So you guys, have you entered County Lines Magazine Capturing Chester County photography contest yet?? You don’t have to be a professional (as in they only regular everyday folk who happened to capture the perfect shot!) , you just have to have a magical photo of our beautiful county to enter!
Yes, I indeed won the contest in 2014! I was so thrilled and it was so much fun and as a book worm, there is nothing better than a nice big gift certificate to a book store! This year the gift certificate is to Main Point Books, which if you have never been is nothing short of amazing! You can enter until October 7th.
Here are the details:
We’re holding our annual Capturing Chester County Photo Contest, and need more submissions!
This year, we’re asking entrants to send us their one best photo of them in their favorite spot in Chester County.
(Shadows, photos with feet or hands work if you don’t want a full selfie.)
Semifinalists will be published in our November issue and posted on our Facebook page.
The winner of the contest will receive a $100 gift card to Main Point Books!
Our submission deadline is 11:59 pm on October 7.
Previous County Lines’ photo contest winners and professional photographers are not allowed.
It started extremely happily as I was doing something I really love to do. I had a wonderful time… until sadly I didn’t.
I encountered a woman, a total stranger, who upset me enough that I just stopped what I was doing and decided to go home. That doesn’t generally happen.
On the way home I saw something that made me smile. It was something happy that reminded me of what’s important and what’s lovely about life.
It was a group of boys, obviously good buddies, all clumped together on a public street corner hanging out as boys are wont to do. Of course, they are modern boys, so they were all clumped together each one staring at their smartphones. And they were standing next to a very important historic sign marker.
It was a moment. Frozen in time. It made me smile and I took the photo.
There was no malice. I captured a moment on a public street that made me smile. And shared it.
But oh no, because of the world we allow ourselves to live in, my happy moment caught in an image where you couldn’t even see the boys’ faces, was twisted and made ugly.
All of a sudden, a man I don’t know is leaving comments that I am a “sick person” and a “pedophile”. That I was a “twisted voyeur of children” unfit to live in my own community and that (and I quote) “you get banned all around Malvern and now you leer on kids.”
I have, among other things, never been banned from anywhere.
I took the comments as what they were, threats, and sent them in native format to the police in case something happened to me.
That is not something I regularly do, but I took those comments as the threats they were intended to be. I am a woman. And when a man is that viscerally verbally abusive in comments, I am not necessarily going to just say “well that’s ok”.
As a matter of fact I am NOT going to say any of this is ok any longer.
Whenever it is something to do with me, because I am the local blogger, people all over social media, including in community groups I am not part of, pile on. Comment after comment after comment.
It’s enough to make you puke because these groups all have “statements of community” after a fashion and how they are all about love, and family, and community and neighbors…unless it’s me or anyone else who will never be a cookie cutter version of them.
Whether it’s me or anyone else who isn’t in their limited circle of life or school car rider line, it’s just fine to tear everyone apart. We don’t have feelings. We’re not like you. We don’t matter.
And you people wonder why some of your kids are called out in school for being bullies or having behavioral issues? Where do you actually think they learn the behavior?
Last night, the day thankfully changed yet again. I was with friends for a surprise party for another friend.
I belonged there. I felt loved and safe there. I was with people who actually, truly, really know me. They all reminded me again of what is important in this world. And what’s not important are the people who want to turn lovely days ugly and dirty. What’s not important are those of you (some with extraordinarily flawed and messed up lives, I might add) sitting in judgement of me or anyoneelse you find suspicious for not being exactly like you.
PSA: I am done with the BS. I am over being judged, maligned, defamed, harassed, harangued, bullied….yet when some want something done I am the one they seek out?
Can’t have it both ways.
I am not a bad person and I don’t have to defend my existence to any of the shlubs who wish to sit in judgement of me, my blogging, my opinions, and what I choose to photograph on public streets. Or bars and restaurants I choose to review. Or for writing about what’s important to me.
I have been threatened, harassed, you name it. And for what? Because I am not some freaking Nouveau Stepford Wife or I didn’t grow up in Malvern when dinosaurs roamed the earth?
