bleak house

The photograph above is of Loyd Farm’s farmhouse. The photo was taken by my friend Robin Ashby, the editing is all mine. I wanted something to accurately reflect how I was feeling after hearing the little bits of snippets I have heard regarding the commissioners’ meeting in Caln last night.

Bleak and disgusted is how I am feeling.

Apparently the Valentine’s Day gift to residents was sharing the tidbit of joy that the developer of this parcel has submitted a demolition permit and it has been approved? Does anyone have a copy of the demolition permit and demolition permit application? They are things that can be obtained via a right to know form. And Caln can try to stall you on that but it is the right for the public to see that. Caln does have a right to know form and you can find it by CLICKING HERE.

It’s time to start peeling back the rotten layers of this moldy political onion isn’t it? Who really runs Caln Township? The commissioners seem like a bunch of sheeple don’t they? And yes I know some are going to take umbrage with that descriptive adjective of their beloved commissioners, but people who are really interested in land preservation, historic preservation, open space preservation, and more actually try to do more for their residents don’t they?

I have always been a realist. I know you can’t save every old house. But what I don’t understand is why no one is willing to try to save this old house? I believe the people who have told me that the building envelope is intact enough for restoration. After all, we have seen what has happened in other parts of Chester county when it comes to old houses and restoration haven’t we?

Three examples of this for me are the following: Loch Aerie Mansion, Linden Hall (even if I don’t like what’s going on there now, that is a true comparable to the Lloyd Farm’s farmhouse as far as condition and even age and I think the condition of Linden Hall was probably worse when they started restoring it), and The Covered Wagon Inn in Strafford. Loch Aerie and Linden Hall are in East Whiteland and The Covered Wagon Inn is in Tredyffrin.

And even Toll Brothers has saved historic farm houses and structures on several properties they have developed. That doesn’t mean I am suddenly condoning their cram plan density of their developments in Chester County, but even they have managed to save a few historic structures haven’t they? On Church Road in Malvern is there not an old farmhouse that was definitely open to the elements that they are in the process of restoring for that new development right there? There is another one in Chester Springs isn’t there? And that one in Chester Springs was in horrible shape – it was on a dirt road when I sought I think since then the dirt road has been paved to a regular road.

And don’t forget DuPortail House in Chesterbrook. Chesterbrook was a horribly contentious development back in it’s day and even there the historic farmhouse was preserved. Now every year multitudes of brides get married and have their receptions there. Other events occur there. People love it.

In Caln, what else does this developer own? Is Loyd Farm just part of a larger plan yet to unfold? Is it true that this developer is also the owner of County Propane in Downingtown?

I don’t have those answers but I have to tell you at this morning I am tremendously upset because I feel like a narrative is being crafted and molded to suit the ends of a future development if that makes sense? There seems to be almost this mynah bird repetitiveness that is emerging about how the farmhouse is not salvageable and is not restorable and how do we know this is actually true?

When did what communities wanted for themselves stop mattering? This whole thing about demolishing the Lloyd Farmhouse reminds me of when La Ronda was demolished in Bryn Mawr. When La Ronda was demolished around 2009 it was because in the end because the property owner could, not because he had to, remember? And that gentle readers, is the catch 22 of living in a private property rights state like the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It’s not necessarily right, but it is their right.

However what happened to elected and appointed officials who actually cared about where they called home? When did we the people literally stop mattering?

Whether it’s pipeline companies, developers, billboard companies and more why is it that it seems like everything they want matters more than what the people who live in the communities want?

Our history matters in Chester County. Our equine and agricultural history matters and farms are just disappearing day by day to developments. This developments come in and everything gets jacked including the taxes and how are farmers supposed to be able to afford to farm? The short answer is they often can’t and they just want to get out. At this current pace we are going to turn into a county that has to import all of its food.

The Chester county farmhouse is a classic and well-known architecture style. You know, like actual carriage houses? And in development after development they tell you they are mimicking farmhouse style and carriage house style so why not save some of the actual farm houses and carriage houses for Christ’s sake?

I was told by a resident and have not yet researched it on my own the following: Mary Louise Lloyd sold the property to nuns to build a hospital on in the 1970s – supposedly 1976. Then Mrs. Lloyd built her own house on Lloyd Avenue. Apparently then she opened something called Copeland Run Academy and lived and worked there. She donated the land that is Lloyd Park to Caln when she sold the farm. That of course is the recent history and again, the history of Lloyd Farm also known throughout history as Valley Brook Farm goes back to a Penn Land Grant.

We can’t just keep bulldozing our history. That’s as plain as I can state it.

#SaveLloydFarm

#ThisPlaceMatters

lloyd farmhouse STILL not secured! caln township are you listening?

