I have been busy, so I am behind in my photos. And I thought I would take a moment to share something really special: Wharton Esherick’s Sunekrest. Thanks to my dear friend Pattye Benson who is President of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, Esherick’s Sunekrest was on their historic house tour in Septmenber – every year I think Pattye can’t possibly do better, and every year she knocks it out of the park. The house tour is a fundraiser for the trust and it is so lovely and one of my favorite things.
Many of the American Impressionists of the time were taking their canvasses out into the fields to paint from nature, and Esherick was longing to get away from the city as well. With a small inheritance he received from his grandmother, he and his wife, Letty, purchased an 1839 stone farmhouse that they nicknamed Sunekrest (pronounced “Sunny Crest”), situated on a five-acre plot in rural Chester County, west of Philadelphia. Esherick focused on his painting and farmed the land to feed his family. His work from this formative period was primarily oil-on-canvas and featured sites and scenes from the bucolic life that surrounded him.
The super dedicated Willistown Boy Scouts worked hard with Al Terrell today over at Ebenzer on Bacton Hill Rd. They stopped for a moment to try to read the worn writing on a gravestone. Al and I think the old souls buried here are really happy that people are remembering them again.
Poor squirrel is utterly worn out from the 2016 election season….
I have avoided writing about this U.S. Presidential Election. I have mostly avoided speaking about it on my personal Facebook page except to share the Saturday Night Live debate spoofs.
Why them? Because Saturday Night Live is disturbingly spot on and it is one of the few things that makes me laugh at the hot mess this country has dissolved into.
This past May after the primary, I did something I thought I would never do: I switched my political party affiliation to Independent. I could not take it anymore. I was until that point a life-long Republican, even if I had split my ticket a lot of the time.
As of this past spring, I was no longer in either major party category given the polarization of American politics and the extremes on extremes we have been seeing.
This 2016 election season is the ugliest certainly in my lifetime. People are vile and hateful. All we see are the politics of ignorance. And anger.
2016 has also been the year of ugly violent protests where people are getting hurt…and dying.
What does all the ugliness accomplish?
Let’s go local.
I am in particular really tired of Jack London bodybuilding campaign mailers. Ok so Senator Dinniman? You are or should be a better human being than that. If that is the best you’ve got to put on a double sided post card, save the postage and printing charges. They are stupid and wasteful.
And Duane Milne? Tell the truth and shame the devil? On the 8th day apparently you personally invented Chester County (and everything in it), and several election cycles later, State Representative Milne I am still trying to figure out what you do besides show up for photo ops, so maybe we all should just give the other guy a shot?
So that is it on specific mailings. I am not even going to bother to dissect the Clinton and Trump mailers because they are ALL awful.
Kudos to Congressman Ryan Costello for having the least offensive mailers of a national candidate. It makes it easy to choose you. You get it.
As a registered Independent I officially get EVERYTHING. Every nasty piece of glossy tree killing junk mail that the United States Postal Service will not let me return to sender (I have tried). So I get to pay to recycle mail I did not ask for.
And not only am I getting my political junk mail but the political junk mail of a dead woman, the lady who used to live in our home. Apparently politicians do see dead people.
Now let’s talk about the calls. Robo calls galore. And not so robo calls from the terminally bored reading off scripts usually in an up-talk sing-song tone. The live people are so much fun….tell them you are an anarchist. Go ahead. It’s funny because every single one of them will stop dead and say “What? What’s an anarchist? This call isn’t about religion.” (Then I hang up.)
Social media. Some people should just stay OFF of social media until after the election.
Because the proverbial villages are being overrun by rabid ridiculousness. If half of the people even understood what the heck they were posting about it would be good. But most do not. And they spout and share angry vitriol from both sides that does nothing except foment hate.
And the political hypocrites. Do not even get me started on them.
I am just tired of this election season. We are a country of Ugly Americans because of the insane polarity and divisiveness. Friends are attacking friends over political talking heads that basically at the end of the day regardless of the party do NOT give a damn about any of us. The game is about the vote, a giant game of whomever gets all the toys wins.
After election day, will they know Jane and John and Sam and Cindy who shook the candidates’ hands at rallies?
This country is a hot angry mess. The election has been whittled down to choosing the lesser of two evils and how is that even a choice? After November 9th will berating your friends and strangers over their choices have been worth it?
And the sign stealers. Grow up. You don’t have to like your neighbor’s sign, they don’t have to like yours. But at this point between the stealing and the corners everywhere that just have too many signs and the highways which will wear political signs for months after the election because no one took them down, I wish there were NO POLITICAL SIGNS. OR ADS. OR BILLBOARDS.
When it comes to politics, I know we will never all get along, but we have collectively lost the ability for civil discourse. And so have the national campaigns.
