phoenixville houses

One of the really fun things about Phoenixville is the wide and varied architecture.

All different styles literally spanning centuries. These are just three random houses that caught my eye a few days ago.

Phoenixville is also another one of those great front porch towns. Front porches and gardens are what make a house a home and what make a neighborhood welcoming.

I still have photos to post from the beginning of September from West Chester that I need to get to because it’s another front porch town.

scenes from the tredyffrin historic preservation trust house tour

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Here are some photos from the 15th Annual Historic House Tour that is courtesy of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust.

I only take exterior shots. You can’t take photos of inside people’s homes and I am fine with that because it is so gracious that they open their homes to begin with.

I am a sponsor of this tour and I really love it.  I am sharing my three favorite homes from 2019.

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the main line…..where it is…and where people think it should because

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File under things that drive me crazy. Not everything some developer’s marketing team labels as “Main Line” today is actually the Main Line…nor does it have to be.

One of my favorite quotes about this appeared on Facebook recently:

Die hards stick to the Original Main Line. Realtors and blow in’s want everything within 40 miles called the Main Line.

The Main Line refers to the towns between Overbrook and Paoli as per the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Malvern and Frazer are Chester County (for example) and should be delighted to be that. Realtors peddling new development are baptizing Malvern as Main Line the way they have already done with Chester Springs where they call what is actually Downingtown Chester Springs because they don’t think anyone would like living in Downingtown. Or saying Newtown Square is the Main Line also isn’t technically true. Newtown Square is Newtown Square and lovely in it’s own right.

Sad but true.  Some even try to say Exton, Blue Bell, and Chester Springs are also the Main Line. Now hell, we know Chester Springs proper isn’t the Main Line every time when the nouveau Main Line heads west for Chester County Day and Chester Springs homes are on the tour (like last year) and folks don’t know how to drive (or park) on our roads or how to be polite in the houses…but I digress…

People. Learn your railroad history.  It is how these towns were built.

The Philadelphia Main Line, known simply as the Main Line, is an informally delineated historical and socially pretentious and ridiculous region of suburban Philadelphia, as freaking created by old railroad lines. These towns became more cohesive along the Pennsylvania Railroad’s once prestigious “Main Line”, which ran northwest from Center City Philadelphia parallel to Route 30 (Lancaster Ave to some Lancaster Pike to some Lincoln Highway to others.)

The railroad first connected Philadelphia to the Main Line towns in the 19th century.

They became home to sprawling country estates and hotels belonging to Philadelphia’s wealthiest families, and over the decades became a bastion of “old money”.  People built their summer homes out here at that point.  In the 18th century wealthy Philadelphians summered in places like Fairmount Park.  In the 19th century the railroads moved them further west.

Seriously, don’t forget there were grand hotels too.  One is what is now the Baldwin School was once the Bryn Mawr Hotel. As per Baldwin:

Baldwin School, Former Historic Bryn Mawr HotelAfter the Civil War, Bryn Mawr was a popular spot for Philadelphians to come to escape the summer heat.  Of  the many hotels and boarding houses in Bryn Mawr, the one that aided most in its development was the Bryn Mawr Hotel or Keystone Hotel, as it was also known, built in 1871. This grand summer resort was constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad, and was located in the countryside just north of the station. The four-story masonry building was designed by Joseph Miller Wilson. The hotel had 350 rooms, a fashionable polychromatic slate mansard roof, and an enormous veranda. The hotel’s amenities included: gas lights, bath tubs, the first elevator on the main line, a “ten-pin alley”, first quality mattresses and one bathroom on every floor. This splendor was destroyed by a disastrous fire which broke out in October 11, 1887 at 6:30 a.m. Most of the building was destroyed by the time Philadelphia fire engines arrived by railroad gondola car.

A second Bryn Mawr Hotel was built on the site in 1890 by a neighborhood syndicate. This new, four-story, granite structure was designed by acclaimed architect Frank Furness, of Furness, Evans & Co. The Hotel was inspired by the Chateau de Pierrefonds, a 16th century French chateau, and contained the latest technologies, including steam heat and electric light. From 1896 to 1913 the hotel hosted its own annual horse show that drew high society Philadelphians. The new Furness designed building cost the promoters half a million dollars.  Half of this amount was obtained by sale of stock and half through the sales of bonds.  The stock never paid a cent of dividend, and when the bonds finally came due, the group could not pay the interest.  The mortgage was foreclosed and with this, the hotel stopped operations.  Later the building was bought by the Baldwin School for Girls.

Read the 1891 article from The Illustrated American about the Bryn Mawr Hotel

The Main Line has this fabled history. I lived there until a few years ago.  My parents moved us there when I was about 12.  So yeah, I know the history.  In some regards I think I lived there in the sunset of it’s greatness.   The Main Line as it exists today I find distasteful and gauche sometimes because well, the nouveau Main Line neither gets nor appreciates nor really cares about the actual history.

Until the railroads, the Main Line was a lot of country. Farms, quarries, mills, even factories.  It became genteel versus rural/copuntry living by it’s very history.  The Pennsylvania Railroad and 19th century real estate developers and speculators truthfully get the credit here.

