Daniel Baker was one.  In 1989 he wrote History of the Ebenezer AME Church on Baction Hill Road. Another Eagle Scout,   Mathew Nehring also adopted this site in 2010 and documented graves and did a clean up. Nehring put his results on Find-A-Grave .

This summer is the bicentennial celebration of the A.M.E. Church A/K/A Host of the 50th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference, African Methodist Episcopal Church. It is being held in Philadelphia before the DNC.

Oh yeah, I have tried countless times contacting the AME Church regionally and nationally since we discovered they still own the ruins of Ebenezer A.M.E.  When I did a GIANT e-mail I got some responses last year, but never any follow up. Ministers and church officials asking me to send them information and I have…so many times. And NOTHING.

Ok so NONE of these souls moldering in this forgotten graveyard aren’t my people, don’t share my race or religion, but these people belong to some descendants somewhere, right? Surely the big A.M.E church must care about Ebenezer A.M.E. right?

No. Apparently not.  I have reporters who have expressed interest, but mostly it is just regular people like me and the late Chester County poet A.V. (Ann) Christie. Yes, A.V. Christie. That is how I met her. Because of a graveyard abandoned by time and man.  She died April 7, 2016.  Those of us in East Whiteland and elsewhere who are just regular folk would love to be able to honor Ann’s memory by getting this little graveyard taken care of. She had no tie to it either. Like me she happened upon it.  I believe she helped clean it up a few times a few years ago as well.  Ann once lived nearby to the graveyard.

So yes, #thisplacematters too. 1st District A.M.E. Church is on Twitter about the upcoming bicentennial.  @1stDistrictAMEC is their handle. Maybe they need to be tweeted at to remember the ancestors buried here. They have to be someone’s people, right? The most recent local A.M.E. Church elder I sent information to was a Reverend Lett.

He never replied. It makes me wonder why I care, but I do.  These forgotten people deserve to be remembered and some of the names in the graveyard are still the names of some descendants living in Malvern and Chester County today.

A.M.E. Church does still own Ebenezer A.M.E. Someone trying to assist with research wrote to a friend a few months ago “The county still lists the owners as the African Methodist “Episcapal” [sic] Church, with a mailing address as Malvern R.D. 1. You can see then it hasn’t been used in quite a long time!”

EBene

I also sent information to Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III Editor of the Christian Recorder. That is the official paper of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. I have contacted innumerable local ministers of A.M.E. Churches.

Yet there the graveyard rots on the eve of their bicentennial.  Yep, that is some way to honor the past. To honor freed slaves and civil war soldiers.

The Daily Local was kind enough this week to pick up the tale of Linden Hall. Hopefully they or SOMEONE will decide that the dead of Ebenezer A.M.E. are worth a little bit of attention.

Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery is also known as Chester Valley African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery, or Valley Hill Cemetery. You can also see tombstone photos on Pennsylvania US Gen Web Archives – someone named Fred Kelso popsted them in 2008. One of his photos shows that in 2008 someone still left a Christmas wreath on the ruins of the chuch.

If you know anything about this cemetery or people buried here, please leave a comment.

And also read this fascinating write up of another cemetery probably long gone in East Whiteland – The Flat Road Amish Mennoite Cemetery.

Here is an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1999:

A Lonely Battle For Black Cemeteries In This County Alone, At Least Six Are Abandoned Or In Serious Disrepair. Regulations Are Sparse, Records Mostly Nonexistent.

POSTED: August 10, 1999

Lee Carter pressed paper and pencil to the weather-ravaged tombstone inscriptions, laboring in vain to make out the faded names of the dead…..“It breaks your heart,” Carter said. “You devote your time to these things, and after a while it gets to you. You have to walk away.”

African American cemeteries are vanishing across Chester County, despite efforts of a small cadre determined to save them. At least six independent burial sites, and a seventh just outside the county, have been abandoned or are in serious disrepair, and no one knows how many may already be lost.

It is a phenomenon taking place across the country, black historians say, for reasons that include a lack of regulation, the remote locations of land granted to former slaves, and rural-urban migration…

A registry or listing of all cemeteries does not exist, Hardester said. While for-profit cemeteries are regulated by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission and state Health Department, no group or agency regulates older fraternal or church cemeteries – where the bulk of people living in the 1800s and early 1900s are buried.

Limited state legislation exists to protect unmarked cemeteries from development and to force municipalities or churches to care for neglected or abandoned cemeteries. But Hardester said such legislation, which dates to the 1930s, is rarely invoked because it is obscure and fragmented.

