this is chester county

This photo was taken yesterday while a friend was driving by Lloyd Farm in Caln.

No, Lloyd Farm is not saved. But apparently a tenant farmer is back.

This is the Chester County we lose with every development. This is why many, many brave souls are boarding a bus at 6 AM May 6th to go to Pittsburgh for Crebilly.

Yes, Pittsburgh. It’s not uncommon for court calendars to fill up and apparently they’re jammed around here. But I am told if the developer had agreed to the venue not going to Pittsburgh it could have been closer and wow, right ?

Here is the information on how to ride the bus from Mindy:

Dear Friends,

This is a reminder that the next court date for oral argument in the Toll Brother’s appeal will be held:

MONDAY, MAY 6TH, 1PM

Allegheny County Courthouse

Room #313

436 Grant Street

Pittsburgh, PA  15219

Thanks to Randell Spackman of Thornbury Farm (who also happens to be my wonderful cousin), a chartered bus has been arranged for those that wish to attend but prefer not to drive.  Here are the details:

*Bus departs from Thornbury Farm Market at 6AM:  1256 Thornbury Road, West Chester  (http://thornburyfarmcsa.com

*Cost of the bus is $45 per person/round trip

*Bus will return the same day

*Free parking at Thornbury Farm

*Here is the link to purchase bus tickets:

https://crebillybustopittsburgh.brownpapertickets.com/

Friends, please do not miss this great opportunity to support the Westtown Township Supervisors and Township Solicitor Patrick McKenna in their brave battle to preserve the national, historic view shed from our Revolutionary War on Crebilly Farm (part of the Brandywine Battlefield) and prevent over-development in an already saturated region of Chester County.  We need bodies in the court room.  We need MASSIVE PUBLIC OUTCRY!!!  A full court room of supporters will speak volumes without saying a word.  It will send a clear message to the panel of judges that indeed we care and we are standing up for what is right.  Please contact any friends and family you have in the Pittsburgh area and ask them to attend this very important court appeal.

Together we have come so far and I thank all of you for your efforts.

We must keep going.

If not you, then who?

Sincerely,

Mindy Rhodes

Neighbors for Crebilly had the following to say:

Tell our Commonwealth Court Judges in Pittsburgh how much Chester County residents feel about their Quality of Life. Attend the oral arguments on Monday, May 6 at 1pm with your neighbors – all headed to Pittsburgh.

Several groups and interested parties are all working together to make a statement and presence by filling up the courtroom in Pittsburgh. We’ll fill one bus first and then start on the second. If we don’t reach a threshold number to fill the second bus, we will refund your ticket purchase. The coach holds 54 passengers.

With that said, tickets are $45 each.

First come, first served.

Your ticket is your placeholder, reservation.

No ticket purchased, no seat on the bus – we have to make this easy to manage – we’re all volunteers and need to be fair to all.

You will need a ticket to board. Print-at-home tickets or mobile tickets supplied at purchase.

We anticipate leaving Thornbury Farm, 1256 Thornbury Road, West Chester, PA 19318 at 6am and will return from Pittsburgh between 4-5 pm. It is a long day for everyone and to be compliant, the motor coach company will staff two drivers for your safety. Coffee and refreshments will be available for the ride out. Convenient parking at Spackman Farm.

Please post and share this simple ticket purchase URL: https://m.bpt.me/event/4224737

Not every piece of land or old house can be saved. That is the reality. But some of these properties don’t have to become developments.

And with these remaining big parcels in Chester County, I don’t understand why these families can’t put at least part of the land into conservation and preservation and not just turn everything over to a mega housing developer.

People want to tell us that we need all this development. We don’t. And all this development is causing other issues in our communities.

Between pipelines and residential developers, Chester County is becoming a war zone.

It’s time to start gathering within our individual communities and telling our elected officials we don’t want so much development.

We also need to band together as Chester county residents and tell the Chester County Planning Commission and Chester County Commissioners and anyone else who we can get to listen that we don’t want so much development.

Thanks for stopping by.

tragic photos of the desecration of lloyd farmhouse

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Submitted by Anthony, a photographer

A blog reader named Anthony has sent in this marvelous set of photos of Lloyd Farm’s farmhouse I posting here.  It is all so tragic. Before I load up the photos, please enjoy this summary history courtesy of Chester Couny Author Historian and Artist, Catherine Quillman:

Lloyd Farm, also known as Valley Brook Farm, has been a community landmark that has spanned generations of change in the Downingtown/Caln Township region. The farm itself sits one of the last remaining parcels from a William Penn land grant dating to 1651 . 

