christmas comes to loch aerie

It is no secret that I love Loch Aerie Mansion. I love Addison Hutton architecture and this house is just magical! The difference from way back when I started photographing her. Here are some photos to illustrate the remarkable restoration:

Loch Aerie opened her doors today for a Christmas open house. All that was asked of her visitors was to bring a new toy for Tpys for Tots or non-perishable food for the Chester County Food Bank. In return, we got to soak in the beautiful Christmas spirit of Loch Aerie all restored, take photos with Santa and enjoy some holiday goodies along with cocoa and hot cider.

There were a whole bunch of adorable children, taking photos with Santa! My friend was the Santa and he had a great costume!

Loch Aerie should be awarded all sorts of awards for historic restoration and adaptive reuse that works. I loved this open house this afternoon. Enjoy the photos!

Loch Aerie is in East Whiteland Township, Chester County.

If you are interested in Loch Aerie as an event or wedding space it is located at 700 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern/Frazer PA 19355. Their website is

Enjoy the photos!

maybe radnor should spin another fairy tale about how wonderful all of the development gobbling up wayne is?

I liked it better with the old growth garden plants and trees and the beautiful Wayne Bed & Breakfast. Now it will soon be a naked acres homogenous row of McMansions. Location is Strafford Ave. and Eagle Road.

Radnor Township should wake up, but they won’t. None of these municipalities wake up until it’s too late. It’s the same situation on Radnor Street Road where the land is stripped bare for another homogenous row of McMansions. Every time I drive by I am astounded at the rape of the land. Beautiful and old trees just bulldozed away.

Add to this the planned development of downtown Wayne. Between what is being proposed for Lancaster Avenue and then the AT&T lot, every bit of what makes Wayne special is getting developed away.

It’s so very sad.

an adaptive reuse and historic preservation that looks great!

You remember for years if you’ve been following my blog that I was concerned about what we know as Indian Run Farm or Ashbridge house in Exton. It literally sat shrink, wrapped in plastic for years.

I was honestly afraid it’s not so long that it would never be restored. I’m pleased to say it has been. It’s more of a modern interpretation than the old farmhouse at once was inside but it’s still has its pieces of the past and I think it works. I still do not like the new development that was built around it because that’s not my jam and there’s too much of that Cran plant stuff everywhere but I think the old gal doesn’t look bad now and here are some interior pictures a friend of mine took:

Below, this are the posts I wrote over the years about this place, because I really was afraid it was going to either rot or get torn down. I will admit, I am beyond pleasantly surprised, and I’m very happy I just wish they were less townhouse apartment things around it.

Thanks for stopping by

historic preservation + christmas

This is the old Hershey’s Mill. Literally on the corner of Hershey’s Mill Road in East Goshen Township. She’s been restored, a new family is living there, and she’s decked out for Christmas.

Seriously how beautiful does this look? How quintessentially Chester County?

Historic preservation and Christmas are perfect together.

spring oak used to be a glorious farm

In 2014 I started writing about a farm on White Horse Road that was being killed for development. We went past it again recently and I thought it was time for people to revisit that.

It used to be a farm. Now it has full grown McMansions. I liked the farm.

Yet another reason why the Municipalities Planning Code needs to be updated.

christmas magic this weekend at life’s patina willowbrook farm in malvern!

Life’s Patina holiday preview was AMAZING! This time their charity partner is St. Mary’s Franciscan Shelter for Homeless Families in Phoenixville.

The event was packed and people were enjoying themselves and this amazing holiday experience that Meg Veno and her team put on every year this time.

This is an amazing and magical event that is different every year. And every year there is a charity partner because Christmas and holiday season is about giving back as well as doing special holiday things.

The Sale is this Friday Saturday and Sunday at Life’s Patina Willowbrook Farm 1750 N. Valley Rd in Malvern.

Hours are: Friday, December 1st, 10:00 am – 5:00 pmSaturday, December 2nd, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Sunday, December 3rd, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Entrance is free and so is the parking.


