adaptive reuse ❤️

I love that whomever owns what was once a motor court on Route 30 in Exton is rebuilding the little cottages/cabins one by one.

Adaptive reuse and preservation. We need more of that combined with land conservation and farm preservation here in Chester County.

I

dressing up lancaster ave in paoli 

On the corner of South Valley and Lancaster Ave. have always sat these really cool 1920s store fronts. But for years they were kind of run down with apartments above.  When they were sold, people were naturally nervous because well, more tend to tear things down these days. They don’t often choose adaptive reuse.

But my friend from my living in Lower Merion Township days, Lauren Wylonis, had a vision and here we are: an absolutely stunning restoration and adaptive reuse…and an absolutely gorgeous retail store.

Kings Haven Design, another arm of her Kings Haven brand, which includes things like Kings Haven Properties as well.

The store is full of super beautiful and unusual things, a carefully curated collection.  This is a store that individuals just seeking that something special for their home and design professionals. As a matter of fact, you can read all about Kings Haven in the latest edition of my other friend Caroline O’Halloran’s Savvy Main Line!

What Lauren and her team have accomplished is extraordinary, and her taste is marvelous.

Lauren and I both made the move to Chester County from Lower Merion a few years ago at around the same time.  

“We have always shared a love of the cool old architecture of the Main Line and beyond, and Lauren parlayed that love plus her amazing taste and talent for finding the coolest pieces into the Kings Haven brands!

Check out her store! Adaptive reuse can be really really awesome!  I promise you will love, love, love the store!

Opens to the public December 10!

country favorites: storage decor 

Storage Decor is defined simply as something that has a dual purpose: it is beautiful to look at and provides storage.

We have a modest sized house so storage needs to be creative.  Old furniture has new uses.

My first example are antique washstands. You can find them almost anywhere. I see them all of the time in Chester County. I’ve seen them in barns, I’ve seen them at garage sales, I’ve seen them at tag sales I’ve seen them at resale shops, I’ve seen them at antique stores, and vintage repurposing stores. 

I have two washstands.  They have been handed down in my family and they aren’t particularly fancy and they are definitely more country pieces. Their value is sentimental. They came from my grandmother’s family in Lancaster County.

Anyway, one washstand is in my dining room and it is storage for glassware, table linens,  and taper candles.  The other washstand is in my bedroom and I use it to act as a vanity table on top and in the storage area it’s a great place for scarves and stockings and purses.
 I love the old wood of these washstands.  But I have also seen them painted where they look very pretty as well. I’ve also seen people actually cut a hole in the top of these washstands for a modern basin in a powder room.  I have seen people use them as hall tables too. 

My other favorite of country storage decor are trunks. Old steamer trunks and simple country wooden trunks with hinged lids. Old blanket chests.

I have a few of these trunks and none of them are hiding in the attic. I use them as decorative furniture pieces as well as for the practical purposes of storage for which they were intended.  

When it comes to these trunks I love the patina of the old wood. I would never paint them. I know people who love to paint any piece of wood they own, but when it comes to these old trunks their real beauty I think  is in their scars and wounds of their age.

The trunks I own are simple country pieces. I oil the wood regularly and the patina is so lovely. And old trunks are terrific storage pieces also. When I lived in an apartment I also used trunks for storage and decor.

I see a lot of these pieces I like regularly at places like the Smithfield Barn and Resellers and ConsignIt , Facebook yard sale group pages, just to name a few places.  And you definitely don’t have to break the bank to acquire one of these pieces.

Don’t be afraid to bring home a dusty old piece and make it your own in your house. You’ll be glad you did!

Thanks for stopping by .  

a little peek inside the fox chase inn and barn

Looking out the front porch at the Fox Chase Inn

Looking out the front porch at the Fox Chase Inn

So last week in the midst of a brilliant thunderstorm, off I went to photograph and tour the restoration of the Fox Chase Inn and barn on Swedesford Road in West Whiteland. Today I am going to share some of the photos I took with all of you with the property owner’s permission. I will be going back for more appropriate exterior shots sometime this week, it was just too wet when I took these photos to do the exterior justice. I even got my camera a tad wet getting inside it was raining so hard at times! The Fox Chase Inn is a brilliant example of restoration and adaptive reuse. And these people did it because they wanted to do it right. No one told them they had to. And their caring and attention to detail shows. For more on the history of the property check out this file from West Whiteland’s website: Fox Chase Inn West Whiteland Site 325_ historic information . Here are some photos of the restoration in progress – and it is amazing because this place was a wreck when they bought it: BARN: DSC_8607 DSC_8608 DSC_8610 DSC_8612 DSC_8613 DSC_8616 DSC_8617 DSC_8618 DSC_8621 DSC_8623 DSC_8630 DSC_8634 DSC_8635 DSC_8640 FARMHOUSE: DSC_8656 DSC_8712 DSC_8660 DSC_8661 DSC_8670 DSC_8675 DSC_8682 DSC_8684 DSC_8691 DSC_8664 DSC_8666 DSC_8694 DSC_8695 DSC_8697 DSC_8699 DSC_8700 DSC_8702 DSC_8703 DSC_8709 DSC_8710

a walk down memory lane

 In  2009 I documented through photographs the last few months of architect Addison Mizner’s famed La Ronda in Bryn Mawr.  The tale of La Ronda even made the Wall Street Journal back then.

Putting all the drama of the La Ronda and her demolition and the upheaval the demolition caused in Lower Merion Township and across the country aside, the saddest part of the tale of La Ronda is there was a man willing to have the mansion moved brick by brick, who was willing to buy it fairly. Only he was denied that by both the seller of the property and buyer of the property.  Those people sold La Ronda to be torn down and tore down La Ronda because they could and that is kind of sad especially since they were players in the socioeconomic levels where they could actually afford to be more preservation minded.

I am not getting into some protracted discussion about property rights, what this demolition has done is leave a lasting impression on me regarding historic preservation in Pennsylvania.

Historic preservation in Pennsylvania remain a lofty ideal, but is seldom a true reality. So when you hear on rare occasions that you might not like what a developer is doing, but they are saving and preserving a historic structure on a property they bought? Well that my friends is huge and doesn’t happen very often. See ( Linden Hall post July 24  and Farmhouse Post on July 27 and Adaptive Reuse from April 2013 )

Truthfully, all these years later and salvagers are still selling bits of La Ronda. And people still write about La Ronda and what happened (reference Proper Philadelphia in 2012 )

I watched and documented the last sad few months of La Ronda, and to me it is a glaring reminder of  what   lip service preservation is. In 2009, Lower Merion Township Commissioners (including the current Board President Liz Rogan) did much beating of the collective breast and waxed long and poetically on how they were going to do things differently and how they were going to preserve historic assets.

Flash forward to 2014 and well, much like other places, it’s all been talk. Or political gob smacking…. take your pick. Now the William Penn Inn is under a 90 day stay of execution err demolition, which means it will inevitably come down.  And that is the case even though people are saying it may have had something to do with the underground railroad (and see cool photos of the place here thanks to Main Line Media News.)

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Also facing an uncertain future is the historic Odd Fellows Hall and property and United Methodist Church and property in Gladwyne.  People have said for decades that there are Revolutionary War soldiers buried there.  Famous Phillie Rich Asburn is buried there and heck some of my friends have all their family buried there.  So Odd Fellows is in limbo. What is historic will survive if  the developers who are the owners, Main Line Realty Partners, do the proper preservation.  They can do the right thing if they want to.  They have in the past and truthfully the partners in these projects have done beautiful work.  Last I heard that Odd Fellows plan was tabled, but these same developers have now purchased another church, First Baptist in Ardmore.  They also bought the United Methodist Church in Narberth Now the developers are calling themselves Main Line rebuild.

3941005703_d390c4249e_oBut like I said, adaptive reuse and historic preservation by developers are the exception rather than the rule.

I do not know a lot of the preservation groups throughout Chester County as I have not lived here that many years yet .  I love the  Chester County Historical Society and they have lots of neat stuff in their headquarters in downtown West Chester and they do fun things like walking tours.

Also worth noting is the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust. Their 10th annual house tour is September 27th, 2014.

 

And if you like house tours you should also consider signing up for Chester County Day which benefits Chester County Hospital.  They have preview lectures starting in September which are open to the public.

Anyway, remember the La Rondas…once they are gone, they are gone.

Thanks for stopping by today!

linden hall has a savior finally?

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I have written about Linden Hall on Lancaster Avenue in Frazer a few times the past couple of years.

Linden Hall has been rotting month by month, and becoming more and more vine covered. In recent months driving by , I have noticed more broken panes of glass.

According to eastwhiteland.org it was also know as “Wayne Tavern”. Although this location has some historic importance, I can’t find much about it.

On TEHistory.org I found one mention a while ago :

…at the end of #352, and again on the north side, stands the General Wayne Tavern, now a private residence. In 1777 Washington’s troops camped near the General Wayne.

So anyway….there was a Planning Commission meeting in East Whiteland last evening and Linden Hall was on the agenda:

5. Subdivision and Land Development: The Benson Companies, LLC, renovation of Linden Hall and the development of 60 townhouses on two parcels on the north side of Rt. 30 opposite the intersection of Rt. 352 in a VMX – Village Mixed Use Zoning District.

The site is 8.7 acres I am told. I don’t know if all of the land is usable, so I am not sure if 60 townhouse development is incredibly dense for the site, or moderate. It would be nice to get an online peek at the plans, but I don’t know if that will happen. And East Whiteland neither records nor televises meetings.

Previously I saw the property being marketed as things like “Linden Hall Shopping Center” which made me shudder because how many bad strip malls and mish-mosh shopping centers is needed along there, right? (But given what is up the road a bit, I guess everyone is lucky the site never became another run-down trailer park.)

There has been a Linden Hall Development LLC registered in PA since 2000 (Entity Number:2936326 , Entity Creation Date: 4/14/2000), and I found that mentioned in archived East Whiteland meeting notes from 2010.
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I think if a developer is offering to restore and do an adaptive reuse of the actual Linden Hall it is far better a choice than what was once contemplated. Reference please the article from the Daily Local circa 2001:

E. Whiteland OKs exception to moratorium By Pateen Corcoran
POSTED: 05/28/01, 12:00 AM EDT | 0 COMMENTS

Though some questioned the waiver, a proposal to start the planning process for 50,100 square feet of commercial space on Route 30, known as the Linden Hall development, was unanimously approved.

Officials have defended their decision to allow the developer to submit a new plan despite the building moratorium since a similar proposal had been given final approval before the moratorium was enacted.

“The moratorium allows exceptions to previously approved subdivisions,” said Supervisor Virginia McMichael. “This project falls under that.”

“In the moratorium ordinance there’s a provision for this exception,” said Township Manager Terry Woodman.

Residents, however, questioned the exception.

“Everybody’s much concerned that they allowed the exception to the moratorium,” said resident Renee Mott…..Originally approved at the site was about 60,000 square feet of commercial space to include a Super Fresh supermarket.

“We’ve had an approval for over a year for a shopping center and a couple of shops,” said Linden Hall attorney Wendy McLean.

The proposed development will be located on about nine acres on the north side of Route 30, opposite Route 352.

The new plan proposes smaller shops, while eliminating the supermarket. A Class One historical building on the site is proposed to be used for offices, said McLean…..The sudden death of the project’s developer caused a delay. “It took the family quite a while to figure out what to do,” said McLean. “In the meantime the supermarket backed out and we haven’t been able to get another supermarket interested.”….Davis and McMichael voted to approve the waiver. Chairwoman Michele Vaughn was absent.

(Yes, the same Michelle Vaughn who just finished her time as head of the Chesco Dems.)

Linden Hall has been on and off East Whiteland Township agendas over the years and as time has passed it has fallen into more and more disrepair. So with cautious optimism I am pleased to report that Benson Companies apparently presented what were described to me as “very nice sketch plans.” It appears to be a much better use of the property that planners are hopeful will clean up that particular area, which quite frankly looks like crap.

Discussed in conjunction with the plan were proposed crosswalks to be installed across Lancaster Avenue (Lincoln Highway, Route 30- take your pick) and Route 352. Traffic improvements there I am sure would be welcome, and hopefully that might deter drivers playing beat the light as well as running that light.

As for the actual adaptive reuse of Linden Hall on the site, my sources tell me the developer will actually make the historic structure his new offices (he is currently on Phoenixville Pike). Apparently (and welcome news as well), Benson Companies has been working with East Whiteland’s Historic Commission to keep the historic look of the structure, while modernizing and adding onto the back.

I had heard of Benson Companies before because of a development they are doing on Strafford Avenue near the farmers market in Wayne, PA. That development is the old Chef Tells/Villa Strafford site, which has been another somewhat concerning and contentious development site for a few years. The contention there started several developers ago on that site in 2011. I had no idea until recently that this was the developer that ended up with this site as that location has been a case of whose on first the past few years. However, in all fairness, I have heard that this development site is finally not as contentious.

Fingers crossed on this one. I am glad someone wants to save this old structure. After all, you don’t hear news like this very often when development news occurs, do you ?
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new life for an old barn

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It used to be a big red barn. Marooned on the corner of Planebrook and Swedesford in Malvern. I have posted about it before.

Well look at it now. It has been completely restored and adapted to office space. I am not crazy about the brown siding, because I loved the big red barn of it all. but I applaud whomever bought it and gave it new life.