more devon drama: much ado about devon

Yes, I put up this comment. Because that is how I feel. The drama around Devon is seemingly endless…and the intrigue. And to me it does feel (right or wrong) like a Main Line Watergate.

And maybe some of y’all don’t like me saying that, and truly I don’t care.

Do any of you have ANY idea how many contact me about Devon? And how many of those people are contacting me for me to contact media on their behalf with whatever it is they are telling me? And then there is the telling me not to tell them who they are?

No, I won’t discuss who is contacting me, I have honor and a sense of right and wrong. But I can’t tell the story for all of you. When I try to explain that, and explain I can’t just pass what they tell me along unsourced from anonymous sources, I am accused of being hostile.

That’s not hostility, I am being honest and blunt. This is not my story. I pretty much stopped going to Devon consistently in 2012 because I didn’t like what even I was seeing.

In my opinion, the cracks have been showing for years but I actually think now the event and event week is in serious trouble. What happens when one of these events isn’t held for a certain number of consecutive years?

Maybe some don’t like my opinion but it has always been my opinion that if Devon Horse Show failed it would just be a big development site.

This is the corporate board:

This is the foundation board, etc:

I will be honest and say that I don’t understand the cross-pollination between the boards. I also am of the opinion the boards should NOT have the same chairman. I am also of the opinion (and I am allowed to think it) that a lot of the issues surrounding the Devon horse show involve the chairman, correct??

And the chairman (yes, I am using a lowercase C because I don’t think he deserves the upper-case C), seems to wield such power? Why is he the all powerful Oz? Do we not remember about the wizard behind the curtain ending up exposed and not being what they thought he was? Or the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes?

I have heard all the stories, so has most of the local media. Yet nothing changes at Devon and every time something is written about Devon it’s less and less positive isn’t it? The last negativity was the show being canceled again. I wrote about this as well as quite a few media sources and equestrian blogs.

Then recently, Savvy Main Line dished Devon again:

📌With so many accusations and dark theories floating around, Devon Horse Show and Country Fair felt the need to issue not one, but two statements explaining its decision to cancel the show for the second straight year……..Others suspect the show, twice cancelled, might never return. Hadn’t it outgrown its tight quarters? Legacy shows are a dying breed and the demise of Devon was inevitable, wasn’t it? Might the board vote to keep the country fair in Devon, move the horse show elsewhere and sell the horse grounds to developers and should we proactively seek an easement to prevent development of the land? Isn’t there a USEF rule that nixes horse shows that are cancelled two years in a row? COVID was an act of God, but still…📌

There is all this back-and-forth and somewhere in there lies the truth. And the people who want the show to go on are contacting bloggers like me and local media like Savvy and similar people. We are all being told the same thing. But we are also all being told that we can’t disclose their names and can we pass it on to other media but still we can’t disclose names. It doesn’t work like that.

I have spent the better part of the past few days feeling like deep throat out of Watergate. Yes, a 1972 reference to the informant who shared with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein all the Watergate stuff. Woodward and Bernstein were reporters for the Washington Post.

I can’t tell this complete story. Savvy and other local media can’t tell this complete story. The people who know the story have to step forward out of the shadows and into the light and tell the story. They have to stand behind the story they want everyone else to take the risk to tell.

I’m not trying to be mean, but these people whom I actually believe to be in the know, have to decide if they wish to hang onto moldering boxes for a dying event, or if they want to come forward for the greater good to save and preserve this tradition for future generations?

Now before everyone gets all up in arms over that statement I know everyone can’t come forward. But I do know that some people can come forward. And at this point the kind of have to. If people don’t come forward and everything is anonymous tip, nothing will change.

Does the chairman actually have power over these people or do they just allow him to have perceived power over them? What happens if people come forward and tell the truth and shame the devil?

I get harassed by someone every time I write about this topic or refer to something someone else has written. As a matter of fact I get harassed about more than I tell my readers about. I am kind of getting tired of miserable people. Today I had someone tell me I was being hostile because I refused to carry their water over Devon.