Get over yourselves.
Those who know me, know me to be loyal to a fault. Those who cross me know I don’t suffer fools lightly.
Sometimes you just see a tree that is truly magnificent. Like this oak I saw on a house tour today. Of course someone will probably have a problem with the fact that I took a picture of this tree because that is the world we live in sadly.
This isn’t a very good photo and I know it, but the subject matter just struck a chord with me and made me smile.
These boys are all obviously good buddies and that’s what made me smile — them standing there all in a gaggle (even if they all were on their phones.)
I thought it was sweet. I hope they took the time to read the Duffys Cut sign 😊
Sadly this is what I got for taking a photo I thought was so sweet passing by on a public road:
Mr. Habib there is no expectation of privacy in a public space which is what a public road is. Call the police if you feel you must, but then you are harassing me which is sadly something else entirely. How dare you make an innocent photo seem dirty.
Of course Mr. Habib seems to need to have the last word, and in the end, I may be the one who needs to call the police:
I saw this on a telephone pole in Malvern Borough in July. Anna Maciejewska has been missing since April, 2017.
I get the wheels of justice move slowly but come on now? Isn’t there anything? Recently I’ve watched news programs like Dateline NBC and ABC’s 20/20 do programs on missing women. One is a mother from a wealthy Connecticut suburb named Jennifer Dulos. Here’s an article from earlier this month:
On May 24, Jennifer Dulos of New Canaan, Connecticut, mysteriously vanished after suffering what investigators believe was a “serious physical assault.” Since her disappearance, police have discovered her abandoned car, bloodstained clothes, and video footage that points toward two suspects: Dulos’s estranged husband and his girlfriend, Michelle Troconis
Yup another mom. Abandoned car. Loved by friends and family, no one believes she would leave her children. But at least this missing woman’s mother has custody of her children so she can see them.
Photo courtesy of Finding Anna Facebook page.
So why isn’t anyone writing about Anna? Or putting her on Dateline or 20/20? Why is it it seems like the wheels of justice have just completely stopped?
I fully understand that at times the wheels of justice can be really slow, but does anyone out there still care about the missing mom from Malvern, Pennsylvania? I think people do care including people in law-enforcement that I am sure have put in thousands of hours of manpower by this point, but it’s been along time since we had an update hasn’t it?
I will be honest and say that a lot of people seem to blame the District Attorney’s Office for the slowness, and I don’t necessarily believe that is fair. These cases move slowly and there is also the Pennsylvania State Police to be taken into consideration isn’t there? And I’m not going to point fingers at either institution, but I think they need to update us to at least let us know that they’re still working on it. I also think they need to shop this to national television news magazines like Dareline NBC or ABC’s 20/20.
I never knew Anna. But last night as messed up as it sounds I had a dream where I was standing with a friend on the edge of some woods somewhere watching people with bloodhounds.
It was one of those crazy dreams where you could feel the mist in the air and cooler night time temperatures and hear the beating of the dogs and the shouts of people. I think the reason I probably had the dream is because I had watched this thing on Jennifer Dulos from Connecticut.
But when I woke up I thought of a more local woman I had never met, Anna Maciejewska.
I think of my friends who still have younger children in the elementary school range who are all wound up in their crazy quilt of back to school schedules. I hear snippets of how their kids are doing and what they are doing and it makes me think of a missing woman named Anna who doesn’t get to see her little boy grow up. And her little boy is getting older, so what questions does he ask about where his mother is?
Photo courtesy of Finding Anna Facebook page.
I also have Polish friends. As in ex-pats who emigrated here and became citizens years ago. This Polish community is very tight-knit. I’m sure they all wonder what happened to Anna, even those who did not know her. My Polish friends did not know her but knew of her because they had kids that went to “Polish school” and participated in other Polish activities in the region.
Every summer two of my Polish friends take their children on extended vacations back to Poland to see their grandparents and meet their cousins and learn about where their mothers are from. I think Anna would have been doing that if she was around.