With about 6 in 10 Americans disliking each of them — and as many as one-quarter saying they dislike both of them — the 2016 campaign will almost undoubtedly be a race to the bottom. In such a situation, campaigns will almost always focus on making the case that their opponent is unacceptable rather than making a positive case for their candidate. And that was certainly the case in Clinton’s and Trump’s acceptance speeches.
Polling shows voters indeed are already more prepared to vote against something than for something in 2016…
If you have a brain and aren’t afraid to use it, no matter who it is you will vote for on November 8th, you should be terrified. We are a country of haters and some days it feels like we are on the brink of yet another Civil War, and we all know how well that worked out the last time.
Please, for the love of what Americans used to be, do your part to dial back the vitriol and rhetoric. Remember the people who died to give us our freedoms, and try to respect them. I do not think election season 2016 is what they fought and died for. I rather think they were trying to escape hateful behavior like we are seeing from coast to coast.
I was given the gift of figs off of a friend’s fig tree yesterday, so even though I wasn’t sure I was going to be putting anything up this fall, this morning I made blueberry fig preserves.
2 teaspoons baking soda
8 cups fresh figs stems removed or 2 pounds of fresh figs
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/2 cups fresh apple cider
1/2 cup water
1 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
5 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract – pure only
1 lemon thinly sliced into rounds seeds removed
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Half teaspoon ground cloves
Half teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
Healthy pinch of salt
Three cinnamon sticks
First dissolve the baking soda in about 2 quarts of cool water and immerse the figs in the treated water either in one half of your kitchen sink if you have a double sink or in a really large bowl. Gently stir to wash the figs using your hand in the water.
Drain the figs and remove all stems and cut in half and place in a bowl.
In a big stewpot or jam pot (depending on what you have) slowly dissolve the sugar, maple syrup, butter, vanilla extract, water, apple cider, spices and a pinch of salt.
Now that you have created a sort of syrup add your fruit – figs, blueberries, lemon slices.
Toss in the cinnamon sticks. Add the lemon juice.
Bring up to a boil over medium heat and stir a lot because the stuff will stick to the pan. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir gently occasionally and cook down until the figs are golden brown and the blueberries are so deep they almost appear a purple black.
As the figs are reaching the right color, I use an immersion blender to break everything up while continuing to cook down. I have friends who don’t do this at all and the reason I do it is because I like to serve fig preserves with cheese when company comes over and when there are big chunks of fig it makes it clumsy.
Truthfully this all cooked a couple of hours.
While your jam is cooking sterilize your jars and lids in your canning pot. I actually broke down last year and bought a real big canning pot – black granite ware.
When your jam is ready to jar ladle it into your jars, leaving about a quarter inch at the top of room. Put your lids and rings on completely seal super tight and put them in your boiling hot water bath for 10 to 15 minutes. I will note that I looked at several recipes when developing my own recipe and people were processing anywhere from six minutes to 15 minutes in the hot water bath. I would say I processed mine about 10 minutes maybe a little less.
Pull your jars out and place on a cloth covered or wooden surface several inches apart until they are cool. Once the jars are completely cool press in the center to make sure they are sealed. Store in a cool dark area and wait at least two days before opening. I personally like to let my preserves said a couple of weeks before I try them.
Another important note is this is a recipe without using pectin. So it will probably be more loose than a jam made with pectin. You can make it both ways. I have always made fig preserves or fig jam without pectin. This is also the first time I’ve actually ever written down or looked at recipes for the jam – I’ve just always winged it and it’s turned out fine
A friend of mine just posted this photo taken today in Philadelphia at The Union League.
What is WRONG with people? Would they get so much money selling metal for scrap that they had to destroy the iconic sweeping outside staircase at Philadelphia’s Union League? I hope police release the video showing the theft soon.
Disgusted with humanity. This will be VERY expensive to replicate properly.
Metal thief topples staircase rail at the Union League
My Eastlake table once I got it home! I think it’s beautiful!
I have a DIY antique hunter heroine- Victoria Elizabeth Barnes . I live vicariously through her Victorian home restoration and furniture acquiring and objects d’art acquiring writings. (And if you don’t read her blog you really should, it’s delightful!)
Today I think I channeled my inner Victoria Elizabeth Barnes when I went to pick up an Eastlake table I found.
I have always had a love affair with Eastlake furniture and I finally found something that could fit in my house. I will never have a large Victorian, and sometimes Eastlake furniture can be quite substantial in size.