Like Wayne, PA which was essentially a developer planned community of it’s day.  Don’t believe me? Visit the Radnor Historical Society Website.  Here is a photo of a real estate brochure they have on their website from when Wayne was being developed:

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Courtesy Radnor Historical Society

People just don’t know the history any longer. Like this ad also courtesy of the Radnor Historical Society:

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Another real estate advertisement courtesy of Radnor Historical Society

There were SO many hotels up and down the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Like the Bellevue Hotel which burned to the ground in 1900:

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The Bellevue Hotel circa 1895 courtesy of Radnor Historical Society.

Or…

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Waynewood Hotel courtesy of the Radnor Historical Society

One of my favorites which no longer exists? The Devon Inn.

The Devon Inn is (I think) where part of Valley Forge Military Academy now exists.
Your Town and My Town Archives Courtesy of Radnor Historical Society
Devon Inn, Bryn Mawr Hotel, Valley Forge Military Academy
SEPTEMBER 10, 1954 / EMMA C. PATTERSON

….So it was with Devon Inn, a brief history of which was given in the series on large fires which have occurred in this vicinity in past years. In the early morning hours of January 18, 1929, this famous Main Line hostelry burned to the ground. The pictures illustrating today’s column show two views of the Inn as it appeared in its heyday. They were sent to your columnist by James L. Kercher, of Conestoga road, soon after the story of the fire appeared in “Your Town and My Town” in the spring of 1952. The reverse side of this picture postcard of the Devon Inn describes it as the “social center or the Main Line,” located in “beautiful Chester Valley” and “open from May to December.”

….Among its attractions they list the Devon Horse Show, polo matches, kennel show, Rose Tree Horse Show, Belmont trotting event, Chesterbrook races, Bryn Mawr Horse Show and Devon fancy cattle show. And these are not all, for the list continues with the Horse Show Ball, Spring flower show, golf and tennis, private theatricals, Bal Masque, Autumn flower show, auto exhibition, the County Ball and Devon Inn’s beautiful Japanese Floral Cafe. This cafe was evidently located on one of the Inn’s wide porches…The history of this old inn is an interesting one. The original structure, called the Devon Park Hotel, had been built in 1876 to house the overflow of visitors to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Three years later, fire destroyed the first building, but it was replaced soon after by a larger and more ornate structure, erected on the same site. This is the one shown in today’s picture.

For some years there was great rivalry between the Devon Inn and the Bryn Mawr Hotel for the patronage of fashionable Philadelphia summer boarders. Located on the site of what is now the Baldwin School, the Bryn Mawr Hotel was owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad. This rivalry ended in a complete victory for the Devon Inn, when the Devon Horse Show made its initial bow. The show immediately became a nationally famous event, with entries and visitors from all over the United States. The socially elite from New York and the Long Island Colony, from Boston, Chicago and many other cities throughout the country filled the Devon hostelry to capacity each horse show season.

When the Bryn Mawr Hotel burned to the ground, the Devon Inn lost its only serious rival….

Most people don’t even remember there was ever a Devon Inn, which is why my friend Michael Morrison’s lecture at Jenkins Arboretum a couple of years ago was so popular.

Devon Inn circa 1900 postcard

Image from Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society

When this topic of what the Main Line actually is and what the actual historical boundaries are crops up on social media, someone always leaves a conversation feeling offended.

Sorry not sorry but Malvern isn’t and never will be the Main Line.  As I have said before, it’s Chester County and everyone in the Malvern area should be ok with it as Malvern already has a wonderful identity and history.

There is this booklet called Plan The Keystone which has a lot of great history in it (05.30.19 – Booklet – History of Paoli Station):

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But marketing being the illusion maker that it is creeps in even in the 1963 Franklin Survey Company publication:

Duffy Real Estate actually has a quirky but fairly accurate Main Line History page:

In 1828, the Pennsylvania legislature authorized the construction of the railroad between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. This was known as the “Main Line” of the Public Works system. This, in turn, caused the development of the surrounding area.

After the Civil War, track improvements were sought and new station houses were erected to include more stops along the line. In recognition of the heritage of the areas along the rail line, many stations were given English and Welsh names, such as Narberth, Ardmore and Bryn Mawr.

Many changes were made to the rail route and so the Commonwealth purchased lots surrounding the rail line with stipulations on setbacks and improvements to the land next to the station houses. In Bryn Mawr, it stated that the building of “hotels, taverns, drinking saloons, blacksmiths, carpenter or wheelwright shops, steam mills, tanneries, slaughterhouses, skindressing establishments, livery stables, glue, candle or starch manufactories, or other buildings of offensive occupation” was prohibited.

The result was “a complete picture of suburban comfort and elegance with wide avenues and roomy and open ornamental grounds, spacious lots for building and homes of more than ordinary architectural tastes.” These new homes served as the summer residences for many affluent families. The Main Line was now established.

The Pennsylvania Railroad promoted this area in brochures describing the “opportunities provided by the railroad for ‘summer sojourns’ away from the city and the desirability and convenience of suburban living.”

