ghost houses of swedesford road: more photos

The other day I wrote another post about the ghost houses Swedesford Road and how they continue to deteriorate .

A reader sent me photos. Looks like late fall or winter before snow. And I thought I should be clear that these USED to be owned by Church Farms School but now? Some developer or commercial real estate entity. No clue who.

Is this demolition by neglect? Well what do you think? Sure isn’t preservation is it? Wouldn’t you think West Whiteland would want these structures secured?

It is a shame that they’ve been allowed to rot. Now what?

why preserve when you can demolish?

Wandering back to Lower Merion Township today. Yes, I do that on occasion, although these days it’s mostly virtually. I know some people who read my blog and visit the blog’s Facebook page are occasionally outraged when I don’t write about either Chester County or whatever they think I should be writing about. But life journeys are individual, and kind of like my writing journey, yes?

Growing up in Lower Merion, one of the things I loved most were the homes and the gardens. Stately, modest, actual estates, twins, cottages, mansions, and everything in between. Back in those days, the history of the area mattered. And the gardens were glorious whether large or small.

But then, October 1, 2009, Addison Mizner’s La Ronda was demolished. I was there with many others outside the gates. I documented it in photos. She was such a gorgeous structure. So historic. Part of the history of the area, yet even as a historic resource, she was torn down and exists only in memories and photographs.

When La Ronda was demolished, I knew deep down in my heart that Lower Merion was no longer the place for me. It had completely at that moment become about people and how much money they had, and not much else. When La Ronda came down I realized no property was safe or valued there. It was a sad realization.

Over the years I have continued to document notable properties. People have the right to sell to whomever they choose. People have the right to demolish homes great, large, wonderful, small, whatever. But I still lament the people who can’t see the value of the architectural history of an area, and the impact it has. Well another home popped up on a mental endangered list (as in my mind and opinion, I don’t know if it is on an actual list anywhere) because of a Historic Commission agenda in Lower Merion for February 22nd:

Sigh. 651 Black Rock Road. They say it’s Gladwyne, but it’s actually Bryn Mawr. I knew who lived there although they were not friends. Of course people wish to downsize and move on. But for this house to be facing the fate of the wrecking ball is just so tragic. This house is spectacular, with mature gardens and an amazing property and pool.

And as described by the realtor:

Let’s see “as is”:

If you look at all the photos, ok the kitchen is a little dated, and perhaps the bathrooms to the taste of some, but this property and home are spectacular. Quite literally, they don’t build them like this anymore. And the gardener in me wonders about plants that may have been there since the house was built.

So according to Lower Merion’s website, this is in Commissioner Scott Zelov’s ward? He was a champion of saving Stoneleigh and once upon a time against eminent domain in Ardmore (it’s why he got elected originally and I know, I was there), will he have an opinion on this if it proceeds to demolition? But will it matter?

Nope. It won’t. People have the right to demolish. Sadly.

Historic preservation can’t just be a vague idea, it actually has to happen. It has to matter. And in Lower Merion, starting way before La Ronda got bulldozed, it ceased to matter. Lower Merion’s current manager was West Chester Borough’s Manager before ascending to the plum position of Lower Merion Township Manager. And although I have nothing against the man personally, he always appeared to me to be pro-development over other things. And the current Director of Building and Planning is someone I watched climb the ladder at Lower Merion. And I have always found him pro development over anything else. He won’t like me for mentioning this but I sat through YEARS of meeting watching him flip his hair like Farrah Fawcett and present developer’s plans like he worked for them, does anyone else remember?

Anyway, the house is still standing as of now, but this is on an agenda and according to Lower Merion there is a demolition permit. What will happen when all of the old and historic houses and their gardens are gone? In Lower Merion and elsewhere?

Historic preservation isn’t really going to matter until it matters to all of us consistently across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. And I do not believe every old house can and should be saved, but when you see houses like this one you have to wonder because beautiful places like this is what drew people to the Main Line in the first place. Until then, why preserve when you can demolish?

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe, roads are icy.

rotting in west whiteland…and completely derelict in appearance….

Two simple photos that speak volumes. They came with a message:

📌It is 2021 and this structure is also still standing and now falling into the local fresh water creek. West Whiteland Township shame on you. Route 100 and Township Line Road.📌

My posting of the (IMHO) dangerous and derelict structure in East Whiteland behind Osman’s Pizza on Route 30 in Frazer and adjacent to the Wawa at 30 and Planebrook has sparked an interesting community conversation. Simply put it is why can these municipalities take such care to approve all of the crazy unwanted development communities do NOT want, yet they seemingly ignore situations like this? I don’t have the answer and I know the process of getting derelict buildings down can be complicated, but maybe people have a point?

the old hershey’s mill continues to come back to life!

In June of 2020 much to my delight, I discovered the old Hershey’s Mill at Hershey’s Mill Road and Green Hill Road was getting a new lease on life.

We passed by today and the restoration continues! This is so refreshing and lovely to see!

Restoration is possible with unique old buildings. We can’t wait to see it completely restored!

file under bad things could happen in upper merion?

Now I had heard billboards wanted to come to Upper Merion (township in Montgomery County adjacent to places like Lower Merion and Radnor Township in spots best known for the King of Prussia sprawl of malls) as in those giant things they call “monuments” that are on 202 in Chester County, Quakertown, attempted on Route 100 with a “farmer’s market”, and disposition unknown in East Whiteland on Route 30, and other places.

What I didn’t know in the Upper Merion situation until this morning when somebody pointed it out is that these billboards put a park at risk. Bob White Park to be precise. Who knew?

Apparently no one reads the papers because there was an article in Main Line Media News a while back:

Upper Merion supervisors delay hearing on signs
By Gary Puleo gpuleo@21st-centurymedia.com @MustangMan48 on Twitter Oct 16, 2020 Updated Oct 16, 2020 Comments

📌📝UPPER MERION — Some call them signs, some call them digital billboards.

Catalyst Experiential, the company that creates mergers of “art, architecture and advertising” calls them monuments that integrate “visual communication technology with local landmarks, infrastructure, and community experience, which encompasses the display as well as the ambient light sensor and other technology.📌📝

Whether or not Upper Merion Township will welcome the monuments in parks and underutilized parcels will not be decided until Nov. 12 when Upper Merion supervisors will again consider the concept after tabling the matter at Tuesday’s meeting….📝📌

The company was proposing installations at four locations, including Bob White Park, Betzwood Bridge, 795 W. DeKalb Pike and 216 Allendale Road.📌🎂

The proposed amendment to zoning ordinances to amend the Township’s Zoning Ordinance would permit and “encourage the innovative commercial use of certain lands within the Township” while establishing a township-wide communication platform.📝📌

The monument lease agreements would allow, among other things, a “proposed 30-year lease agreement with Croton Road Upper Merion Land Holdings, LLC for the lease of a portion of the property known as Bob White Park for the exclusive right to construct and maintain an off-premises advertising display subject to the terms and conditions outlined in said lease.”📝📌

Following a detailed presentation by Thaddeus Bartkowski, CEO of Catalyst Experiential, several residents voiced their concern about not having been informed about the hearing.📌📝

“All of these changes at Bob White Park are being made without any input from the residents,” said one resident. “None of us really knew until tonight what was going on. There’s lots of places to let us know … there’s social media. You could have shared the presentations with us. The workshop meetings used to be televised but they are no longer.📌📝

Interesting name cropped up if you click on article link and read the whole thing. Upper Merion has the same solicitor as East Whiteland Township, Chester County—Joe McGrory.

So again, I think the billboards are hideous and most locations in Upper Merion being proposed are locations already kind of hideous, but this whole plan for Bob White Park? Why has it gotten this far? Have Upper Merion officials lost their tiny minds?

So if I have this straight, billboard company wants to lease a portion of this park to erect a “monument” in a heavily wooded portion of park that faces the expressway? As in the Schyulkill Expressway? So maybe houses near the park wouldn’t have full on sign blast of light, merely an unhealthy glow potentially but that is not the real problem with this location is it? Isn’t the real horror of this location the potential RE-ZONING of park land to COMMERCIAL?

So OMG let me understand this: if Upper Merion re-zoned a public park to commercial land zoning wouldn’t that mean a park might not have legal protection if Jim Bob Shiny Bright Developer showed up down the road and tried to do something? Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ that is a dumb ass plan isn’t it?.

And apparently in return Upper Merion would get “park improvements”? Talk about sell your souls to the devil right?

So look, not my county, not my people, not my township. But fascinating in its proposed vulgarity, none the less. Upper Merion residents, I feel for you. No one likes these billboards, well except for the company who likes to build them.

soak in the beauty of chester county

Along 401. Awesome Halloween display!

Last evening on the way to an outdoor socially distanced dinner with friends, I was struck again by the beauty of Chester County. And why we need to preserve more of it and develop less all across the county.

That is all.

lovely life’s patina

One of the things that COVID-19 has done is it has disrupted our every day lives and our routines.

My friend Amy and I have our “Fran days” named after her mom where we put everything aside and do something together and have lunch. A lot of times we schedule those days to support Meg Veno at her lovely Life’s Patina events. Until today, this was one of the things that COVID-19 had interrupted for us around here.

Amy and I have been friends since high school and we even grew up in the same neighborhood, so I feel really blessed to have her in my life all these years later. So when we heard that Life’s Patina was going to open by appointment for their Fall Barn Sale we decided to make our appointment and go. Our slot was today and it was just wonderful!

Sensory overload, so much to look at! Something for everyone! And how lucky were we to also have such a beautiful day to be there…and guests today also received an awesome goody bag!

It was so nice to see friends and acquaintances and to see what Meg and her team had done. I love the Life’s Patina Barn on Willowbrook Farm and actually the very first time I was in it was during it’s renovation that led to Life’s Patina.

Being at Life’s Patina today made this surreal life we have all been living seem a little more normal. I actually liked the feel of a smaller, more intimate shopping experience with less people. Everyone was socially distancing and everyone was wearing masks and there were hand sanitizer stations all over the place. They did a great job!

Enjoy my photos of the day and if you go you need an appointment it’s not just open as normal this year. A lot of the time slots are sold out, so check the calendar and stay tuned for other opportunities to visit Life’s Patina this fall. And you can also shop online!

meanwhile this morning at shoen road in west whiteland and leftover thoughts about emails to democratic committee people.

My photo still taken from a live video feed.

Last night I wrote about this guy who does whatever for State Rep. Kristine Howard and all these nice residents whom he calls “radicals”?

These are just people. These are just people who live in Chester County. These are just people whose well water has been fouled and property values decreased. These are the people that get sinkholes on their property now because of pipeline work. These are the people who travel busy public roads that get sinkholes from pipeline work. These are just people with reasonable expectations of quiet enjoyment. A reasonable expectation of quiet enjoyment is actually legal term isn’t it?

And when they look outside, they see sites like I captured in the still images from a live video feed a few minutes ago. And it’s just not the savaged landscapes it’s the sounds. Everywhere you go you hear the sounds of the pipeline equipment. And there was this thump thump thump that will echo in your brain for days if you even just drive through an area with work going on. That is noise pollution. Sometimes where I live I can hear the rhythmic thump, thump, thump from neighboring townships dealing with Sunoco/Energy Transfer/Sunoco Logistics.

This was on Facebook in May with this : 📌2am Exton train station work AGAIN?
This is ridiculous. Yes we live close to the Exton train station and realized that when we purchased our house in Valley View, but why must this work be done starting at 1am every night? There clearly is not as many trains running during the day right now. Any idea who to call or find out how long this will go on for? It’s constantly backup beeping alarms, jackhammers and loud banging NON STOP. Arghhh 😡📌

And don’t forget the light pollution from the night work, right? Even if the temperatures cool down, how can affected residents open their windows for a beautiful night sky and maybe even a breeze? The night work lights make that impossible right? So take away that aspect of a reasonable expectation of quiet enjoyment for that too, yes?

Facebook photo similar to what I took off of live video feed

As I was listening to this live video feed this morning I was very sad to hear this gentleman say they’ve been (meaning the pipeline company) here over two years, they were supposed to be here three months. I don’t know if I got what he said word for word but I think that’s pretty darn close.

Photo still I captured from live video feed of Shoen Road area this morning

So State Rep. Kristine Howard, your pool boy (or whatever he is other than from Pittsburgh) is calling these poor people RADICALS? They are just people. They are just residents. They are also your constituents in some cases. Your pool boy is calling people quislings??? Do you even get the historical reference and how offensive and wrong this is? Especially to those of Jewish heritage?

Quisling as a word word originates from the surname of the Norwegian war-time leader Vidkun Quisling, who headed a domestic Nazi collaborationist regime during World War II. Quisling was put on trial for war crimes in Norway after World War II. “He was found guilty of charges including embezzlement, murder and high treason against the Norwegian state, and was sentenced to death. He was executed by firing squad at Akershus Fortress, Oslo, on 24 October 1945.”

People I love are of Norwegian heritage, and so are other friends and relatives.This use of this word is beyond offensive to us and to my friends who are Jewish. How does something like that even come out of this guy’s mouth or keyboard? And WHY? Even if he doesn’t like them he can’t use other word choices?

And it doesn’t stop there. Then there is this:

So what is the lesson here? Other than if you think pipelines are bad, or think pipeline permits should be pulled and pipeline work stopped completely until a real and actual and thorough inspection is done according to pool boys from Pittsburgh and leadership in the Chester County Democrat Committee we are all bad and radical people?

And the other lesson is what? If you are a Democrat you can’t talk to Republicans? If you are a Democrat you will be drummed out of the part for speaking to anyone who is not a Democrat or someone they approve of? HOW IS THAT EVEN LEGAL TO PROPOSE OR EVEN MORAL? I did not sign up for this crap when I moved to Chester County as a (then) lifelong Republican. I did not sign up for this crap when I changed from being an Independent to a registered Democrat for the fakakta primary. You know, I would switch back to Independent right now except I am going to enjoy being a ticket splitter and casting my vote for Wendy Graham Leland. As Chester County Democratic Committee leadership seems easily swayed and confused, please not I am not telling anyone how to vote. I am telling you how I will be choosing to vote. BIG DIFFERENCE.

The Chester County Democratic Committee claims on their website that “.. the Chester County Democratic Committee in standing for Freedom, Fairness, and Opportunity — regardless of who people are, what they believe, and where they come from. Together, we can make Chester County and Pennsylvania better places for all!”

So how does the above jive with:

And do we realize what the transgression was? Ginny Kerslake and Wendy Graham Leland (AKA State Rep. Kristine Howard’s opponent) commenting on a public thread about pipeline issues on Facebook. Not some Democratic party controlled message board, and even then, what is the big freaking deal? We aren’t supposed to speak to anyone who isn’t our political persuasion ever? So the takeaway is we are only supposed to live and breed in Stepford and be bobbleheads? Talk about taking a page out of Trump’s book of Suburban Housewife Rules, right?

Are we quite literally all Pravda on this bus? Am I a bad person because I have friends from different political parties like Ginny Kerslake and Wendy Graham Leland? Is the chair of the Chester County Democratic Committee Dick Bingham going to act on the attacks on Chester County residents who are Democrats? Or is his position personally pipelines over people?

Newsflash to pool boys from Pittsburgh, invisible state representatives seeking re-election, and the apparently malleable and spineless “leadership” of the Chester County Democratic Committee: Pipelines are a non-partisan issue. They affect everyone. To say we are radicals or traitors or whatever the verbiage is because we don’t like pipelines is deeply troubling as well as wrong. To tell registered Democrats or even registered Republicans we may not talk to our friends and neighbors because they are of a different political party is just a big bag of political pathetic tossed into a big box of wrong. It goes against every tenet of just being an American. It’s downright anti-American. Dick Bingham, MayAnn Piccioni, and Charlotte Valyo should be removed from their leadership roles. Somehow I do not think Joe Biden who has many, many friends across the political aisle would approve of these current events in Chester County, do you?

Oh and the lovely US Constitution allows my opinion.

We cannot allow outsiders to control our political parties. It’s anti-democracy.

Today boys and girls we learned once again on so many levels, how bad pipelines are for our communities. Vote your conscience in November and no matter what, do not think for one single moment that your friends, neighbors, relatives and more are bad radical people because they think the pipelines need to go. Energy Transfer/Sunoco Logistics/Sunoco are not nice people and they don’t operate for anyone other than themselves. They are pure profits over people, and well it’s time for #peopleoverpipelines. #DefendWhatYouLove #MamaBearBrigadeRocks

Facebook photo

nothing like a tropical storm to make you want to revisit the pace of development and all it entails.

Photo source: Facebook. Location: Exton PA West Whiteland Township.

