now open: sycamore & stone

So yesterday I did a thing. I went and checked out the new Sycamore & Stone on 401!

Jeff Devlin‘s new property is one I am familiar with, because I used to patronize the antique store that was once in this barn. I love this property and was sad when it went up for sale because I was afraid some developers would snatch up the property and the beautiful barns and house would disappear. However when Jeff announced he had purchased this property I was totally psyched because I knew it was going to be saved, preserved, and wonderful!

Along with the barn which has the store there will be other things available to do on this property including the house becoming a fabulous Airbnb.

This is the kind of preservation in real time and adaptive reuse that Chester County needs more of! I will note that I first came to know Jeff and his fiancée Janelle, through our mutual friend Meg Veno, proprietress of Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm and the soon to be opened Mechantile at the Jenny Lind House in Historic Yellow Springs Village.

I will note that both the Mercantile/Jenny Lind and Jeff’s Sycamore & Stone are both located in West Pikeland Township. West Pikeland is a treasure trove of amazing historic properties. I hope that Township realizes how fortunate and blessed they are that they have people willing to come in and do these amazing adaptive resources that are viable on historic properties.

Jeff’s store is a feast for the eyes and there is all sorts of fun stuff! It has a great Americana country vibe. It’s a lovely space and shoppers feel relaxed in it. It is almost like welcoming someone into a great big farmhouse and not just a hands down super amazing barn. I gravitate to places that are warm and welcoming. And their staff is equally warm and welcoming!

One of the things I liked best are the reproduction hog scraper candlesticks he has available for sale. I collect the actual vintage/antique variety, so these are a real favorite with me! If Jeff Devlin had a wish list for customers mine would be to carry hand dipped taper candles that fit into hog scrapers because that is the right shape for them!

I look forward to this property further coming back to life and it is such a joy to see the work occurring on it every time I drive by. Jeff is a quality craftsman, and such a nice guy so I am glad he found his spot here on this property. My only lament is I don’t have a super old farmhouse for him to help me restore!

Anyway Sycamore & Stone is yet another reason to shop local! Enjoy the photos!

Sycamore & Stone is located at 1251 Conestoga Road, Chester Springs, PA. Right now the hours are WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY 12PM-7PM, SATURDAY 10AM-7PM, SUNDAY 10AM-4PM.

I will note that I have not been compensated in any way, shape, or form to write this post. I’m merely visited the store and I am now a happy customer: I like to shop local and support the businesses of people I know.

#shoplocal #shopsmall #stonehouserevival #schoolhousewoodworking #home

the beauty of historic preservation: back to odessa, delaware.

As I said in the post prior to this, Odessa, Delaware is one of my favorite places. It is literally a jewel of a historic town, almost frozen in time.

I have written about Odessa, Delaware before. I really hadn’t been down there much since Covid, and I realized today how much I missed visiting this gem of a small town.

Located in New Castle County, Delaware, Odessa was founded in the 18th century as Cantwell’s Bridge, her name was changed in the 19th century after the Ukrainian port city of the same name.

Odessa is a National Registry District, home to a National Historic Landmark as well as two National Parks Service Network to Freedom sites.

Odessa like Lewes was settled initially by the Dutch in the 1600s. (Lewes is another favorite place of mine, and it’s a bit larger and busier than Odessa.)

When Odessa was a first settled by the Dutch in the 1660’s (to be more precise), they adopted the Indian name for the area, “Apequinemy”. The Dutch settled here in Odessa because it’s proximity to the Appoquinimink River which flows to Delaware Bay, making it ideal to them for trading. I have been told this was once the shortest route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Chesapeake Bay before the construction of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

This was an area inhabited by Lenni Lenape Native Americans before European settlement. The Dutch weren’t actually in this area for very long before the English assumed control of the area. Then land was granted to a Captain Edmund Cantwell, the first Sheriff of New Castle County, under the government of a person we are familiar with, William Penn. By the 1730s there was a town and Edmund’s son, Sir Richard Cantwell, built a toll bridge and toll house and the town of “Cantwell’s Bridge” was born.

For the next century plus, this was a thriving little port town shipping grain and other things (like peaches.) It was a bustling small town…until 1855 and the arrival of the railroad around Middletown, and bypassed Odessa. Like many other towns that thrived on rivers and canals (think Frick’s Lock in East Coventry Township, Chester County), the railroad did a number on the economy of “Cantwell’s Bridge.”

Cantwell’s Bridge was name changed to Odessa around 1855. It had something to do with hoping that the name change would remind people of the flourishing port of Odessa in the Ukraine and the same thing would happen in Odessa, Delaware.