When we were growing up there was this little thing we did to remember the order of the train stations.  Old Maids Never Wed And Have Babies. Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr.  You can find this mentioned here on this blog which I find amusing because they say they think the ditty ends with Bryn Mawr Station because it was thought of possibly by a Bryn Mawr College girl. This blog is called Philadelphia Reflections and I love it because they write about the most interesting stuff!

One of my dear friend’s grandfathers was an executive with the Pennsylvania Railroad.  He moved his family from the city to Haverford near Merion Cricket Club.  The road they settled on had several homes built as a direct result of the railroad.  Like many of the homes in Wayne, it was desirable because one could walk to the train station.

Growing up, we never thought the Main Line was one centimeter past Paoli…because we knew the history.  Today it’s like saying you are from Greenwich, Connecticut or similarly affluent and storied suburbs.  Or even what defines Manhattan, versus living in the other boroughs of New York City but saying you live in Manhattan.

Pennsylvania Center for the Book: Philadelphia’s Main Line: It’s Not Just a Place – It’s a Lifestyle  By Casey Murray, Spring 2014

The mansion stood at the end of a half-mile long drive, in the midst of 750 acres. The estate was magnificent, to say the least. It had been erected in 1911, in the style of the Georgian Revival, and was crafted by the prolific architect Horace Trumbauer – designer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Duke University Chapel, and the main Harvard University Library, to name just a few. The façade of the manor was classic “old money” – adorned with brick, accented with ornate cream molding, and finished with large traditional sash windows….Too good to be true? A fairytale perhaps? Surely, a scene from a movie? Well, yes… and no. Because not even MGM, the esteemed motion picture conglomerate, would believe it. The mansion, Villanova’s Ardrossan estate, was the inspiration for 1940s The Philadelphia Story, and has since been dubbed by the Philadelphia Inquirer a “house so grand, even Tinseltown had to tone it down.” The house in question, however, is very much real, as is the lifestyle that comes with it.

But Ardrossan is only one small portion of the prestigious and affluent area known as the Main Line. Situated just west of Philadelphia, it is comprised of the seventeen different towns in Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester counties – each of which is connected by the railroad, and the area’s namesake, the Main Line…..These estates and their residents have come to define the Main Line. But what does that mean? With the birth of the Main Line in the late 1800s, there also came “an extreme type of class-consciousness. The flood of wealth that created American family fortunes in the late 19th century settled around a handful of cities and was expressed in different forms of conspicuous consumption and elaborate social behaviour,” writes Ian Irvine in the Sunday Telegraph. Irvine compares Manhattan’s Upper West Side to Philadelphia’s Main Line to call attention to the grandeur associated with the area; but that’s where the similarities end. “In more traditional… Philadelphia, however, society turned almost feudal, almost English in its attitudes – ‘old’ money and ‘old’ families counted for everything. The very term WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) was coined to describe members of Philadelphia society,” a term popularized by University of Pennsylvania professor E. Digby Baltzell. And an appropriate term it was….Nowadays not every Main Liner may live like a Scott, but the expectation to act like one endures. As Betty Feeney and Julia Lorenz Gaskill noted in 1955: “the Main Line is a way of life which both its natives and newcomers tend to view as the best this side of Paradise.”

The lure of the Main Line as well as the lore of the Main Line. I still find it crazy.  And I for all intents and purposes grew up there. It’s only the Magic Kingdom if you can really afford it and I often wonder how many can actually afford it versus the great pretenders? I lived there for so long because it was where I called home from the age of 12 into my 40s.  And yes, I always knew I would probably eventually leave not for anything else than it keeps getting more expensive and if you are realistic you have to ask is the Main Line really worth it?  

Back to history, this time courtesy of the Lower Merion Historical Society:

The Philadelphia & Columbia Railway

A Ride on The Main Line. The War of 1812 had ended and the country was expanding by extending its borders westward. New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia were the major seaports which stood to benefit the most in trade to the west. The road system could not handle the increased traffic so we entered into the age of canals, which offered faster service and were cheaper to operate.

New York built the Erie Canal which joined the Hudson River with Lake Erie, thus providing a through waterway from New York City to the Great Lakes. The Erie Canal opened in 1825.

Maryland, replacing their National Road, began the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal which connected Baltimore with the Ohio River.

As a counter measure, Pennsylvania decided that it wanted to develop its own canal system linking Philadelphia to the frontier city of Pittsburgh and authorized its construction. But when the survey was made, it was found that there was not enough water in the right places for a canal between the Delaware and the Susquehanna Rivers.

In March 1823, the Pennsylvania State Legislature issued a charter for the first railroad in the state. It authorized the construction of an 82 mile railway, from Philadelphia through Lancaster, terminating at Columbia (on the Susquehanna River), as part of the “Main Line of Public Works of the State of Pennsylvania.” The nickname, “The Main Line,” derived from this early Pennsylvania railroad…A Government Venture. The Philadelphia & Columbia Railway was one of the earliest railroads in America and the first in the world to be built by a government rather than by private enterprise. The contracts for the work were granted by the Canal Commission, under whose supervision the line was operated. Considered a public toll road, individuals and companies paid tolls to the Commission for use of the rails. They also supplied their own horses, rolling stock and passenger or freight facilities.