According to a Chester County architectural inventory listing historic resources, this former “estate farm” is comprised of stone farmstead with a 18th-century core and 19th-century alternations and additions of exceptional architectural style. It is one of the few area properties that has retained much of its original plantings and specimen trees as well as its open space and historic landscape, complete with a tree-lined long entrance way and a circular drive with a mounting block at the front of the house.

The nearby historic one-lane Lloyd Bridge spanning the Beaver Creek and Lloyd Park, a 30-acre “dog” park given by the Lloyd family to Caln Township in 1969, have added to property’s community status as a beloved landmark.

As a virtual theater of Chester County’s history, Lloyd Farm has adapted through the years. Its early ownership reflects the region’s influx of Irish Quaker immigrants from the 1720s to 1750s; the 19th century local industries that included farming, dairying, and quarrying; and the era of the “gentleman” farm when it was owned by William McClure Lloyd, a Harvard graduate and Philadelphia stockbroker.

Lloyd’s great grandfather, John K Eshleman, a physician and botanist, made the Lloyd Farm famous as one of the few documented sites on the “Underground Railroad.” Eshleman, who began helping escaped slaves in 1840 while living in Lancaster County, became a key “stationmaster” after he moved to Caln in 1848 and joined other Quaker neighbors to form what has been called the “northern” route through Chester County.

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Also of note are  videos out there on Lloyd Farm:

Lloyd Farm and what is happening in Caln should be a wake-up call to preservationists and residents throughout Pennsylvania, not just Chester County.

Historic Preservation can’t just be a cute pair of buzzwords, they have  to mean something. And in order for it to mean something changes have to occur in a top-down approach starting in Harrisburg with the laws that govern us.

We need a complete overhaul of the Municipalities Planning Code, that archaic outdated state-level bible that guides the planning and zoning within our individual communities throughout the state whether we want it to or not.

This state level bible, the Municipalities Planning Code, has not been comprehensively updated in too damn long. (There were some 2007 updates you can look at here.) They need to re-define historic preservation, land preservation, open space preservation, suburbs, and exurbs just to name a few things which come to mind.

Furthermore, our elected official even on the most local of levels through to Harrisburg and Washington DC should serve their constituencies, not special interest groups, and not their own political ambitions. If they cannot accomplish that, as we are seeing in Caln Township now and elsewhere, they need to be replaced.

We are losing on a daily basis what makes Chester County so special. We are losing land, we are losing our amazing architecture, we are losing history, our equine and agricultural traditions as we are losing the very farms that put food on our tables!

Lloyd Farm’s farmhouse could still be saved, but I don’t think it will be. We need to learn from this and act. And that starts with changing the faces of those who govern us. Wherever we live, we deserve government representation that fights for the residents, supports the residents.

I also think our county planning commission should have a Chester County resident as it’s executive director and at present, it does not. Someone who doesn’t live here, doesn’t get it.

Finally of note, the historic Witmer’s map of Caln:

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meanwhile back at lloyd farm in caln

Readers keep sending me photos of Lloyd Farm and I am grateful. A little dose of vertigo has kept me grounded.

Lloyd Farm. What can I say that hasn’t been said already? This is insanity that this farm house is coming down. Much like La Ronda in Bryn Mawr around 2009, it is a place that doesn’t have to come down, it’s a choice isn’t it?

La Ronda was in Lower Merion Township, which like Caln is a First Class Township. A big distinction is however, that Lower Merion agreed with residents that La Ronda should have been saved. Can we just say plainly that it seems like Caln doesn’t give a crap?

Other things about this site I wonder about is have they checked for graves? I have also heard people say that given the 200 + years of people living on the property there may be burial grounds and is this true?

I think it’s the wrong choice to tear down Lloyd Farm’s farmhouse. I am a defender of private property rights but this is NOT just about private property and somebody exercising their rights. This is about development superseding history.

And I’m sure that Caln’s commissioners and lovely solicitor really would prefer none of us were talking about Lloyd Farm, but how can we not? The Lloyd family gave and did much where they called home didn’t they?

How can we not wonder what it will take to slow the pace of development in Chester County?

Our county is being destroyed. Not all developments are bad but when is the last time we saw one that was thoughtful? They mostly seem like they are all about just cramming as many structures on the property as humanly possible and developers wherever moving onto their next projects.

And this property which as I’ve written before is part of a Penn land grant, has an 18th-century farmhouse that’s historically important with an equally important 1910 addition completed and designed by a noted Philadelphia architect also with ties to Chester County. The history is undeniable.

In 1982 it could have become historically recognized but it never happened. Why?

