morgantown and beyond

Morgantown is in Berks County. It flows into Lancaster County.

And a tacky casino is coming to Morgantown. And a Super Wawa…across from a Turkey Hill on 23 just at the Berks and Lancaster County line.

Change is coming and I don’t think it’s good. I think the casino is a mistake and I also think no one really cared what residents which included generations of Amish and Mennonite farmers think. I think the state is completely disrespectful here. I think it’s going to bring more problems in the long run.



And no I don’t like casinos. Any of them. And Penn National? They are doing the Morgantown Casino and how about their former director of benefits who had a penchant for stealing?



I think small towns like this are at risk all over the state. Farming communities too.

But does anyone care?

the joseph price house in exton is in really bad shape.

Yes again, I am writing about the Joseph Price house in West Whiteland Township. It’s really starting to deteriorate badly in my opinion. (And I say that from observing it across the street today- I have not been invited to be on the property so I would not presume.)

This house is on S.Whitford and Clover Mill Roads in Exton. The Joseph Price House in West Whiteland Township.

(Here is a wonderful little slide show presentation on prezi. )

This house is historically listed. It was built in 1878 and altered in 1894 by the house namesake inhabitant at the time. It was altered from a Gothic style to a Queen Anne style.

I was also told in the 1990s it was separate apartments inside and there were also cottages around it which were rented out as well.

In the 1950s and 60s there was a large barn there that was a sale barn for cattle run by Bayard Taylor —a blog reader told me that. He knew because his mother did bookkeeping for that business while she was in college.

This house is not completely deserted I am told there is still a caretaker who still lives there. However, this house has an uncertain future at best and nobody seems to know what will happen to it. Which is a shame because it’s very cool.

There are so many amazing houses like this throughout Chester County from all eras of time.

I am told the house is owned by two people in Ambler. Chesco Views confirmed that today.

This afternoon I had some time so I pulled into the business parking lot across the road on Clover Mill Road. I took some photos from across the road and I just looked at the house. It has been historically listed since the 1980s. And yes I know I’m being repetitive, but it just blows my mind that these gorgeous houses that are historically listed not just locally but nationally rot like this.

Things are just crumbling and the property also seems to be quite the haven for dead car bodies.

Truly (and sadly), the house is becoming so decrepit, more decrepit. I really wish these owners would sell to somebody who could restore it.

It is just so crazy to me, as this could be the most fabulous property. It’s big enough and there is enough land left that it could be a great restaurant or even a boutique bed-and-breakfast which is not a stretch considering there is one up the road from it on South Whitford – the Duling-Kurtz House and Country Inn.

Anyway, I continue to be obsessed by this property which is not for sale. It’s just that this is a historically listed property (since 9/6/1984) and is this demolition by neglect? I really hope someone will save this place.

#thisplacematters

another west chester ramble

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Today we went old school and headed to D&K for breakfast.  It was as good as it always is, and we wandered on our way through the Borough Of West Chester.

I have always liked West Chester.  What I don’t like however is all the infill development.  Why? Because what is going up now is not in the least complementary of the borough, which has little brick houses of more of a colonial style through to grand Victorian mansard roofs and gardens with wrought iron gates.

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See above.  Another Kahnification of West Chester (blue and new going up to the right of Kildare’s).  That used to be the Mosteller Department Store  which truthfully from it’s early history morphed into something quite unattractive. But what is replacing it is also unappealing to me because it just doesn’t jive with the area.  I am not saying people have to build imitation Williamsburg, but if they are going modern, why does it have to be ummm…jarring and unattractive and out of size and scale with the surroundings?

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I really started to explore West Chester in the 1980s when one of my best friends came out to West Chester to go to college.  I used to visit her and explore.  In those days I did not have a car so often I took a train to Paoli and a cab into West Chester if I could not get a ride.  (I will note where you wait for cabs on the westbound side of Paoli station is still creepy.)

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West Chester is one of those towns where I always find something to look at. Now these are newer townhouses in the next photo, and I actually don’t mind the design even if I don’t quite get the height and bunker like quality of the wall in front:

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GPS took us down a street that really wasn’t a street to me, but the rear of a development.  Here I saw once again what I dislike about most townhouse developments:

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This is an actual street and look how narrow. And Look at SUVs and trucks NOT being able to fit in their own driveway.  To me this looks like a street in Sea Isle or Ocean City, NJ.

