hardly fine dining in a fake general warren village

general warren

Sometimes imitation isn’t the sincerest form of flattery. Sometimes it is just imitation or borrowing a name to play on the history they don’t care about anyway.  Such is the case of  developer to the masses Eli Kahn and his “The Village at General Warren”  in the “Charlestown Retail Center”  on “General Warren Blvd” in Malvern off 29 in or near that behemoth of ugliness known as Atwater. You know Atwater, where there is a giant quarry and insufficient fencing? And lots and lots of development?

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It makes me recall a recent blog comment which in part said:

The “Suburban Landscape” County planning category promotes infill and appropriate density. County buzzwords for “put all the crap in this part of the County so we can keep some parts of the County green.”  East Whiteland is already written off as far as controlling development….the more here, the better in the County’s eyes. The prior issue of County Plan had existing homes obliterated by corporate park….so their intent has been clear for a long time. All very sad.

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So that says to me no one really cares, and we have to wonder if everything is a fait accompli? How sad, indeed.

So what got me thinking about this today?  An article in Patch which doesn’t exactly represent actual journalism at this point. They regurgitate the hard work of actual reporters and they post press releases in their entirety as articles. Journalism, Patch style. Here is is with typos (you’re welcome):

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Three screenshots as they appeared in Malvern Patch August 31, 2016

Three screenshots as they appeared in Malvern Patch August 31, 2016

Ah yes another chain pub style restaurant…because there are not enough of them locally, correct? Is this the finest of fine dining they think we should have in Chester County? And much like name brand car dealerships, they all look the same. They all have the same menu. Pick a Whelihan’s, they are all the same and there is one in Downingtown, there is one coming to Oaks, there is one in West Chester, Reading, Allentown, Bethlehem, Reading, Blue Bell, and Leighton and that is just PA. There is also Cherry Hill, Haddon Twp, Maple Shade, Medford Lakes, and Washington Township.

After all, nothing says date night or family dinner out like a modern day Houlihan’s, right?  You can never have too much of the same thing everywhere, right?

I am sorry not sorry but why do we have to be both a development wasteland and a dining wasteland too?

And then there is the whole “Village at General Warren” of it all. Apparently the whole thing is brought to you by a company called Bernardon.  Look at their website and you will find little individuality.  It’s all formula “architecture”  (they also “designed” that thing Easttown residents are fighting called Devon Yard.)

Perhaps Mr. Kahn is getting older and forgets there already is a General Warren Village.  Part of it is located within the view shed of CubeSmart which he built and caused neighbors great distress over, right?

Now granted, General Warren Village as a development. Post WWII.

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But it was a planned development with decent sized lots which did not eat every tree in sight. The kind of development they don’t do today because today it is all about developers getting in and out with as much money as possible, which means what you get are cheaply constructed cram plans of same-y saminess.

The General Warren Inne, for which the real Village is named after is a country inn constructed in 1745. This 250 plus-year-old inn, once owned by the grandson of William Penn, is surrounded by woods on a few acres, and is an 18th century survivor (just think if anyone really gave a crap about Linden Hall, Linden Hall could be just as charming!)

I love the General Warren Inne.  I have seconded wedding photographers there and it is just lovely.  And it is still a bed and breakfast, and provides a wonderful alternative to chain hotels. So you have a developer borrowing the name after a fashion, but I bet they don’t really know the history.  Here is the history compiled by the General Warren Inne on itself:

Since 1745, the historic General Warren has been center stage for American history and a premier carriage stop for hungry travelers.

During The French & Indian War The story of the General Warren can be followed through its name changes. The Inne was first named in 1745 as The Admiral Vernon Inne, in honor of the naval commander Admiral Edward Vernon. He led the 1739 attack and capture of Portobello, Panama. In 1758, the name was changed to the Admiral Warren after the famed Admiral Peter Warren, a hero in defense of the American colony that year at Louisburg, (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia) during the French and Indian War.

American Revolution During the revolution, the inn was owned by John Penn of Philadelphia, loyalist and grandson of William Penn. Its key location on the main highway between Philadelphia and Lancaster had helped the Admiral Warren become a popular stage stop and a Tory stronghold. It was here that the Loyalists met, drew maps and plotted against the revolutionaries. Howe and Cornwallis use these maps to negotiate the great valley, the route to capture Philadelphia.

Paoli Massacre The infamous Paoli Massacre, was planned and launched from The Admiral Warren Inne. Local folklore has it that on the night of September 20, 1777, the British, led by Lord Grey, captured the local blacksmith and tortured him on the third floor of the inn. Upon receiving the information that General “Mad Anthony” Wayne was camped one mile South of the Inne, the British attacked with bayonettes after midnight.

The Lancaster Turnpike Era In 1786, John Penn sold the property to Casper Fahnestock, a German Seventh Day Adventist from Ephrata. During Fahnestock’s long ownership, the Inne once again thrived, attracting many Lancaster County Germans and other travelers along The Lancaster Turnpike because of its reputation for clean lodging and excellent food.