Anna Maciejewska came here for the American dream. She did everything the right way and she worked hard, and can we say what she got in the end was the American nightmare?
I think we all need updates on what is going on quite literally with finding Anna. If you have a heart beating in your chest you want to know. Her family deserves to know.
I have absolutely no idea whom you call if you know something and the screenshot above has a phone number 610-486-6280.
Anna, we have not forgotten about you. And truthfully, we never will. We want justice served all we’re asking for as residents of Chester County is a law-enforcement update and some media attention to this so this case can be solved.
If you know anything please contact police, as in the state police, and the Chester County District Attorney’s office.
Hang on Angel Anna, we are thinking of you and praying.
9/27/2019 6:45 PM UPDATE: P.Za Kitchen Exton ran my disastrous order from last night again, and as Donna the manager promised it was like night and day. She took my suggestions to heart on where the food could improve and they actually improved it.
The pizza is more like it looked like in their ads, and it’s not super salty, greasy or soggy tonight. Same with the salad and the avocado and greens are more fresh.
For those who asked, they do not have a storefront they run a ghost kitchen out of another restaurant and are delivery only.
It takes a lot for a restaurant to admit they could improve and it’s very unusual I think that they actually do so quickly. I hope they keep this consistency up. If they do, they are definitely going to be a contender around here for pizza.
9/27/19 4:45 PM UPDATE: The manager of the Exton location called me a little while ago. She couldn’t have been nicer. She owned the problems last night – it sounds like she had already left when my order came in. She has no explanation for why they couldn’t contact me even through Grubhub to say there was a problem with the order or it would take longer. And she also on the fact that the restaurant staff last night dropped my pizza that was missing a slice and then put it in a box.
That takes a lot to own all those things and be nice and professional and friendly on the phone. They have asked to re-run my order on them and at first I didn’t want to do it because my husband said he absolutely would never want to eat their food ever again. But I spoke to him and he said yes.
I will update when I receive my order. I am impressed by the manager. This is how you deal with a problem as opposed to the way Brick & Brew treated me when I reviewed my experience in July.
I understand P.Za Kitchen is new in Exton, PA, but I ordered two pizzas from them and one of them was missing a slice. Yes, missing a slice. How gross is that?
I did my order on a delivery from GrubHub and it wasn’t the GrubHub guy, it’s the restaurant. So they sent two free bottles of water to make up for the pizza that was missing a slice. This is a restaurant that you can’t dine in, they are delivery only.
Upon arrival, the GrubHub guy warned me that something was wrong with the order because they apparently kind of pulled him aside when he was picking it up. But the restaurant didn’t call me and they had my phone number via GrubHub.
When you have a problem with a delivery and you have the customer’s phone number you call them. No one called me. No one messaged me through the GrubHub app either. They just delivered pizza missing slices and both pizzas were greasy, salty, and soggy. WTF???
The salad I ordered was very good except for the avocado bits that were both brown and minuscule .
I’ve had Roman style pizza and what they delivered doesn’t quite cover it. Hell, Stouffer’s frozen French Bread Pizza would be more appealing.
Here’s hoping they get their act together because it was an expensive mistake to make to order from them. Never again.
What order was SUPPOSED to look like.
The order arrived warm with GrubHub but I won’t be coming back to them. I will note I tried to contact them by phone but it’s a toll-free number you call and when I called it it said “the party you are trying to reach is currently unavailable . “
Please also note they are still open!
P.za Kitchen is located at 300 Main Street in Exton. The phone number that no one can answer is 888-799-6601.
And again I ask, have you ever had a pizza delivered missing a slice?
Because I could not reach them I contacted GrubHub. GrubHub, although I didn’t ask for it , asked them to give me at least a partial refund and they refused. They would give me a coupon.
I will note again the problem is not with GrubHub here. They lived up to their part of the bargain. The problem is with this place P.Za Kitchen.
What they deliver doesn’t even look like what was shown on their menu!