My friend Robin Ashby sent me some entirely too heartbreaking photos from Lloyd Farm. This is what he had to say to people about a visit there this weekend:

Historic Stewardship involves documenting a site before it becomes the next High Density housing project, raising awareness and speaking out – Nestled in Downingtown is a parcel dating back to Penn’s Land Grant Charter of the late 1600s. The ruins of the barn and outbuildings are stunning examples of stonework using Downingtown Blue Limestone from 1800 -1940, overgrown formal gardens in which one finds one of the largest (and oldest) Japanese Maples in Pennsylvania sit waiting to be brought back to life. The farmhouse is circa 1795 and is rapidly disintegrating, but has 8+ bedrooms and beautiful architectural elements.

This will shortly become high rise, high density commercial/residential housing for 1000+ new residents. The fields will be gone, the fox, deer and birds will find other habitat.

Of course, we have the ability to speak up and say that this doesn’t have to happen quite like this. Caln Township will discuss this project on February 12 at their meeting, DAHS (Downingtown Area Historical Society) suggests that you attend and listen.

What in the hell is wrong with Caln Township and whomever the developer is? Literally a week ago I wrote about this as then people were also inside the historic farmhouse on thr property because it was wide open and not properly secured.

It’s like someone doesn’t want this farmhouse to survive do they?

Japanese Maples are among my favorite trees! And who knew this property had the oldest one? Or had at one time such fabulous gardens? Who has old garden photos to share???

Here is the info on the upcoming meeting:

And again, many thanks to Robin Ashby for the photos. Here are some more:

nice ker-feal article in county lines magazine

capture ker feal

Courtesy of County Lines Magazine

So….no secret….I am the lover of what some consider to be more obscure or less popular bits of Chester County history. Among those bits would be Ker-Feal, the country home of Dr. Albert Barnes.

“When I looked out the window at Ker-Feal this morning, God went over the head of all artists in my estimation: He had made a picture of wide fields and luscious hills covered with an immaculate white; and holding the fields and hills together in the composition was a beautiful network of white lines made up of lacy patterns of branches of trees and twigs of bushes.”

~ Letter from Albert C. Barnes to Mrs. Owen J. Roberts, March 30, 1942 (courtesy of County Lines Magazine February 2019 article)

Ok so yeah. THAT. Makes me itch  to see Ker-Feal as I have never been and have never been invited to tour the property and take it all in.

Sigh. It sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

Which is why I am so glad that County Lines Magazine’s February, 2019 issue will feature a terrific article on Ker-Feal!

You heard it here first, make sure you pick up the February, 2019 County Lines Magazine – follow this LINK for Flipbook link on issu

Click here for article which is now available online.

The article was written by my pal Kirsten at Natural Lands.  Partway down the article you will see a photograph of the cover for a 1942 House & Garden Magazine. That is my personal contribution to this article as I have that magazine.

County Lines Magazine: Thursday, January 24 2019 9:29

Fidèle’s House … Forever Green
Written by Kirsten Werner, Natural Lands

Most people who know of Albert Barnes think of the extraordinary art collection he left in trust for the public, first at his Lower Merion home and then later moved to a modern museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. The world-class collection includes over 181 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos and so much more.

But few know about another residence in Chester County, home to a different type of collection.

Here’s a short version of that story.

…Dr. Barnes and his wife, Laura Leggett Barnes, acquired an 18th-century farmhouse in Chester Springs, Chester County in 1940 and called it “Ker-Feal.” Named after Barnes’s favorite dog, Fidèle de Port Manech, Ker-Feal translates to “Fidèle’s House” in Breton. Dr. Barnes adopted the Brittany spaniel mix on a trip to France.

(Now go and read the article – it’s amazing, well-written, and interesting)

Here are my other Ker-Feal posts:

is chester county’s ker-feal at risk?

AWESOME! conservation easement placed on dr. barnes’ ker-feal!

along 401, say buh-byes to barns and farm fields…and hello to ball fields and park land?

First the barns went…now the land is being leveled out….if it walks like a duck and looks like a duck, it must be a new development?

Sometimes NO and I have never been happier to correct a blog post. (See that’s the thing about putting these photos out there , people will tell you what’s going on.)

This land is being preserved as open space just not a farm anymore. It’s becoming I am told ballfields and a park. I have had someone comment and someone sent me an email which says:

Not development on 401. New ball fields and township park. Elmer White’s farm preserved forever! West Pikeland Township did something right!

Here is what it looked like a few short years ago in 2015:

happy place: four dogs tavern/ marshalton inn

Don’t you just love this Chester County treasure? Four Dogs Tavern/Marshalton Inn?

Whenever another development is proposed in any part of the county, I think of places like this. You can’t create this out of Tyvec.

Marshalton is a happy place. Come visit and see the festive decorations and have a meal at Four Dogs!

history at risk: 5030 horseshoe pike. caln public hearing december 13th, 2018.