The Philadelphia & Columbia Railway finally became operational on September 1832, with carts and wagons dragged by horse power on a 20-mile section which began in Philadelphia (at Broad and Vine Streets) and ended at Green Tree Inn, west of Paoli….More than any other person or entity, it was the Pennsylvania Railroad that built the Main Line. For 111 years, its trains linked Lower Merion with Philadelphia and the nation. Even today, three decades after the railroad merged with a rival, the Pennsylvania’s legacy continues to shape life in the township.

The Pennsylvania Railroad began its long association with the Main Line when it purchased the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad from the state in 1857. At that time, there were only three stops in Lower Merion: Libertyville (serving modern Narberth and Wynnewood), Athensville (now Ardmore) and White Hall (Bryn Mawr). For a little over a decade, the Pennsylvania concentrated on rebuilding the line and developing long distance traffic. As late as 1869, the railroad operated only a handful of local trains along the Main Line.

So…look at the dates referenced by The Lower Merion Historical Society.  1832. Duffy’s Cut anyone? (Duffy’s Cut is the name given to a stretch of railroad tracks about 30 miles west of Philadelphia, United States, originally built for the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad in the summer and fall of 1832. The line later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Main Line. Railroad contractor Philip Duffy hired 57 Irish immigrants to lay this line through the area’s densely wooded hills and ravines. The workers came to Philadelphia from the Ulster counties of Donegal, Tyrone and Derry to work in Pennsylvania’s nascent railroad industry. They were murdered.)

And just so we are clear, I am not some old Main Line trust fund baby.  We lived there because my parents decided to move us there as we got older for access to better schools and a way of life that included being able to play outside whenever we wanted.  However, where I grew up was close to where one of my great-grandmothers was in service.  Rebecca Nesbitt Gallen.  She was a summer housekeeper for the Cassatt family (think Merion Cricket Club) at their Cheswold Estate.   Of course Alexander Cassatt was also famous for his Chesterbrook Farm in Berwyn.  We of course know Chesterbrook today as the giant development that popped the cherry of suburban density development.  It’s hard to believe that Chesterbrook today was once a glorious 600+ acre farm, right?

Photo source: Pinterest

And yes, Chesterbrook Farm was in Berwyn…yet Chesterbrook the development today has a Wayne post office zip code. Yup even Chesterbrook wasn’t o.k. where it really was, was it?

Technically Chesterbrook although it has a Wayne post office zip code isn’t Main Line. In my opinion, it probably got the Wayne zip code to make it marketable as Main Line when the development was built.  The fight over the Chesterbrook Development went all the way to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. Chesterbrook is I think actually over 800 acres if you count the other land parcels that went into it.  I still view it as planned development at it’s worst.  My late mother in law was one of the many, many residents who fought it for years.
(From Lower Merion Historical Society) Chesterbrook retells the story of Wayne for the 20th century
Finding homes for people drawn here by technology isn’t anything new

By David Schmidt
Special to Main Line Life

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That could apply directly to two very dissimilar areas of Radnor today. But each was a result of technology creating a need and ambitious men filling it. Although they don’t look the same at all, each was its century’s response to changes caused by technology.

In the late 19th century, the railroad had opened up the western suburbs for white-collar workers who wanted to escape the filth and disease of the city. It’s almost impossible today to imaging just how dangerous it was living in a large city and that didn’t even include crime.

Infant mortality was rife, and often mothers died in childbirth or from infections afterwards. Influenza today dreaded mostly for its discomfort killed tens of thousands each year. Men died young, maimed and broken in brutal factories. Everything was dirty, both from the coal smoke that permeated every space and from the animals which were ubiquitous.

But the trains made it possible for people to live and work in different places. After the railroad barons moved themselves along the Main Line, building monstrous estates, it was time for the middle class. The first development in Radnor designed to bring folks from the city was a 300-acre estate belonging to J. Henry Askins. Called Louella Farms, it was named after his two daughters, Louise and Ella.

In 1869 he began building houses some of which remain on Bloomingdale Ave. in Wayne clearly designed for middle-class families. But he was really too early, although he did create a community of sorts. The farm lay alongside the Main Line tracks. His mansion, also called Louella is now the Louella Apartments.

This was the center for further development in what would become Wayne. Askins liked the feudal nature of his “community” and encouraged development of other facilities south of Louella and the train tracks. This resulted in the Presbyterian Church, the Opera House and the Post Office, all built between 1870 and 1874….

A century later, transportation technology did it all over again. In the mid-1960s the state announced that it was turning Rt. 202, a two-lane highway running south from King of Prussia into a limited access four-lane highway. Radnor officials knew that meant urban sprawl was coming to Philadelphia’s far suburbs….The Fox Companies didn’t build everything, but they developed and controlled it. “The scale was large enough for two or more companies for construction and retailing,” he says. “Part of what we wanted to do was create a community with a physical and social sense, and landscaping is very important for that…..The original idea was to have a mix of housings. “We wanted teachers and cops to be able to afford to live here, for instance,” he says. “Unfortunately the economic realities of what happened to housing prices in the 1970s defeated that.” There are still different styles and price ranges grouped together, so that the 2700 units seems more to be clumps of housing.

