happy days farm under contract to a developer?

Months ago I wrote that Vanguard was selling Happy Days Farm. I had expressed my opinion that they waited for Mr. Bogle to die.

Happy Days Farm was once home to the Supplee Family in modern times (I think from some point in the 1940s.)  Mildred and Warren Supplee were well-loved by their community and were married for 75 years.

Happy Days Farm is STILL actively farmed by tenant farmers who are WONDERFUL people.

Just now I learned Happy Days Farms is under contract to a developer? And that means that if they don’t buy it for some reason there are undoubtedly other developers right behind them, correct?

Vista Today has the story and allow me to quote (and note they republish things from other sources in this case the Philadelphia Business Journal.)

Here is an excerpt of what Vista Today said:

Happy Days Farm, a 246-acre property in Exton that is currently owned by Vanguard, has been put under contract by Audubon Land Development, writes Natalie Kostelni for the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The property near the Downingtown Interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was put up for sale by Vanguard in March after the investment giant kept it for two decades as a possible expansion site.

Thanks to its excellent location that can attract traffic from a large demographic area, the property was expected to receive significant interest from developers.

For the love of all that’s holy, IT IS STILL A WORKING FARM!

Now Audubon Land Development, who are they? From their “about” section of their website:

ABOUT US

Audubon Land Development Corporation is a family owned and operated business with over 50 years of development, building and management experience. Audubon Land affiliates have built over 3,000 homes in eastern Pennsylvania, as well as many commercial facilities including apartment complexes, the Audubon Square Shopping Center, The Hilton Homewood Suites in Audubon, the 422 Business Center, The Hilton Garden Inn at Oaks, the Marketplace at Oaks, including Target, Lowe’s and Regal Cinemas and the Greater Philadelphia Expo in Oaks. Audubon also has under development, the 2,500 unit Shannondell Retirement Community, with 1,000 units completed.

Oaks. That hideous complex that always seems dirty? The Philadelphia Expo Center? Have you been there? It’s part of the long stretch of 422 development hell, isn’t it?

I have no issue with Shannondell as their rehab center does a lot of good but don’t we already have a lot of warehouses for seniors out here? And let’s be honest, is a place like Shannondell affordable for your average senior citizen?

Maybe a lot of you aren’t familiar with the whole other side of Montgomery County that is Audubon and Oaks and up Egypt Road and 422? I actually am because our son went to a charter school that pulls from these areas and a lot of friends lived over in this direction.

If you think King of Prussia is bad you have not seen anything until you’ve experienced this area. When you travel along places like Egypt Road and other areas back here in Audubon and Oaks you see strip mall after strip mall and development after development and in between you have these tiny pockets of humanity trying to survive in the midst of it.

This area actually reminds me of King of Prussia as the mall grew. And I say that because I am just old enough to remember when you were along 202 near the King of Prussia Mall years ago, there were still these cute little houses along 202 that people lived in.…until they gave up.

Is this the fate of Happy Days Farm?

I will note that Philadelphia Architects and Buildings  dates the farm as circa 1730 to 1780. They also have a 1995 site plan. I also discovered it is part of some Watershed H (Brandywine Creek, East Brandywine creek?) and there is an archeological and historical survey report.  And this abstract document from 1998 would also be of interest.

Also a few months ago, it took some digging but I did indeed find a 1998 PA Historic Resouces Survey Form. You can click HERE and I am uploading it here: H067961_67867_D. It’s fascinating and what did this survey lead me to? Oh yes, another Penn Land Grant and possibly part of Native American Hunting Grounds:

The origins of Happy Days Farm can be traced to two early land grants from William Penn, Proprietor of the Province of Pennsylvania. One tract of 1,000 acres was granted to James Claypoole in 1682. James Claypoole was an English investor who purchased several land grants in Pennsylvania, but never lived there. The other tract of 1,666 2/3 acres was granted to David Lloyd in 1703. David Lloyd was a land investor who owned a considerable portion of what became Uwchlan Township in 1712. In 1713, the heirs of James Claypoole sold 800 acres in Uwchlan to David Lloyd. In 1714, Lloyd sold to Joseph Phipps an 800 acre plantation that included parts of the two Penn grants.