P. Za Kitchen doesn’t know customer service. And their Exton location also doesn’t know what true Roman Pizza is either.
Sometimes you just have to grin from ear to ear. Michael Noone, the current First Assistant DA in Chester County PA has announced intent to bring a civil public nuisance action against #suNOco / #EnergyTransfer regarding the construction and operation of the Mariner East pipeline project.
Sunoco has 60 days to take corrective action and if the nuisance has not been corrected, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office will bring a civil action in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas alleging actions both past and present that create a public nuisance and which should be abated, restrained, or such other relief granted.
But hey you know, these pipelines and pipeline companies are just misunderstood, right? But no worries, certain state reps will just take more tours with pipeline companies and ignore their constituents, right?
Thank goodness for people who care enough to stick their necks out for what is right.
File under things that drive me crazy. Not everything some developer’s marketing team labels as “Main Line” today is actually the Main Line…nor does it have to be.
One of my favorite quotes about this appeared on Facebook recently:
Die hards stick to the Original Main Line. Realtors and blow in’s want everything within 40 miles called the Main Line.
The Main Line refers to the towns between Overbrook and Paoli as per the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Malvern and Frazer are Chester County (for example) and should be delighted to be that. Realtors peddling new development are baptizing Malvern as Main Line the way they have already done with Chester Springs where they call what is actually Downingtown Chester Springs because they don’t think anyone would like living in Downingtown. Or saying Newtown Square is the Main Line also isn’t technically true. Newtown Square is Newtown Square and lovely in it’s own right.
Sad but true. Some even try to say Exton, Blue Bell, and Chester Springs are also the Main Line. Now hell, we know Chester Springs proper isn’t the Main Line every time when the nouveau Main Line heads west for Chester County Day and Chester Springs homes are on the tour (like last year) and folks don’t know how to drive (or park) on our roads or how to be polite in the houses…but I digress…
People. Learn your railroad history. It is how these towns were built.
The Philadelphia Main Line, known simply as the Main Line, is an informally delineated historical and socially pretentious and ridiculous region of suburban Philadelphia, as freaking created by old railroad lines. These towns became more cohesive along the Pennsylvania Railroad’s once prestigious “Main Line”, which ran northwest from Center City Philadelphia parallel to Route 30 (Lancaster Ave to some Lancaster Pike to some Lincoln Highway to others.)
The railroad first connected Philadelphia to the Main Line towns in the 19th century.
They became home to sprawling country estates and hotels belonging to Philadelphia’s wealthiest families, and over the decades became a bastion of “old money”. People built their summer homes out here at that point. In the 18th century wealthy Philadelphians summered in places like Fairmount Park. In the 19th century the railroads moved them further west.
After the Civil War, Bryn Mawr was a popular spot for Philadelphians to come to escape the summer heat. Of the many hotels and boarding houses in Bryn Mawr, the one that aided most in its development was the Bryn Mawr Hotel or Keystone Hotel, as it was also known, built in 1871. This grand summer resort was constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad, and was located in the countryside just north of the station. The four-story masonry building was designed by Joseph Miller Wilson. The hotel had 350 rooms, a fashionable polychromatic slate mansard roof, and an enormous veranda. The hotel’s amenities included: gas lights, bath tubs, the first elevator on the main line, a “ten-pin alley”, first quality mattresses and one bathroom on every floor. This splendor was destroyed by a disastrous fire which broke out in October 11, 1887 at 6:30 a.m. Most of the building was destroyed by the time Philadelphia fire engines arrived by railroad gondola car.
A second Bryn Mawr Hotel was built on the site in 1890 by a neighborhood syndicate. This new, four-story, granite structure was designed by acclaimed architect Frank Furness, of Furness, Evans & Co. The Hotel was inspired by the Chateau de Pierrefonds, a 16th century French chateau, and contained the latest technologies, including steam heat and electric light. From 1896 to 1913 the hotel hosted its own annual horse show that drew high society Philadelphians. The new Furness designed building cost the promoters half a million dollars. Half of this amount was obtained by sale of stock and half through the sales of bonds. The stock never paid a cent of dividend, and when the bonds finally came due, the group could not pay the interest. The mortgage was foreclosed and with this, the hotel stopped operations. Later the building was bought by the Baldwin School for Girls.