As part of a plan to help control the tide of growth Radnor created a unified development area on a 1000-acre plot alongside the highway. This meant that the rules as to density of population and other zoning and regulatory issues would be worked to encourage controlled development. The Fox Companies, headed by Dick Fox, bought up most of the land and although there were several parcels of land, by far the largest was Alexander Cassatt’s “country place,”Chesterbrook. Farm” He named the development for Cassatt’s farm.

Chesterbrook is a mixed development, with office buildings, several types and styles of houses and townhouses and open spaces.”Issues such as schools, open space, traffic and roads were defined to help counter urban sprawl,” according to Jim Hovey, president of The Fox Companies. “Cassatt’s farm was owned by a company owned by Bill Levitt, Jr. son of the creator of Levittown. The Fox Companies were able to acquire three of the four packages of land.

Yeah, I know this has been quite the ramble. But I just don’t think Chester County needs to be completely annexed to the freaking Main Line. It’s preposterous.  Stick to the history. It tells you the boundaries.  And yes, there are several towns (and townships) that have parts of themselves which are part of the Main Line historically, although not in their entirety. Like parts of Chester County.  Chester County has a rich history that is far more interesting than the mere history of the Main Line which was created by the railroads.

I will close with this funny as hell map of the Main Line I found on Pinterest.  It is by a local artist and graphic designer named Barb Chotiner. She lives in Narberth…which is another place with it’s own unique and lovely history, yet it is part of the Main Line by history.

Thanks for stopping by….writing today as always from beautiful Chester County, PA. (NOT the Main Line.)

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The Main Line as envisioned by Barbara Chotiner of Narberth PA

who owns clews & strawbridge?

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This structure is a historic asset…or it should be.

It’s the 18th century farmhouse that is part of the Clews & Strawbridge property on Lancaster Avebue in Malvern/Frazwer .

Who owns Clews & Strawbridge now?

I find this demolition by neglect disgraceful, but then again I find most of the rotting historic properties in Chester County and in East Whiteland disgraceful because it doesn’t have to be this way!

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The fencing is new and I have to ask do they think a stockade fence is going to make people forget what a hot mess the entire property looks like most of the time? COME ON.

Whoever you are, it’s time to deal with the house.  Can it be sold? Is it empty? Is it full of stuff? There are so many stories yet no one seems to know what is going on so can they just be straight with residents and historical architecture buffs?

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easttown residents turn out in droves, zoning meeting at hilltop house postponed

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Dayyyyummmmm. Easttown residents must quite certainly have had enough because they turned it up and turned out tonight over the whole Berwyn Square/Handels development.

Sources said the following:

“The Easttown Residents are out in full force to say oh hell no. Postponed due to overcrowding….”

Someone also commented about the fact that development was bound to come up sooner or later, but why couldn’t something that was tasteful and respectful to the area happen instead of 120 or whatever units and commercial shoved on a small lot?

Can’t disagree….hence my Flat Iron building comment from my post earlier today.

Someone else posted:

“Easttown zone meeting Tuesday = 160+ people inside + 50 or more outside. Board “we did not know this would happen” so we need to reschedule. I say we at least double that number for the next meeting. Interesting to see people who care about their town who show up. I say yes to responsible zoning. Next meeting location will be held at a place to handle a large group. Stay tuned.”

What did Easttown officials think would happen? People have been fighting them supersizing Berwyn and the surrounding area since the late 1990s that I am aware of, so why are they surprised?  People don’t want to feel like they are living in the city.  They want the history and architecture of the area as well as themselves and their own properties respected. D’oh Easttown, it is not so difficult to grasp.

And let’s chat about the Berwyn Devon Business Association for a minute shall we?

After I posted a meeting reminder this morning, someone commented:

“The local business community seems to have a very condescending attitude toward the local residents.”

Yup, can’t disagree.  And apparently (of all the ironies) this business association is kicking off their fall season for their membership tomorrow?  Here’s the text of the email:

From: Nick Vandekar <nick@vandekarteam.com>
Date: Tue, Sep 17, 2019 at 4:38 PM
Subject: BDBPA Kick off Event THIS Wednesday
Don’t forget kick off the BDBPA year with an historic walk through Berwyn ending at Le Cabra to network and learn about their buildings history. Start at 6.00 pm at Berwyn Memorial Arch by the station. Easy walk about 45 minutes.

See you there!

Nick Vandekar
Associate Broker
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc
92 Lancaster Ave, Devon, PA 19333
Cell 610-203-4543
Office 610-225-7400
Fax 858-309-3367
Mailto:Nick@VandekarTeam.com

 

A historic walk through Berwyn? Is that to view the history or it’s historic because a lot of it might not be there in a few years? I am confused because if they are all about development, development, development why take a history stroll?

So La Cabra is a great place right? Address is 642 Lancaster Ave Berwyn.

Anyway, anyway, anyway: Someone else left a comment:

“LARGE NUMBERS of engaged residents who are willing to express their thoughts is the only thing that will stop those business and development interests with dollar signs in their eyes. Ask long-time residents of Malvern or any of a number of other “communities” along Route 30–from Ardmore to Caln and beyond–just how much they like what SOMEBODY ELSE’S plans and over development have brought them…It’s time to tell it like it is: Greed-driven interests are pitting themselves against you, the residents, just salivating at the thought of making money by selling YOUR quality of life. The only question–will you let them?”

And that gets to the meat of it: where is responsible, inclusive, community-centric planning and zoning? That is also a question for the Chester County Planning Commission as they also seem too driven by development, but then again isn’t part of their problem is that they are led by an executive director who lives in Lower Merion Township an overpriced land of infill development, and is NOT a Chester County resident?

But back to Easttown.  A resident I spoke to this evening who was among the crowd turned away essentially said they felt that Easttown knew this would be a crowd bigger than could fit safely at Hilltop House so why didn’t they hold the meeting at Beaumont Elementary?

Oh Easttown, don’t play reindeer games with your residents about this. It won’t work in your favor and definitely not in the favor of the two Supervisors whose terms are up, right? But is that another problem with Easttown? One party rule? No balance?

And who exactly is running for supervisor in Easttown this November from BOTH parties? Not my country, not my people so I do not know.

What I do know is Easttown residents you need to make things like this an election issue.  Make those candidates look at it your way, get statements. Politicians are supposed to work for the plurality, as in the entirety of the plurality…not select groups or special interests.

And do NOT be afraid to vote in new faces no matter what their political persuasion.  You all need to shake up this election and change the faces of who governs you.  That is how you take the steps to change OTHER things and OTHER faces in your township.

Easttown residents, a proverbial hat tip to all of you this evening. Y’all did good. Fight for what you believe in and fight for what you want.  Continue to PACK the meetings at EVERY opportunity.

Have a good evening all. Don’t forget the website SaveEasttown. I am sure they will be updating soon.

 

residents, it is time to saddle up to save berwyn and save easttown – important meeting tonight at hilltop house !

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Handel’s Ice Cream. Photo found on Google Photo Search

ZONING MEETING EASTTOWN TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 17 7:15 PM AT HILLTOP HOUSE 570 BEAUMONT RD DEVON

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Turn out to #SaveBerwyn

This first pegged below was sent to me re: Easttown and the proposed hideous plan for Handel’s Ice Cream and some of the BUSINESSES seem to be AGAINST the residents?

This was part of something sent out by a guy in the Berwyn Devon Business Association – I am told they used to head the group but now Stacey from Eadeh below does ?

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The email says (and I quote):

Just a reminder that tomorrow night Sept 17 at 7pm will be the zoning meeting to hear public comment regarding the Berwyn Square/Handels development. We need the business community to come out to support this project which could be the game changer for Berwyn like East Side Flats for Malvern. The neighbors who are against it have rallied a petition and seem to project fear based on change and not looking at this as an opportunity for growth and vibrancy in our community and getting rid of an eyesore at the entrance to the Village. If you can’t make it please text me or email Stacey Ballard at staceyballard@eadeh.com with your comments and support. Again we need to balance the negative but not majority voice. Thank you!!!

So the author is a Realtor aren’t they? And I have to ask how much Eadeh Enterprises would profit if this project goes up? Wouldn’t it benefit their property values?

Also note the post card that went out to the business community about the project (and a meeting last week) and do you see the rendering? The people who are running this business association don’t seem to respect the residents they want as customers do they?

Look, the thing about businesses is that a lot of those people do NOT live RIGHT there where this is being proposed 24 hours a day /7 days a week / 365 days a year. Not all business owners anywhere and everywhere are also residents of municipalities going through development angst. That is WHY they often do NOT get WHY residents are upset.

In this case in Easttown I don’t get WHY developers don’t get why residents are upset, especially because some of them live in Easttown, so how could they propose something so out of character, right?

And oh yeah, have you all looked closely at Eastside Flats that the business association seeks to make a comparable on? Facade is the only thing with something to it and 3 sides of the building are NOTHING  as in they look like a cheap motel at the beach on 3 sides and will the facade finishes withstand the test of time? And as for safety, can a fire truck actually get BEHIND Eastside Flats? Or would they have to go up on the train tracks? And have you ever stood in the little neighborhood on the other side of the train tracks to see what those people see? A big hulking building shadow hanging over them?  And the sidewalk don’t even properly go to the edge of the driveway/parking lot at Eastside Flats. You have to step up and go over mulch so isn’t that a problem for the handicapped and elderly? (And why has Malvern Borough had them fix that?)

I took this photo when the flats were being built

We all patronize the businesses at Eastside Flats because we love them, but stand inside some of them if something gets flushed upstairs and tell me what you hear ? IMHO inside this one store you hear everything. And that was with music playing in the store.

East Side Flats still does not fit or complement Malvern Borough from a design aesthetic and never will. I don’t think that is right. And to say that building getting built created a renaissance is a fallacy because that project was built because Malvern was already on an upswing. Another opinion I am entitled to.