The photo I am opening this post with speaks volumes. The first thought is aren’t we all lucky to have such great first responders in this area? But it’s the second thought that bothers me and makes me ponder. The location is on the photo. Route 30 and Route 100 in Exton, West Whiteland Township.

If there was LESS development would perhaps there be LESS flooding when a big storm rolls in?

It’s kind of what came first the chicken or the egg kind of a conversation, but Chester County, we need to have it. Yesterday is a clear indication we need to have it.

A disclaimer: I am using flooding photos sourced off of Facebook. Some from the Classic Diner folks, a friend, and just photos that have been publicly posted. People captured in the moment storm flooding images yesterday and I want you all to look at the photos and think.

Think about our communities.

Think about our safety, the safety of our first responders during storms like this.

Think about the pace of development out here.

Think about the need for better stormwater management and less density.

Source: Facebook Route 30 in Malvern /Frazer East Whiteland Township

A friend of mine took the photo above yesterday. This water is insane. I haven’t lived here long enough to know if it ever flooded like this before. They also took the next photo. It sure looks like those boats were ready to launch, right?

Source: Facebook Route 30 in Malvern /Frazer East Whiteland Township

However, it still renews my suggestion that East Whiteland Township is but one of many municipalities which needs to look at their stormwater management codes/rules and reevaluate immediately due to the constant development around here. I also think that East Whiteland and her neighbors to the east and west (West Whiteland, Easttown, Tredyffrin for starters) need to revisit the pace of development, period.

And there needs to be a conversation with the Chester County Planning Commission and their Landscapes quagmire which has this part of Chester County becoming the next King of Prussia. Come on now, I am not exaggerating see this screenshot from Landscapes:

Screenshot from Landscapes 3

I have been perfectly honest in the past of not being a fan of the Executive Director of the Chester County Planning Commission. Brian O’Leary has always been too pro-development and I remember a lot of his decisions on the Lower Merion Township Planning Commission back in the day not exactly fondly. (Here is his email to Chester County Planning Commission if you are interested: boleary@chesco.org or you can email them at ccplanning@chesco.org, or call them at 610-344-6285.)

This man has always been development first oriented and he lives in Lower Merion Township in a densely populated area. Don’t misunderstand me, he lives in a lovely area, but it is extremely unlike out here. And as per bios of him I have read, he grew up in an area even more densely populated than where he currently lives. So how can Brian O’Leary really get Chester County? Sure he works out here, but he doesn’t live out here so how can he get our day to day 24/7/365 experience? So when I see the density the Chester County Planning Commission says in hunky dory for certain parts of Chester County, it literally makes me queasy. Brian O’Leary is captain mixed use, high density. There already is one King of Prussia. There already is one Bensalem.

So Brian, what do you have to say today for the flooding in some places? Can you kindly put your planning brain to use over stormwater management and perhaps a density slow down? Yesterday’s flooding shows we desperately need another plan. A better plan. The more development which occurs, the fewer places for water to go. Common sense.

Source: Facebook Lincoln Court Shopping Center yesterday in East Whiteland Township, Chester County.

So many people are without power. So many people lost so much due to flood waters. People also lost homes due to falling trees. Yesterday was a very bad storm. But as temperature and weather patterns change due to climate change, we have to adapt. And we have to change. We can’t keep doing what we have been doing. Or more specifically, we can’t keep allowing the same patterns of development to continue.

Photo courtesy of the Classic Diner, Malvern. Location: Route 30 East Whiteland Township

Change won’t be easy. Change won’t happen overnight. There are a lot of politics involved to say the least. But I am tired of politicians also driving how we should want to live in our communities. We need more open space, less development. We need less high density development and some real/better stormwater management plans. Municipalities can’t just play lip service to this any longer. They also need to put existing residents first and quit drooling over the quick fix one-time hit of ratables when a new development occurs.

Critics of my thought process will undoubtedly say I can’t tie this storm and over-development together. But I can and I have. Because if there was MORE open space, LESS development, BETTER stormwater management plans, and LESS high density development would some areas have potentially had LESS flooding yesterday? Now I know that doesn’t mean everywhere that flooded yesterday, but in some places I believe people might have fared better.

But until we try as communities to do things better, we will never know if we can do better, will we? So how about it residents of Chester County? Can you ask your elected officials for change?

Thanks for stopping by.

Source: Facebook. Morehall Road at Atwater East Whiteland Township