The Main Line has this fabled history. I lived there until a few years ago. My parents moved us there when I was about 12. So yeah, I know the history. In some regards I think I lived there in the sunset of it’s greatness. The Main Line as it exists today I find distasteful and gauche sometimes because well, the nouveau Main Line neither gets nor appreciates nor really cares about the actual history.
Until the railroads, the Main Line was a lot of country. Farms, quarries, mills, even factories. It became genteel versus rural/copuntry living by it’s very history. The Pennsylvania Railroad and 19th century real estate developers and speculators truthfully get the credit here.
….So it was with Devon Inn, a brief history of which was given in the series on large fires which have occurred in this vicinity in past years. In the early morning hours of January 18, 1929, this famous Main Line hostelry burned to the ground. The pictures illustrating today’s column show two views of the Inn as it appeared in its heyday. They were sent to your columnist by James L. Kercher, of Conestoga road, soon after the story of the fire appeared in “Your Town and My Town” in the spring of 1952. The reverse side of this picture postcard of the Devon Inn describes it as the “social center or the Main Line,” located in “beautiful Chester Valley” and “open from May to December.”
….Among its attractions they list the Devon Horse Show, polo matches, kennel show, Rose Tree Horse Show, Belmont trotting event, Chesterbrook races, Bryn Mawr Horse Show and Devon fancy cattle show. And these are not all, for the list continues with the Horse Show Ball, Spring flower show, golf and tennis, private theatricals, Bal Masque, Autumn flower show, auto exhibition, the County Ball and Devon Inn’s beautiful Japanese Floral Cafe. This cafe was evidently located on one of the Inn’s wide porches…The history of this old inn is an interesting one. The original structure, called the Devon Park Hotel, had been built in 1876 to house the overflow of visitors to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Three years later, fire destroyed the first building, but it was replaced soon after by a larger and more ornate structure, erected on the same site. This is the one shown in today’s picture.
For some years there was great rivalry between the Devon Inn and the Bryn Mawr Hotel for the patronage of fashionable Philadelphia summer boarders. Located on the site of what is now the Baldwin School, the Bryn Mawr Hotel was owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad. This rivalry ended in a complete victory for the Devon Inn, when the Devon Horse Show made its initial bow. The show immediately became a nationally famous event, with entries and visitors from all over the United States. The socially elite from New York and the Long Island Colony, from Boston, Chicago and many other cities throughout the country filled the Devon hostelry to capacity each horse show season.
When the Bryn Mawr Hotel burned to the ground, the Devon Inn lost its only serious rival….
When this topic of what the Main Line actually is and what the actual historical boundaries are crops up on social media, someone always leaves a conversation feeling offended.
Sorry not sorry but Malvern isn’t and never will be the Main Line. As I have said before, it’s Chester County and everyone in the Malvern area should be ok with it as Malvern already has a wonderful identity and history.
In 1828, the Pennsylvania legislature authorized the construction of the railroad between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. This was known as the “Main Line” of the Public Works system. This, in turn, caused the development of the surrounding area.
After the Civil War, track improvements were sought and new station houses were erected to include more stops along the line. In recognition of the heritage of the areas along the rail line, many stations were given English and Welsh names, such as Narberth, Ardmore and Bryn Mawr.
Many changes were made to the rail route and so the Commonwealth purchased lots surrounding the rail line with stipulations on setbacks and improvements to the land next to the station houses. In Bryn Mawr, it stated that the building of “hotels, taverns, drinking saloons, blacksmiths, carpenter or wheelwright shops, steam mills, tanneries, slaughterhouses, skindressing establishments, livery stables, glue, candle or starch manufactories, or other buildings of offensive occupation” was prohibited.
The result was “a complete picture of suburban comfort and elegance with wide avenues and roomy and open ornamental grounds, spacious lots for building and homes of more than ordinary architectural tastes.” These new homes served as the summer residences for many affluent families. The Main Line was now established.