The description on the 1714 deed of a “messuage, tenement plantation tract” indicates that there was already an established farm and dwelling house. Joseph Phipps was among the early Quaker settlers who requested the formation of their own meeting in Uwchlan Township in 1712. At the time, most of these Quakers were living on land owned by David Lloyd, so Joseph Phipps was probably living on the land he later purchased. Between 1712 and 1715, most of David Lloyd’s holdings in Uwchlan Township were deeded to early residents such as Phipps. The first tax records for Uwchlan Township occurred in 1715. Joseph Phipps was one of eighteen names recorded on that list and one of the greatest landowners. 280 years later, descendants of Joseph continue to live in Uwchlan Township.….For much of the eighteenth century, the Phipps family prospered. As Joseph’s children grew and married several houses were built on the family lands. Some farmland was divided, but the  “home farm” and approximately 400 acres remained intact through the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century witnessed the growth of a new agricultural industry – the dairy farm. Chester County became known for its dairy farms. By the 1880’s, 85 individually owned dairy farms prospered in Uwchlan Township. The Phipps families owned several. 

Happy Days Farm is the only farm property that remained in the Phipps family for more than two centuries. Members of the Phipps family were active in several area churches including Uwchlan Society of Friends and Windsor Baptist Church. Phipps participated in the organizing and prosperity of the Uwchlan Grange. Residents of this early farm accomplished their goals. They may not have been famous, but they were excellent examples of nineteenth century Pennsylvania farmers.

This is Uwchlan Township for Happy Days Farm, I believe. But what happens here doesn’t just affect the tenant farmers and the residents of Uwchlan Township, it affects all of us in Chester County.

It’s like we don’t matter anymore. Existing residents don’t matter anymore. It’s just all about the crazy race for development.

Like Lloyd Farm in Caln, Happy Days is part of an original Penn Land Grant, correct?

Why doesn’t that mean something anymore?

Chester County wasn’t founded for fields of Tyvek boxes and strip malls and apartment buildings.

And look at the stresses on our infrastructure now. And someone else said to me recently that people talk about the stresses on the roads and the first responders and the school districts but they don’t talk about things like the stress on the hospitals. They said:

….the strain is here and growing. I work in an ER and this week we have gone on pre-divert and divert status 3x. The hospital is full and people are being admitted but have to stay in the ER since we have no beds upstairs….several patients ask …why the wait is so long and I discuss with them the issue of the exponential population growth due to poor planning of high density housing all around the area. When I start listing the neighborhoods then they suddenly understand why we are facing a crisis.

Again, also look at the school districts. Isn’t Great Valley looking to expand and build more schools? And what of Downingtown School District? Isn’t there a whisper of eminent domain floating around as they also need land to expand and build more schools? And hasn’t the West Chester Area School District got plans in place for yet another elementary school over near or in that Greystone development? And what about Tredyffrin? How long before they need more schools or need to expand?

Chester County, now more than ever, the agricultural and equine heritage and open space HAS to matter! Residents have to matter! The future has to matter!

We are literally in the midst of a development glut, right? So what happens when this developmental gold rush is over?

No one ever talks about that. I do not believe it is everyone will settle in and get along nicely. I think we are setting ourselves up as communities for decades of problems going forward because there is no balance or sane pace to development.

And this is why I don’t like development. And why I am not a fan of organizations like the Chester County Planning Commission and their Landscapes plans. In my humble opinion, which I am allowed, this “build it and they will come” attitude is problematic. What happens when all of “they” come? It looks pretty on schematics and diagrams and plans to be shown at municipal meetings, but what is the reality? My opinion is in reality we’re not going to be able to handle it because we can’t handle it now and how is that progress?

I don’t know what else to say other than if we can’t stop the madness, we need to stem the tide. This is getting crazy. And happy days farm just makes me sad. Especially because it is still a working farm and farmers matter.

I’m getting off my soapbox now. I really didn’t intend for this to be such a long post and there’s nothing I can do personally to stop this from happening but I can express how I feel about it. At least the First Amendment still gives me that right.

To Happy Days Farm and the generations and families who have farmed you, including the current family, I say my heart broke a little more over this news. I am so terribly sorry that as human beings we can’t do better to preserve what our founding fathers fought and bled for out here.

Chester County we have to do better.

remembering with love

Today is an anniversary of sorts in our family.

14 years to the day when we lost my father to cancer.

13 years to the day when we lost my cousin Suzy to cancer.

Both people who played a big part in my life.

But it’s a day to remember them with smiles and happy tears. I don’t think we should bury them in memories of sadness.

I have never actually really written about this before. And today it just seemed like time.

My late father was at times a complicated man, but well-loved by us all. He was often described as a Renaissance man by his friends, and there are a lot of things that I get in part from him. He taught me how to garden. He gave me my Christmas disease. He taught me how to go to antique shows to educate my eye and when I was very little he put me on top of his shoulders so I could see all of the Van Gogh paintings on exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. as an adult I would do things like go to estate sales with him.

