Yesterday we stopped at the Smithfield Barn for a little treasure hunting and then wound our way back through Chester Springs to do other stuff. We decided to take some twisty windy country roads for the heck of it and ended up on one of the many dirt roads in Chester County after going by a barn I had photographed in 2009 but had not been able to back track and rediscover since!
The irony is yesterday I still did not know where exactly I was, or in what municipality (I should have written down roads!), but as we came out of the dirt part of this particular road we happened upon a forgotten farmhouse. It also had crumbling ruins of barns and outbuildings.
Can anyone tell me where I was and what the deal is with this boarded up farmhouse? I would love to know the history here. I have been told that I was at “Eagle Farms” and it all used to be working farms back there. I was also told just today that open space beauty killer Toll Brothers bought back there and other entities like Pulte and Jack Lowe and wow really? Is it that I got a photo of what might not exist much longer and be replaced by more plastic houses?
Oh ok let me know what else I need to know or what fellow readers might find interesting.
Last night I went back to the Main Line for a fundraiser for a friend. As much as I love the area I spent a lot of my growing up years in, I discovered last night I truly no longer miss it.
I miss some of my friends, but you see like it or not to Main Line and city people, I might as well be living in Iowa – Chester County is that foreign to them and seemingly so far away.
But in Chester County I am happy. And one of the things that makes me happy out here is the sheer beauty of a great deal of the surroundings. (And meeting so many nice people doesn’t hurt either!)
The fuzzy and grainy photo I still like was taken last evening. It is one of our iconic settings out here I think- The Radnor Hunt Club. The club is always a thing of beauty to me, sitting on her hill surrounded by those fields.
But last night I was reminded again of how the beauty can change and grow ugly when we reached a certain part of Goshen Road (Delaware County portion). As soon as you hit the boundaries of Foxcatcher Farms, the old DuPont Estate it changes. On Foxcatcher Farms, the old DuPont Estate. Toll Brothers has all but stripped the land bare.
I have never quite seen the raw effect of development as clearly as I did last night in the twilight. The land that was once so beautiful and dotted with majestic trees and quite a few old farmhouses is essentially stripped. It looks like what it is: a victim of apocalypse by a developer. It is so incredibly jarring and sad.
We all know Toll Brothers gobbles up land in Chester County with their insatiable appetite. You want a first hand view is worth a 1000 words? Drive down Goshen Road to see what was the DuPont Estate.
I think it is important, and in that vein will mention something no other media has thought to cover other than Malvern Patch. It concerns Toll Brothers and their desire to expand Applebrook Meadows into its second phase.
I am sorry, but Applebrook Meadows is ugly. Unless of course you want to live in a development of samey-same homogeneity. It is truly like Barbie’s dream house gave birth. Over and over and over again. Just like Byers Station is ugly (and their sewer fields stink there – but it is all Stepford and la la, or is it?)
Back in October, Willistown granted a land development request to Toll Brothers for the second phase of its Applebrook Meadows development, contingent on eight conditions.
The one condition tacked on at the last minute—a third-party perc test—proved to be a sticking point for the developer.
At its Feb. 11 meeting, Toll Brothers representatives were back before the Board of Supervisors with an upgraded, costlier water management plan, again seeking land development approval for Phase II, which would add 53 new houses on the way to a total of 138.
Instead, they got a pop quiz and were told their request would be tabled pending review by the township solicitor.
Alyson Zarro, who represented Toll Brothers at the meeting, said the new plan would upsize basins to accomodate future needs of neighboring Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital.
Board Chairman Robert Lange called the incorporation of the hospital a “good move for PR,” but said he was suspicious of why Toll Brothers abandoned its original proposal less than 48 hours after the independent perc test was required.
“Why do you have to change plans if it’s going to work? I don’t know why that happened, I have my suspicions. I think you thought you could do it a cheaper way, a more economical way. And if it did fail down the road, we would have a problem on a PNDI site. Toll Brothers would have sold their units and moved on,” Lange said, before laying out a possible chain of events.
“Water may or may not perc. If it didn’t perc, it overflows, it goes onto a PNDI site, it goes onto the barrons. The homeowners association is going to be very upset. They’re going to come back to the supervisors, saying we did not do a very good job. And, it’s a mess.”
I am a realist, you can’t stop development unless you get really, really lucky, but it needs to slow down. It has to slow down.
So in my round about way, I am spinning another cautionary tale of how the beauty of the land will in the end be fleeting if we all don’t collectively wake up and have better stewardship.
