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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This house is in Uwchlan Township.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORE loch aerie 1963 photos!!

Loch Aerie, 1963
George W. Pyle, Jr courtesy photo

Yes MORE photos!! How cool is this? (Oh and on SCRIBD you can read the Historic American Buildings Survey of Loch Aerie in the 1960s!)

Loch Aerie, 1963. Photo courtesy of George W. Pyle, Jr.

I always wanted to see more into Loch Aerie when inhabited by the Lockwoods. My friend author Thom Nickels was someone who as a boy got to interview the aged Lockwood sisters and has told me stories of kids trying to sneak through the then woods around Loch Aerie (now Home Depot).  In his book Philadelphia Mansions: Stories and Characters Behind the Walls, Thom brings the Lockwood family and the era in which they lived to light.

One thing Thom speaks of on page 177-178 of his book  was a painting which apparently now hangs in the Valley Forge Memorial Chapel called Washington after the Battle of Trenton by Christian Schussele.

And guess what? Thanks to my new friend Mr. Pyle, I can see how the painting hung in Loch Aerie!

Loch Aerie, 1963. Photo courtesy of George W. Pyle, Jr. – Large painting is Washington after the Battle of Trenton by Christian Schussele.

My friend Thom in his book , speaks of Miss Edith Lockwood and I think I would have liked her.  In Philadelphia Mansions: Stories and Characters Behind the Walls he has a photograph of Edith with her dogs on the back porch.  She had terriers, and they look to have been Scotties.  She was also a gardener, and Miss Edith was an integral part of the Church Farm School’s floriculture program and had quite a hand in the running of the greenhouses, “and a large peony field from which 60,000 to 70,000 flowers were cut and sold annually.”

Now the gardener in me of course wonders if Church Farm School has any of Miss Edith’s peonies left?

Loch Aerie, 1963. Photo courtesy of George W. Pyle, Jr.

According to Thom Nickels’ research the things in the house were auctioned off. Makes you wonder where everything ended up.

It is so cool to have access to these photos.  It is so interesting to see what it was like inside when lived in!

Loch Aerie, 1963. Photo courtesy of George W. Pyle, Jr.

pennsylvania contrasts

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

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

Remember images like this when you go to vote.

a great garden related kind of day

A great kind of garden related day is when I end up with a few plants, a new gardening book, and hear a garden talk that truly resonates with me.

About two years ago I found out there was a Hosta society that serves our area. So I joined. The Delaware Valley Hosta Society. They meet a few times a year and life has gotten in the way until today where I finally was able to go to one of their meetings. Today was their spring meeting and they had a guest speaker I had wanted to meet, Jenny Rose Carey.

Ms. Carey is the Senior Director of Meadowbrook Farm , which is now a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (“PHS”) site, but was once the home of Liddon Pennock.

Liddon Pennock was THE Philadelphia Florist once upon a time. My parents knew him, so I remember meeting him growing up. He created this amazing space which he left to PHS and his legacy continues. But I digress.

Jenny Rose Carey is a well known garden lecturer and she practices what she preaches at her own gardens (follow her on Instagram at Northview Garden or via her blog Before You Garden.)

She came today to the hosta Society meeting to speak on “Glorious Shade”. That is also the title of her new book on shade gardening available through Timber Press. (I was psyched to buy a copy and have the author autograph it for me!)

An approachable and engaging speaker, I was thrilled to learn that a lot of her favorite shade garden plants were also mine! She said with regard to shade gardening, that “slow and steady wins the race.” I was interested to hear that because I never really had a lot of shade gardening to do before we moved into this house. So I have learned in part by trial and error, but I was happy to learn that my gardening instincts have been good.

She went through a wonderful list of plants that are also good companions to hostas. Plants like:

  • Red bud
  • Eastern (native) dogwood
  • Fothergilla
  • Witch Hazel
  • Hydrangeas
  • Rhododendrons/ Azaleas
  • Asarum (wild ginger)
  • Ferns
  • Twinleaf
  • Bluebells
  • Mayapple
  • Trillium
  • Bloodroot
  • Hellebores
  • Heucheras

She also taught people how shade gardens are different. A lot of people expect shade gardens to be as neat and orderly as those sunny beds with all your sun loving flowers. But that is not how they work.

Shade gardening is so very different. It’s softer, it meanders. It’s not perfect and it evolves over time. Or, this is what I have learned over the past few years and really getting into it for the first time.

The ideal shade garden to me is something less formal, less structured. My gardens go into the woods. And I keep trash and what-not out of the woods and remove invasive plants like burning bush when they pop up, but for the most part I let my woods be. I don’t want to overly clean up my forest floor, because what hits the ground is sanctuary for critters and disintegrates into making good things for the soil (fallen leaves, etc.)

Forest floors weren’t meant to be completely tidy, and that was one thing that I got out of this lecture today and it made me glad that we were doing the right thing. I also protect the tree seedlings I find that will help keep my woods going. And some of those seedlings I transplanted into different areas of my garden – like the native dogwoods and volunteer Japanese Maples!

Ms. Carey also encouraged people to have little seating areas. Paths. Water features, as in even a birdbath.

I love hostas a bit excessively, as all my friends and family know. I’m a bit nutty about them. So it was kind of a kick to be in a room full of people that love hostas too! Plenty of the gardeners I met today were from Chester County and other deer heavy areas.

So today was a great day. While not actually in the garden much, I love having the opportunity to meet and spend time with other gardeners and listen to a great gardening lecture. I also came home with a new gardening book and four spectacular hostas!

Thanks for stopping by and happy gardening!

things that make you wonder in chester county…

Things that make you wonder include this.

Why would Janssen Biotech, Inc NOT do their legal advertising for this in a Chester County PA paper? If their office is in Malvern, unless they’ve moved Malvern it’s still in Chester County isn’t it?

Does that seem odd to anyone? I have to ask a question and the question is this is: is it good legal advertising if you don’t advertise in the paper that is the daily paper to the area where this would occur? Or would this just still be considered satisfactory legal advertising, albeit slightly sleazy?

And how will potential discharge affect this creek? The Valley Creek? Wonder what Trout Unlimited thinks?

Doesn’t the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection think that poor East Whiteland has enough going on?

I guess people that live in Chester County are going to have to start looking in Delaware County newspapers too? I just don’t understand why this wasn’t put in The Daily Local News? That is Chester County’s daily newspaper, right?

Here is the raw link to the notice:

Page=PublicNotice&AdId=4604583

s.whitford and clover mill road, exton (again)

I was going by today and decided to take another photo of this old gem. An old gem that just rots day after day.

This house is on S.Whitford and Clover Mill Roads in Exton. The Joseph Price House in West Whiteland Township.

Here is a wonderful little slide show presentation on prezi.

Someone told me that someone might still live there, not sure how that is possible but who knows? I am guessing part of the house still has an apartment someone lives in. I don’t know if it’s a caretaker or whomever owns it.

I was also told in the 1990s it was separate apartments inside and there were also cottages around it which were rented out as well.

In the 1950s and 60s there was a large barn there that was a sale barn for cattle run by Bayard Taylor a blog reader told me recently. He knew because his mother did bookkeeping for that business while she was in college.

Every time I post about this house I get all sorts of comments. I am not the only one that notices this old house.

The house was built in 1878. It was altered in 1894 by its namesake inhabitants. Dr. Price. According to the West Whiteland Historical Society he altered it from a Gothic to a Queen Anne style.

This is just one of those houses that captures the imagination of almost everyone who drives by it. Maybe someday a preservation buyer will drive by it and it will be saved. Until then I just sort of falls apart.

a historic old farmhouse as seen over a few aprils…sad

Taken by my friend Tina April 6, 2018

A lot of my friends like the cool historic houses and properties around Chester County. It’s not just me.

So above is that 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.)

I am not sure if the house’s address is 307 or 310 W. Lancaster Pike. Or W. Lancaster Ave. Or W. Lincoln Highway.

Ironically, I have previously photographed this same farmhouse April/May 2013, April  2015, and April 2016.

My photo. April, 2016

Looking at the naked acres of it all today makes me wonder what is going on with the property.  The trees that were around it are gone, and possibly one of the dead Saabs I remembered on the side of the house.  So is it going to be rehabbed or is stripping away the greenery mean it is truly marked for death? Inquiring minds would love to know.

My photo. April, 2015

Historic houses seen rotting is never pretty, is it?  So Clews & Strawbridge or Clews Boats, what’s up with the old farmhouse?

My photo. Taken in late April 2013 (maybe May?)