Now the Odessa area was also known historically for the nearby peach orchards. Odessa remained historically a very active port until the late 19th century when a peach blight ruined crops, one of their larger exports. My research indicates that between the peach virus blight and the railroads Odessa almost died as a town.

However, where a lot of similar little towns have died, Odessa has lived on. It is a great collection of houses and architecture spending 200 years, truthfully. Colonial, mid-Georgian, Federal and Victorian architecture. Another fun fact about Odessa, is there used to be a steamboat that operated out of it from the latter part of the 19th century, up until the early parts of the 20th century, ending I think somewhere around World War I.

A lot of people wouldn’t like Odessa because it’s literally a sleepy historic town. That’s why I personally think it’s so wonderful.

There are different things that go on in Odessa throughout the year. A historic Odessa Brewfest in September (this year September 10th) , lovely Christmas holiday events, tours for all seasons. July 15 – 17th features an event I am interested in called Christmas in July. It’s a special holiday sale in the Christmas Resale Shop in the Collins-Sharp House.

We belong to the Historic Odessa Foundation , and anyone can belong. It’s a remarkable little town and makes a fun little day trip. There are also little bed-and-breakfasts in the area so it also makes a nice we can get away. But if you’re looking for lots of bells and whistles, this isn’t it. Unless of course historic preservation is one of your favorite bells and whistles. This isn’t Disney or Six Flags (thank goodness.)

Enjoy the photos from my ramble and thanks for stopping by.

contrasts.

Odessa, Delaware is one of my favorite places. It is literally a jewel of a historic town, almost frozen in time.

Located in New Castle County, Delaware, Odessa was founded in the 18th century as Cantwell’s Bridge, her name was changed in the 19th century after the Ukrainian port city of the same name.

I will be posting a separate post of just photos I took today in Odessa, but would also interested me separately is a study in contrasts.

When you’re coming into historic Odessa, on the edge of the town, there is literally this house that has been falling apart for years. It is a clear example of demolition by neglect or abandonment, take your pick. We see examples of this in Chester County all the time. I realized today that the house that used to be right on the corner of Boot Road and Greenhill across from Hershey’s Mill and the fire house is so overgrown I can’t wonder if it has met or is meeting a similar fate? The deterioration of this old house reminds me a lot of the deterioration of the historic farm house in Malvern along route 30 that is part of the Clews and Strawbridge boat property in East Whiteland.

But then as you get into town and around the corner from Cantwell’s historic Tavern is a house that obviously suffered a fire that is being rebuilt. So that is your contrast. You have letting a historic structure rot versus someone painstakingly rebuilding a structure after a devastating loss.

This post is not a dig at Odessa, Delaware because the historic preservation is remarkable. It’s just sort of food for thought of the whole historic preservation of it all. The next post shows how pretty Odessa is.

the old hershey’s mill is looking just glorious!

Two years ago I wrote about the old Hershey’s Mill starting to get a rehab facelift. Last November I posted photos from the rehab in progress. Well today we drove by on our way home, (and sorry I didn’t get the best photos but I got a couple of photos) and I am so happy to see that beautiful old structure with new life.

The new owners have taken great care with her restoration and she looks glorious! I really hope East Goshen historical commission gives them some kind of an award, they deserve it!

I hope the family will be really happy there and now let’s hope East Goshen Township gets a move on with making a park or whatever they are doing with what was the old pond and other things next-door. Because I have to tell you if I had spent all that money on that rehab of that beautiful old structure, it’s a little jarring to look at the undoneness of next door which is the township’s responsibility.

And speaking of East Goshen have they taken eminent domain off of the table for the Hicks Farm? I’m still wondering how I can take so long to unravel an eminent domain taking.

Anyway, bravo to the restoration minded owners of the old Hershey’s Mill. In an age where everyone tears down rather than restores, this is the most wondrous site!

Happy Father’s Day!

more historic properties that aren’t so historically cared for in west whiteland? take a peek at 105 s. whitford road, for example.

105 S. Whitford this morning June 17, 2022

Driving by you wouldn’t know that this place in photo above on South Whitford Road actually had a historic house back there. All you would see were really, really high weeds. And this photo doesn’t even do how high the weeds are in places justice.

The address is 105 S. Whitford Rd.

Here is a 2019 Internet photo:

Apparently this house is something that the historic commission of West Whiteland Township is aware of. It appears to be on their inventory. Interestingly enough the supervisor who is the liaison to the historic commission is none other than Saint Theresa Hogan Santalucia. So is she aware of the condition of this property?

Apparently it changed hands recently or within the past few months?

It’s like the grass hasn’t been cut and I’m not exaggerating, it hasn’t been cut since who knows when if at all this year. So if this is a historic house, what is going on? I mean there’s already some wicked demolition by neglect going on at the Joseph Price House, on the same stretch of road, right?

So another question would be West Whiteland has a codes department right? I don’t know the Director of Codes (Codes Barbie) who is also the Fire Marshall but I always see her on the West Whiteland zoom meetings with lots of make up and flipping her hair …. so is she aware of this? What’s her name? I have to ask in her dual role why she does she look at or inspect these properties? Or does she? Or is she just a selective stones buster? I mean you would think that properties like this or the Joseph Price House would be an issue given shall we say certain conditions? So does demolition by neglect count for anything according to these people?

I mean we’ve got Bossette Tweed posting her merit certificates publicly on social media but ummm what else???

Wouldn’t you say that the way certain properties are treated with historic value qualify as a “difficult situation” in West Whiteland Township? Again, this address in on the West Whiteland historic resources map?

And then there are the two business entities I found on the deed file:

And then you go to the property records:

And then you pull the things uploaded as deeds:

So obviously someone owns the property actively, so what is happening there? It’s 9 acres give or take, right? Will house be preserved? Will a business go there? Will it be subject to development? I ask about development because of an old listing for the property from a couple of years ago. Showing screen shots below this, and another embedded document.

So what’s the plan? Demolition by neglect until someone submits a plan? I was told the house had tenants until not THAT long ago?

What started me being curious? A note and photos I received. I already have inserted a couple of the photos, but here’s part of the note from one of my readers:

What is West Whiteland now doing with historical properties? The house at 105 S. Whitford road was just recently sold. It’s been months the grass is very high. This house was not too long ago inhabited. It is now owned by 105 Whitford Rd llc. If you Google can’t really find much. The only mention of it was when the daycare was being built and if there was any impact….It’s a historic house and WW recognizes it as that….They sold it and it hasn’t been taken care of since January…the grass looks like it would be way above my knees, maybe close to my waist in spots!!

~ West Whiteland resident who drives by location often

So I realized I literally drive past there at least once a week en route to PT. I can tell you it’s overgrown enough that I forgot there was a house there. Personally I keep noticing trash along the curb of what may or may not be part of the property. There was also a car repair place at the corner with a sale sign.

In any event, West Whiteland is NOT the only township that turns a blind eye to neglected properties and/or empty or seemingly empty but falling apart historic properties. It just is always a puzzle when these townships act like they can’t SEE some of these properties.

West Whiteland is a mess, and it will be for a while given what they have been through. But people hired by the last manager maybe should be trying a little harder now? And politicians who love to talk about how they love the historic properties in their township who can’t seemingly see things like this? Or when they are pointed out, “didn’t know”? I mean COME ON, you are an elected official in this township and you live there!

This parcel is seemingly the old tenant farm for “Oaklands”. It is referenced in the Revised History of West Whiteland I found uploaded on the West Whiteland Township website that I downloaded to read.

If you live in West Whiteland, please get familiar with your history. It’s not all commercial and a sea of new apartment and townhouse developments. And this post is most definitely NOT a criticism of the West Whiteland Historic Commission because they do a very good job. Their supervisor liaison, not so much a good job doer, and this post is also an additional criticism of her. In my humble opinion, she one of the wonkiest local politicians out here and an embarrassment to her township as well as Chester County Democrats. Why doesn’t she just resign already?

This post is also quite simply a “what is going on here and what will happen to the property and structures on it and why?” That is very important. I am a realist, and not all historic properties can be saved. But when you see demolition by neglect that has been ongoing (Joseph Price house corner of S. Whitford and Clover Mill Road) and newly emerging issues with 105 S. Whitford Rd and identified as the tenant farm to Oaklands, there should be a community conversation sometimes, shouldn’t there be?

Well who knows, but this is what intrigued me today in the ever evolving As The West Whiteland Turns.

Have a great Father’s Day Weekend everyone!

105 S. Whitford circa 2019.

melangell antiques, house & garden: a beautiful new west chester, pa destination!

There is a new kid in town for antiques in Chester County and it is in a word: fabulous!

This business is newly opened in an old estate hunting lodge. A rather famous one to local history buffs. Also known as “Wrangley Lodge”, in an amazing century-plus old Arts and Crafts style designed by Charles Barton Keen as part of the original Greystone Estate. This is special to me because one of my very close friends and honorary other mother’s is his granddaughter. And those who know me know I love a good adaptive reuse, and some of my favorite antique stores have been in restored old houses! (You know like another favorite business down in Chadds Ford, Brandywine View Antiques.)

The house itself is magical all by itself. But store owner Laura DePrisco has created a wonderful atmosphere at Melangell. It’s lovely, beautiful, and welcoming. Every room moves effortlessly into the next. As a store it is so well put together and merchandised. There is so much to look at, but it does not feel crowded or cluttered. That is an issue I have with antique stores at times when they feel crowded and disorganized then it’s hard to look at things. And then there are other antique stores where you’re afraid to look at anything because it feels like a museum. This store is just right, and it flows.

Laura is welcoming and has a real artistic eye and an eye for detail. Seriously, every room is delightful. And there’s a second floor too. And that is something I love antique stores — ones that are more than one floor or level in a building.

We bought a few things, including a lovely old landscape oil painting that needed to be framed. So we left Melangell and next stop was my favorite framers, Framers Market Gallery in Malvern!

I can’t wait to go back! I also think it would be a place to take my friends. It would make a fab girl’s shopping night out place! Melangell also has some great pieces outside that would be fun for a porch and garden.

Melangell can be found on Instagram. The shop is located at 1133 Pottstown Pike, West Chester, PA 19380. The shop is opened Monday through Saturday 11 AM to 6 PM. (610)- 624- 4577.

🌟 Please note that I have not been compensated in any way for this review. I am sharing my lovely experience today at this new business 🌟

#ShopLocal #ShopSmall

back to the historic village of yellow springs

Today I went back to Historic Yellow Springs. First up was the herb sale in the big field held by the Philadelphia Unit of the Herb Society of America.

The herb sale had not been held since before COVID19 invaded our lives. The sale was a rousing success and they basically had sold out but just a little after 11 AM! The tables were picked clean like locusts had descended upon the field!

After putting my plants in the car, I went onto the Yellow Springs Art Show. I had also not been there since before COVID19. The show was glorious, but some of the artists’ pricing were eyebrow raising.

One of the things I noticed the most was how alive the village was today. That doesn’t happen often enough. The Historic Yellow Springs Executive Director did not seem to be around and I was there for a few hours. I do not wish to be critical of the woman, but today was the kind of day that you get opportune moments. You never know where your next donation is going to come from and two seconds of conversation with visitors to the village means people come back to the village. I also know of people who have wanted to volunteer that somehow are never chosen to volunteer. And I’m not referring to myself because they don’t want a mouthy blogger volunteering there, and I know that.

For this amazing and living and breathing piece of history to remain viable into the future they have to be less insular. Their volunteers are amazing and helpful and nice, but the people that actually run the show (board and others) need to be more visible.

Becoming a member of Historic Yellow Springs is fun. I belong. You can join here.

While I was walking the village today I thought of an event that Meg Veno does at Life’s Patina. As part of Life’s Patina’s holiday events she does a German Market. It’s hugely popular as most German Markets during the holidays are. So I got to thinking since Life’s Patina/Meg Veno has breathed new life into the Jenny Lind House, and is nearing completion of an extensive and expensive restoration (and boy do I hope West Pikeland and Historic Yellow Springs are appreciative, don’t you?), why not pick you one of THE most creative brains in all of Chester County and take full advantage of the fabulousness coming to an amazing historic village?

What am I talking about? It’s simple: when I was walking the village today and I did it a couple of times first with plants and then going to the art show and buying some art it occurred to me that this life that was in the village today is so important for her survival. And I thought as I stood in front of the Jenny Lind house about how much I enjoy what Meg does every holiday season. And I thought that Yellow Springs should really pick her brain about doing a German Christmas village THERE.

Historic Yellow Springs is extra lovely on the outside during the holidays, so why not capitalize on new blood and fresh energy? Today in my mind’s eye I could see a German Christmas village up and down Yellow Springs Village. Christmas carolers and musicians strolling back-and-forth, a cart selling warm chestnuts and brown paper sacks, a vendor selling gingerbread fresh from the oven, and more. Couldn’t you just see someone with a beautiful little booth outside selling hand-painted German Christmas ornaments and nutcrackers ? It would literally be SO perfect!

I mean I don’t know why their Special Events Director, Executive Director, and board haven’t thought of any of these things. I know they don’t want the village to look like Disneyland, but I’m talking about things that are old-fashioned, historically appropriate,wholesome,pretty, and fun.

Other ideas? Bring back an updated version of the fall antiques show. There are enough dealers and high-end crafts people in Chester County that do such fine work including right in the studios of Yellow Springs that you could do this no problem. Why not make it a version of not what it was, but more of a blend of high-end crafts and art as well as antiques and collectibles?