So it is often left to persistent individuals to save them – such as Roger Grigson, president of the Downingtown Historical Society…..

cultural traditions may also play a role, noting that maintaining an oral record traditionally was considered more important in black culture than marking graves with elaborate headstones.

“The people who do remember the oral histories are the older people,” she said. “When they die, they take the knowledge of who’s buried where with them. It’s happening all over the place, and nobody really seems to care.”…Grigson said he spent six months calling the A.M.E. Church’s District 1 headquarters in Philadelphia and was all but ignored.

“They didn’t want to cooperate,” he said. “I called the A.M.E. over and over with no response. When I did get somebody, I was told, `Keep your nose out of it.’ ”

Renee Carey, a South Coatesville resident who is trying to create a database of the people buried in forgotten cemeteries, said she also failed to get any information from the A.M.E. Church after sending repeated e-mails to the records office….The remnants of one A.M.E. church stand next to a trailer park on Bacton Hill Road in East Whiteland. A long-forgotten cemetery surrounds the church, hidden in a jungle-like mix of tall grass, trees, rocks and moss. A headstone has become embedded in a tree trunk.

Many graves there are crudely marked with rocks, which are rounded by rain and embedded like teeth in the ground. The clearest headstone belongs to Joshua Johnson, a Civil War soldier who lived from 1846 to 1916 and whose military unit is etched on his headstone.

Township records say the land belongs to the “AME church at RD 1” in Malvern. Asa McCollum, vice chairman of the trustees for St. Paul’s A.M.E. Church in Malvern, said that the church was not affiliated with his and that the ground belonged to A.M.E. District 1.

Graves identified by Matthew Nehring:

A., H. 54

Bently, James
b. 1819 d. Jun. 12, 1849

Brown, Ann
b. 1811 d. Feb. 5, 1901

Brown, John
b. 1837 d. Apr. 17, 1852

Cogins, Jane
b. 1849 d. 1887

Curtis, Walter
b. 1879 d. Mar., 1880

Davis, Hannah
b. unknown d. Apr. 5, 1898

Edwards, Harriet
b. 1809 d. Dec. 25, 1839

Gassaway, Alice
b. 1867 d. Aug. 28, 1911

H, A E
b. unknown d. unknown

Hooper, Anna E
b. 1821 d. Feb. 23, 1868

Hooper, John
b. unknown d. Apr. 23, 1847

Hooper, Mary Ann
b. 1812 d. Jun. 22, 1889

Johnson, Howard J.
b. unknown d. Oct. 8, 1921

Johnson, Joshua
b. 1846 d. 1916

Johnson, Winfield
b. 1861 d. Jun. 22, 1907

Jones, Clara Bertha
b. unknown d. Jul. 13, 1886

Jones, Sarah
b. unknown d. Jan. 18, 1875

Jones, Sarah J.
b. unknown d. Jan. 12, 1891

Laws, John
b. unknown d. Mar. 20, 1879

Poinsley, William
b. unknown d. Aug. 20, 1906

Reason, Mary
b. 1823 d. Jun. 30, 1888

Reason, William
b. 1817 d. Nov. 26, 1892

Smith, Viola
b. Nov. 30, 1899 d. Mar. 26, 1913

Thomas, Joseph
b. 1810 d. Sep. 10, 1849

Thomas, Joseph
b. 1751 d. Sep. 16, 1840
Trowery, Mabel Bell
b. May 1, 1906 d. Nov. 1, 1906

Trowery, Pauline
b. Apr. 1, 1894 d. Sep. 25, 1906

Williams, Amelia
b. Jul. 11, 1832 d. Feb. 3, 1911

Williams, Ellen
b. unknown d. Apr. 21, 1841

Woodyard, Hiram
b. 1824 d. Dec. 20, 1900

Woodyard, Sarah B.
b. unknown d. Aug., 1896

Collection: African American Newspapers

Publication: THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER

Date: December 18, 1873

Title: NEWS FROM THE CHURCHES.