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I also took this photo a few years ago.  Please note that is scored concrete, not real brick. And when it is wet, that is STILL more slippery than real brick in my humble opinion. These buildings are still out of character with the size and scale of other buildings in Malvern.  People might be getting used to them, but it still doesn’t make it right.  Human scale and setbacks matter.

The things about East Side Flats getting built that businesses and Easttown aren’t mentioning include the piss poor low ratables – $60,000 was ALL that Malvern Borough got wasn’t it?

$60,000: East King Revitalization’s Impact on the Borough
The new apartments and businesses won’t be a windfall for the borough.
By Pete Kennedy, Patch Staff
Jun 27, 2012 8:34 pm ET | Updated Jun 29, 2012 3:38 am ET

During a discussion of the police services and budgeting at the of Malvern Borough Council, resident Joan Yeager asked a related question:

“Once the King Street project is completed, how much additional money is going to come into the borough? In taxes and all,” she said.

“Something in the neighborhood of $60,000 a year,” council president Woody Van Sciver said, citing a financial feasibility study done before the project was approved.

“That’s it?” Yeager replied, expecting a bigger payoff from the several new businesses and hundreds of new residents that will be moving to the east end of the borough.

“It was staggering, how small it was,” Mayor Jerry McGlone said

So remember the fairy tales spun on pots of Township gold from ratables are NOT necessarily true are they?

Oh and the thing that Easttown and the pro-development faction DO NOT tell you about is the fact that after East Side Flats went up it was a HUGE catalyst for change because that next election the mayor and I think half of borough Council were removed on a massive stealth write in ballot campaign weren’t they?

Meet Malvern’s new councilmen, mayor
By Linda Stein
lstein@mainlinemedianews.com Nov 12, 2013

In an example of democracy in action the voters in Malvern turned out in record numbers in the Nov. 5 to sweep out the incumbent mayor and three councilmen.

The pace and character of development in the borough was evidently the issue that brought voters to the polls, resulting in the successful write-in candidacy of three residents for seats on the council…David Burton, a Democrat who won the mayoral race 509 to 266 against long-time incumbent Gerald J. McGlone Jr., said development was the issue on people’s minds as he knocked on doors this fall.

At four stories, residents thought that Eastside Flats was too tall for Malvern, which is a small town with only 3,000 residents and encompassing a square mile. People worried that additional development would change the character of their hometown.

“Most people were upset as I campaigned,” said Burton. “People expressed that concern.”

So Easttown Township residents, it’s UP TO YOU. Don’t let non-residents and others tell you what your community should be. If you want to preserve your “village” then you need to send plans like this right back to the drawing table. Development needs to be careful and inclusive, not selfish. Don’t let non-residents, politicians, and developers make your village decisions.   Learn from the mistakes of residents in many different municipalities and counties.

Intersection of Berwyn and Midland Aves (where the large old Oak trees are currently in front of DeLuca’s Barbershop). This rendering leads the viewer to believe that Berwyn Ave is very wide. Instead, this is a narrow intersection that sits directly across from the CVS/Veekoo parking lot, and is already a busy one. Cars not able to exit onto Lancaster via the light at Midland, or the stop sign at Woodside, will use the surrounding village streets such as Berwyn Ave, to get onto Lancaster.

Again, development should be inclusive and growth should make sense.  In my humble opinion, this plan is another one that doesn’t make sense and I am entitled to said opinion. Naysayers will point to this post and say again that I am anti-development.  I am not.  But what I don’t see around here that I have seen in other areas are plans that are complementary to the surrounding area. Does the Flat Iron Building in NYC look like it would fit here? Because that is what looking at some of  the renderings made me think of, right or wrong. And we can’t downplay the impact continued development has on traffic, other infrastructure, school districts, municipal services, etc.

The developers' rendering shows how Handel's ice cream would be incorporated into the town center proposed on Lancaster Avenue in Berwyn.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Luxury town center proposed around Berwyn’s beloved ice cream shop, Handel’s
by Erin McCarthy, Updated: September 4, 2019

….a four-story, 150,000-square-foot mixed-use development with Handel’s and one or two small retailers on the ground floor, luxury apartments above, and a public plaza in the center. The complex also would have a two-story, 228-spot parking garage. Della Porta declined to comment on how much they intend to spend on the project.

Over the course of two meetings this summer, developers presented their plans to the zoning board, asking it to allow the construction of a public plaza and one more story than the code permits. They will have a third meeting later this month. When the presentations are finished, Briggs said, the board will decide whether to recommend the project for consideration by the township planning commission, a process that would take months….Residents who oppose the project say the complex will increase traffic, put pressure on the police and fire departments, and increase enrollment in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District. They’ve started a loosely organized group called Save Easttown to protest the plan, which developers have called Berwyn Square.

I am going to close with the words of the residents who are part of Save Easttown. I don’t know that I know any of them personally, but I feel for them.  This is too reminiscent of the crap which has destroyed Ardmore. Sorry not sorry for that opinion too.  A lot of us worked to literally save Ardmore from eminent domain. But how many years later what did we save exactly? It’s still a quagmire of crappy development plans, horrible traffic and no parking. And it keeps getting worse.