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One of the things I also have always liked about West Chester are the alleys and side streets.  Always something cool to see there as well. A lot of old stable structures still exist, among other things.

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West Chester is just fun to wander.

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It’s also fun to check out old postcards to see what has changed and to see what still exists.  Take for example (and thanks for rambling with me):

 

even in the rain, chester county has incredible beauty

Yesterday traveling around with my husband in the pouring rain I was struck once again with the beauty of Chester County. So I hope you can see beyond the rain drops.

This is why I get so upset with the relentless march of development, cursed pipelines, and things like digital billboards.

Happy Sunday!

do YOU want signs like this in your community?

A friend of mine sent me this today because they were up in Quakertown, PA.

This is the company that Haverford Township goes to court with this week after many years of no activity. This is the billboard company that Lower Merion Township has gone to court with and Tredyffrin Township is currently in court with as well. This is the billboard company that has been to West Whiteland, Phoenixville borough, Charlestown Township, and now is beginning a journey with East Whiteland Township.

I think this is like the best of tacky Vegas and that’s not where we live is it? I think it’s even worse than I 95. But that’s just my opinion.

What is your opinion on the signs out there in blog reader land? I am honestly interested in your opinions. Feel free to leave a comment.

Billboards = Blight

#NoBillboards #NoBillboardsInTheBurbs

over-development coming to radnor on dodo hamilton’s property?

218 Strafford Ave

A Radnor Township friend called this morning about this:

New housing in works for Wayne estate of Campbell Soup heiress Dodo Hamilton
By Linda Stein lstein@21st-centurymedia.com @lsteinreporter on Twitter Jan 13, 2020 Updated Jan 13, 2020

New housing in works for Wayne estate of Campbell Soup heiress Dodo Hamilton

RADNOR — Although no plans have been filed with the township, word is getting around that a developer has set his sights on the Wayne property of the late Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, who was one of the Main Line’s iconic grande dames….Hamilton, a billionaire who grew up in New York and Newport, R.I., where she also kept a home, was a generous philanthropist who gave millions to various institutions in the Philadelphia area….Radnor Township Board of Commissioners President Jack Larkin, who represents Ward 1, has written about the pending development at Eagle and Strafford roads in his newsletters to residents. When asked to comment, Larkin referred a reporter to those missives.

“The developer has shown me two concept sketches for the lots; the first is purportedly a by-right plan, and includes approximately 40 homes,” Larkin wrote in his newsletter. “This is, to me, an unattractive plan: Because the units are, by right, single family dwellings, cramming 40 homes onto the two lots means filling them with houses without space for buffers, open space, or stormwater recharge areas.”

Larkin continued, “The second plan would require a conditional use approval by the township, and would put approximately 50 homes into the two lots —41 town homes on the western lot, and nine single-family dwellings onto the eastern lot. Because the homes on the western lot are town homes, they leave a lot of space for the things that are absent in the by-right plan: Stormwater management, sidewalks, buffers, and open space. The density is problematic for me, but with that in mind, it is a good plan.”…Meanwhile, about 40 nearby neighbors sent this statement to Larkin: “We understand and appreciate the developer’s rights to develop the property, and our goal as a neighborhood is not to squash any development, but to mitigate any negative changes to the neighborhood and keep its current character. For those of us who have lived here many years, we have seen the negative effects of cutting down trees on the Hamilton’s property and the building of just four homes on the corner of Strafford and Eagle Road. Despite the assurances of the engineers, developers, and other experts, our neighborhood has been substantially damaged and our lives negatively affected by ‘tiny’ changes to the Hamilton’s property. There are approximately 40 neighbors on Strafford, Hedgerow, Grant, Forrest, Fairfield, and Old Eagle School who will attest to being harmed financially by the improper regulation of storm water runoff in the past.

“The character of the neighborhood will be drastically changed by the proposed development. Haverford Properties is seeking to double the number of homes within our small community. Our current neighborhood contains 35 acres and 64 homes, approximately two homes per acre. The developers plan to build 50 homes will result in 114 homes, for over three homes per acre….Meanwhile, the developer, Charles Houder, with Haverford Properties Inc., declined comment, saying that he wants to meet with the neighbors first.