She’s almost ready for prime time. The Jenny Lind in Historic Yellow Springs has been reborn. And she is magnificent.

The Jenny Lind is now the Life’s Patina Merchantile & Cafe located at 1657 Art School Road in Chester Springs, PA. Meg Veno has outdone herself.

The Jenny Lind is restored and transformed. It’s one of the most beautiful adaptive reuses I have seen in years. My other favorite as you all probably know is Loch Aerie mansion in Frazer. And I think it’s marvelous to have both of these lovely places in Chester County!

This was such an amazing experience yesterday that I am still super happy about it the next day!

The attention to detail is something you don’t see every day, and it makes this all the more special. This is quite literally everything you want to see in a restoration and an adaptive reuse, and I sure hope that Historic Yellow Springs Village and West Pikeland Township have deep appreciation of the fact that Meg Veno stuck with this, and is now bringing everyone this gem to enjoy.

This has been a very long and winding road because this was a very intense restoration. And Meg and her team are perfectionists. This is one of those places that you walk into and just stop and marvel. No corners have been cut. The materials and the skill of the craftsman who put the Jenny Lind back together are undeniable.

This is an amazing restoration, and I hope someone gives them an award like Chester County for example. Chester County should be counting their lucky stars that there are people out there that still want to do restorations instead of demolitions. I will go further and challenge every township official in the region and developers who want to tear down historic things and build plastic mushroom housing developments and apartment buildings to go visit this place once it’s open full-time and see the possibilities of just doing the right thing.

You walk in and you feel at home. The beauty of the place envelops you softly and then you get to the café. The chef of the café has an incredibly deft hand with pastry and everything she touches. I have not met her. I look forward to meeting her because the food is terrific. My husband said the mushroom soup was one of the top three best he’s ever had. Because we were there for brunch I had this little bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a biscuit which was so light and flaky, it melted in your mouth. there are also these salads that are off the hook good and don’t get me started on the actual pastries and sweets. Wonderful tea and coffee. The café is a place where you don’t want to rush. You want to savor your meal and linger.

And then you wander into the Mercantile. The Mercantile is full of all sorts of wonderful things, old and new. The best thing it’s not only the way it looks, but the fact that everything for sale has been chosen with care and it flows together. You don’t walk into this store and wonder why something is there, you walk into the Mercantile and wonder how you can use that in your own home.

One of the other best things about this restoration is it fits. When it was the Yellow Springs Inn, the food was great but the gorgeous interior of this building was hidden by too much Victorian everything. And I am saying that as someone who did really enjoy that restaurant at one time. But this metamorphosis is so remarkable and beautiful and just stunning. This restoration has made me love this building even more. And this restoration will show everyone the possibilities of what you can do with the gorgeous old buildings that are scattered throughout Chester County that need love.

It was a few years ago now that I was at one of Meg Veno’s barn sales at Life’s Patina in Malvern and she said she was looking for another project. I was standing there with my friend and I turned to her and I asked if she had ever thought of Yellow Springs Village because the Jenny Lind house was at that time in foreclosure. And now look at the Jenny Lind. I believe the Merchantile and Café will be open soon for visitors full time, but if you’re going near the village, I hope you at least drive past until she is open full-time to see what a beautiful restoration it is.

This whole project is not only a testament to historic preservation, it is a testament to loving what you do. And above all else, you know why this place will be a success? Because it has a heart.

Brava, Meg Veno, brava.

I also want to note because I think it’s important, that those of us who attended yesterday paid for our meals, we were not given anything in exchange for our thoughts on the soft opening. I would like to say we are the right kind of “influencers” as we are the kind who are actual customers and will return gladly with friends and family.

Happy Monday 😊

holiday open house at loch aerie!