The Early 19th Century In 1825 an effort was made to make amends with the new nation, the Admiral Warren was renamed the General Warren, to honor the American hero of Bunker Hill. During the 1820’s, the height of turnpike travel was reached, and the General Warren became a relay stop for mail stages and a post office. Then in April of 1831, the Philadelphia and Columbia Railway opened for travel, and in May of 1834, the last regular stage went through. The new, faster and cheaper means of travel via the rails doomed the inn as traffic by-passed the property.

The Inn’s Dormant Period In the 1830’s the great grandson of the first Fahnestock turned the Inne into a Temperance Hotel, cutting down his apple orchard to prevent cider from being made. The lack of spirits doomed the hotel, and it closed within a few years. From that point into the early 20th Century, The General Warren changed hands often, occasionally becoming a private residence. In the 1920’s, the inn reopened as a restaurant, with limited success over the next 60 years.

The Modern Era As area population and business grew in the mid 1980’s, the current owners made great strides to return the inn to its 18th Century elegance. The upper floors were renovated into 8 suites, the addition of a private dining room and all-weather heated patio for cocktail parties, outdoor dining and weddings. In 2005, the latest improvements included the new Admiral Vernon Dining Room and the return of The Warren Tavern, a spacious bar for dining and spirits, relocated to the original spot of the old tavern from the 19th Century.

Today at the General Warren Today’s guest at General Warren will find the perfect blend of old world charm, excellence in continental cuisine, fine wines and delightful overnight accommodations.

So the history of the General Warren and the eighteenth century architecture is captured how exactly by this “The Village at General Warren” in the Charlestown Retail Center?

The answer of course, is it is not.  It is just another example of a developer using aspects of our communities to sell their projects.  And another chain restaurant brings mostly minimum wage jobs with it, and well how many people do you know who can support a home and a family on a minimum wage job?

I don’t know who development like this is for, but certainly not truly our communities. Maybe if these developers actually tried to do something better with their commercial spaces or tried to being actual fine dining and not just chain pub food I wouldn’t be so cynical. But I am.

Apparently chain pub food is becoming as plentiful as WaWas. Say here’s an idea: why not merge the two and add a chain drug store with a drive thru. All smushed together – save time!!! No one has ever done that before.

Eyes rolling in Lego Land. It’s a big box world out there.

The General Warren Inne for which the real General Warren Village was named

The General Warren Inne for which the real General Warren Village was named

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5 thoughts on “hardly fine dining in a fake general warren village

  1. You are so wrong about the old “General Warren Village” being a “good” development. If you look at the old photos of when it was being built, the whole hillside was clear cut. There was NO stormwater management provided. NO stream protection as would be required today. You may like the way it looks now, but environmentally it was much worse because there were no environmental regulations. You would not be allowed to build it today.

    • OK so it pre-dated a lot of things standard today. BUT it is still better and preferable to look at then Tyvec wrapped garbage clustered like King of Prussia Mall meets a crappy housing development. Maybe you would not be allowed to build General Warren Village the original today but it doesn’t mean they should be allowed to build the fake one and all that other crap on 29 -it is TOO much. There is NO restraint.

    • In deference to your comment Wendy, I received this comment offline: “In some respects Wendy is right on in respect to the “Real” Village. The first contractor that built the ranch houses went bankrupt trying to clear the ground; ran in to almost solid rock on the hillside and pulled out. A lot of the old developments were thrown up in a hurry to provide housing for returning GI’s at the end of WWII. With the help of GI loans the young vets were getting married and in need of housing. There were no rules and regulations back then so she is right about storm water problems, very few drains and every time the streets were repaved they became a little higher and caused water issues for more people. The cape cod houses were the second ones built and at some point someone threw in a few splits. The Gods at the township building have never been anxious to address any problems here, they yawn and look the other way. During the sewer construction we were in such a mess with streets torn up, deep ruts and mud you couldn’t drive through. When complaining did no good a group of folks lined up across Old Lancaster and blocked the contractors from coming in; soon the police, newspaper reporters and finally township manager came along and we were granted a meeting later that day. That was the beginning of an active civic association but later when they attempted to pass the leadership on to a new committee it soon dissolved.”

      [Again, not disagreeing, I just hate the sheer volume of development East Whiteland is getting slammed with]

      • I respect your hate for more development. However, the “good old days” that created General Warren Village were not “better”. So much more damage was done back then. No respect for wetlands or streams – look at all the houses in the Village that have tributaries to Valley Creek running right through the lots and under the driveways! Your own development has no stormwater management, other than to poke inlets in the street and send the water downhill into Valley Creek. Can’t do that anymore! I can show you subdivision plans from the 60’s where all the developer had to do was hack up the land into 1 acre lots, without ANY consideration for steep slopes, streams, woodlands, drainage etc.. It is a whole new world now. You may not like it, but from a scientific standpoint the regs now are 100 times better. In 1950 the concept of preserved open space was either unheard of or “communist”.

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