The Eastlake Movement was an American nineteenth-century architectural and household design reform movement started by architect and writer Charles Eastlake (1836–1906). The movement is generally considered part of the late Victorian period in terms of broad antique furniture designations…
His book Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details posited that furniture and decor in people’s homes should be made by hand or machine workers who took personal pride in their work. Manufacturers in the United States used the drawings and ideas in the book to create mass-produced Eastlake Style or Cottage furniture…
Eastlake furniture can be quite beautiful.
But Eastlake furniture is very still popular today and it is hard to find pieces reasonably priced that are in good shape at the same time.
So when I saw this table advertised I jumped on it. I was second in line and I did not think I was going to get it, but the woman ahead of me found it too large for her purposes so it came home with me.
A lot of Eastlake furniture is made of woods like walnut or maple also. It’s not all just heavy oak furniture like a lot of Victorian furniture.
It was a gorgeous day so I set out on my pilgrimage across part of Chester County to pick up my table. I am not sure that this table was living in Chester County before I bought it, I seem to think it came out of a house in Lancaster County.
My table needs a little TLC but I don’t think I’ll need to refinish it. I will however have to rearrange other furniture in my house to place it.
Of course I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to make it home today or not, because I am somewhat limited by a sedan in as far as how much furniture I can actually place in it. The person I bought it from and I definitely had some giggles maneuvering it into my car. But it fit! And I drove home with a table in the front seat next to me.
My new table makes for a great end to the week!
Enjoy the day it’s absolutely gorgeous!
The Eastlake table just fit in the front seat of my car!
Meet some of my grown-up Ebenezer saviors. The gentleman far left will forgive me as I do not remember his name. Second from left is Doug, center is Al Terrell, and far right is my arborist Bob Phipps of Phipps Tree Care.
For over three years, I felt like a lone voice in the proverbial wilderness. It also felt crazy to me that no one really cared about the ruins of 184 years of history known as Ebenezer A.M.E. and her old souls buried on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer, East Whiteland.
But it ends up, people do care, and day by day she is further released from her green prison of weeds, giant poison ivy vines, overgrowth. Every day we see a little more.
Meet Luke Phayre, our Eagle Scout
The tide turned shortly after Kristin Holmes wrote her first article on Ebenezer. This gentleman named Al Terrell told me he was going to get Ebenezer cleaned up. He will tell you, and I will admit at that point my faith in this happening and being able to keep my promise to Ann Christie that we wouldn’t give up… was waning to say the least.
But Al came along with this remarkable teenager and Eagle Scout from Willistown 78, Luke Phayre. And little by little, it’s happening. It is actually happening.
Al is amazing. He is one of the nicest men I have ever met, and he has this quiet and unassuming determination about him. He has a deeply rooted faith in God and humankind that has kind of made me have faith again.
And Luke. Luke is an amazing boy, with an equally amazing mom, Kathy. This boy is hard-working, smart, and articulate. And yesterday, even as most of his buddies and fellow scouts were off on a camping trip, Luke was at Ebenezer, cleaning up debris. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with Luke and happy to meet his mother who is also just one of those people you know from the first introduction are “good people”.
Meet Harriet, we discovered her yesterday. ~ Al Terrell photo
Yesterday at Ebenezer, I also met a man named Doug. He grew up in East Whiteland and told me about how he and his friends played in the graveyard and church. He said when they were kids (60’s and 70’s) there was still the roof and the floor. And even part of the old altar and a couple of pews. That now gives us a better timeline as to when the roof caved in taking everything and the floor with it. My guesstimate on that is late 1970s or 1980s.
Duffy’s son, Luke Phayre, 15, and Terrell researched the property and talked with township officials. They also sought permission for the cleanup from the First District of the A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia, and got it. Phayre said he talked to Bishop Gregory Ingram, who sent a letter approving the project and commending Phayre for his initiative.
“I think it’s so noble,” Bishop Ingram said in an interview Friday. “. . . I feel somewhat embarrassed that I haven’t been out there. But I will.
“For anyone to make themselves available to champion a cause like this,” he said, “it shows that in the midst of all the negativity in the world, wonderful things are happening.”
This also means to me that the A.M.E. Church is acknowledging Ebenezer’s existence and importance in history. It also gives me hope and the ability to start to forgive the A.M.E. Church for not responding, not acknowledging. A boy with a scout project helped them see what we see. That is what is important. Will I ever forget that men and women of the cloth like Rev. Dr. Mark Kelly Tyler, senior pastor of Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia who had an earlier calling in West Chester could never take the time to speak to me when I reached out? Probably not, but that is past and it’s time to look forward.
Bishop Ingram makes a hopeful difference in my mind, so it’s time to forgive them and look forward.
Every time I am at Ebenezer now I get all filled up with tears. Happy tears that people young and old and in between still care about things like this. Now I am hopeful she will be preserved and along with her some of the history of the people of Bacton, which was once a very important black community around here.