Open house at Loch Aerie on Sunday 10, 2023 1 PM to 4 PM – please bring a non-perishable food item for Chester County Food Bank or a new unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots. Loch Aerie is a very special house and this is so awesome they are doing this! If you haven’t seen her since she was completely head to toe restore, come celebrate the holidays and give back.

food for thought

I wrote this column for Main Line Media News in 2009 under editor Tom Murray, who would also become the editor of The Daily Local News until his untimely death. He was an amazing guy, and he encouraged community voices participating in local news.

But this is an issue we are continuing to deal with all over, and it is especially felt in Chester County with all the wanton and unnecessary development.

The photo in this post I took September 4 and it is the literally rotting historic farmhouse on the Clews and Strawbridge property in Malvern/Frazer East Whiteland Township. It is clearly demolition by neglect, and there’s nothing seemingly that can be done to ensure that the property is at least preserved pending redevelopment of that property. A developer recently had wanted to come in and build an apartment tower there and thankfully was turned down because it required a zoning change. I will note that in West Whiteland cerebral historic properties, like this have been preserved in the midst of commercial development. But a property owner has to want to do that.

Whether it is for historic preservation, land, preservation, community, preservation, or just sanity of the residents preservation. This is why we need to push elected officials in Harrisburg to enact an act of the state constitution and update the Municipalities Planning Code. truly, I do not know why this is not a state wide initiative.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

The small neighborhood: A place worth preserving

The small neighborhood is like no other. As a resident – young, old, or in between – it gives you a truly authentic sense of community. This sense of community is something you can’t bottle, beg, steal, or sell. It exists as an integral element in the fabric of smaller neighborhoods.

As a young child in the 1960s, my parents made our first family home in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia. In Society Hill, I not only discovered my love for historic preservation, but my love for small neighborhoods and communities with particular individuality.

Small neighborhoods are just so very real. When you grow up in a small neighborhood, you develop a life-long affection for neighborhoods of a similar pattern that provide their residents with that singular sense of place: you know your neighbors, and they know you. Even children can appreciate this uniqueness, and as a child, I most certainly did.

As an adult, I have found that I seek neighborhoods like those I experienced as a child. This is why I chose my current neighborhood in Haverford. It had all the elements I loved: walkability, community, and interesting and quirky old houses. No, the houses aren’t the majestically elegant 18th century townhouses of Society Hill, but they are special nonetheless.

When I first heard of impending development in my neighborhood, I felt so very bleak. I knew that a change was coming that would irrevocably alter the face, fabric, and landscape of my neighborhood. And it has already changed our neighborhood even though nothing has been demolished yet. Just the very thought of the hum of multiple air conditioning units on a flat roof when all we are used to hearing is birds, the laughter of small children, and the oddly comforting, yet familiar noises of the train is depressing.

Development in moderation is something I can stomach. What I see happening everywhere today, I cannot. I see the past of this region being sacrificed daily at the altar of new construction. And every developer is the same: they see their projects as their Pygmalians; testaments to their individual legacies. I suppose that is only natural, as they pour their hearts and souls into their projects, just as we pour our hearts and souls into our neighborhoods. It is just a shame that they can’t see their projects as we see them: alien invasions.

We are facing such a development on North Buck Lane. The development is unfortunately a by-right development, so it will be built. I have been to multiple meetings on this development, and I have come full circle to my original starting point: this project is simply wrong for such a small neighborhood. It’s too big.

This project is like an adult woman trying to squeeze into a little girl’s dress. The ultimate shame of this situation is that up and down the Main Line, there are many projects like this playing out. And I have to ask, are these projects about enhancing neighborhoods or are they just about profit?

Local governments from townships all along the Main Line and beyond say they feel for the complex plights of the smaller, older neighborhoods. And all of us in the small neighborhoods along the R-5 and Lancaster Avenue corridor are under siege. But how can all these local governments say they feel badly for small neighborhoods when they don’t take enough steps to preserve them? When you live in a small neighborhood, you know density is a given. However, isn’t there a big difference between reasonable density and being sandwiched in like sardines in a tin can?