The Pennsylvania Railroad promoted this area in brochures describing the “opportunities provided by the railroad for ‘summer sojourns’ away from the city and the desirability and convenience of suburban living.”
When we were growing up there was this little thing we did to remember the order of the train stations. Old Maids Never Wed And Have Babies. Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr. You can find this mentioned here on this blog which I find amusing because they say they think the ditty ends with Bryn Mawr Station because it was thought of possibly by a Bryn Mawr College girl. This blog is called Philadelphia Reflections and I love it because they write about the most interesting stuff!
One of my dear friend’s grandfathers was an executive with the Pennsylvania Railroad. He moved his family from the city to Haverford near Merion Cricket Club. The road they settled on had several homes built as a direct result of the railroad. Like many of the homes in Wayne, it was desirable because one could walk to the train station.
Growing up, we never thought the Main Line was one centimeter past Paoli…because we knew the history. Today it’s like saying you are from Greenwich, Connecticut or similarly affluent and storied suburbs. Or even what defines Manhattan, versus living in the other boroughs of New York City but saying you live in Manhattan.
The mansion stood at the end of a half-mile long drive, in the midst of 750 acres. The estate was magnificent, to say the least. It had been erected in 1911, in the style of the Georgian Revival, and was crafted by the prolific architect Horace Trumbauer – designer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Duke University Chapel, and the main Harvard University Library, to name just a few. The façade of the manor was classic “old money” – adorned with brick, accented with ornate cream molding, and finished with large traditional sash windows….Too good to be true? A fairytale perhaps? Surely, a scene from a movie? Well, yes… and no. Because not even MGM, the esteemed motion picture conglomerate, would believe it. The mansion, Villanova’s Ardrossan estate, was the inspiration for 1940s The Philadelphia Story, and has since been dubbed by the Philadelphia Inquirer a “house so grand, even Tinseltown had to tone it down.” The house in question, however, is very much real, as is the lifestyle that comes with it.
But Ardrossan is only one small portion of the prestigious and affluent area known as the Main Line. Situated just west of Philadelphia, it is comprised of the seventeen different towns in Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester counties – each of which is connected by the railroad, and the area’s namesake, the Main Line…..These estates and their residents have come to define the Main Line. But what does that mean? With the birth of the Main Line in the late 1800s, there also came “an extreme type of class-consciousness. The flood of wealth that created American family fortunes in the late 19th century settled around a handful of cities and was expressed in different forms of conspicuous consumption and elaborate social behaviour,” writes Ian Irvine in the Sunday Telegraph. Irvine compares Manhattan’s Upper West Side to Philadelphia’s Main Line to call attention to the grandeur associated with the area; but that’s where the similarities end. “In more traditional… Philadelphia, however, society turned almost feudal, almost English in its attitudes – ‘old’ money and ‘old’ families counted for everything. The very term WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) was coined to describe members of Philadelphia society,” a term popularized by University of Pennsylvania professor E. Digby Baltzell. And an appropriate term it was….Nowadays not every Main Liner may live like a Scott, but the expectation to act like one endures. As Betty Feeney and Julia Lorenz Gaskill noted in 1955: “the Main Line is a way of life which both its natives and newcomers tend to view as the best this side of Paradise.”
The lure of the Main Line as well as the lore of the Main Line. I still find it crazy. And I for all intents and purposes grew up there. It’s only the Magic Kingdom if you can really afford it and I often wonder how many can actually afford it versus the great pretenders? I lived there for so long because it was where I called home from the age of 12 into my 40s. And yes, I always knew I would probably eventually leave not for anything else than it keeps getting more expensive and if you are realistic you have to ask is the Main Line really worth it?
A Ride on The Main Line. The War of 1812 had ended and the country was expanding by extending its borders westward. New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia were the major seaports which stood to benefit the most in trade to the west. The road system could not handle the increased traffic so we entered into the age of canals, which offered faster service and were cheaper to operate.