Meet Luke’s mom, Kathy Duffy Phayre. When you meet her you know instantly why she has such amazing children!
The people buried in this cemetery bore witness to so much history. And they lived it like ordinary people raising their families, working hard towards a better tomorrow. We owe these people a great debt, I think.
This article which I am about to post is why I do what I do. And some days it is hard. People love to criticize and castigate from behind their keyboards, semi-anonymous in their vitriol.
This is a strange world we live in where at times you are punished for not essentially being like everyone else, not thinking like everyone else, not being all the exact same homogeneous lump of humanity. And then after a lot of these people criticize they actually go out and mimic what you do, anyway. Imitation is after all, the sincerest form of flattery (or something like that.)
My journey through Chester County thus far has been an amazing one. And it is home. So I am happy, so truly happy about Ebenezer. I have hope for her future and was able to keep my word to a new friend.
Enjoy the article and I will have new photos soon.
Thank you Kristin Holmes for getting it. She is the ONLY reporter from any paper who has taken the time to write about this.
Thank you Al and Luke for your hard work and unwavering faith.
The crumbling, one-room house of worship and its toppled gravestones had been all but hidden behind a towering wall of weeds for years when Alvin Terrell drove up in his yellow VW Beetle this summer and vowed, “No more.”
The semiretired data analyst/kindergarten teacher had long lived right down the road from the abandoned Ebenezer A.M.E. Church in East Whiteland Township, a congregation founded in 1832 for freed slaves and indentured servants. Once, nearly 20 years ago, he and his teenage son even helped clear away brush as part of an Eagle Scout project. But without someone to continually care for the property, he said, “Mother Nature took it back.”….Ebenezer’s plight, the subject of an Inquirer story in July, has long been a worry for nearby residents and preservationists. Rescue efforts have proceeded in fits and starts, with intermittent volunteer cleanups. Township officials, though, were cautious about such efforts because they believed the property was owned by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, whose approval was needed before work could be done there. Contacting A.M.E. officials proved difficult, and tax records regarding ownership were unclear.
…Ebenezer Church was built when a Quaker abolitionist transferred the land to three African Americans in 1832. The stone structure, with an entrance facing the street and a stone pulpit opposite the door, became a center of the surrounding African American community, the site of revivals and ice cream socials……Last month, when Terrell decided to clean up the property, he knew he needed help and permission. At a fund-raiser for St. Charles Borromeo Seminary at the Malvern Retreat House, he met Kathy Duffy, of West Chester. During their conversation, Duffy mentioned that her son was looking for an Eagle Scout project. Terrell recognized a serendipitous moment – or what Duffy described more divinely as “just God.”
Duffy’s son, Luke Phayre, 15, and Terrell researched the property and talked with township officials. They also sought permission for the cleanup from the First District of the A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia, and got it. Phayre said he talked to Bishop Gregory Ingram, who sent a letter approving the project and commending Phayre for his initiative.“I think it’s so noble,” Bishop Ingram said in an interview Friday. “. . . I feel somewhat embarrassed that I haven’t been out there. But I will.”
Ok it is no secret how much I love Loch Aerie. I last wrote about her April 21, 2016 when I thought she had sold.
I had wondered what was going on because no one had heard anything. I saw lights on a few times at night over the summer and the lawn was getting cut.
I had found there two deed related documents on Chester County’s website (see highmount-1 and highmount-2 ) but that was it.
Well guess what?
As per Vista Today Loch Aerie has sold again. Apparently they are reporting that the deal fell through and their real estate agent from Berkshire Hathaway Mike Diggin submitted an offer on behalf of Steven and Dana Poirier of Downingtown and it was accepted.
I was able to confirm Vista’s story via, what else? Social Media!
Why yay? I do not know these people but they want to rehab it and have a wedding venue and maybe it sounds like the husband’s office as well.
I remember them from auction day, they were across the room from me.
Anyway, that is all the news fit to print on 700 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern, PA.
Tip of the hat to Vista for getting the scoop. I enjoyed my brief stint writing for them, I just couldn’t do it for free so that writing experience was unfortunately short lived.
I see this as positive news for Loch Aerie. I look forward to their opening day.
UPDATE: Here is what I was told about Loch Aerie and recent change of ownership:
“The high bidder did close and buy the property. It did not fall through.
He then sold it to the 3rd place bidder from the auction.”
Selfishly I hope the consider Frens & Frens out of West Chester for an architecture firm – they are the ones who restored Beechwood House in Bryn Mawr. I was on the Committee to Save Beechwood years ago – it is how I fell in love with Addison Hutton houses.
I will close with a video done on Beechwood for the restoration so people can se a modern adaptive reuse of an old mansion/home can work!