And then there was the person who had to give me hell because I described the rotting colonial era farmhouse that is part of the Clews & Strawbridge property which sells boats in Frazer as being “demolition by neglect“ when that’s exactly what it is and I’m entitled to that opinion. “Who told you to say that?” they said. I mean do they have eyes in their head? Can they not see what that house looks like? And they were going to “report me”; and then got mad because I asked if they were going to report me to the opinion police because what I stated it was in fact, my opinion.

Also today? The crack pots who think people are being racist and putting forward social injustices by using the word thug with regard to invasive plants. Thug plants is something commonly said with regard to invasive plants. It’s all about the context of how a word is used. In this context the word thug is being used to describe aggressive, invasive plants. Said plants don’t get hurt feelings, don’t feel racism. People feel and experience racism, but not in the context of plants. Therefore I personally must be racist and intolerant because I think their argument over the term plant thugs is utterly ridiculous.

There is an abundance of keyboard warriors since the onset of COVID. Basically they want to tell everybody how to think, how to act, how to feel, and when to do all of the above. But they don’t want to get involved. They can’t just bitch at me and actual media sources all of the time. Sometimes we can tell your story, or part of your story, but ultimately it’s not our tale to tell. It’s yours,

Some things around Devon horse show I think that might be worth talking about is doing something like maybe create a community trust to buy the land and run Devon Horse Show in perpetuity. This isn’t my idea, this is a friend of mine‘s idea who pointed out that the football team the Green Bay Packers are owned by this type of trust. They also made the salient point that there’s more than enough money in this area to do that. And if they could raise $900,000 or whatever the amount was to try to put the horse show on this year in like 12 hours, why couldn’t they do something like this?

I do think in the short term the people who know board members need to start working those board members. There needs to be a separation of church and state immediately of the corporate board and the foundation board. And these boards shouldn’t have the same chairman. And more of both boards needs to be able to think and act independently of the chairman, correct?

Devon needs another palace coup or in my opinion this downward spiral might not stop. But the “insiders” need to step forward to do this if they really want change. Bloggers and the most local of media can’t do this for y’all. You need to step forward and tell your story.

Here is some of the Devon crap of the past few years:

Inquirer: Devon Horse Show chairman resigns amid development debate by By Tricia L. Nadolny, Inquirer Staff Writer
Published Mar 2, 2014

Racked Philadelphia: Controversy Puts Urban Outfitters’ New Lifestyle Center on Pause By Julie Davis Mar 4, 2014, 10:29am EST

Anonymous letter spurs questions over Devon Horse Show, proposed Devon Yard, Urban Outfitters By Linda Stein Oct 7, 2014 Updated Nov 9, 2018

SARAH COXE LANGE IS ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE DEVON HORSE SHOW

UPDATE: Devon Horse Show board ousts president, chairman
By Linda Stein Dec 22, 2014 Updated Nov 9, 2018

Inquirer: Ousted Devon Horse Show president calls change a ‘hostile takeover’ by By Justine McDaniel, Inquirer Staff Writer
Published Dec 23, 2014

Ousted Devon Horse Show box holders demand reinstatement
By Linda Stein May 21, 2015

Devon Horse Show chairman pleads guilty to disorderly conduct citation. Devon Horse Show chairman pleads guilty to disorderly conduct citation. By Richard Ilgenfritz
rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com
@rpilgenfritz on Twitter Jul 22, 2016 Updated Oct 3, 2016

Devon Horse Show chief says he was ‘boisterous,’ not drunk By Grace Toohey, STAFF WRITER Published Jul 21, 2016

more junk mail from george beatty and problem property pals.

Yeah Nope. My home doesn’t look like this George.

Apparently George Beatty has a lot of time on his hands to do mass mailings. Now I just wrote about him and the company insipidly called “Problem Property Pals” March 20. Sleazy real estate and kissing cousins to the “we buy houses” signs you find nailed to telephone poles.

Today it’s a 9″ x 12″ enveloper full of crap and fake testimonials. Once again I called to ask that we be REMOVED from solicitation of any kind. Last time I got a live person, the outraged “Alex” who wouldn’t talk to me because I had a blocked line. Time before that I left a message requesting removal from all forms of solicitation. Today the auto attendant lady cheerfully chirped in a recording that it could take several months to be removed from solicitation list.