New York built the Erie Canal which joined the Hudson River with Lake Erie, thus providing a through waterway from New York City to the Great Lakes. The Erie Canal opened in 1825.
Maryland, replacing their National Road, began the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal which connected Baltimore with the Ohio River.
As a counter measure, Pennsylvania decided that it wanted to develop its own canal system linking Philadelphia to the frontier city of Pittsburgh and authorized its construction. But when the survey was made, it was found that there was not enough water in the right places for a canal between the Delaware and the Susquehanna Rivers.
In March 1823, the Pennsylvania State Legislature issued a charter for the first railroad in the state. It authorized the construction of an 82 mile railway, from Philadelphia through Lancaster, terminating at Columbia (on the Susquehanna River), as part of the “Main Line of Public Works of the State of Pennsylvania.” The nickname, “The Main Line,” derived from this early Pennsylvania railroad…A Government Venture. The Philadelphia & Columbia Railway was one of the earliest railroads in America and the first in the world to be built by a government rather than by private enterprise. The contracts for the work were granted by the Canal Commission, under whose supervision the line was operated. Considered a public toll road, individuals and companies paid tolls to the Commission for use of the rails. They also supplied their own horses, rolling stock and passenger or freight facilities.
The Philadelphia & Columbia Railway finally became operational on September 1832, with carts and wagons dragged by horse power on a 20-mile section which began in Philadelphia (at Broad and Vine Streets) and ended at Green Tree Inn, west of Paoli….More than any other person or entity, it was the Pennsylvania Railroad that built the Main Line. For 111 years, its trains linked Lower Merion with Philadelphia and the nation. Even today, three decades after the railroad merged with a rival, the Pennsylvania’s legacy continues to shape life in the township.
The Pennsylvania Railroad began its long association with the Main Line when it purchased the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad from the state in 1857. At that time, there were only three stops in Lower Merion: Libertyville (serving modern Narberth and Wynnewood), Athensville (now Ardmore) and White Hall (Bryn Mawr). For a little over a decade, the Pennsylvania concentrated on rebuilding the line and developing long distance traffic. As late as 1869, the railroad operated only a handful of local trains along the Main Line.
So…look at the dates referenced by The Lower Merion Historical Society. 1832. Duffy’s Cut anyone? (Duffy’s Cut is the name given to a stretch of railroad tracks about 30 miles west of Philadelphia, United States, originally built for the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad in the summer and fall of 1832. The line later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Main Line. Railroad contractor Philip Duffy hired 57 Irish immigrants to lay this line through the area’s densely wooded hills and ravines. The workers came to Philadelphia from the Ulster counties of Donegal, Tyrone and Derry to work in Pennsylvania’s nascent railroad industry. They were murdered.)
And just so we are clear, I am not some old Main Line trust fund baby. We lived there because my parents decided to move us there as we got older for access to better schools and a way of life that included being able to play outside whenever we wanted. However, where I grew up was close to where one of my great-grandmothers was in service. Rebecca Nesbitt Gallen. She was a summer housekeeper for the Cassatt family (think Merion Cricket Club) at their Cheswold Estate. Of course Alexander Cassatt was also famous for his Chesterbrook Farm in Berwyn. We of course know Chesterbrook today as the giant development that popped the cherry of suburban density development. It’s hard to believe that Chesterbrook today was once a glorious 600+ acre farm, right?
Photo source: Pinterest
And yes, Chesterbrook Farm was in Berwyn…yet Chesterbrook the development today has a Wayne post office zip code. Yup even Chesterbrook wasn’t o.k. where it really was, was it?
The more things change, the more they stay the same. That could apply directly to two very dissimilar areas of Radnor today. But each was a result of technology creating a need and ambitious men filling it. Although they don’t look the same at all, each was its century’s response to changes caused by technology.
In the late 19th century, the railroad had opened up the western suburbs for white-collar workers who wanted to escape the filth and disease of the city. It’s almost impossible today to imaging just how dangerous it was living in a large city and that didn’t even include crime.