The small neighborhoods of the Main Line and beyond need and deserve protection. The architecture that makes each neighborhood in each community unique disappears daily and is replaced by what can only be described as super-sized and homogeneous.

Isn’t it also curious that no matter what local township is involved, it seems like zoning variances for new development and demolition permits for our older and historic homes can appear to be approved in a seemingly short duration of time? Oddly enough, it feels like the process average citizens must take to achieve historic preservation and changes to zoning codes that can protect neighborhoods takes much longer and is more complicated. Where is the balance? We need balance.

I mourn the sense of community that is lost brick by brick as older homes are demolished for McMansions and developments. I believe that we are overdeveloped all along the Main Line.

I truly long for the simpler times of my childhood when older homes were cool and historic preservation was the name of the game. I long for the times when small neighborhoods like mine were just allowed to be, and mourn the sense of place called home that is being lost a bit more with every day that passes, and every old and historic home that is razed.

they said “no” in west whiteland!

West Whiteland Township Supervisors voted UNANIMOUSLY last night to DENY the zoning amendment request of the developer for the Weston Tract on West King Road.

Yes, they said NO.

There were quite a few on social media being just negative with all the why bother saying anything about the issue at a meeting? The keyboard tiger opiners club and guess what? They are wrong.

Sometimes the public can get something they seek when it comes to development. But it only happens when people go to the meetings even if you don’t speak in a meeting, packing a board room and letting a governmental body know that this concerns you or flat out upsets you, matters. And today if you can’t get to a meeting for some reason you can participate on Zoom.

The other problem, of course is a lot of times the Municipalities Planning Code which guides all the zoning throughout the state. It hasn’t been updated comprehensively since 1969 so a lot of times when elected officials actually want to say no they can’t legally and won’t take a risk. This however was an instance, where they legally could say NO, and they did. They listened to the residents in multiple townships. Weston is located at almost the edge of West Whiteland, but anything done here in this area affects residents in East Whiteland, the edges of East Goshen, the edges of West Goshen along with the West Whiteland residents.

No, it doesn’t happen often and even I was surprised. But pleasantly surprised.

However…,people packed that board room last night in West Whiteland Township and there were also a lot of people on zoom.

This is a reminder to everyone that the voice of the people does matter. Just like your vote. But you have to step up and be heard.

This issue is not over, and I do believe this property will be developed. But what West Whiteland heard loud and clear last night is people don’t want high density developments everywhere every five minutes and here in this location a high density development would be a disaster.

Good job residents!

Thank you supervisors.

Thank you even to outgoing Supervisor Theresa Hogan Santalucia, and I will note that I agree 100% about a need for affordable housing. It would be great if people could actually afford to age in their communities, as well as successive generations coming back to raise their families where they were raised. However, you’re not going to get affordable housing here on a site like the Weston Tract because single-family detached homes and LOW DENSITY is what would be best for this location and area, and what Theresa was talking about in her comments last night were essentially twin homes. Twins are not low density.

We do desperately need affordable housing in our communities. And it’s not the section 8 horror show that people imagine, it’s much simpler than that as I previously stated even in this post. Affordable housing is giving people the ability to start out in the community where they were raised or downsize and end their days in a community they have called home for decades. that’s a very human need and desire and something we should want for our communities. But it’s never a priority for new Tyvec cities.

And while we also need affordable housing, we also need lower density housing. We live in a county that was known for its vistas and open spaces and farmland. And too much of it has been replaced by high density developments of townhouses and “carriage homes” which are just townhouses by another name and apartment buildings. We need a less is more approach for our communities.

If you look at the mid century single family homes through the 70s and 80s that were developed in just Chester County alone, you will see something that you don’t see in new developments: space, trees, individuality. This is why those homes are still a pretty hot real estate market, and desirable.

Last night was an unexpected victory for the people who live here. We need more of those and we need developers that actually hear what we’re saying and give a damn. Quality of life matters.

I hope some more of you can see today after this decision which (again) was unexpected, that public participation, where you live matters.

Have a great day.