chester county books

 

I admit it, I love books.

And I have been on the hunt for the three books you see pictured above for a while, and now I can say I have added them to my library.

These three fabulous books (Forty Years of Days, Chester County & Its Day, and Barns of Chester County Pennsylvania) were all written by a Chester County treasure named Berenice M. Ball

Once upon a time, the late Mrs. Ball was a long time Chairman of Chester County Day.  As a matter of fact her former home was on the 2015 Chester County Day house tour which benefits the Chester County Hospital Foundation.

I am pretty sure Chester County Day   is one of the longest running house tours in the nation, if not the longest.

Mrs. Ball published these fabulous books in the 1970s and 1980s. 1970 (Chester County and Its Day), 1974 (Barns of Chester County), 1980 (Forty Years of Days).

The books are full of old photos, sketches, history, anecdotes. Famous Chester County properties, even ones familiar to us today, are in these books. Like the often discussed Bryn Coed Farm, once home to Justice Owen J. Roberts.

Yes that Bryn Coed in West Vincent. It was restored back in the day by R. Brognard Okie.  I only knew the property made Chesterbrook look tiny, but I had non idea about Justice Robert’s actual home. I love Okie houses.

  Reading Chester County and Its Day it was interesting to learn that once upon a time this property Bryn Coed was a favorite on the Chester County Day circuit.

“Can anyone who ever saw Mr. Justice Owen J Roberts forget him in his country tweeds, standing in the driveway, pipe in hand, greeting each guest as if he were a visiting ambassador or posing for a picture after picture with groups and individuals? What a truly great human being he was and what good friends of the Day they both were.”

Given the constant discussion of the potential of development at Bryn Coed this sent chills up my spine!

Forty Years of Days has at the end of  it a complete listing of homes and landmarks open on Chester County Day between 1936 and 1980.

You can find these books on Amazon and eBay and in secondhand shops if you’re lucky. They were all produced back in the day as limited editions, and all of the ones I found are first editions and were signed by Mrs. Ball. I can’t tell you how awesome they are. If you are a Chester County history junkie and you don’t have these in your collection, you should definitely seek them out.

I hunted these books down to learn more about the history of the county I now call home. I’m so glad I did they are fascinating.

Thanks for stopping by on a rainy foggy day.

  

chester county day turns 75 this october!

Radnor HuntFrom the time I was a girl, Chester County Day is something my family just always did every October. It is always a gorgeous day and well, who needs a better excuse to travel through Chester County when fall foliage is exploding? Pack a picnic lunch and have a splendid day.

This year the tour launches at the Radnor Hunt Club and heads into the Borough of West Chester. If you have never taken the time to do this tour, I do not see any better year to start a new tradition on the 75th anniversary of a fine Chester County tradition!

See press release below.  Tickets should be ordered early and in advance.

chester county dayLongest Running House Tour in the Nation – Chester County Day – Celebrates 75 Years

West Chester, PA – Chester County Day originated in 1936, when Mrs. William A. Limberger and her fellow members of the Women’s Auxiliary to Chester County Hospital hosted “West Chester Day,” a house tour that for $1.00 allowed admittance to 22 homes. Now the longest running house tour in the United States, Chester County Day has benefited Chester County Hospital from the start.tour 1

 

Over its 75 years, the tour has been designed to feature the four quadrants of Chester County with each section taking turns being featured on “The Day.” However, this year, the event planners are returning to its 1936 roots and focusing their attention on the Borough of West Chester. With hundreds of years of history, the Borough is the perfect spot to celebrate the 75th year, and everyone is welcome to celebrate the anniversary of this Chester County tradition on Saturday, October 3.

tour 2

The Day begins with the pageantry and excitement of a fox hunt. The Radnor Hunt will set off promptly at 9 am on its beautiful grounds. Afterward, a short drive to the Borough of West Chester will lead you to the start of the 75th Chester County Day tour. Located on West Chester’s oldest road, High Street, visit the oldest inhabited structure in the Borough, which was built in 1712 and then renovated by a well-known author in the 1920’s. Stroll through the neighborhoods of the north section of West Chester to visit charming mansions where your imagination can take you to a bygone era of the Great Gatsby lifestyle. Stop by the home of former builder Henry Price, and then see how a newly constructed home fits into the historic mix on East Marshall Street. Listen for the sound of the horse-drawn carriages as they make their way through the shaded and wide streets of the north end of town. Swing by the West Chester Public Library, one of the Borough’s most impressive public buildings, built in 1888 in Queen Anne style.

tour 3

Continue your tour on South New Street and tour a historic bank barn and manor house, where you will be enchanted by the magnificent trees, pond, historical buildings and serene atmosphere, all while refueling yourself with one of Arianna’s Gourmet Café’s boxed lunches. From there, visit a nearby horse farm, a spectacular house and restored mill overlooking Crum Creek. See Historic Sugartown, a rural crossroads village dating from the late 18th century. Stop by the General Store, Carriage Museum and a book bindery. If you arrive hungry, Arianna’s offers a second refreshment stop here with additional delicious boxed lunches.

 

Whether you begin with the first house on the tour or start with the final home in the tour – your day will be full and filled with the beauty and history of Chester County hundreds of years in the making.

 

WHEN:    Saturday, October 3, 2015 @ 10 am-5 pm

WHERE: Borough of Chester County

TICKETS: On sale from September 2-29 by mail, online, or at the satellite locations listed on our website.

  • $40 purchased via web, phone or in person
  • $100 VIP Tickets, which includes a VIP Reception and Preview Cocktail party at historic Vickers Restaurant on Sunday, September 27 and a private tour of a special VIP house with a gourmet boxed lunch served by White Horse Tavern.

CONTACT: 610-431-5328

MORE INFO: Organized by The Women’s Auxiliary to the Chester County Hospital, Chester County Day is a 75-year autumn tradition. Proceeds from the tour benefit the Women’s Auxiliary pledge for the Cardiac Catheterization Lab project, a $4.8 million replacement project for Interventional Laboratory 3. This room is used for complex ablation cases, laser peripheral vascular intervention and other complex peripheral vascular procedures. Learn more at one of the free public preview lectures throughout the county. For a list of dates and locations, or to download a podcast visit: www.ChesterCountyDay.com

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.)

3971577793_125d8e9098_o

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!

helping preserve chester county history

DSC_0217I am pleased to report to my readers that I once again have taken the pre-event photos for Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s Historic House Tour.

The event is in it’s 9th year and there are some VERY cool houses on the tour this year. The houses date from the mid-18th century to the early 20th century.    Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online.  The tour is Saturday, September 28, 2013 Noon – 5 PM.

This tour is the week before Chester County Day, so you can do both!!!

This is a really sweet house tour and I for one got some garden ideas just doing the pre-event photos!

To learn more about the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, please visit their website.