When Albert Breuers retired and turned over the Old Guard House Inn in Gladwyne to The Union League in Philadelphia, it was an end of an era. But people, myself included, were relieved the Guard House would live on, even as a private club extension. Well now I don’t know what to think.
Inquirer: Changing of the guard at Main Line’s Old Guard House Inn
New Year’s Eve will be the finale. Owner Albert Breuers struck a deal with the Union League in Center City, which in January – after some light redecoration and a kitchen makeover – will take over. The Union League Guard House will be open to its members and their guests only.
by Michael Klein
Published Dec 16, 2016
Albert Breuers remembers the day – May 12, 1979.
Three days before, he had bought the Old Guard House Inn in Gladwyne – even then it was “Old” – a warren of dimly lit dining rooms with log-cabin walls backing up to a bar regarded as the Main Line’s answer to Cheers. The previous fall, he started working in the kitchen for previous owner Jack Callahan, who opened the restaurant in 1949.
“One of those blue-hairs – we had them in those days – she called me over and said, ‘Hey, boy. If you keep your nose clean, you will do very well here,’ ” Breuers recalled this week….New Year’s Eve, though, will mark Breuers’ farewell from the Old Guard House. It also will spell the end of the Guard House as we know it.
Breuers struck a deal several months ago with the Union League in Center City, which in January – after some light redecoration and a kitchen makeover – will take it over. The Union League Guard House will be open to its members and their guests.
It’s bad enough that The Union League is still honoring Ron DeSantis today who is no student of Abraham Lincoln, and I hope they get LOTS and LOTS of picketers. But now what I am hearing with regard to their possible Gladwyne plans is also wrong.
The news out of Gladwyne this morning is the Union League is doing a presentation in front of the Gladwyne Civic Association this evening at their regular monthly meeting for…wait for it….outside dining. Umm hello, a streeterie in the parking lot much? Eww. Maybe they should go for a streeterie on Broad Street instead? Yes, I know both are ridiculous ideas. I will also note, the Union League is building rooftop dining in Philthadelphia.
All – at our civic meeting on Tuesday, there will be a presentation from the GH Union League on an expansion to have an outdoor eating area. The civic never heard about this expansion (which is quite surprising and disappointing).
A few commissioners have questions as this expansion will take away some current parking spaces.
If you are interested, or have comments, please come to the meeting Tuesday, Jan 24 at 7pm at the Gladwyne Firehouse.
We are all surprised that the civic and even our Commissioners did not know about this until the other day, so we apologize for the delay in letting people know.~ gladwyne civic 1/24/23
I will also note myself that this presentation to the Gladwyne Civic is VERY last minute. Why? Because apparently no one told the civic association these plans were in the works based upon what I read. Interestingly enough, I found reference to this on a Lower Merion HARB meeting agenda dated 7/26/22:
- INFORMAL – 953 Youngs Ford Road – Old Guard House – Gladwyne Historic District
Applicant seeks comment on a plan to create new window openings on the exterior wall of a non-original dining room extension adjacent to a proposed new outdoor dining area surrounded by a pergola structure.
So….why didn’t anyone tell the folks in Gladwyne this was actually in the air? I received a comment this morning from a Union League member. Allow me to share, although I will do the sender a favor and not share their name as that is not necessary, it’s just their opinion vs. mine:
This plan was in Place since they bought it. I think it is rather unjust to call the members discourteous. Parking is tight. You are correct. The UL is putting outside dining on the Roof at the UL and at great expense. It will be exquisite. They don’t do anything half assed. And BTW the DeSantis event is tonight. And what is wrong about that? The people of Gladwyne will be fine and will enjoy collecting the taxes from The guard house. Ain’t progress a bitch. BTW I do enjoy your writing very much. I just don’t see that you a a dog in this game. But free speech is free speech! Hope you are well.~ Union league memeber to me 1/24/23
Dear member/friend, my “dog in the game” is not traditional. I used to live in Lower Merion (as you know) and I am aware of how hard Gladwynites work to preserve the history and character of this very important historic district. I also know how tight and bad the parking is and how people patronizing the Guard House these days don’t necessarily take care with their on street parking on Righters Mill Road, creating massive headaches for people who do live there. A plan as in their plans, is not the same as a filed plan, so is there a filed plan as in an actual plan, or is this still just a concept? This is also about being a good neighbor. This concept is not the potential act of a good neighbor, and it is that simple.
Ok, I will note it was part of the discussion when they came before HARB in 2019 as a Preliminary Review:
So now my question is, has this been formally discussed since? At a board of commissioners meeting or meetings? Any plans submitted even in draft form? Does the head of building and planning Chris Leswing know about this or the township manager Ernie McNeely?
I never object to outdoor dining where it FITS. It doesn’t FIT here. This is like when they wanted in Garrett Hill in Radnor not too long ago and diners would have been literally eating practically on top of Conestoga Road.
This is a very specific historic district. The Union League owns golf clubs with loads of outdoor dining space. Plus there is the rooftop dining project on top of the club’s home in Philadelphia. Here that idea just won’t fit. This is a village still, and parking for the Guard House is an issue, and having been there since the Union League took over to dine, the parking issue has never been sufficiently addressed. Righters Mill Road has been doubling as their overflow parking lot, and well the residents aren’t always so well respected when it comes to said parking. And when you add outside dining, there is also that good old expectation of quiet enjoyment so how would restaurant noises taken outside affect neighbors that way?
Now to be fair someone said to me they thought some sheds out back would go away and they would lose a “few spots” and everything would be hidden by a fence. Hidden by a fence made me laugh because it is now an extension of a private club, but it still comes back to village feel and parking. And this is a private club, not a public restaurant any longer, so there is that whole topic. I don’t personally care that it is now an extension of the Union League, except wonder what would happen if this club had a reversal of fortune? It is a valid question because they have been on quite the acquisition spree in the recent past
Union League, people can also go to Merion Cricket, Merion Golf, etc. for outdoor dining and they have the room locally. This location does not truly have the outside room. Leave Gladwyne Village alone, find another way to drive your revenue, and be a good neighbor. This is yet another reason I am glad I am no longer on the Main Line and no longer live in Lower Merion. In my humble opinion, this would be a very special bad plan if they go through with it.
Also worth pondering? What work should the Union League be doing on the Guard House building itself before even contemplating outdoor dining?
The Union League has a responsibility being in a historic area in Gladwyne. This is also a nationally registered historic district. They also just need to be a good neighbor here and not try this. Maybe my opinion doesn’t matter, but I do have the right to express it.
Why is the way something is, never enough?
Check out this fun on the history of Gladwyne by visiting the LOWER MERION HISTORICAL SOCIETY WEBSITE HERE.
Here are Google views screen shot taken today and you decide: