benjamin pennypacker house, exton: future unknown

Big, deep breath. That moment when you see a historic asset go up for sale with mistakes in the listing, surprisingly undervalued, and you feel like it has the same weight as listing a fast food restaurant and pad…only it wouldn’t be only $450,000. Is this being marketed as a RESTORE or a TEAR DOWN? Hard to tell.

Let’s start with WEST WHITELAND AND EXTON aren’t MALVERN.

Details matter.

This realtor is an unknown, doesn’t seem to to have the chops for this property. I am sure he will be offended by this, but that is my opinion, and allowed.

This is a historic asset. Whom would he know at Church Farm? Maybe it would be that person who was the former finance director at Easttown Township and now Director of Finance and Operations, perhaps? And did they get to know each other at Caln Township? (Also see this link and isn’t that interesting?)

This listing says “Malvern”. To me that screams Realtor FAUX marketing…you know like saying Downingtown listings are “Chester Springs”? This property is in EXTON.

The listing describes this house as a “COLONIAL”. It is not. And ALL you would have to do is look up the Pennsylvania Historic Resource Form which is publicly available in the Internet with a super quick search and embedded here. The style of this FARMHOUSE, which is neither COLONIAL nor a FRONT HALL COLONIAL it is FEDERAL or FEDERAL TRANSITONAL. Also referred to as RURAL FEDERAL STYLE.

I adore Church Farm School, but I am concerned at WHO the Realtor is for the property and the fire sale price for a historic asset on 2 acres. I mean $450,000 is like tear down pricing isn’t it? Is this really being marketed as such? And let’s talk it’s February, this is a house in need of serious work, and the snow and ice aren’t really 100% removed to make it safe to go see? That would now be a potential liability on this wonderful school, since it flipped back fairly recently from West Whiteland, wouldn’t it? (I mean even ChescoViews still has West Whiteland as owner as of today, right?)

And let’s talk West Whiteland for a moment. This farmhouse sits on a property that was supposed to be a park years ago, correct? Yet only recently began that transformation truly, correct? Now former Manager of West Whiteland Mimi Gleason was manager from 2014 until recently correct? West Whiteland got this property when? 2006? It was totally before her tenure, Michael Cotter preceded her, and then Michael Cotter next went where? West Chester Borough or something until he resigned in 2017? Who was the West Whiteland Township Manager prior to Cotter? It was a woman maybe named Christine Smeltzer (she shows up in Foote Mineral stuff)? Before that Steve Ross maybe?

So this house was in West Whiteland’s custody FOR YEARS, so why did it literally sit and rot? Why did it take so long for the park to actually happen? Why did this property essentially go from Church Farm to West Whiteland and now ALL THESE YEARS LATER goes back to Church Farm? Just so weird, huh? I mean why didn’t West Whiteland use the farmhouse for something? Even having to do with the park? Why now send it back to Church Farm?

Property was originally acquired around 1918 by Church Farm School. Originally they used it as the farm manger’s residents. So when did West Whiteland take custody of this property? 1990s maybe? I found reference to the Church Farm Property in a little book about Exton called “Little Bobby Reese Growing Up in Exton” – I found a copy of that book and will be writing about it soon.

And in this “History of West Whiteland”, you find reference to the Benjamin Pennypacker House:

So the description describes an eat in kitchen. OK it would have to be fit for habitation to have that, right? Is it? Look at the listing photos – doesn’t it scream demolition by neglect as a structure? Why didn’t West Whiteland maintain it better while they had custody?

Sign me very concerned about the future of this property. I wish it had a Realtor who did these kinds of listings more regularly, and umm, given the condition of the house and the weather, why not list it in the SPRING? Church Farm is a school, so they aren’t real estate magnates. But this property should have more experienced Realtors and at least an attempt a listing more appropriate to preserving this house and property. And who decided this was the listing price?

Chester County is losing too many historic assets and open space. Please let anyone you know looking for a historic property. If this gets torn down, it will literally be criminal to historic preservation.

I don’t give a rat’s ass if this is sold, but I am questioning if it is being sold as land and a tear down, or as a rough gem to restore? I am also questioning why West Whiteland seemed to practice demolition by neglect while they had this property?

Curious and curiouser.

6 thoughts on “benjamin pennypacker house, exton: future unknown

    • I would like a conservation buyer/preservation buyer to acquire the property and the listing is not geared towards that at all. It is being marketed in my opinion as a knockdown. Truthfully West Whiteland could have used that property to their advantage. They could’ve made it a headquarters for their parks and rec when they acquired it in 2006. They could’ve just taken some better care of it in any event. And that’s not a giant overhaul and restoration that’s just basic care so like water doesn’t get in.

      • There are a LONG line of IFs between point A and Point Z.

        IF the circumstances allowed – and
        IF we could swing the money – and
        IF we had community support — (it would be nice)

        I would love to help bring the house back to its former self. We have already restored a brick 1930s home and a 1908 Southern farm house. Bringing these ‘old ladies’ back to life is a pleasure and a priviledge.

        But – honestly – and I hate to say this – it is really abused.
        The photos alone of the damage to the roof, the upper floors are concerning. It might just have been neglected for too long.

        You need a roof first. And that is if the framing can be saved. Was it balloon framed – likely? How far down did the water go? Did it rot out the base of the framing? How does the foundation look?
        All questions which whoever takes on this challenge will need the dedication and money to answer. It’s like peeling back an onion when you are dealing with so many years of neglect.

        Which is very sad.

        But – if providence lands us with the opportunity – I would enjoy the challenge of bringing this graceful piece of Federalist history into the 21st century.

        But, as I said, there are about 200 IFS between here and MAYBE.

        I wish you the very best of luck in finding someone to save her.

    • That’s really nice of you! You can message me through the blogs Facebook page and you can even send photos that way and any interesting bit of history

  1. are you serious right now… you have no clue who this realtor is!! He’s a decorated Marine Veteran who not only volunteered once, but twice!! He was in Mogadishu (remember Black Hawk Down?!!) and then again after 911!!

    He is a strong, truthful, competent man who would never deceive anyone! He’s been a realtor for many years and has more “chops” as you put it than anyone you know. He loves his family more than anything, he’s also an accomplished singer/songwriter and sings at hospitals to cheer people up on a regular basis.

    As for the property that you love so much… did you ever think for one minute to contact Jason and talk with him about it? The fact of the matter is that it’s really up to the buyer what is ultimately done with the property. Of course the hope would be that the property is restored and kept for another 100 years or more and I’m sure that offers with that intent will be looked on favorably, but then in the end that’s up to the Seller then, isn’t it??

    Thanks so much for you yet again regaling us with your nonsense, it’s always fun to read your drivel and get my eyre up for a few minutes! Best wishes!!

Leave a Reply