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Rev. Wm. H. Davis writes from Phoenixville, December 8, 1873. MR. EDITOR:

Upon my arrival at my post I found one of my points at the Deep Valley, the church was in a bad condition, about to fall down. We tore it down and rebuilt it gain, and on last Sunday the 7th we had a good time in the Church. As my presiding elder could not be with me, I got the Rev. R. Norris of West Chester who dedicated the church anew on Sunday morning. I tried to preach, 1 Cor. XV, 57. WE took a collection and got the last dollar. In the afternoon having raised in the morning the last dollar owed on the church the Rev. W.R. Norris commenced the grand jubilee in the afternoon and selected for his text Joshua VI, 16, and the Lord blessed us. WE have a church worth two hundred dollars, today at the Deep Valley.
Collection: African American Newspapers

Publication: THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER

Date: June 7, 1883

Title: REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON MEMOIRS, —–

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON MEMOIRS, —–


PHILA., PA., May 14, 1883.

To the Bishop and Conference: DEAR FATHER IN GOD, AND BRETHREN, -We, your committee, to whom was assigned the sad and solemn duty of considering the life and demise of our brethren and co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord, whom death has claimed as his since last session of the Philadelphia Annual Conference, beg leave to submit the following as the result of our labors”

Rev. Shadrach Blackson was born in Christeen, Deleware, in the year 1809. His parents being in bondage, he was born a slave. His master sold him to a Presbyterian minister in East Whiteland, Chester County, Pa., in 1814. Here he received a common religion and joined the A.M.E. Church at Valley Hill, where he held his membership for over 60 years. 50 years of this time he labored as a local preacher and was a local member of the Philadelphia Annual Conference over 39 years. He departed this life on the 18th day of March, 1883, in the full triumph of faith. He leaves a wife and three children to mourn their loss, but their loss is his eternal gain.
Collection: African American Newspapers

Publication: THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER

Date: November 20, 1890

Title: —– —–

Author: REV. J.M. PALMER, P.E.

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Downingtown circuit under Bro. Reuben L. Patterson is showing signs of improvement worthy of one of far more experience. Membership and interest both increasing.

A genuine quarterly meeting was hat at Ebenezer (Valley Hill) recently began Saturday morning, with preaching by five of the brethren. The great spiritual feast on the Sabbath old fathers declared had not been equaled in many years. Downingtown will soon have a new church. We are confident the people have a mind to work.
Morning Republican, January 27, 1894
Revival meetings were started at the Ebenezer A.M.E Church, near Bacton, on Sunday evening. They are being conducted by the pastor, Rev. R. L. Patterson.
Morning Republican, May 31, 1899
The colored people of Bacton will give a strawberry and ice cream festival on Henry Tinson’s lawn, on mile west of Bacton, Saturday night, June 10th, for the benefit of Ebenezer A.M.E. Sunday School. Committe of arrangements: Henry Tinson, Annie Tinson, Lundon Asparagras, Mary Asparagras, Susan Thomas, Ameilia Johnson, Lydia Wilson. All are welcome.
Morning Republican, December 26, 1899
The Ebenezer A.M.E. Sunday School of Bacton will give their Christmas entertainment in Bacton Hall on Saturday night. There will be recitations, dialogues and singing by the school, and tree sharing and treats for the scholars, after which there will be a sale of refreshments and oysters for the benefit of the Sunday School treasury. The committee of arrangements consists of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Tinson, Mr. and Mrs. Louden Asparagus, Mrs. Amelia Johnson, Mrs. Susan Thomas, Miss Lydia Johnson, Miss Laura Jacson (sic), secretary.
Daily Local News, April 11, 1934
Visitors in the Chester Valley speak of the little building which was once well-known as the colored Baptist Church of Bacton. It has been unused for services for some time, but is yet in fair condition, with the old-fashioned box and pews and the coal oil lamps, and beneath the building the groundhogs have been sleeping in comfort during the past winter. Many old stories are told about that church and the enthusiastic meetings held in other days.

quite the gaffe?

Stoneleigh in Villanoava PA courtesy of Bryn Mawr College files (http://www.brynmawr.edu/iconog/wh/ml/smie.jpg)

Stoneleigh in Vanillaillanova PA courtesy of Bryn Mawr College files (http://www.brynmawr.edu/iconog/wh/ml/smie.jpg)

Today for preservationists there was a very happy headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Updated: MAY 4, 2016 — 3:25 AM EDT

 

How does that work  exactly?

So I am guessing this is all just a silly coincidence of relationships? I mean why cut out the local media until a half hour before this event?  Surely it is a gaffe? Because it just is not right, and let us not forget for a long time it was solely the local papers on the Main Line which carried this story and followed it and covered it and attended mind and rear end numbing meetings in Lower Merion Township.

