I had all these photos from Chester County Day this past October that I had never edited. Life got busy, along came the holidays, and here we are, months later.
But I do not know that now is a bad time to be editing. Actually, I think it is the perfect time given my recent posts on preservation. And Chester County Day is the perfect tour day to go around the county and see what makes where we live so magnificent, so special, so worth preserving and fighting for.
Our architecture ranges from the humble to the classic farmhouse to the fantastical. We need to preserve this. We can’t continue to allow the hum drum homogenous plasticity of dense developments to continue to run rough-shod over our county.
If elected, appointed, and county planning officials aren’t going to help, we have to seek alternative means. For example, when will we see these crazy developer driven zoning overlays that walk, talk, and smell of spot zoning go away?
It’s hard. We stand up in our communities and we become targets. Literally targets. For defending what we love.
This afternoon, the Philadelphia Inquirer landed a whale of an article for 5 PM release online (give or take, as far as time goes.) It speaks to what people are going through. The article is about Lloyd Farm in Caln. The article describes in great detail what people in Caln are going through. And they are, of course, but one municipality dealing with these issues.
The Lloyd farmhouse in Caln Township has a star-studded genealogy, a background that reads like a who’s who of American history.
William Penn himself sold the land it sits on to a wealthy family, a grant that paved the way for the creation of the state. A century later, it became an unofficial stop on the Underground Railroad, according to local histories of the pipeline to freedom. All the while, its caretakers maintained crops that state historians have described as an early example of the agriculture that would come to dominate the region.
But after years of deterioration and multiple owners, the 1757 building’s history is coming to a close, unless a frantic scramble by residents and local historians can stop it. They’ve embarked on a last-ditch effort to grant the farmhouse historic status, working against the demolition permit its owner has received from officials in this central Chester County community.
“The saddest part of this, from my perspective, is that all these historians from up and down the Main Line have contributed to this, and it’s had no effect,” said Cheryl Spaulding, who lives across the street. “I’m not surprised this is going to be developed, but other projects have kept these houses, incorporated them into their design and ultimately saved them.”
It’s a very long article. That is but a small excerpt. Read the whole thing. It’s beautifully written.
This article tells the tale that can be superimposed over many municipalities. East Goshen, West Chester, East Whiteland, West Whiteland, West Vincent, Upper Uwchlan, Westtown, Willistown, West Goshen, Caln…the list is as long as there are municipalities. Humble and affluent communities alike.
Going through these photos a few months later was like having fresh eyes. Some of my photos were of houses on the tour, others were of things I saw along the way. Things that break my heart like a development rising behind a corn field. It’s like a trick of the eye. It’s eerie.
Or what about the water in a fountain of a bucolic estate rising and falling in the fountain with an office park off in the background?
Where we used to see fields, we see development. Where we used to see fabulous 18th and 19th century Chester County farmhouses , we see development. Everywhere, we see development.
When I look at all the wonderful architecture that is representative of our county from the dawn of the American Revolution, to the industrial revolution, Victorian and Edwardian splendor, humble to fantastical and everything in between it is almost like you can’t breathe because it is SO spectacular. Then you can’t breath because every time you turn around something is being bulldozed and fields of cookie cutter samey same Tyvec wrapped homogenous architecture that won’t stand the test of time is rising up in its place. Have you ever visited one of these developments as they are being built? You can sometimes literally smell the plastic Lego Land of it all.
Our history and architectural heritage and open space can’t always belong to the bulldozer and the wrecking ball. Chester County deserves better.
Enjoy the photos. I sure did going through them again.