I have lots of memories of my father like little Kodachrome snap shots in my head. The same with my cousin Suzy.

Suzy was my mother’s niece, goddaughter, and my first cousin. To me for most of my life she was also like the big sister I didn’t have because technically in my immediate family I was the big sister. As a little girl, I remember her sleeping over and spending the night on the sofa when we didn’t have a guest room – my parents were restoring an old house in Society Hill and for my younger childhood years a lot of the time it was like living in a construction site.

Suzy got married young, and my parents hosted her wedding. She got married out of our parish church – Old Saint Joseph’s on Willing’s Alley. The reception was at my parents’ house in Society Hill, by that time was put enough together at least on two floors that we were able to have the wedding.

Jimmy Duffy and Sons did the catering. They would in later years, cater my sister’s wedding, and mine as well. From my cousin Suzy’s wedding, I have a few distinct memories, including sitting with my cousin Carol on the steps to the back staircase off the breakfast room eating hors d’oeuvres. I remember we were specifically eating water chestnuts wrapped in bacon, which is why when I got married, they were added to the list of hors d’oeuvres we served.

From Suzy I got my love of junking and flea markets. She also was a Christmas fanatic (she would organize caroling parties every a Christmas season) and liked to go in and out of antique stores.

Suzy and her first husband raised their daughters in Newtown, Bucks County. She lived for her girls. I would spend a lot of weekends with them during those years and we would do things like get up at the crack of dawn and go to Rice’s Market in New Hope when it was really cool. We would spend days exploring small towns like New Hope and Lambertville and Pennington and other places along the river on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania side. I treasure those times and it was so much fun! I remember going into a store with her once on the New Jersey side that was all Russian nesting dolls and Fiestaware.

So much time has passed since they both left us and so much in all of our lives has happened. That’s the thing of life isn’t it? It goes on. And I think while we have to mourn the loss of loved ones, I also think we should celebrate them by trying to live our best lives.

Life is for the living and we shouldn’t squander it.

Anyway, that’s it from me this morning. Remembering with love, my father Peter and cousin Suzy.

Thanks for stopping by.

why are we perpetually punished by politicians over healthcare in this country?

I just completed my open enrollment for next year’s health insurance. My premiums will double each month starting in January, 2020.

Double.

I am literally back to the pre-Affordable Care Act premiums yet the Affordable Care Act is still in place. I don’t live below the poverty line yet I am punished for being solidly middle class and these premiums make you feel like you are dancing on the edge of precipice of living at or below the poverty line, and why? Why does it have to be this way?

I didn’t necessarily wish to embrace the Affordable Care Act at first if I’m completely honest. But it did make it much easier as a self paying insured to get insurance that was a bit more affordable for a couple of years.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, I was self-pay. The reason I was self-pay in corporate America is because my employer at the time was not required by law to offer employees insurance. Before that job I was always covered under employer plans. Now as a self-employed person I continue to be self-pay. I’m fine with that. But whether you are self-pay or through an employer plan health insurance is crazy expensive. And does it have to be?

Now before I became self-pay, the employer plans had already started to slip. We were paying more and getting less. And that has nothing to do with what the employers actually allowed to be covered via the underwriting. It has to do with what the insurance companies gave us out of the generosity of their hearts. Their hands are outstretched for premiums, but what about the quid pro quo? Do we fairly and equitably get what we pay for? And what about the medical providers? Have you ever looked at what they actually receive versus what is paid into the insurance companies?

We have had a healthcare system in this country that has continually broken down by bits and pieces over the decades because there is one consistency that is never addressed: the insurance companies themselves. There have never been any comprehensive reforms of the insurance companies. Yet corporate executives keep their private jets and other perks, right?

I will pay my insurance premiums. I always do. But I will be forced to economize in other areas.  I have no other option for benefits, so I will make do. I am a rule follower not a rule breaker, but I don’t think the rules are fair and equitable with regard to health insurance in this country or in Pennsylvania.

I don’t cheat at life, I pay my fair share. But when it comes to health insurance in this country I feel like I am cheated at times, don’t you?

As a cancer survivor and still active cancer patient I have paid extraordinary amounts of healthcare related expenses for many years at this point. And that is in addition to monthly health insurance premiums. And I’ve paid it all off. It takes time, I have to do payment plans, but I’m not asking for handouts. But year after year when open enrollment rolls around I feel like Sisyphus with the healthcare rock to roll up the damn hill.

I don’t think as Americans we should be punished every open enrollment period for having health insurance. We are told by law we have to have health insurance, I also always had health insurance before it was the law to always have health insurance.