Other things would be more children’s events like hayrides through the fall and pumpkin carving. Maybe a Halloween parade with old-fashioned Halloween games for kids?

There are more than enough garden clubs in Chester County so why not ask them to do their plant sales all on one weekend in the spring or early summer in the village? Or invite garden groups to do plant swaps in the village?

The possibilities are endless for this beautiful piece of Chester County history. But they need to extend themselves so people know they’re there a little more.

And all of these events should have membership tables with people asking are you a member of Historic Yellow Springs? Would you like to be a member of Historic Yellow Springs?

Today I was also treated to the clop clop of horses hooves as riders rode through the village. There is just something so nice about that sound.

Just my thoughts. If you can catch the art show before it closes at the end of this weekend, I highly recommend it.

Thanks for stopping by.

back to the lloyd farmhouse in caln and are those actually squatters living there, caln township ?

The Lloyd Farmhouse photo above is from 2019. Actually most of the photos I have access to are old photos. Also known as Valley Brook Farm, this should be a historic asset has been rotting for years. I haven’t written about it in a couple of years. There is still a developer who owns it and there’s still I guess a development planned? No one really knows much.

However I learned something this morning: apparently it has been reported that Lloyd farmhouse has a squatter or squatters? How is that even possible and does Caln Township give a crap?

Caln Township is an example of Pennsyltucky at it’s finest the way it is run, is it not? It has some new commissioners now but apparently they’re just as bad as the old supervisors they replaced, and that does include Democrats and yes I did say that out loud. Oh and I can have these opinions. They don’t like the first amendment much out there, but it’s allowed.

The site is still not secure which is something I just don’t understand on so many levels. From what I understand the developer at one point in time put logs across the front of the driveway I guess up to the farmhouse and now that is all just grown over, which makes this farmhouse even more remote so if there are squatters, in the case of a fire emergency or a medical emergency how difficult will it be to get first responders there?

And I thought abandoned/empty buildings were supposed to be secured? Why doesn’t Caln Township see to this? Why can’t police go out there are get rid of them? I mean it’s not like there is electricity, sewer, running water, anything out there in this abandoned 18th-century farmhouse is there?

And let’s talk about the fact that there is no running water or sewer etc. what happens if there are squatters and they go to the bathroom? Are they using camp toilets? If they are using camp toilets are they emptying them into nearby local creeks and water sources? It’s a valid question isn’t it? It doesn’t that go to a potential health department situation? Chester County has a health department so are they aware of this potential situation?

Is Chester county in general aware that this is not a secure site, that it’s a rotting historic asset, and because it has been left open and unsecured could be a danger?

I sadly question at this point now if Lloyd farmhouse can ever be saved. A lot of time and bad storms have transpired since The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that article. (See screenshot above.)

In 1991 there was a movie called The Super with Joe Pesci as a slumlord a judge made live in a run down building he owned. So in the Walter Mitty state of mind wouldn’t it be nice if some judge suggested that the Caln Township Commissioners had to live in Lloyd Farmhouse the way it is right now?

If there are squatters living in this farmhouse, it’s not the first abandoned structure in Chester County to have squatters. But in other townships they seem to take action and deal with these situations. Will Caln actually do anything? Who knows.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the old photos that exist over the past few years of the Lloyd farmhouse.

rotting 18th century chester county farmhouse in east whiteland.

This is the farmhouse at the Clews and Strawbridge boat dealership. I have written about it off and on for years. I started taking photos of it around 2011. ( see here, and here, and here)

This was a once lovely 18th century farmhouse. If my research is correct, it was built in 1734. According to the Tredyffrin-Easttown Historical Society, Lincoln Highway, Lancaster Pike, Lancaster Avenue was laid out in 1732! (Now I know the place has to be on a historic resources inventory list, but I can’t find that on East Whiteland’s website, although I can find it on one of the little maps on the comprehensive plan.)

This is so freaking sad.

It just rots.

Talk about demolition by neglect.

just another dying farmhouse along 202

When you are headed on 202 south, just before the light at 926, there is a farmhouse or two. The one right on the corner of 926, still looks inhabited but the one before the corner ? It’s falling apart literally.

I thought maybe this old farmhouse was a Crebilly house. My sources however tell me that it is not part of Crebilly but at one time Crebilly did try to acquire it.

I would love to know the history if anyone knows. It’s in really bad shape.

Here is it’s barn or similar kind of structure:

Here are some closeups and other photos I was able to get of bits of the house as a passenger going by: