the witch house of exton…a/k/a what was the whelen/ferrell/meredith farm

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Photo by Andrea M. Moore found on Flickr. Taken on July 3, 2011. “Exton Witch House”

One of THE most talked about houses that languishes in Chester County, PA is known literally far and wide as the Exton Witch House. It’s on/off Gordon Drive.

It was even in The San Francisco Globe in 2015.  That article also has the Abandoned Steve video embedded:

I will note that the video refers to “vandals” having the headstones. Mmmm, do they mean these headstones (and thank you Lee Wisdom for the photos!!):

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Let’s just say those poor headstones are in municipal protective custody to preserve them. They were removed so people did not steal them.

This house is a YouTube star. Seriously, people film it again and again and again.  Here is another one from 2016:

Here is a video that was posted recently. Not sure of the date.  Maybe 2017?

Why I look at the videos is it shows the progression of deterioration. And the progression of the vandals who graffiti the poor house and decorate it with profanities.  Note to graffiti practitioners here: you all deserve to be haunted for tagging old farmhouses, and if you believe in that sort of thing, maybe you are?

I have never gone back there as of yet, because it’s private property and I have not been invited.  People say it is haunted. Now maybe it’s just that the spirits can’t rest because too many thrill seekers tromp back there?

This house is in Uwchlan Township.

When I asked Lee Wisdom who contacted me about the house about the grave stones this is what she said:

They are not graves but markers. No one is sure why they were there. I think they could have been grave stones for a burial on the property and when the land was developed they were moved. Another person I talked to had another theory but now I can’t remember what it was! So no one buried under those that we know of. They were placed like stones for a path, so no room for a grave.

So when people run out here to photograph and ghost video this house, perhaps some of these things might start reverting to facts versus urban legend.

As per what I found on the University of Pennsylvania online archives:

Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the 17th and 18th centuries, the area now known as Uwchlan Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania was occupied by the Leni-Lenape (Delaware) and Iroquoian-speaking Susquehanuck peoples. The first Europeans in the area were Swedish explorers in 1637-1638, although the first permanent settlement was not established until the 1700s.

Welsh Quakers were the main group to settle in Uwchlan, requesting their own meeting in 1712, which is the same year that Uwchlan Township was founded. An additional tract was added to the eastern portion of the township in 1726, likely at the behest of prominent resident and large landholder David Lloyd. In 1858 the upper part of Uwchlan Township split from Uwchlan to form Upper Uwchlan Township.

Uwchlan was a primarily rural farming community until World War II, when post-war suburbanization resulted in rapid development. The population increased has increased dramatically from about 500 in 1920 to over 6,000 in the 1970s and upwards of 18,000 at the beginning of the 21st century.

Lee Wisdom is one of the volunteers on the Uwchlan Historic Commission. (They can be found HERE on their township website  and also HERE on their super fun Facebook page.)  With regard to this house she tells me:

The Merediths lived here before they moved to Taylor Rd . It was called Richmere Farm by them. They are my step family. I think the progression was Whelen, Ferrell, Meredith (not sure if there were owners in between).

The headstones in protective custody were those of the Ferrells. Where they were located and rescued from are not believed to be where they may have been  buried. I don’t know where theses graves truly are, and whatever they succumbed to all in a similar time frame was likely a disease, or an influenza. Not witchcraft.

This property is kept after by whomever owns the property.  Some commercial real estate concern is my guess.  They keep boarding it up when people break in and they keep grass cut.  If I had the opportunity to go back there with the Uwchlan Historic Commission I would.  I would love to photograph back there. But even though I know where it is, it is a far different situation than the farmhouse at Main Street at Exton which is out in completely plain view.

It disturbs me that people seem to think they can graffiti tag these old properties. And I think the profanities routinely tagged here add to the property’s spooky reputation.  Is the property REALLY haunted?  Well the place is what? 200 years old give or take? It has seen a lot of life, and death.

I would love to know more about the families who lived here, so if you know please comment.