Yet, I look at elected officials on both sides of the aisle fighting about health insurance and everything else in this country. As taxpayers we pay towards their health benefits that they don’t really pay for. But they want to tell me how I’m supposed to spend my money on health insurance just like they want to have control over a woman’s reproductive rights? And I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat, that’s bullsh🤬t.

Americans, average everyday Americans, are the perpetual pawns of politics and politicians. Depending on which party is in power, you get something for a few years, then the next administration takes it away and so on and so forth. It’s a vicious cycle without end and there should be an end to it.

We didn’t ask for political parties to battle it out and for politicians to beat their breastbones telling each other how fabulous they are at our expense.

Elected officials aren’t so fabulous because they won’t sit down and figure this out. It is just a perennial game of whomever gets all the toys wins with regular every day Americans as the losers in perpetuity.

I am grateful I am able to get health insurance. But not everybody can. And the prices go up but the services don’t necessarily coincide do they? 

I will note for all you far more conservative than me, I have never ever expected someone else to pay for my health insurance. I just would like it to be priced fairly and consistently.

We need real and lasting healthcare reform. Not more extremes in politics.

Rant over.



scenes of west chester before the leaves came down

DSC_0954

I took these photos back in September the weekend of the Barclay Friends Secret Gardens Tour.

West Chester is a cool place to explore and I love the houses and the gardens and the park spaces.  Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

vintage and handmade ornaments are the best!

Most of the Christmas ornaments I have are varying degrees of vintage. I even have some that belonged to my great grandparents who lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

I told all of you about the wonderful vintage Christmas market at the Smithfield Barn. It’s happening today and tomorrow. I realized I never showed you what I bought!

I was actually pretty restrained for me. I tend to go crazy over the ornaments my friend Kristin finds! This year was no exception as she had some vintage ones that were made in the Ukraine. The Ukrainian ornaments are different from the German ornaments and the glass feels different in your hands. And they are so lovely just like old German ornaments!

I am pretty sappy when it comes to Christmas. It literally makes me so happy to decorate and cook for friends and family. And I have always loved vintage ornaments.

My late father loved silver and gold. And somewhere my mother still has boxes of now vintage silver and gold glass ornaments. But I like color in my tree and decorations. I am however primarily a red and green person.

I also love Santas, elves, and nutcrackers. I love handmade and hand carved Christmas decorations as well! I have a whole bunch of folk art Santas and it makes me grin when every one of them comes out of the storage bin where they live the rest of the year.

I also like ornaments that remind me of the nature that is all around me. I have a lot of mercury glass birds both old and new. It’s hard to get really amazing vintage glass birds because people hang onto them. And the vintage ones I have are from my father. A lot of the glass birds are the ones that I see in my own garden. And I even have a glass fox or two.

Also with the nature theme? Mercury glass pinecones. They are among my favorite Christmas tree ornaments and I found some new ones this year at the Smithfield Barn!

The thing you’ll find about shopping at the Christmas market for the Smithfield Barn is they don’t rake you over the coals in price. Things are priced fairly and definitely a lot of the time below other dealers elsewhere. Way below. Part of what makes the Smithfield Barn so special is the way things are paid forward.

And yes, I will also admit I am a not so closet Hallmark Christmas movie watcher. There’s so much ugliness and unpleasantness in the world, the Christmas and decorating for the holidays it’s just a beautiful and warm respite from all of that.

Thanks for stopping by.



BREAKING: another eminent domain threat in chester county?

I’m gonna leave this right here.

This is yet another potential example of the devastating cost of over development in Chester County. School districts in particular piss me off with this crap because they always act like they know nothing about what’s going on around them.

These people should not be forced to lose their properties, the developer should give up part of their land to build the school there.

People need to go after the school district now please contact all your elected officials local, county, state, federal.

Contact the media. Attend this upcoming meeting and raise hell.

This is another piece of the cost of development at the expense of where we call home.

It’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s not just, it must be protested.

I know nothing more than what I am showing you right here right now.

vintage christmas wonderland

The Smithfield Barn opens it’s big barn doors November 8th – 10th for their Vintage Holiday Market in Downingtown.

Me and my cane got a look see this evening (NOT open to the public.)

I love Christmas and I love vintage Christmas and Kristin has outdone herself with the spectacular ornaments and lovely Christmas things.

There is some new mixed in with the old because for example there is this amazing wood carver who has some things in the barn.

There are also some fabulous vintage Christmas ornaments from the Ukraine. They’re very different and beautiful.

Yes, I literally have a torn meniscus and I had to brace my knee up and bring a cane just so I could take a look because I don’t know when (given the state of my leg) I will be out again. One of my best friends was nice enough to drive me.

