sadly back to radnor: willows in radnor vandalized and burglarized

Willows circa 2010, my photo.

After writing about Radnor earlier this week with regard to Ardrossan area and Radnor farmer, I didn’t expect to write another post so soon. I am in the extended area at this point, so except for a couple of things here and there, it’s not my jam. Before I get into the meat of the post, vis-à-vis the post I wrote the other day about the Radnor farmer and the chemicals he uses on the fields, you have to think about the wildlife at the Willows. Here are photos I have taken over the years of some of the wildlife, and the sign about doing things in an environmentally friendly way that used to be posted at the Willows but I don’t know if it still is.

I have always loved the Willows, the architect Charles Barton Keen was a very dear friend’s grandfather and I have run across the occasional Zantzinger family member as an adult. They are one of the families which called the Willows home. Originally the house was called Rose Garland. Something that has always bothered me, is the house is referred to as a “mansion“ and it was never designed as a mansion. It was a moderately sized country house. Also Radnor Township likes to speak about how they “acquired“ the “mansion” in 1975. They neglect to tell everyone that they exercised eminent domain to “acquire“ the house.

Sometimes I wonder if the bad mojo that started at Radnor Township‘s ownership of the Willows has followed it into the present from the past. But I also think a lot of what has been wrong with the Willows is the fault of Radnor Township. It always used to be a venue for events and weddings. But in my humble opinion, the township kind of ran the Willows into the ground via benign neglect, and then eventually the Willows closed. Then there were all the years of who’s going to take over the Willows, who’s going to submit an RFP to run the Willows, what are they going to do with the Willows?

And I think there was a lot of benign neglect until this new nonprofit came in and kind of turned it around. At different points there was stuff done to the property that was wonderful. Like when there was the group the Friends of the Willows Cottage who did an amazing restoration on the cottage that now sits empty and rotting again. The fabulous era of the Willows Cottage was circa 2010. During that year I actually went to a few different parties there including an amazing summer solstice party which are the next photos I am sharing. I took and own the photos.

So when the Willows started being restored again this time around, I was so hopeful. I didn’t think it could be done honestly. The expense is enormous. But people love the house. And what has been happening so far is amazing. But I have to ask if Radnor Township and/or the Willows Park Preserve non-profit need to update or add a security system? Why am I asking ? See next screenshot.

This is rather sad as well as disturbing. After reading the article in Patch about this, a couple of things about the Willows occurred to me. I seem to remember the back in the day as in years and years ago they had a locked room in the basement for liquor and that’s where stuff would get locked away after parties or before parties, so why wasn’t liquor locked up in a municipal owned historic building?

The other thing is obviously they must not have a security system or security cameras because if they had either would they have discovered all of this on a Monday morning at 10 AM when they opened up for the week? And if there was security perhaps the vandalism would not have occurred let alone the theft. This is undoubtedly kids I think – of course it remains to be seen if they are high school kids or college kids, but this definitely smacks of kids by the very nature of it. I hope too much money wasn’t lost.

Sorry not sorry, it sounds like pennywise and pound foolish Radnor. I hope if Radnor can’t get their act together and install proper security on this site that one of the many well healed in Radnor Township who love the “mansion” as they call it, pony up to repair what needs to be repaired due to vandalism and for a proper security system that includes cameras. They could even get a wireless system like so many people are using today couldn’t they?

And I also just don’t understand what motivates anyone to break into a historic house and vandalize it. Is this the kind of world we are living in now? Do other historic houses in the area have to worry? Should this be a wake up call to other historic houses?

It’s a sad state of affairs that anyone did this to such a lovely place. And I hope if anyone knows anything, that they do the right thing and contact Radnor police.

The Willows at twilight circa 2010.