Is dear Dodo turning in her grave yet? Do we think the esteemed and philanthropic Dodo would have wanted this for her beloved home?  I mean isn’t the family raking in the cash already? They made what, like $9 million off of the sale of the Newport, Rhode Island property in 2018 according to Town & Country Magazine:

“Judge Judy” Scheindlin and husband Jerry have made the move to Newport, Rhode Island, with the purchase of a $9 million mansion. The iconic home, known as the ‘Bird House” and previously owned by Campbell Soup heiress Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, sits atop one of the highest points in all of Newport

And then there were the auctions of antiques and stuff, right? There was one at Bunch in Chadds Ford I remember. And the millions from the auctions held by Freeman’s right? (One was written up in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Freeman’s also auctioned off some of her very spectacular jewelry, didn’t they? (Forbes even mentioned the jewelry, and Philadelphia Magazine had an article too at the time.)

In 2008 Philadelphia Magazine wrote an article on Mrs. Hamilton:

The Last Great Lady
Campbell Soup heiress Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton has enjoyed a life of wealth and glamour: a debutante coming-out splashed in the “New York Times”, summers in Newport, and years as the face (and hat!) of the Main Line. In the waning days of Philly high society, we need “Mrs. H.” more than ever.

by AMY KORMAN· 10/21/2008, 10:02 a.m.

Matt Hamilton already knew that his mother was one of your more independent billionaire heiresses…. (When you’re a billionairess, people call you “Mrs.”) With her elegant suits and trademark wide-brimmed hats, she might look the part of the classic old-school socialite, but Dorrance Hill Hamilton (“Dodo” was a nickname inherited from her mother) puts her own stamp on everything she does. This past summer, her clan joined her in Newport, Rhode Island, to celebrate her 80th birthday at a full-on ball at the Newport Country Club — just around the corner from her summer estate, a splendid 1901 mansion called Wildacre — that featured, among other things, face-painting and an ice sculpture in the shape of a dodo bird. Along with her blue satin dress and emeralds, the guest of honor wore a tiny red hat in the shape of a birthday cake….Dorrance Hamilton was born to the role of socialite, of course — she is, famously, the granddaughter of Dr. John T. Dorrance, who invented the condensing process for soup and became the president of the Campbell Soup company in 1914. But while she has led a rarefied life, she is much more invested in carefully distributing her wealth, making sure that the money she bestows so generously is working properly. Recent gifts include $25 million to Thomas Jefferson Hospital; $5 million to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; $5 million to the Kimmel Center; $1 million to the costume collection at the Art Museum’s Perelman Building; and quietly dispersed millions to education causes all over the city, including several parochial schools in West Philly. In essence, she is CEO of what might be called Dorrance Hamilton, Inc., juggling businesses, charities, real estate projects and foundations.

So given what the late Mrs. Hamilton was about, would she be about having a cram plan of her estate whose driveway is on Strafford Avenue in Wayne, adjacent to the Eagle Village Shops ? You know where The Little House Shop and Valley Forge Flowers and more are?

This is the furthermost edge of Radnor Township and will also IMHO drastically affect Tredyffrin Residents won’t it? Traffic is already a nightmare there regularly, and what of Radnor Township School District?  This morning I had parents with kids in Radnor schools express serious concerns off the record.  Apparently the schools like many other schools and school districts are bursting at the seams.  More development doesn’t alleviate this issue. Also back there is a mess when it really rains, so what about storm water management?

Here is what Delaware County has about the real estate parcels. The commercial parcel is Eagle Village and all those stores:

 

Whether it’s the by right plan or the one which would require zoning approvals, why is this what they want to do with the property? I get that the heirs probably have their own ideas about what should happen, but is this what Mrs. Hamilton would have wanted?

For example, Mrs. Hamilton was an avid gardener. I have a Clivia plant that I bought decades ago at St. David’s Fair. It had been grown in Mrs. Hamilton’s greenhouses.  I almost lost this plant a few years ago when I accidentally left it out in too much sun.

And do people know here how she restored the famous Frederick Law Olmstead Jr’s Blue Garden in Newport, RI??  She was a fixture literally at the Philadelphia Flower Show for decades.

Does anyone here much know that she founded the Swiss Village Foundation also up in Newport, Rhode Island. SVF is a nonprofit that along with Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine  is dedicated to preserving heritage breeds of livestock. One of the animals they study and protect are the Dutch Belted Cattle which many in Chester County recognize as the “Oreo” cows. Mrs. Hamilton was mourned throughout New England when she died  for all she did.