Infant mortality was rife, and often mothers died in childbirth or from infections afterwards. Influenza today dreaded mostly for its discomfort killed tens of thousands each year. Men died young, maimed and broken in brutal factories. Everything was dirty, both from the coal smoke that permeated every space and from the animals which were ubiquitous.
But the trains made it possible for people to live and work in different places. After the railroad barons moved themselves along the Main Line, building monstrous estates, it was time for the middle class. The first development in Radnor designed to bring folks from the city was a 300-acre estate belonging to J. Henry Askins. Called Louella Farms, it was named after his two daughters, Louise and Ella.
In 1869 he began building houses some of which remain on Bloomingdale Ave. in Wayne clearly designed for middle-class families. But he was really too early, although he did create a community of sorts. The farm lay alongside the Main Line tracks. His mansion, also called Louella is now the Louella Apartments.
This was the center for further development in what would become Wayne. Askins liked the feudal nature of his “community” and encouraged development of other facilities south of Louella and the train tracks. This resulted in the Presbyterian Church, the Opera House and the Post Office, all built between 1870 and 1874….
A century later, transportation technology did it all over again. In the mid-1960s the state announced that it was turning Rt. 202, a two-lane highway running south from King of Prussia into a limited access four-lane highway. Radnor officials knew that meant urban sprawl was coming to Philadelphia’s far suburbs….The Fox Companies didn’t build everything, but they developed and controlled it. “The scale was large enough for two or more companies for construction and retailing,” he says. “Part of what we wanted to do was create a community with a physical and social sense, and landscaping is very important for that…..The original idea was to have a mix of housings. “We wanted teachers and cops to be able to afford to live here, for instance,” he says. “Unfortunately the economic realities of what happened to housing prices in the 1970s defeated that.” There are still different styles and price ranges grouped together, so that the 2700 units seems more to be clumps of housing.
As part of a plan to help control the tide of growth Radnor created a unified development area on a 1000-acre plot alongside the highway. This meant that the rules as to density of population and other zoning and regulatory issues would be worked to encourage controlled development. The Fox Companies, headed by Dick Fox, bought up most of the land and although there were several parcels of land, by far the largest was Alexander Cassatt’s “country place,”Chesterbrook. Farm” He named the development for Cassatt’s farm.
Chesterbrook is a mixed development, with office buildings, several types and styles of houses and townhouses and open spaces.”Issues such as schools, open space, traffic and roads were defined to help counter urban sprawl,” according to Jim Hovey, president of The Fox Companies. “Cassatt’s farm was owned by a company owned by Bill Levitt, Jr. son of the creator of Levittown. The Fox Companies were able to acquire three of the four packages of land.
Yeah, I know this has been quite the ramble. But I just don’t think Chester County needs to be completely annexed to the freaking Main Line. It’s preposterous. Stick to the history. It tells you the boundaries. And yes, there are several towns (and townships) that have parts of themselves which are part of the Main Line historically, although not in their entirety. Like parts of Chester County. Chester County has a rich history that is far more interesting than the mere history of the Main Line which was created by the railroads.
I will close with this funny as hell map of the Main Line I found on Pinterest. It is by a local artist and graphic designer named Barb Chotiner. She lives in Narberth…which is another place with it’s own unique and lovely history, yet it is part of the Main Line by history.
Thanks for stopping by….writing today as always from beautiful Chester County, PA. (NOT the Main Line.)
This structure is a historic asset…or it should be.
It’s the 18th century farmhouse that is part of the Clews & Strawbridge property on Lancaster Avebue in Malvern/Frazwer .
Who owns Clews & Strawbridge now?
I find this demolition by neglect disgraceful, but then again I find most of the rotting historic properties in Chester County and in East Whiteland disgraceful because it doesn’t have to be this way!
The fencing is new and I have to ask do they think a stockade fence is going to make people forget what a hot mess the entire property looks like most of the time? COME ON.
Whoever you are, it’s time to deal with the house. Can it be sold? Is it empty? Is it full of stuff? There are so many stories yet no one seems to know what is going on so can they just be straight with residents and historical architecture buffs?