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Now I make no secret of the fall house tour events I hold dear in Chester County which are the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust House Tour (I am a sponsor and this year it’s Saturday September 29th) and the tour that started it all for me many moons ago (used to go with my parents long before calling Chester County home) — Chester County Day!
Today I am writing about Chester County Day which began in 1936. I love this event so much, I even have the following books: Forty Years of Days, Chester County & Its Day, and Barns of Chester County Pennsylvania which were all written by a Chester County treasure named Berenice M. Ball.
The Women’s Auxiliary to Chester County Hospital has been supporting the hospital for 125 years through numerous fundraising activities and events. One of the beloved fundraisers that has stood the test of time is Chester County Day, the longest running house tour in the United States. This year’s tour will be held Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 10 am to 5 pm. Since its founding in 1936, “The Day,” as it is affectionately called, has raised more than $5 million for the hospital, earning $132,000 last year alone.
This year The Day includes tours of 16 homes and six public structures/historic sites in the northeast quadrant, including Exton, Frazer, Chester Springs, Kimberton, and Phoenixville.
The Day will kick off with the pageantry and excitement of a traditional fox hunt. The hunt will set off promptly at 9 am from Birchrunville. At 10 am guests can begin their tour of this year’s selected properties.
The 2018 tour celebrates the traditional, distinctive architecture of Chester County with some twists. There is a beautifully restored home in West Vincent Township which is believed to have been deeded to a Revolutionary War soldier in payment for his service. Also on the tour is a meticulously kept stone home with great antiques, rugs and a lovingly-cared for garden.
A spectacularly restored Queen Ann-style home is one of the stops in West Whiteland Township. The home was designed and built in 1851 by Andrew Jackson Downing, a prominent advocate of the Gothic Revival in the United States. The fountains, gardens, mahogany-lined rooms and diamond lead-paned windows of this house are remarkable. When the owner first purchased this property, oil had seeped into the basement and water leaked from the attic down to the first floor. The renovation of the home has returned it to its original, unforgettable state. Around the corner is a pristine stone R. Brognard Okie house set on a hill with a beautiful stone-banked garage.
Loch Aerie Mansion in Frazer will also open its newly revamped doors to the tour this year. Also featured in East Whiteland? Gunkle Spring Mill! Gunkle Mill is a nationally registered historical resource. Michael Gunkle built this his first mill, in 1793. The structure represents post-Revolutionary development in the Great Valley. By 1872 the mill processed 1,800 tons of flour, feed, corn and oats yearly. At the peak of its productivity, the mill ran 18 hours a day. Gunkle Mill is now owned and cared for by East Whiteland Township. The Mill was placed on the Historic Register in 1978. (Check it out on Library of Congress website HERE.)
Attendees will also have the opportunity to tour a nearly 200-year-old farmhouse/manor house in Chester Springs that has been lovingly repurposed as a business office. The structure has retained much of its original woodwork, pocket doors, cabinetry, stair railings, fireplaces and a beautiful English knot garden. Tour-goers can also explore the largest three-story bank barn in the county located in Charlestown Township. The home boasts hand-hewn, scored beams.
Phoenixville is represented by a restored farmhouse with a pool house that was once the residence of farmhands. Eighteenth and 20th century homes on the grounds of the former Pickering Hunt are optional next stops for attendees. Two houses will be open in Rapps Corner, with the convenience of parking at one home to tour both. Each of the stone houses has been maintained and updated in very individual styles, while respecting the historic bones of each building.
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Chester Springs will serve as a lunch stop, where pre-ordered boxed lunches by Arianna’s Gourmet Café will be available.
The Day offers two ticket options, a regular priced $50 ticket or a $100 VIP ticket. The VIP package includes an invitation to the preview party in September, as well as a gourmet boxed lunch provided by Montesano Bros Italian Market & Catering at an exclusive house tour open only to VIP ticket holders.
With a GPS and a Chester County Day map (that you will receive when you purchase your ticket) the beautiful architecture and bucolic roads of the county are yours to explore!
When: Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 10 am to 5 pm
Where: Northeast Quadrant of Chester County
Tickets: On sale from July 1, 2018 online; September 4th by mail or at the satellite locations listed on their website.
- $50 purchased via web, phone or in person
- $100 VIP tickets, which includes a VIP Reception and Preview Cocktail party at Historic Yellow Springs, Sunday, September 23; Otto’s Mini of Exton, PA will provide a Mini Cooper for qualified guests with purchased VIP tickets, while supplies last and a private tour of a special VIP house with a gourmet boxed lunch served by Montesano Bros Italian Market & Catering. VIP tickets are also available at all satellite locations, as well as via web and phone. (See ChesterCountyDay.com for details.)