Lloyd Farm via the familial history is linked to yet another local treasure, Glen Isle.

I am told this developer whom I do not know and was never really aware of before is a local guy. I don’t understand why as a local guy he can’t see what a good thing it would be to save the farmhouse and a little bit of the land around it? I will go back to my point that even Toll Brothers saves the occasional farmhouse in their developments.

Now let’s talk about Caln Township for a hot minute. Time for the residents to change the faces of who govern them every election until they are gone. I don’t know who those commissioners in Caln are working for but it’s certainly not the residents is it? And what about the appointed officials there? Who are they working for? Maybe it’s time to change them up as well, huh? But you have to flip the board of commissioners in order to be able to do that don’t you?

Anyway these are photos that have been sent to me over the past couple of days which are in this post.

I urge residents to keep cool heads. You have every right to be angry about what is happening in Caln. Keep the faith, Caln residents.

I keep saying it but will say it again: our history should not always belong to the wrecking ball and bulldozer.

#SaveLloydFarm

#ThisPlaceMatters

what is really going on in caln township with lloyd farm?

Many thanks to Abandoned Steve Explorations for the use of his gorgeous photo of Lloyd Farm in Caln Township.

Abandoned Steve Explorations took the glorious photo I am opening this post with. I am positively obsessed with the cool structures he covers. He was nice enough to lend us the use of this photo it’s part of an upcoming project. You can find him on Facebook , his website, and YouTube.

Lloyd Farm is haunting me. Part of a Penn Land Grant, dating its origins to the 1600s.

(See this history by Edward C. Lendrat)

Then there is the 18th Century farmhouse with an equally historic 1901 addition.

What am I talking about? 1757 was when the farmhouse was originally built and 1910 when the Lloyd family commissioned Gilbert McIlvaine the Philadelphia architect to build a “modern” addition that paid homage and melded with the original farmhouse. Mr. McIlvaine maintained a home in Downingtown for many years and was also active in the Boy Scouts founding several troops I am told in Chester County.

Back to Lloyd Farm…except the people who have called it home or who had something to do with it are important to the very fabric of Lloyd Farm’s history.

Yesterday I learned surprising news when a copy of an old historic preservation application was unearthed from the early 1980s – possibly 1982. Yes – seriously – Lloyd Farm Application for Historic Designation: PA Historic Resource Form Circa 1982.

From this form we learned quite a few things including that Lloyd Farm around or before the Civil War was a freaking stop on the Underground Railroad!

It’s just crazy and you have to ask what in the heck is going on in Caln Township? How long have these commissioners known the history of Lloyd Farm and why didn’t that historic designation proceed? Why wasn’t it pursued for a national historical status?

Did I mention the demolition permit? There is one. And what is with the date mismatch in that letter thing?

I don’t live in Caln. I do know amusingly enough like Lower Merion Township , it’s a First Class Township. But who runs the Township? Because it surely doesn’t seem like the elected commissioners does it? I know in Lower Merion Township years ago because I was part of it when the residents rose up after having had enough over the threat of eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore that we flipped half of the board of commissioners in one election.

And Caln residents are upset about this.

Really upset.

I want to know why the developer wants to tear down the house don’t you? Is this going to be like the death of Addison Mizner’s La Ronda in Bryn Mawr, PA? A case where a magnificent home was torn down for salvage just because someone could?

Caln resident submitted photo.

Look at the historic comparables in Chester County that are actually getting saved and restored: West Whiteland Inn, Exton. Benjamin Jacobs House, Exton. Fox Chase Inn and Barn, Exton. Linden Hall, Malvern (even if I don’t like some of what is being done it’s being saved, finally.) Loch Aerie, Malvern. The Jenny Lind House, Yellow Springs Village.

Also to be considered? Several Toll Brothers projects including in Chester County where similar vintage farmhouses and/or barns have been or are being saved. Now it is no secret how I feel about Toll Brothers developments, but if even they can preserve historic structures on properties they are developing why couldn’t the developer for Lloyd Farm do that? Or why couldn’t they contemplate something like selling off the farmhouse with a small plot of land around it to someone who might want to preserve it and live in it or something like that?

Caln resident submitted photo.

I don’t have the answers and every day I have more and more questions. This is one of those situations I just don’t get it. I just don’t get what is going on here. I don’t understand why this property isn’t more valued for the centuries of history involved here?

Our history should not always belong to the wrecking ball.

That’s all I have got.

#SaveLloydFarm #ThisPlaceMatters

Caln resident submitted photo.

history at risk: 5030 horseshoe pike. caln public hearing december 13th, 2018.