Oh BULL SHEIT George Beatty. It doesn’t take that long.

So Georgie boy, I will make it simple: BUGGER OFF. I love my home and if I were selling, I know plenty of fabulous realtors who are shall we say, have a little more polish and style. My house is neither run down nor vacant. No houses in my neighborhood are run down or vacant. GO AWAY.

what’s up west whiteland?

Soooooo…do the folks in the upscale Malvern Hunt development know about this proposed Uber Cram Plan next door in West Whiteland?

Because if this development happens combined with the crammerific townhouse development next to East Whiteland‘s Bacton Hill Park, “Malvern Crossing”, it sure is going to impact their lives right? And everyone else around here? Wow, just imagine the traffic alone, right?

Would West Whiteland Township care to let us in on what’s specifically up with historic Pickwick, also known as the John Kent Kane Jr. House? Will that historic house be preserved?

But back to the meeting in September that went by with nary a sound and why? For real 344 houses? Adult in description, so essentially another Hershey’s Mill type project? Really “by right”?

That’s a lot of additional development for Swedesford considering the development already in either direction…..

https://www.westwhiteland.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_09152020-848

https://www.westwhiteland.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_09152020-849

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickwick_(West_Whiteland_Township,_Pennsylvania)

And let’s think about all of the other development happening all over, okay? Lancaster Avenue in East Whiteland, West Whiteland, points west, points east.

For West Whiteland all the development coming to either side of SS Philip and James, either side of Ship Road and development just keeps marching west?

In Chester County east, west, north, or south- development. Think about it, are there any municipalities without development of some kind? I mean I am sure there are, only I can’t think of any.

But back to whatever this is that will replace the rotting ghost houses on Swedesford Road. That’s a LOT. A LOT more stress on infrastructure, first responders, hospitals, schools and so on and so forth.

Just putting it out there. It’s public record. Just pick a municipality. When does it end? When do residents in Chester County stand up and band together and say enough already to development? When do we even just hit a freaking pause ⏸ button?

Thanks for stopping by.

push push push

I make no secret over the fact that I am completely over the push push push of realtors/real estate investors of all forms soliciting business since COVID19 hit.

First you have the slimy ones that send the postcards announcing they’ve been trying to reach you 95 times by postcard but they can’t find your phone number.

Or they are robocalling you via off shore call centers with heavily accented individuals reading from a script. And whether it’s postcard or robocall they all have friendly names like “Dan” or “Steve” or “Brian”.

Next come the regular residential realtor variety from the various and sundry companies you recognize. Like today’s solicitation which came addressed to both our name and “occupant“.

Dear occupant and she wants our business no less?

Of course there were other amusing things about today’s postcard from someone at Compass in Devon. Like for example it says it’s from their “Upper Main Line” office and lists a phone number. I tried to call the phone number on the postcard listed as the main office number because I want to be put on a do not solicit list. Only the number on the postcard isn’t a valid general office number and you get the recording from the phone company that this number doesn’t exist.

Now that’s just sloppy marketing and lack of proofreading, which if I was in the market for a new home or a realtor, this would knock this person out of the running right then and there. Details matter.

Then there’s the house that’s on the front of the postcard that says “just sold“. It’s one of the McMansions crammed in off of 352 on Shirtz Farm Lane…. which once upon a time was an actual farm. I made no secret of how I loathe farm to development conversions.

I guess our comparables are all going up in the area because this woman claims to have sold this house which is on a postage stamp sized lot for over $1 Million. And again…if you saw where it was it’s right there on 352 after the railroad underpass! It’s a marvel, those prices.

This is a development that once it finally got started if you blinked, you missed the houses going up. And it’s still got piles of dirt everywhere, it’s rather unattractive. Million dollar Lickety Splits.