More Information: Want to know more about the tour? Attend one of the free public preview lectures throughout the county. For a list of dates and locations, or to download a podcast visit: www.ChesterCountyDay.com
ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE: I am writing this post because I want to and because I attend this event. I purchase my own tickets and am a grateful supporter of The Women’s Auxiliary to Chester County Hospital.
What books are on your coffee table in Chester County?
I can tell you which ones are on mine. Since I moved to Chester County I have added to my library a small Chester County section. And the books on my coffee table specifically are as follows:
100 Artists of The Brandywine Valley by Catherine Quillman.
Speaking for Themselves: The Artists of Southeastern Pennsylvania by Daphne S. Landis.
A Traveler’s Album by Eugene L. DiOrio.
If these books interest you there are a lot of them out there in new/unused and gently used but in very good condition on Amazon and eBay. Also you never know what you will find at Baldwin’s Book Barn 😊
Even down in the land of ostentatious McMansions and Nouveau Main Line behaviors, there are abandoned farmhouses. After all, the history of Gladwyne can’t completely be obliterated, can it? Mills and farms were a big part of the early industry that made the area prosper.
As seen from Schuylkill Expressway. It is in Gladwyne. I have wondered about this house for decades. It has, to the best of my knowledge, been boarded up my entire life.
It is nearly impossible to get photos, it just depends how fast traffic is moving and what time of year it is. I was able to fire off a few photos as a passenger in a car recently. Not my best efforts, sorry. Soon the green will engulf all around this little red farmhouse and it will disappear from highway view until fall and winter.
If you look at photo in top of post, the front door is clearly open. Lower Merion Township has since secured the open door. Lower Merion has also gained permission to demolish the house from a judge in Montgomery County over the past couple of weeks.
Chester County, specifically West Chester Borough residents will remember Lower Merion’s Township Manager. He did a movin’ on up like The Jeffersons…Ernie McNeely.
I do not know how exactly you get to this farmhouse. But hopefully someone figures it out and gets the property properly secured. I do not know if the house is 18th century or early 19th century.
If anyone knows the exact location and any history of this house, please leave a comment.
A reader sent in:
From Lower Merion’s “Listing Of Properties In The Historic Resources Inventory”
1805 Youngs Ford Rd
Date of Construction: ca. 1851-1871
Original Owner: Howard Wood
Description of the Resource: This vernacular frame farmhouse was built sometime between 1851 and 1871 at the end of Youngs Ford Road next to the Schuylkill River Expressway. In the 1870s, the house and the 90-acre property belonged to Thomas Rose. By 1896 the property was divided among other adjacent parcels and the building belonged to Howard Wood, owner of the nearby “Camp Discharge.” Wood and his descendents owned the house and much of the surrounding property until the 1930s. From 1937 onwards, the property gradually developed into subdivisions or was preserved by the Township. The house is two stories with a side gabled roof and a full-length, shed-roof porch. The front façade, which faces southwest, is asymmetrical and comprised of five bays. The one-story porch shades the entrance, located in the center of the front façade. A chimney rises along the exterior of the façade, near the southeastern end of the building. A detached, one-story, two-bay garage is also located on the property. (8/2012) Early Frame house (1896 atlas: Howard Wood). (88) Red frame early farmhouse adjacent to Schuylkill Expressway.
Not the first time I have shared an image of this barn – I love it.
There are some cows, or maybe steer (I’m not sure exactly) living there as well now. Sometimes when I go by I see them outside.
West Whiteland is very developed but then there are these throwback pockets.
And what I have also noticed throughout West Whiteland on Lancaster Avenue/Route 30/Lincoln Highway are the old historic properties, some of which have been amazingly restored and are still in use – maybe not the original use, but adaptive reuse.
Today I went to a very cool estate sale. It was on Lenape Road in West Chester. Not too far away from West Chester University.
It is one of those places that just takes your breath away. Both from the setting and just an amazing old farmhouse.
Built in 1840, it was a very prosperous farm, as this was a very good sized farmhouse. It once, according to someone I asked, was acreage- wise quite large. It still sits on a lovely large plot of Chester County farmland, which is so awesome to see.
The older couple who lived there and their family are selling it to a young family who will love and restore the farmhouse and the property. It is so gratifying to learn of people who care enough to take on a gem like this! Historic preservation and open space preservation are so important and we aren’t seeing nearly enough of that in Chester County.
This house was a privilege to see. I wish the new family many, many decades of happiness. It’s a wonderful farm house.
This house, barn, and property are so Chester County.