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It starts with someone sending me a public notice.  And once again, I am down the rabbit hole of Chester County history at risk.

This is a public hearing to be held in Caln Township on Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. at the Caln Township Municipal Building located at 253 Municipal Drive, Thorndale, Pennsylvania 19372.  Now I aslo found this notice of this meeting on PA Public Notices , but I’ll be damned if I can find it on Caln Township’s actual website so either it’s just another bad municipal website that looks kind of sort of pretty but doesn’t function easily, or it’s not there. (But I digress)

This notice which looks like it is for some kind of extra special zoning overlay (you know those things municipalities do to appease developers and special interests? And hey you do not have to like my opinion, but it’s not my first rodeo with zoning overlays and I am entitled to how I feel) for 5030 Horseshoe Pike.

That is when I really went like Alice down the rabbit hole.

Super historic. Known as the “Lloyd Farm”, “Valley Brook Farm” has a fire I would call mysterious a few years ago.  Seriously.  Here is the screen capture from the Downingtown Area Historical Society May 2014:

dhs

Then I hit Google and oh the things I found including this amazing history compiled by someone named Edward G. Lendrat on the West Chester University Old Caln Historical Society Collection. Caln Township has this buried on their website.

Pretty crazy historic, and I understand there was a fire, but a zoning overlay like this is all Caln Township can think is right for this property??? I am told the developer who has bought the “Lloyd Farm” is proposing 5 story apartment buildings, and commercial where there is NO zoning for it? Hence the need for an extra special zoning overlay at Christmas?  And this Public Hearing which takes place Dec. 13th. is it for discussion? Then the Commissioners will vote at their next meeting and NO CHANCE to change it will exist after that?

WTF Caln Township Commissioners? Have you no sense of place? No sense of history and what is appropriate?  How many freaking apartment buildings and mish mosh retail and more does Chester County need popping up like crappy weeds? Is this how you celebrate 150 years of history in your municipality? WOW.

(I will note TWO Commissioners are up in 2019 – Jennifer Breton and George Chambers. Residents should replace them if as President and Vice President of the Board this is what they think is fab. Just my opinion of course, but sometimes to change goverment you have to change the faces of who governs you.)

And oh the history….

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So if I read the history of the property correctly, it dates back to the late 1600s and a Penn Land Grant? And by 1996 it was owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia? (Now I make no secret of my disdain of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and their pedophile priest problems of recent past. Sorry, I digress again…)

Ironically something I wasn’t looking for with regard to this property but seemed to have stumbled upon is a 2015 pipeline easement between the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Columbia Gas. So umm, high density development being proposed and a pipeline? NICE.

pipeline easement

Yowza and here is the deed of transfer I guess?  Dated April, 2018?  The Archdiocese of Philadelphia made over $4.5 cool million on this? NICE.  That will settle a bunch of pedophile priest lawsuits, right?

So who is Wild Meadows LLC out of Delaware?  (You can search for Delaware entities HERE.)

But back to this very cool history.  It is intriguing enough I found it on Twitter:

lloyd

Here is what it looked like on LoopNet:

horseshoe pike on loopnet

Also discovered this place on imgur with these two images from 2015:

It also appears archivally on reddit. Some comments were fascinating.

 

“Have you been here? I went to Lloyd dog park and found this when I walked up through the field. I really wonder what the story is on this place. Someone at the dog park thought the property is currently owned by a church.”

and…

“This was known as the Lloyd House. It has since been torn down.”

 

Now I have never been on this property. I have no idea what is stll standing on the property or not. If you have photos, please feel free to send them in a message via this blog’s Facebook page.

Do I have the answers as to what to do with this property? Sadly, no.  Don’t know that area well enough.  But if there is a pipeline easement, maybe the developer should go light on the development?

Again, how many cram plan developments does one county need? Who is driving this?

Historians and residents might wish to go to this meeting.  Remember residents, zoning can affect more than one spot, correct?

Chester County, we can’t just keep sitting idly by as chuck after chunk of land gets carved up.  Once open space is gone, it’s gone.  Once history is gone, it’s gone.

Here’s hoping the residents of Caln and their municipal neighbors have some Christmas Chutzpah (I know is that like a mixed metaphor or what?) and slow this freight train down.

So much to learn here and I will close with I am marveling at how Caln Township knows the history of this property and they think this is a good idea.

It’s stupid.  But I can only express my views as a resident of Chester County.  It’s up to the residents of Caln to turn it up and turn out on December 13th.

Tick tock, there is not much time.

I would say if you have historical questions to seek out the Downingtown Area Historical Society and  the Old Caln Historical Society.

Thanks for meandering with me.