Just so we’re clear, I have quite a few dear friends who are realtors whom I respect immensely. They don’t send out things like this. And they would never refer to someone in a mailer by name and then occupant because that’s just kind of insulting. If you need a realtor I’m happy to refer you to one of the many fine individuals I know. And they are actually truly local to Chester County and live here.

As I have said on other posts I have written about the sleazy real estate investors (house flippers) sending postcards to buy your house for cash, this is one of the byproducts of the COVID-19 global pandemic. As happened the last time there was a pandemic at the turn of the 20th century, it made people want to get out of cities and move into suburbia or less populated areas. Only I think circa 1918 they weren’t bombarding people with post cards.

I appreciate that realtors I’ve never heard of or are not particularly local love our area. I just wish they would stop soliciting me. Obviously I love where we live that’s why we’re here.

Happy weekend!

oh goody! yet another sell your house, get rich quick postcard solicitation!

These postcards. Straight from the edge of hell and sleazy real estate. Kissing cousins to the “we buy houses” signs you find nailed to telephone poles.

In the COVID-19 world in which we live several things have been on the uptick like these postcards, solicitation calls, and online gambling commercials on television. Sociologically, it’s fascinating. From a personal preference I would prefer seeing less of both.

It kind of makes me sad because there are a lot of desperate people out there who have been completely knocked down by a global pandemic and the shaky economy which has followed. There are so many people who are barely hanging on due to reduction in salary/reduction in force (layoffs) that there’s definitely a market for these predators. And I find these people to be predatory.

It doesn’t matter how many times your request to not be solicited in anyway by these people they don’t pay attention. So I just started having fun. I block my number and I call the number on the postcard. Today I had some guy outraged named “Alex“.

“I can’t talk to you.” He says.

The number on this postcard I got today leads to some VoIP line somewhere. The company is “Problem Property Pals” and what an ACME Scam Company Looney Toon worthy company name, right? It doesn’t even sound respectable does it?

“Why not?” I replied

“You have a blocked line. Why do you have a blocked line?” He says (sounding slightly outraged.)

“I block my line because I can.” I replied.

I then proceeded to tell my new friend that I found them to be the slezoid pimps of real estate. I told them it doesn’t matter how often you ask to be on a do not solicit and do not call lists, they ignore those requests so essentially, they deserve obnoxious phone calls as penance.

Then like magic, I ended the call. Petty yes, but I enjoyed it. They prey on the vulnerable and desperate to make money. In my opinion that’s horrible.

I have taken to looking up these companies to find out who they are and where they are from. I traced the address on the postcard back to a ReMax in either Northern Liberties or Fishtown. Newsflash to them: some people will fall for their sleazy crap, but most people want a realtor close to home they actually trust to sell their home. And I don’t quite believe no fees and no commissions, do you?

Now it’s time for the circular file for this latest postcard.

east or west, less development would be best

Last night I attended the virtual East Whiteland Historic Commission Meeting. One of the people presenting were representatives of the Great Valley School District.

You see, they are now faced with supersizing the elementary school campus. But nooooo of course it’s not due to wanton development in the area. Since the meeting occurred on St. Patrick’s Day I guess it was leprechauns just not being nice to them or something. Sorry not sorry for the deep sarcasm.

Anyway, the reason they were there as they want to tear things down and build new things and so on. But the district representatives did not like when I commented on the fact that school districts everywhere seem to do this following large swaths of new development in various communities. They will basically tell you it’s not true and everyone knows it’s true.

Of course I also commented that all those school districts are autonomous from municipalities, it’s still somewhat of a codependent relationship and I never for the life of me will understand why school districts won’t be honest and say “hey that’s too much development for us to handle.”

Again, sorry not sorry pointing out the truth.

I had to go out to Exton at the beginning of the week for a medical appointment. As I went up Route 30 from Malvern, I was again struck by the sheer volume of development I saw just there along that road. Every square inch that can be developed is being developed.

People are talking about the Ship Inn being for sale. Now that makes me sad because that is a very historic place. That used to be one of my landmarks years ago when I was going to a friend’s house further west. It was always this cheerful beacon on the road and so pretty and historic. Hopefully it survives.

But right where it’s located is at the vortex of a development tsunami. It’s West Whiteland and they are definitely one of the municipalities that can’t say yes fast enough to new development. Once upon a time I found these historic photos of Exton before all the development started. Night and day.

But it’s not just one municipality it’s more like pick a municipality. Look at East Whiteland. Do we really think the school district would be considering expansion if they weren’t out of room because of all the influx of people due to development? I mean come on let’s get real.

Go a little further east and you look at Tredyffrin and Eastown. Is the school district there not experiencing the same problems and need for expansion? It’s because of all the development, right? It doesn’t matter if it’s single-family McMansions, fake carriage houses, town houses, apartments, condos whatever you want to call them they are bringing people into our districts. The interesting thing is I still don’t necessarily believe that the economy is following the people so I wonder about the long-term sustainability but that’s another conversation for another day.

Go to other areas in Chester County and look at other districts. The West Chester Area School District is a monster it’s so big now. Owen J Roberts is huge, and so is Downingtown. And when you get out to areas like Elverson the kids actually go to school in a dual county district . This school district is Twin Valley, and it services two counties and like seven municipalities.

If you go east out of Chester County down to the Main Line, look at Lower Merion School District. The nasty eminent domain battles and fights because why? Because there are so many people coming into that district they needed to build another middle school. Now that middle school is going to be right on the border of Radnor Township which also has development worries of its own and only has one high school which is pretty crowded from what I’m told these days.

Of course in the case of Lower Merion School District and the location of their new school I have to ask what volunteer fire company is going to be responsible for that big complex? Especially when fire companies are going to be faced with the ongoing super sizing of both Bryn Mawr and Ardmore? So will that necessitate an additional fire company being built? Where would that go? And maybe it’s time for all fire companies to consider more paid staff because I think the volunteers are spread a little thin don’t you?

When are municipalities going to wake the hell up and realize the songs and tales of the Pied Piper-like developers and the Emperor’s new clothes they strew about are ruining our communities?

These developers are marching through our communities leaving overcrowding in school districts and stressed municipal services and infrastructure in their wake. And the Municipalities Planning Code ( aka the MPC), the Bible on which local development and zoning is based, allows all of this. It also allows all of the crazy zoning overlay districts which allow developers to get more and more into our communities.

The MPC was created at the end of the 1960s and I think it was signed in to being in 1970. It contains the extraordinarily outdated definitions of suburbs and exurbs that are still fueling all of this development today. And it’s got to stop. There needs to be a comprehensive update. And that update needs to contain language that actually protects our communities from over development. It needs to contain language that has more meaningful historic preservation and land preservation.

No matter where we live we are drowning in crappy new construction. And people don’t like when I say that because you know they’re reading this post from their McMansion. Well talk to me in 20 years and see how your house endures time and wear. I mean look at all the people alone who have had to remediate stucco in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

These developers roll into communities, they make a lot of money, they offer municipal rabbits the tiny baby carrots of ratables and they just move onto the next project. Or they will say to a municipality that they really care about the community in which they want to over develop because they live there? What do they really care about: the community or how much money they’re making?

Oh wait? What is that I hear? Oh that would be the chorus of I hate all development coming from some of you reading this post. I don’t hate all development but I really dislike the volume and lack of quality of the development we are seeing today. Why on earth do developers think that here in bucolic Chester County we want to see things that look like fake industrial?

And then there are the developers who basically take the same design and apply it to projects in multiple municipalities. Do they really think the public is that stupid? I mean maybe the local politicians are but not necessarily the people that live in these municipalities. Do we really want to live in developer created Stepford Land?

I have seen development in other areas, even urban areas that are clever and they actually have architectural design to them. Or they’re wonderful examples of adaptive reuse. My favorite recent example is something in Philadelphia called The Gotham. It was originally The Gotham Silk Factory, as in stockings. This project is amazing. It pays homage to its past yet it’s modern and new. It’s really cool. It proves you can meld old with new and come up with a good product.

But people, we have to start taking back our communities. We need to hold elected officials accountable. And even if they tell us there is nothing that they can do we still hold them accountable. And we need to find better replacements from within our communities and move these people out.

If you change the face of who governs you you can start to enact change in communities. But if it’s just the same old people sitting there year after year we are just going to keep on getting more of what we don’t like where we call home. That’s not just with local municipalities that’s with state representatives and state senators as well. So far with regard to the newbies in office on the state level I’m not really impressed. And there are some who skated in for additional terms riding on the coattails of others and they never impress me at all.

These are our communities. We deserve more of a say. But in order to have more of a say we all have to become more proactive within our communities. that starts with attending meetings. While they are all virtual, it’s much easier, so please take advantage of it. Pick a meeting and participate.

Be the change you want for where you live.

Thanks for stopping by.

ghost houses of swedesford road: more photos

The other day I wrote another post about the ghost houses Swedesford Road and how they continue to deteriorate .

A reader sent me photos. Looks like late fall or winter before snow. And I thought I should be clear that these USED to be owned by Church Farms School but now? Some developer or commercial real estate entity. No clue who.

Is this demolition by neglect? Well what do you think? Sure isn’t preservation is it? Wouldn’t you think West Whiteland would want these structures secured?

It is a shame that they’ve been allowed to rot. Now what?

ghost houses of swedesford road continue to deteriorate

In 2019 I wrote about the little houses along Swedesford Road that just sit and rot.

We passed by them yesterday in the car, and one looks like the roof has completely caved in on. I wasn’t able to get many photos so I just clicked a couple with my phone.

These are sweet little houses. They used to be faculty housing for Church Farms School I believe years ago. And when you think of all the crap that is getting built in the category of new development even just up the road, it’s almost wasteful that these houses were never fixed up and had people in them again. I still think if any of them were salvageable and they were stored them they could sell them and families would move in there.

Thanks for stopping by.

target bryn mawr: today’s example of another bad proposed development plan…

Today social media groups on the Main Line are all abuzz about a particular development plan. It is proposed for Bryn Mawr. I think it’s awful.

It is the same developer apparently as the “Berwyn Square” that Eastown just said no to. Which was truly remarkable because Eastown never says no to anything.

I didn’t just connect the dots to all these development plans, Savvy Main Line did it for us (CLICK HERE FOR SAVVY)

Too. Damn. Much. Development.

The Bryn Mawr plan is shocking. Having grown up on the Main Line, and especially because where I went to high school was Shipley which is in Bryn Mawr, I spent a lot of years in Bryn Mawr. And I can tell you a great deal of the wonderful “village” feel disappeared when Bryn Mawr Hospital supersized. But a plan like this? I think it would kill what is left of the small town Main Street kind of vibe.

Obviously I no longer live in Lower Merion so even though I sent the commissioner for the ward that contains Bryn Mawr an email, I know my opinion doesn’t matter, I just gave it anyway. I figure he owes it to me to listen since way back when he wanted to become a commissioner in the first place a group I was part of helped him get elected.

The other reality of this plan and if you look at the last screenshot in this post it shows a rendering of sorts, and it also totally doesn’t show you what that Lancaster Ave (Route 30) intersection in Bryn Mawr is really like. It is an extraordinarily busy and accident prone intersection. It’s where Morris Avenue ends and Bryn Mawr Ave. begins. It’s where Ludington library is, the main and original branch of Bryn Mawr Trust Company is there. It’s where the train station is and a block or so from where the hospital begins.

2007 Accident Bryn Mawr.

The above photo was taken in 2007. One of the many accidents at this intersection. This particular accident I believe resulted in the fatality of the driver in the car in front of the bus. I also had another friend who was hit pushing her babies across the street in a stroller on a pedestrian walk signal at this corner. At that time, there was an NBC10 report on that accident.

No one is going to say that the building currently on the corner where they are proposing to put this apartment development is attractive. It’s never been attractive. But every development that is proposed is overly dense no matter where you live and whichever township or county you call home.

Downingtown PA development on Route 30.

The above photo is a development in progress in Downingtown. Another massive development. And none of these developments are particularly distinguishable from each other. Which is why I find great humor in the “brynmawr square“ and “Berwyn Square” development proposals

Above you see the development often discussed in East Whiteland. I don’t understand how the people who are paid to do the planning for these townships as well as elected officials have no vision.