This was just what the doctor ordered and it makes me so happy to see a little Christmas in a big old Chester County barn. This is literally a big old barn and this is not a store so you can’t just show up whenever.

Smithfield Barn 425 Little Conestoga Road Downingtown, Pennsylvania 19335.

don’t use grubhub

I decided to give GrubHub one more try. They screwed up again with a super delayed order, and then delivered stone cold food.

See that burger? Do you know how gross cold, congealed melted cheese is? I bit into that burger and know now.

Disgusting, utterly disgusting, and not the restaurant’s fault but GrubHub’s

I have torn the meniscus in my left knee and my poor husband had to rush home from work to take me to Chester County Hospital, only to have to come home again because I did not break a bone so I need an MRI and you can’t get that from the ER (did not know, all I know is I was doubled over in pain, don’t like to go near hospitals but you are told to go if pain is that bad, right?)

So I ordered GrubHub as a treat. Only once again they were horrible.

The order that took about an hour plus longer than it should have. Their customer service was abysmal. I tried calling first but couldn’t get through. Perma-hold. So I try the “chat”.

I explain to “Jesus” the agent the problem…and the fact the driver did not reply to a polite text looking for the order when it became super late.

Do I want like GrubHub dollars or something.

No I kept saying, I want my order and should get an adjustment to my bill.

“We can’t do that.”

So yeah, I said here comes the blog post and Twitter. I also told them that they are SO bad around here that this was the SECOND restaurant this year to suggest DoorDash and Caviar!

That resonated and all of a sudden from online Jesus to his Supervisor Athena we went from $5 back to slightly more like magic.

In the end, a refund on less than half of my total order was what they promised, if they actually refund it. Nothing has been initiated as a refund. They took money out of my bank account initially in maybe 30 seconds.

So I am deleting their app and NEVER using them again. You can’t trust them.

They suck and there is always a problem. I haven’t used them that much, but every order has been a problem.

If you look on social media sites like Twitter, there is no “GrubHub” love…just complaint after complaint after complaint…from all over the country! (note the random examples I posted)

Ditch GrubHub.

lochiel farm, exton

Someone sent me these photos and I am told that this property is near Ship Road SS Philip and James. The location is 755 Livingston Lane Exton.

There are two different structures on the same property it looks like. I haven’t been there so I can’t tell you anything more than that.

This is Lochiel Farm, right? The site the developer Bentley is developing?

I was also told this might be on some kind of American Revolutionary War list?

Lochiel Farm is a listed historic home and was built about 1800. It consists of a large, two-story, double pile stone central section with two flanking wings in the Georgian / Federal style. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. I don’t know the precise history of the frame house which is the first photo in this post.

I have been told that these properties are NOT being razed they are being preserved.

Information sent to me:

FRAME HOUSE:

This 2 1⁄2-story frame structure served as a tenant house for Lochiel Farm. The site includes the mansion house and carriage shed (341), a tenant house (339) and a tenant house and harness shop (340). It was acquired by Church Farm School and used as dormitories. The property was once owned by Max Livingston, Master of the Whitelands Hunt. It was a proposed site for the Whiteland Village development and now stands empty.

MAIN HOUSE:

Class 1 – Listed on National Register

Built c. 1814 by Griffith Lewis, a descendant of one of Township’s earliest Welsh Quaker families. Example of Great Valley Gentleman’s farmhouse. Remodeled and added to in early 1900’s. Acqured by Church Farm School, now a dormitory.

I will note that I am not sure if the harness shop or a carriage house still exist on the property. Apparently this has been vacant for many many years.

That’s the thing about living in Chester County —you turn a corner on the road and there’s a land parcel. Only you don’t really know how big or how small the land parcel is. Or exactly necessarily what is on it until some developer gets their paws on it and it shows up at some township meeting as a proposal for development

I do mourn the fact that this site means more development literally in a Township (West Whiteland) that is turning into development Ground Zero, a distinction that it seems to go back-and-forth with its neighbor, East Whiteland. Everything is approved there’s nothing to fight this is just commentary and some of the history that we know of.

For these things already approved, we have to remember the history.

But I fear I will we will have soon in Chester County are photos, some haphazard oral and written histories, and so much MORE development that our heads will explode.

I have also said before that I think it’s a giant mistake all this development is going to occur in and around Ship Road. Add that to the pipeline nonsense and as time progresses it will just be more and more a recipe for disaster.

This Lochiel Farm site will be about 140 townhouses and the historic structures single family.

While I am glad the two beautiful historic structures supposedly will get a second chance at life, I just still wish for the future less development in Chester County.