Chester County residents, do you want the entire county to look like this? Didn’t some of you move out here to escape this in the first place? Can you now shudder at what that old DuPont Estate will look like? Can you imagine what that next Appledumb, Mountainfake, Potters Field, and Byers Remorse will look like? (Can’t keep track of all the municipalities and doofy names of developments or developers so pardon the comedic license.)
Motorists along Goshen Road in Newtown Square may have seen the final act of the John DuPont saga, as it appears his family home Liseter Hall is being demolished to make way for over 400 homes in the new Toll Bros. development of Liseter Estates.
The house was built by his grandfather for his parents wedding and DuPont grew up in the mansion. When his mother died in 1988 he turned the property into an amateur sports training mecca called Foxcatcher Farms….DuPont died in prison in December 2010 at Laurel Highlands in Somerset County, Pa.
Boom, crash, bang, groan, squeal,thud. Those are among the sounds structures make when they are being demolished.
John DuPont’s former Foxcatcher Farm on Goshen Road and 252 is basically a big pile of rubble now.
Thanks to Toll Brothers coming in to essentially takeover whatever the last development plan was and “improve” the area with a plan more grotesque than Byers Station or Applebrook Meadows, nothing shall stand in the way now of a Stepford wife development of plastic Tyvec wrapped Barbie’s dream carriage homes, right?
Do I sound harsh? Sorry, am feeling harsh, because although it is not a surprise that this land would be developed, one would have thought that Newtown Township would have had a couple of brain cells left to better manage a plan that is not what this is, which is a total cram plan. But then again, isn’t this the municipality that used to let crazy John DuPont run around and play cop years ago?
I am somewhat irritated by the lack of land stewardship on the part of the DuPont family when it came to Foxcatcher Farm. All that land stewardship and historic preservation from Winterthur to Longwood Gardens to Fair Hill there is this giant legacy of preservation in the DuPont family. But not with this property. Of course, that deal which leads to today’s development seems to have started when John DuPont was in prison. I think it’s a shame the family couldn’t have stopped it then.. It wasn’t like it wasn’t a known fact that he was crazy as a hoot owl, right? (However what is happening here should be a lesson to those in Radnor Township with regard to The Willows and Ardrossan – but heck maybe they will just rename the township Holloway Township, right?)
Anyway, sign me disgusted on this one. And hope Newtown holds them to good stormwater management, right? And good septic if they aren’t on public sewer (Byers station reeks sometimes, doesn’t it?) And did I hear right that Toll is sniffing around some giant land parcel in West Vincent or someplace around there? Is that true? Lock up what is left of the open space people. That’s all I am saying.
Once the land is gone, it is gone. Once historic homes are gone, they are but salvage and rubble.
Well, as some may or may not recall I have wanted to photograph the existing structures on Foxcatcher Farm (AKA John DuPont’s old estate) but could never get the people whose name was currently on the gate to call me back (Rouse Group and they were calling it Ashford).
I guess we might want to just call this estate Sybil because it is receiving a name change and developer change. It’s a four letter word: TOLL.
Sigh…there goes the neighborhood. There goes that corner. There goes Goshen Road. There goes all the fabulous old structures on the property. The developer with the soul of plastic Lego building is the new developer as per Patch. 449 housing units, can you imagine?
NEWTOWN SQUARE–The estate on the corner of Rt. 252/Newtown Street Road and Goshen Road in Newtown Square–owned by The Rouse Group–will soon be redeveloped into luxury homes by luxury home builder Toll Brothers.
“We were just informed…that Toll Brothers has partnered up with Rouse development to construct Ashford, which will be renamed to Liseter–Liseter is the farm that the du Pont family originally called the property,” announced Newtown Township Manager Mike Trio at a supervisors meeting on Nov. 26.
According to Trio, Toll Brothers has “strictly committed” to the township’s development standards….The township was scheduled to have a meeting with Toll Brothers during the last week of November to go through a permit schedule and fee breakdown. Toll Brothers is expected to start construction by the end of the year. Trio said demolition permits have already been approved and demolition on the site is already taking place…
Seven collections of luxurious carriage and single-family homes
There will be 449 units in total
Good to know Newtown Township has “strict” development standards. Given what had been planned for the old Ellis School site, it has been a little hard to tell.
I will tell you what, given what I have seen of Toll Brother developments here in Chester County I really think this is going to be a cram plan of cookie cutter plastic houses to satisfy the urges of the masses to say they live “in the country” and in a “carriage home”, don’t you?
Can we say Byers Station-like? Jean Austin DuPont must be turning in her grave.
How much development is enough?
Realistically I knew there would be a development here once there were no more DuPonts interested in the estate, but this is quite simple too dense a plan close onto an already densely populated area.