SAVING EASTTOWN WITH RESPONSIBLE ZONING 
Next Zoning Hearing Board Date is Tuesday September 17th – 7:15pm at the Township Building
EASTTOWN, PA
AUGUST 27, 2019 IN HISTORIC BERWYN

easttown+signYou may have heard of current plans to construct a mixed use project situated on what is now Handels Ice Cream and its adjacent buildings. The developer, Berwyn LLC, is requesting zoning variances in order to build above the current 42’ limit, meaning that the building will reach the 50’ + level. The project will consist of 122 apartments with commercial space, and will fill the entire block of Lancaster, Midland, Woodside, and Berwyn Aves. We are a group of concerned citizens of Easttown Township, who have come together to preserve and promote the historic residential neighborhoods of the village of Berwyn. We are opposed to the development of this project for a variety of reasons, which we’ve described below.

Neighborhood Impact:

We are opposing the development of this project, because of its size, its population density, the increased traffic it will create, the impact to our police and fire departments, the parking shortages on the adjacent village streets it will cause, and the inevitable increase in the student population within the T/E school district. We also believe that there is a safety issue related to the number of children walking to and from T/E middle and Conestoga HS, especially with sidewalks being incomplete.

To give an idea of the density — the number of residents who would be housed in the apartment complex would mimic the entire population of all of Midland and Woodside Avenues combined. When questioned by an Easttown resident at the August 5 zoning board meeting, on the need for a zoning variance and why a project of this size is necessary, the developers provided two main reasons: the toxic underground waste presents a ‘hardship’ that can only be partially remediated (meaning that they can’t dig down very far to build a parking garage, and thus need to extend the height of the complex), and that the scale of the project needs to be this large, simply because anything smaller would not be “feasible” for them.

A project of this magnitude is unlike anything ever undertaken in the village (and it’s only one of several currently being proposed to our zoning board). The Berwyn village streets were built to accommodate traffic and parking needs from 100 years ago, not for what will occur if this development is allowed to go through as planned. Unless we oppose this project now, the impact will be felt for years to come. Not only will we face congested streets and parking shortages for existing Easttown residents (think Friday and Saturday around the local restaurants), but we are also endangering our children who walk to T/E middle and Conestoga HS – on streets without sidewalks.

High level view of the development – you can see that this complex will occupy the entire block. Plus, there are only two entrance and exit points onto Lancaster – Midland and Woodside. And neither are adequate for the expected lines of vehicles entering and exiting the property, and accessing Lancaster Ave. Drivers will seek alternate routes through the village to get to and from the premises.

15th annual historic house tour of the tredyffrin historic preservation trust

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As my dear friend (and beloved Madame President of The Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust) Pattye Benson said recently:

“The saying goes, ‘If walls could talk what stories they could tell’’ — Held annually since 2004, the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust arranges for these stories to be told on its annual historic house tour. 15th Annual Historic House Tour tickets now available — www.tredyffrinhistory.org 

Join us for another great tour of beautiful historic homes and gardens in Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships. Please support historic preservation and share the information!”

So true! And this year I am once again amazed at the absolutely splendid house tour that Pattye has put together! I was at the Jazz it Up Preview Party last evening at DuPortail and I know which houses are on the tour but I am sworn to secrecy!

You can still buy tickets for the tour which is Saturday, September 28, 2019 12 PM to 5 PM. They are moderately priced at $35 per person and all proceeds benefit historic preservation and the completion of the Jones Log Barn Living History Center at Duportail.

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The Jones Log Barn

This tour is so much fun and the properties are always amazing. Seriously, this year is going to be crazy good. Your hint is everyone knows how much I love old farms and farmhouses, right?

The preview party was as always so much fun and I was thrilled to see so many people turn out for historic preservation.

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Chester County Commissioners Terence Farrell and Michelle Kichline join my Savvy (and amazing!)  friend Caroline O’Halloran and Michael Noone (First Assistant DA and candidate for Chester County District Attorney. Terence and Michelle both support this event annually! History is SO important!!)

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Michael Noone with Megan King (Also in Chester County’s DA’s office and candidate for Superior Court Judge), and the ever lovely Elizabeth Mercogliano

The House Tour will be amazing, trust me, and it is a day full of super nice and knowledgeable people. The docents at each tour home know the property inside and out!

You start your day at the Tredyffrin Library (582 Upper Gulph Road, Strafford, PA, starting at 11 AM on Saturday, Sept. 28) where you pick up your tickets and tour package and then you are off!

My husband and I are event sponsors.  I do not do as much in the area of volunteerism as I used to and this is my favorite sponsorship.  I love historic preservation and I love house tours.  Most of all I love house tours in a reasonably sized area where I can visit every home on the tour. This is a quality tour. Always exciting!

Here is the LINK TO PURCHASE TICKETS!

I really hope you will join me and other history buffs on September 28th!

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 DuPortail House in Chesterbrook. The gardens are especially lovely this year.  You can rent this amazing historic house for events and they have ample parking.