this is progress?

Ann Pugh Farm todayIt was marketed as a “Main Line Classic”. A “Historic Estate Property.”  Only in the end it was just another demolition in the march of new development in Chester County.

It was the Ann Pugh Farm

pugh farm then

And then it wasn’t.

pugh

The property was idyllic. And updated. It was in short, amazing.  But although historic, there was nothing in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County to protect it. I wrote about it twice, Tredyffrin Community Matters wrote about it.  At the time both blogs took an enormous amount of guff for doing so.  We were being mean and unfair and so on and so forth.

A quote from one of comment leavers on Commuity Matters at the time:

You are losing sight of the issue, is it preservation, or is it simply opposition to new construction?

I thought Pattye Benson summed up everyone’s thoughts who were distraught at what we felt was wanton destruction when she replied:

Not opposed to new construction — just support the preservation of our community’s historic resources.

 

And that is the truth.  You can’t save every old mansion, house, farm, barn, and storefront.  But we need to preserve more in our communities than we are.  We need balance between the old and the new and progress should not erase our history. (Speaking of preservation, check out Savvy Main Line’s shout out for a preservation buyer for Chester County’s La Ronda known as Loch Aerie in this week’s column and news round up.)

The friend who sent me the photo of the Ann Pugh replacement today remarked that whomever built the house might still have their former home on Pugh for sale? I have no way of knowing, and do not really care but what I will never understand is living down the street from something that was as beautiful as Ann Pugh Farm and then tearing it down to make your mark on the landscape, can you?

The other thing I find so sad with all of this is the fact that in the two years between Ann Pugh coming tumbling down and today, Tredyffrin has not changed the way they protect historic assets in their township.  After all, if they had, perhaps the Old Covered Wagon Inn in Strafford would not be at risk for demolition, right?

And the thing is that Tredyffrin Township is home to some amazing historic preservationists that are active and visible in the community.  But when zoning and planning and ordinances don’t match up and the Municipalities Planning Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania do not match with a community’s desire to protect at least some of their history and architectural heritage what can you do? (The short answer is not much and you have to get lucky.)

I keep hoping East Whiteland will wake up before it’s too late.  As a municipality they are facing essentially wanton commercial and residential development, and it is not necessarily what the majority of residents want but does that matter? The East Whiteland Historical Commission has made a couple of public utterances lately, but what exactly is there to back up what they are saying?  Do they have a game plan? Or are they just beating their chests because they were awoken from their relatively inactive slumber?

Or they love their history and work to preserve it actively like East Goshen and Willistown? Like the beautiful and historic homes lovingly preserved in the Boroughs of West Chester and Kennett Square? Wouldn’t you love more preservation like Historic Sugartown, Goshenville, and Yellow Springs Village?

West Vincent is another municipality in the throes of development. There residents are worried this once idyllic township is disappearing one development at a time and where you used to smell the smells of crops and live stock, on a sunny day if you are close enough, you smell plastic. The new plastic smell of tract houses and development with no soul. In West Vincent residents are wondering what it would take to get the zoning found in Willistown and Charesltown townships and other places in Chester County where they wisely added lot size requirements to their codes in an effort to at least retain some of the open space if they can’t save the old houses and farms.

People in West Vincent are terrified over huge tracts of land like Bryn Coed.  Bryn Coed is roughly twice the size Chesterbrook was amassed to be before original development, correct?  And it is an estate in more than one municipality, right? So what happens if Bryn Coed gets developed? Or is it more like when? It is a huge amount of land for people to be caretakers over in today’s economy, so I am just being practical as I do not see it surviving and neither do most people. But what will it become? The new Chesterbook? A Bensalem lite?

And that is the problem throughout Chester County: there is not enough to save the history and barely enough to hang on to some of the open space.  If we all do not come together in this county, what we love about Chester County will literally cease to exist.  And what of the farming? What happens when you develop away all of the farms? Or add chemical plants where they once stood?

It’s a lot to think about, but we must. We have an opportunity in a Presidential Election Year to demand more transparency from candidates for every level of office when it comes to open space preservation, land conservation, environmental conservation, farming, development, historic preservation.  Ask the candidates. Whether running for a local supervisor to Congress, to State House to State and U.S. Senate it doesn’t matter who you are, ask the candidates the tough questions and make them earn their votes.

It’s time to #SaveChesterCounty before what we love is all gone.

ghosts and dust: ann pugh farm

20140117-232743.jpg

Photo courtesy of Pattye Benson, Community Matters. Taken today. Converted to black and white by me.

Soon these photos will be all that remains.

See:
Ann Pugh Farm : an 18th Century Tredyffrin Township Historic Treasure Lost to Demolition

Sure hope those realtors on both sides of this transaction are enjoying their historic blood money commission…and the pals of these Prudential Fox & Roach / Berkshire Hathaway realtors might not like that opinion but I am entitled to it.

I am not alone in my sentiments. People are horrified.

I understand that the new property owner has property rights, but it doesn’t make it right what is happening here. What is happening is just wrong.

As for Tredyffrin Township the local government? Wow what a bunch of hypocrites, right? Tredyffrin likes to proclaim how historic this township in Chester County is, but what do they actually DO to preserve anything?

You can’t save every old or historic house but to let something like this get turned to dust ?

Just wow. What a sad day.

historic destruction

pugh

This was the Pugh House. Or more formally known as the Ann Pugh Farm at 523 Pugh Road in Wayne, Tredyffrin Township, Chester County.  The realtor who sold it is Sue Fitzgerald of Berkshire Hathaway, or formerly known at Prudential Fox & Roach. Or so I am told (the photos tend to indicate this is the same property.)

Not to put to fine a point on it, but I hope she chokes on her commission.  It’s historic blood money in my humble opinion. No one in historic preservation that I know (and one of my friends is head of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust ) even had this property on their radar as in danger.  ( See today’s post on Community Matters) Why? Because this place was lovingly and perfectly restored and was completely updated even with a guest barn! It sat on 2.2 bucolic acres with a beautiful pool.  It was built in 1795 according to the Realtor’s website. Here is the deed: pugh road deed

I just do not understand what possesses people to destroy properties and homes like this.  Just because they can somehow doesn’t seem acceptable.

This house was a treasure. And I could kick myself for not photographing it when I could have a few months ago when I was in the area photographing other homes for Tredyffrin’s historic house tour. I actually got turned around on Pugh and thought this was one of the houses I was supposed to photograph initially.

Also no one seems to have heard about any kind of demolition or salvage sales and can you imagine what has been lost?

This is how the Realtor described her listing:

Property Description

       * Historic Property with sections dating from 1795, 1833 and 1839, with further expansion in 1917 and 1940. (No historic preservation restrictions – just great stories to tell!)
* Formal Living Room and Grand Dining Room (seats 25) for elegant entertaining.
* Handsome mahogany paneled library/study with built-in cabinetry and wet-bar.
* Farmhouse kitchen with custom cabinetry, wood countertops, center island, gas cooktop, Sub-Zero fridge, double-ovens and sunny breakfast area.
* Cozy family room/den with original hearth fireplace.
* Generously proportioned master suite with dressing area, ensuite bath and sitting room.
* 5 Fireplaces (4 in use; 3 wood-burning with gas starters and 1 gas).
* Rich, wide-plank wood floors.
* Zoned heating and central air (main house)
* Temperature-controlled wine room
* Heated pool with spa
* Flagstone terraces, patios and walkways
* Guest Barn with large living/entertaining space, kitchenette, dining area, loft bedroom and full bath.
* Picturesque Spring House (now used as a potting shed) and meandering stream for skipping stones, wading barefoot and catching tadpoles!
* Detached, over-sized two-car garage with loft storage.
* New cedar roofs on main house, guest barn and spring house (2013)
* Newer gas furnaces in main house (2010) and guest barn (2013).
* Expansive grassy lawns and mature landscaping offer a quiet, private retreat.
Lovingly maintained and cherished. A truly special property for the discerning buyer… Make this your “forever” home!

Sold

$1,400,000

MLS#: 6231093
Lot Size:
2.2 acres
 Year Built:
1795
Fireplaces:
5 (4 in use)
Garage:
oversized, 2-car detached
 Special Feature:
Guest Barn
 Special Feature:
Spring House
 Special Feature:
Heated Pool with Spa
 

Here are some of the photos that Prudential advertised the property with (including on Pinterest):

farmhouse kitchendrlr

libkitchpool and guest barn