47470967_309948596526102_4445079284918255616_n

It starts with someone sending me a public notice.  And once again, I am down the rabbit hole of Chester County history at risk.

This is a public hearing to be held in Caln Township on Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. at the Caln Township Municipal Building located at 253 Municipal Drive, Thorndale, Pennsylvania 19372.  Now I aslo found this notice of this meeting on PA Public Notices , but I’ll be damned if I can find it on Caln Township’s actual website so either it’s just another bad municipal website that looks kind of sort of pretty but doesn’t function easily, or it’s not there. (But I digress)

This notice which looks like it is for some kind of extra special zoning overlay (you know those things municipalities do to appease developers and special interests? And hey you do not have to like my opinion, but it’s not my first rodeo with zoning overlays and I am entitled to how I feel) for 5030 Horseshoe Pike.

That is when I really went like Alice down the rabbit hole.

Super historic. Known as the “Lloyd Farm”, “Valley Brook Farm” has a fire I would call mysterious a few years ago.  Seriously.  Here is the screen capture from the Downingtown Area Historical Society May 2014:

dhs

Then I hit Google and oh the things I found including this amazing history compiled by someone named Edward G. Lendrat on the West Chester University Old Caln Historical Society Collection. Caln Township has this buried on their website.

Pretty crazy historic, and I understand there was a fire, but a zoning overlay like this is all Caln Township can think is right for this property??? I am told the developer who has bought the “Lloyd Farm” is proposing 5 story apartment buildings, and commercial where there is NO zoning for it? Hence the need for an extra special zoning overlay at Christmas?  And this Public Hearing which takes place Dec. 13th. is it for discussion? Then the Commissioners will vote at their next meeting and NO CHANCE to change it will exist after that?

WTF Caln Township Commissioners? Have you no sense of place? No sense of history and what is appropriate?  How many freaking apartment buildings and mish mosh retail and more does Chester County need popping up like crappy weeds? Is this how you celebrate 150 years of history in your municipality? WOW.

(I will note TWO Commissioners are up in 2019 – Jennifer Breton and George Chambers. Residents should replace them if as President and Vice President of the Board this is what they think is fab. Just my opinion of course, but sometimes to change goverment you have to change the faces of who governs you.)

And oh the history….

123

So if I read the history of the property correctly, it dates back to the late 1600s and a Penn Land Grant? And by 1996 it was owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia? (Now I make no secret of my disdain of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and their pedophile priest problems of recent past. Sorry, I digress again…)

Ironically something I wasn’t looking for with regard to this property but seemed to have stumbled upon is a 2015 pipeline easement between the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Columbia Gas. So umm, high density development being proposed and a pipeline? NICE.

pipeline easement

Yowza and here is the deed of transfer I guess?  Dated April, 2018?  The Archdiocese of Philadelphia made over $4.5 cool million on this? NICE.  That will settle a bunch of pedophile priest lawsuits, right?

So who is Wild Meadows LLC out of Delaware?  (You can search for Delaware entities HERE.)

But back to this very cool history.  It is intriguing enough I found it on Twitter:

lloyd

Here is what it looked like on LoopNet:

horseshoe pike on loopnet

Also discovered this place on imgur with these two images from 2015:

It also appears archivally on reddit. Some comments were fascinating.

 

“Have you been here? I went to Lloyd dog park and found this when I walked up through the field. I really wonder what the story is on this place. Someone at the dog park thought the property is currently owned by a church.”

and…

“This was known as the Lloyd House. It has since been torn down.”

 

Now I have never been on this property. I have no idea what is stll standing on the property or not. If you have photos, please feel free to send them in a message via this blog’s Facebook page.

Do I have the answers as to what to do with this property? Sadly, no.  Don’t know that area well enough.  But if there is a pipeline easement, maybe the developer should go light on the development?

Again, how many cram plan developments does one county need? Who is driving this?

Historians and residents might wish to go to this meeting.  Remember residents, zoning can affect more than one spot, correct?

Chester County, we can’t just keep sitting idly by as chuck after chunk of land gets carved up.  Once open space is gone, it’s gone.  Once history is gone, it’s gone.

Here’s hoping the residents of Caln and their municipal neighbors have some Christmas Chutzpah (I know is that like a mixed metaphor or what?) and slow this freight train down.

So much to learn here and I will close with I am marveling at how Caln Township knows the history of this property and they think this is a good idea.

It’s stupid.  But I can only express my views as a resident of Chester County.  It’s up to the residents of Caln to turn it up and turn out on December 13th.

Tick tock, there is not much time.

I would say if you have historical questions to seek out the Downingtown Area Historical Society and  the Old Caln Historical Society.

Thanks for meandering with me.