bleak house

The photograph above is of Loyd Farm’s farmhouse. The photo was taken by my friend Robin Ashby, the editing is all mine. I wanted something to accurately reflect how I was feeling after hearing the little bits of snippets I have heard regarding the commissioners’ meeting in Caln last night.

Bleak and disgusted is how I am feeling.

Apparently the Valentine’s Day gift to residents was sharing the tidbit of joy that the developer of this parcel has submitted a demolition permit and it has been approved? Does anyone have a copy of the demolition permit and demolition permit application? They are things that can be obtained via a right to know form. And Caln can try to stall you on that but it is the right for the public to see that. Caln does have a right to know form and you can find it by CLICKING HERE.

It’s time to start peeling back the rotten layers of this moldy political onion isn’t it? Who really runs Caln Township? The commissioners seem like a bunch of sheeple don’t they? And yes I know some are going to take umbrage with that descriptive adjective of their beloved commissioners, but people who are really interested in land preservation, historic preservation, open space preservation, and more actually try to do more for their residents don’t they?

I have always been a realist. I know you can’t save every old house. But what I don’t understand is why no one is willing to try to save this old house? I believe the people who have told me that the building envelope is intact enough for restoration. After all, we have seen what has happened in other parts of Chester county when it comes to old houses and restoration haven’t we?

Three examples of this for me are the following: Loch Aerie Mansion, Linden Hall (even if I don’t like what’s going on there now, that is a true comparable to the Lloyd Farm’s farmhouse as far as condition and even age and I think the condition of Linden Hall was probably worse when they started restoring it), and The Covered Wagon Inn in Strafford. Loch Aerie and Linden Hall are in East Whiteland and The Covered Wagon Inn is in Tredyffrin.

And even Toll Brothers has saved historic farm houses and structures on several properties they have developed. That doesn’t mean I am suddenly condoning their cram plan density of their developments in Chester County, but even they have managed to save a few historic structures haven’t they? On Church Road in Malvern is there not an old farmhouse that was definitely open to the elements that they are in the process of restoring for that new development right there? There is another one in Chester Springs isn’t there? And that one in Chester Springs was in horrible shape – it was on a dirt road when I sought I think since then the dirt road has been paved to a regular road.

And don’t forget DuPortail House in Chesterbrook. Chesterbrook was a horribly contentious development back in it’s day and even there the historic farmhouse was preserved. Now every year multitudes of brides get married and have their receptions there. Other events occur there. People love it.

In Caln, what else does this developer own? Is Loyd Farm just part of a larger plan yet to unfold? Is it true that this developer is also the owner of County Propane in Downingtown?

I don’t have those answers but I have to tell you at this morning I am tremendously upset because I feel like a narrative is being crafted and molded to suit the ends of a future development if that makes sense? There seems to be almost this mynah bird repetitiveness that is emerging about how the farmhouse is not salvageable and is not restorable and how do we know this is actually true?

When did what communities wanted for themselves stop mattering? This whole thing about demolishing the Lloyd Farmhouse reminds me of when La Ronda was demolished in Bryn Mawr. When La Ronda was demolished around 2009 it was because in the end because the property owner could, not because he had to, remember? And that gentle readers, is the catch 22 of living in a private property rights state like the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It’s not necessarily right, but it is their right.

However what happened to elected and appointed officials who actually cared about where they called home? When did we the people literally stop mattering?

Whether it’s pipeline companies, developers, billboard companies and more why is it that it seems like everything they want matters more than what the people who live in the communities want?

Our history matters in Chester County. Our equine and agricultural history matters and farms are just disappearing day by day to developments. This developments come in and everything gets jacked including the taxes and how are farmers supposed to be able to afford to farm? The short answer is they often can’t and they just want to get out. At this current pace we are going to turn into a county that has to import all of its food.

The Chester county farmhouse is a classic and well-known architecture style. You know, like actual carriage houses? And in development after development they tell you they are mimicking farmhouse style and carriage house style so why not save some of the actual farm houses and carriage houses for Christ’s sake?

I was told by a resident and have not yet researched it on my own the following: Mary Louise Lloyd sold the property to nuns to build a hospital on in the 1970s – supposedly 1976. Then Mrs. Lloyd built her own house on Lloyd Avenue. Apparently then she opened something called Copeland Run Academy and lived and worked there. She donated the land that is Lloyd Park to Caln when she sold the farm. That of course is the recent history and again, the history of Lloyd Farm also known throughout history as Valley Brook Farm goes back to a Penn Land Grant.

We can’t just keep bulldozing our history. That’s as plain as I can state it.

#SaveLloydFarm

#ThisPlaceMatters

happy place: four dogs tavern/ marshalton inn

Don’t you just love this Chester County treasure? Four Dogs Tavern/Marshalton Inn?

Whenever another development is proposed in any part of the county, I think of places like this. You can’t create this out of Tyvec.

Marshalton is a happy place. Come visit and see the festive decorations and have a meal at Four Dogs!

resellers in frazer closing.

Resellers in Frazer on Route 30 is closing. The shopping center has been sold.

I am sure the warehouse and shopping center will be bulldozed for some form of progress some developer thinks is fabulous but what we are losing are local businesses and what about our post office?

Condos and apartment buildings and chain stores and big box stores will never, ever replace local businesses. Resellers has been one of my favorite businesses in Chester County.

My last purchase save a couple of Santa Lucia straw Christmas ornaments today was my reading chair:

Resellers was one of those places that you could go and find the unexpected and unique. From furniture to art to dishes to shabby chic oriental rugs, from the moment you walked through the doors into the cavernous warehouse space, the possibilities were endless.

And no, places like the Velvet Shoestring in Wayne can’t compete. And besides the Velvet Shoestring in Wayne lost me in the fall at the lack of hello. (There is nothing like being the sole, solitary customer in a store for over 20 minutes with multiple not so busy employees behind the front desk who are seemingly only capable of staring at you but not speaking to you that will permanently turn you off to a business.)

If you love Resellers, their time is limited, so go in before they are gone.

going to france for dinner via chester county

IMG_0577

We have this sort of unofficial supper club with some of our Chester County residing Shipley friends. Last night, we were treated to dinner at the home of one of these friends.  We all went to France via Chester County because another guest at the table was renown local chef, (an actual honest to goodness amazing French Chef)  Sylvie Ashby.

IMG_0586

Chef Sylvie 

Chef Sylvie lives in West Chester. She was born and raised in Normandy, France. She always wanted to share the love and passion for French cooking and comfort food the French traditional way by only using seasonal fresh produce and meats from the local markets.

Last evening’s dinner was one of my favorite meals ever.  I grew up on bœuf bourguignon or beef Burgundy or bœuf à la Bourguignonne is not some ordinary stew, as delicious as they may beef.  It is elevated far beyond that and if done properly like last night, the meat does not disintegrate but melts in your mouth. Last night, it was probably hands down the best I have ever had.

We started with hors d’oevres of belgian endive boats piped with a light and fluffy goat cheese, goat cheese toasts, and one of my favorite purely French treats I have never made, gougères!Related image Gougères are these fluffy puffs of warm pastry made with Gruyère cheese.  (Check out this recipe for gougères from Alain Ducasse.)

After our main course of bœuf bourguignon we had a marvelous salad with fresh greens and a delightful vinaigrette with an amazing blood orange infused olive oil from a Taste of Olive in West Chester. And the bread? Amazing as always from La Baguette Magique in West Chester.

The beef and cheese were also locally sourced.  I forget whose goat cheeses we had, and

Image may contain: food

Chef Sylvie Courtesy Photo

I do not know the farm name for the beef but for some reason I think it was from down near Landenberg.

And dessert? Channel your inner Julia Child, it was Floating Island! Floating Island is a light as a feather dessert consisting of meringue floating on crème anglaise.  The crème anglaise is custardy and delicious.  Chef Sylvie finished the dessert with a light caramel drizzle.

This dinner was a true mini vacation to France.  I love when we get together to have dinner with our friends, and we loved being introduced to Chef Sylvie.

And guess what? You too can hire Chef Sylvie to bring the taste of France to your home for intimate gatherings.  Chef Sylvie specializes in French country cooking, bringing France to the comfort of your own home for private dinner parties.  And her prices are emminently reasonable. She also will cater events like birthday parties, Girls ‘night out, Crepes bar party, Book Clubs, Wine Clubs…her website is cuisinedesylvie.com . You can also find her on Facebook Cuisine de Sylvie.

One thing I did not ask her is if she teaches cooking classes.  I think that would be super fun!

Stay safe in the snow and ice!

IMG_0589

decay in black and white

The farmhouse owned by Clews and Strawbridge in Malvern, East Whiteland Chester County. They must be immune to how sad this once marvelous Chester County Farmhouse looks, huh?

How about an adaptive reuse?

Or some day will it just cease to exist?