At the end of the day this is why we desperately need to update the Municipalities Planning Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This amount of development is not sustainable. And I will never believe the emperor’s new clothes fairytale that it is.

It’s very sad that it has come to this, but pick the township, town, and county and there’s always a bad development plan or several bad development plans. We are the ones that live in these communities and it’s time for elected officials to start listening to us.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe in the snow.

Proposed “Bryn Mawr Square”
Lancaster Ave (Route 30)

why preserve when you can demolish?

Wandering back to Lower Merion Township today. Yes, I do that on occasion, although these days it’s mostly virtually. I know some people who read my blog and visit the blog’s Facebook page are occasionally outraged when I don’t write about either Chester County or whatever they think I should be writing about. But life journeys are individual, and kind of like my writing journey, yes?

Growing up in Lower Merion, one of the things I loved most were the homes and the gardens. Stately, modest, actual estates, twins, cottages, mansions, and everything in between. Back in those days, the history of the area mattered. And the gardens were glorious whether large or small.

But then, October 1, 2009, Addison Mizner’s La Ronda was demolished. I was there with many others outside the gates. I documented it in photos. She was such a gorgeous structure. So historic. Part of the history of the area, yet even as a historic resource, she was torn down and exists only in memories and photographs.

When La Ronda was demolished, I knew deep down in my heart that Lower Merion was no longer the place for me. It had completely at that moment become about people and how much money they had, and not much else. When La Ronda came down I realized no property was safe or valued there. It was a sad realization.

Over the years I have continued to document notable properties. People have the right to sell to whomever they choose. People have the right to demolish homes great, large, wonderful, small, whatever. But I still lament the people who can’t see the value of the architectural history of an area, and the impact it has. Well another home popped up on a mental endangered list (as in my mind and opinion, I don’t know if it is on an actual list anywhere) because of a Historic Commission agenda in Lower Merion for February 22nd:

Sigh. 651 Black Rock Road. They say it’s Gladwyne, but it’s actually Bryn Mawr. I knew who lived there although they were not friends. Of course people wish to downsize and move on. But for this house to be facing the fate of the wrecking ball is just so tragic. This house is spectacular, with mature gardens and an amazing property and pool.

And as described by the realtor:

Let’s see “as is”:

If you look at all the photos, ok the kitchen is a little dated, and perhaps the bathrooms to the taste of some, but this property and home are spectacular. Quite literally, they don’t build them like this anymore. And the gardener in me wonders about plants that may have been there since the house was built.

So according to Lower Merion’s website, this is in Commissioner Scott Zelov’s ward? He was a champion of saving Stoneleigh and once upon a time against eminent domain in Ardmore (it’s why he got elected originally and I know, I was there), will he have an opinion on this if it proceeds to demolition? But will it matter?

Nope. It won’t. People have the right to demolish. Sadly.

Historic preservation can’t just be a vague idea, it actually has to happen. It has to matter. And in Lower Merion, starting way before La Ronda got bulldozed, it ceased to matter. Lower Merion’s current manager was West Chester Borough’s Manager before ascending to the plum position of Lower Merion Township Manager. And although I have nothing against the man personally, he always appeared to me to be pro-development over other things. And the current Director of Building and Planning is someone I watched climb the ladder at Lower Merion. And I have always found him pro development over anything else. He won’t like me for mentioning this but I sat through YEARS of meeting watching him flip his hair like Farrah Fawcett and present developer’s plans like he worked for them, does anyone else remember?

Anyway, the house is still standing as of now, but this is on an agenda and according to Lower Merion there is a demolition permit. What will happen when all of the old and historic houses and their gardens are gone? In Lower Merion and elsewhere?

Historic preservation isn’t really going to matter until it matters to all of us consistently across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. And I do not believe every old house can and should be saved, but when you see houses like this one you have to wonder because beautiful places like this is what drew people to the Main Line in the first place. Until then, why preserve when you can demolish?

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe, roads are icy.