She gave millions away to charity and seriously, are her heirs suddenly destitute or something? I mean I could get not wanting to be responsible for all of the land but why overly dense development?  Why not have at least part of the property become something like an arboretum like Jenkins, or even go under the umbrella of PHS (you know like  Meadowbrook Farm?)

I find this all to be incredibly sad. And it’s truly so disappointing that her family is considering this. I mean do they need the money that badly? I wish they would consider something else.  But in the end, will they care enough? Who knows. This sad saga is just beginning.  And I predict the surrounding residents will not just go quietly into the night over this. Nor should they.

218 Straf

the end of the decade, new year’s eve 2019

Lovely Loch Aerie, Frazer, PA

It has been a crazy decade chock-full of so much. I wasn’t sure what my last post of the year was going to look like until I started looking at some of my photos of houses that had captured my interest and fancy in the past decade.

So in all of the houses I have looked at in this decade I have decided to remain true to Chester County today and give you my three favorites.

Ironically my three house picks for the decade are not traditional 18th century Chester County Farmhouses, but three 19th-century stone houses of a certain era.

You see the first house above. My ultimate old house love, beautiful and lovely Loch Aerie mansion. I have written about her enough that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel and restate her history.

Loch Aerie on Lancaster Avenue in Frazer in East Whiteland Township enters the next decade with a guaranteed and brilliant new lease on life. She is being restored to her former glory, and will have an adaptive reuse that will ensure her place in architectural history for decades to come.

Old stone house Francis Ave, Berwyn, Easttown.

Next on my list is a house I was reminded of this morning. I know nothing of her pedigree. It is the great stone house on Francis Avenue in Berwyn.

My great friend (and Chester County historian and artist) Catherine Quillman and I stumbled upon this beauty in 2016 one fall afternoon.

We took a wrong turn somewhere after leaving Jenkins Arboretum and all of a sudden we were on Francis Avenue in front of this house. And before anyone flips out, we did not trespass. I had a camera with a zoom lens with me and I took photos from the street. This house captured my fancy for a number of reasons, including the fact that the stonework reminded me a lot of Loch Aerie.

I know absolutely nothing of the history of this house other than its 19th century and in Easttown Township . I think it probably has a name (possibly according to a 1912 atlas it appears it was maybe called “Rhydlyn” home of James G. Francis, whose sister in law I believe was famed local photographer Lucy Sampson according to census records from the early 20th century and according to the census she lived there for a while!) I don’t know if it is listed on any national registries or even a state or local registry. I couldn’t find it listed anywhere. (I am told it is mentioned HERE.)

It strikes me as a similar vintage to Loch Aerie. I also do not know the current ownership of the home but I am told it is being preserved as part of some kind of a development. I am also told that the glorious slate roof is no longer which I can’t say surprises me because old slate roofs are incredibly expensive to maintain and it’s a lost art of the craftsmanship of roof building. There are very few slaters left.

My last house which captured my fancy a great deal in this last decade is the Joseph Price house in West Whiteland Township.

This house is on S.Whitford and Clover Mill Roads in Exton. The Joseph Price House in West Whiteland Township.

Here is a wonderful little slide show presentation on prezi. This house is historically listed. It was built in 1878 and altered in 1894 by the house namesake inhabitant at the time. It was altered from a Gothic style to a Queen Anne style.

I was also told in the 1990s it was separate apartments inside and there were also cottages around it which were rented out as well.

In the 1950s and 60s there was a large barn there that was a sale barn for cattle run by Bayard Taylor —a blog reader told me that. He knew because his mother did bookkeeping for that business while she was in college.

This house is not completely deserted I am told there is a caretaker who still lives there. However, this house has an uncertain future at best and nobody seems to know what will happen to it. Which is a shame because it’s very cool.

So as we lift a glass one last time to toast a crazy tumultuous decade everywhere, let us think of our future and historic preservation. There are so many cool houses like this throughout Chester County from all eras of time.

Less development. More land and structure preservation and adaptive reuse. That’s my final wish for Chester County for 2019.

Please do not trespass on these properties. Either get permission to wander around or look from the street.

Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve!

Joseph Price House. West Whiteland Township.