And then there are the comments on social media including from members of Lower Merion Township Staff who should really know better.  I saved the actual screen shot of the comment but won’t post so as to not embarrass the author of this particular comment:

The transformation of the Haas Estate was initiated by the Haas family but it took a lot of creativity, hard work and leadership by the local government to realize.

Respectfully, I disagree. Lower Merion got lucky and went on to create an ordinance around it that was given an unfortunate nickname. My former township sometimes shall we say likes to ummm, over improve and over complicate things and is that fair to say?

Local government can’t take all the credit on this one alone, sorry. It is mostly the doing of the family. And the Natural Lands Trust.

This year’s Natural Lands Trust  Stardust celebration is being held at Stoneleigh.  Stardust is an amazingly lovely party, so think about supporting it.

 

 

mr. west chester has died

dick yoder

 

How do you write about a man that everyone described as amazing,  kind , giving and generous just for starters?

Suffice it to say that it was really difficult and so wonderful all at the same time to dig into the life of the amazing Dick Yoder, former Mayor of West Chester and institution at West Chester University who passed away a few days ago.

To take this journey, I was guided not only by my editor Lance at Vista.Today but by many present and former West Chester notables like current Mayor Carolyn Comitta (and Tom Comitta!) and former Mayor Tom Chambers and Chairman of the Chester County GOP Val DiGiorgio,, Gneneral Manager Bill Mason of WCHE 1520 AM, and former West Chester Borough Manager Ernie McNeely.

What a guy Dick Yoder was!  I wish I had met him.  I hope my words do him justice. I am only featuring an excerpt of my article here – please visit Vista.Today to read it in its entirety.

Former West Chester Mayor Dick Yoder Dies at 79

by Carla J. Zambelli

Richard “Dick” Yoder, a native West Chester son and two-term Mayor of West Chester,  passed away last Sunday, May 1. He was 79 years old.

….Yoder ran for West Chester Mayor in 2001 and again in 2005. He was elected both times. After reaching the eight-year term limit, Yoder he was succeeded by Carolyn Comitta in 2010.

Mayor Comitta, who served on Borough Council during Yoder’s tenure as mayor, credited Yoder as her inspiration to seek higher public office.

“When I was thinking of running for mayor I met with him regularly at Gramm’s Kitchen. We would have lunch and I would ask what it was like to be mayor; what makes a good mayor. He was always generous with his time,” Comitta said.  “After I was elected, I continued to have lunch with him regularly. I continued to learn.”

…..Former West Chester Mayor Tom Chambers issued a brief statement about the loss of his dear friend Dick Yoder:

“Dick and I were both born and raised in West Chester and I have known his family practically all my life. We were personal friends. We were also fellow former members of the U.S. Marine Corps……I have lost a good friend and comrade. My condolences and heartfelt sympathy go out to his wife, Jean, and his great family. It was my privilege to have known him and I am grateful that he counted me as one of his many good friends.”

Ernie McNeely, Borough Manager during most of Yoder’s tenure and current Township Manager of Lower Merion, described Yoder as a true gentleman.

“Dick Yoder was a dedicated public servant. He transcended any political label as Mayor of West Chester and had broad support from all parts of the community,” said Val DiGiorgio, chairman of the Republican Party of Chester County, echoing McNeely’s comments…..WCHE General Manager Bill Mason described Dick Yoder as Mr. West Chester.  “It was literally god, country, family, and West Chester,” Mason said. “To meet him was to become a friend. He was beloved by everyone he came in contact with.”

 

Also check out this video tribute done in 2015 when he received Citizen of the Year from The Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce:

Citizen of the Year-Yoder from The Media Message on Vimeo.

all that is left are the flowers

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This weekend was my 35th high school reunion from Shipley. And in a blink and a whir of activity it was over.

A lot of people do not go to their reunions for various reasons.  I get it, but in the end I am always glad that I went.

I have a very diverse class and I think so many have become the most interesting people as we have gotten older.  This year, we had several people who had never, ever attended a reunion decide to attend.  I think that made it even more special.

My class was one of the last of the classes of the boarding department – Shipley as did many schools – used to be a boarding and a day school. So we have people coming from literally everywhere.

Our class always has a good time whenever we get together.  We meld.  We add refugees from other classes every time too, which makes the weekend even more fun! This time was no different. But it was all over so soon!

So today, my classmates are on my mind. I can still hear the sounds of laughter and conversation echoing in my head. It’s really nice being able to hit the pause button and catch up.

But now life returns to normal and all that is left are the pretty flowers and some really great memories of a wonderful weekend.