Now enjoy a whole slew of photos courtesy of Lee Wisdom:

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A post script to this post which may finally debunk the four buried witches urban legend and the curse of everyone dying at once comes from one of the local genealogy buffs that send in information from time to time named Tina. She messaged me this morning the following:

Hi
I just did a quick search. I think someone bought a new stone for the Farrells. They are in Fairview Cemetery. Also Jesse’s daughter Mary A married a Richard Meredith.

So now we know how it came to be a Meredith farm,right? And Fairview Cemetery is where? Coatesville?

pennsylvania contrasts

In Pennsylvania we have bucolic rural beauty and we also have the savage pipelines raping the land.

We are a Commonwealth of Contrasts; the juxtaposition between heaven and hell.

Remember images like this when you go to vote.

historic demolition by neglect in exton, west whiteland?

West Whiteland Township officials must wear blinders going in and out of their township building!

This is that historic farm house right as in directly across the street from them that is on the mall property at Main Street in Exton.

Wasn’t this the property that if that mall got built those structures would be saved and restored?

I actually had my husband turn around so I could take photos because we were so shocked at the dilapidated deteriorated appearance of these structures. And one side has graffiti on it as well.

The only caretakers of the property are the Canadian geese!

Chester County, we have to stop allowing elected officials and others from paying only lip service to historic preservation. It needs to mean something. We deserve better in our communities.

Oh, and now we can see shrink wrapping structures is NOT historic preservation, right?

Sign me appalled.

In 2002 The Daily Local News wrote:

Protecting history

At the Main Street at Exton site, formerly known as the Indian Run Farm, some of the county’s most historical treasures will stand beside some of the county’s largest new stores.

A case of the old meeting the new, part of the Main Street project includes the adaptive re-use of several historical buildings, one of which may be nearly 300 years old.

“It’s kind of remarkable that historical structures like this can co-exist with this type of development,” said West Whiteland Historical Commission Chairman Bruce Flannery. “I think there is an opportunity there for a something really fruitful between the township, developer and community, but that remains to be seen. We know the resources will stay. The question is how they will remain…….”Historically, the crossroads has been where some of the county’s first settlers, given land through the 1684 William Penn grant, designated by the king of England, chose to call home. Penn gave 40,000 acres of land to Welsh Quakers fleeing persecution in England.

At that time Route 100 was most likely an Indian trail, said Flannery.

The land where Main Street at Exton is being constructed was initially given to Richard Thomas, a Quaker who fled Wales with his family. The Thomas family complex was centered around the area where routes 30 and 100 now intersect.

Operating a gentleman’s farm, Richard Ashbridge, a direct descendant of Thomas, built the 1843 house, renovated in 1912, that stands at the site. Both the house and the woodcutter’s cottage, where a stone dates the building back to 1707, are class one historical structures.

“The resources on the Indian Run Farm are some of the most historical in the township,” said Flannery. “The site itself and the complex are extremely important and unique.”…..The land where the former Thomas homestead and the current Ashbridge house stand is “sacrosanct,” said Flannery. “It certainly was one of the first settlements,” he said. “It’s a really wonderful farmstead, really beautiful.”

So this is the respect for the past that the developer here has shown and West Whiteland has allowed? 16 years of demolition by neglect for what they said is one of the first settlements in the township and of paramount historical importance?!

In the spring of 2017, apparently the developer had this idea of apartments there. You can read the article in The Daily Local, and here is an excerpt:

Main Street at Exton builder Wolfson Group, plans to build a 410-unit apartment complex near Commerce Drive and next to the Exton Square Mall. The 26-room mansion is slated to become a community center .

The township has not awarded final approval for the apartment project. The property is zoned TC or Town Center.

Shoppers at Main Street at Exton have watched the historic building decay since long before it was wrapped with protective tarps in 2002. Much of the 1843 era house is now exposed to the elements as tattered tarps blow in the wind….

So….how many years does a developer have to let something stand and rot before they file for demolition permits in West Whiteland?

There is also an Abandoned Steve video on this which is quite interesting. CLICK HERE TO VIEW.

remains of “back in the day” in exton

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.