happy days farm under contract to a developer?

Months ago I wrote that Vanguard was selling Happy Days Farm. I had expressed my opinion that they waited for Mr. Bogle to die.

Happy Days Farm was once home to the Supplee Family in modern times (I think from some point in the 1940s.)  Mildred and Warren Supplee were well-loved by their community and were married for 75 years.

Happy Days Farm is STILL actively farmed by tenant farmers who are WONDERFUL people.

Just now I learned Happy Days Farms is under contract to a developer? And that means that if they don’t buy it for some reason there are undoubtedly other developers right behind them, correct?

Vista Today has the story and allow me to quote (and note they republish things from other sources in this case the Philadelphia Business Journal.)

Here is an excerpt of what Vista Today said:

Happy Days Farm, a 246-acre property in Exton that is currently owned by Vanguard, has been put under contract by Audubon Land Development, writes Natalie Kostelni for the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The property near the Downingtown Interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike was put up for sale by Vanguard in March after the investment giant kept it for two decades as a possible expansion site.

Thanks to its excellent location that can attract traffic from a large demographic area, the property was expected to receive significant interest from developers.

For the love of all that’s holy, IT IS STILL A WORKING FARM!

Now Audubon Land Development, who are they? From their “about” section of their website:

ABOUT US

Audubon Land Development Corporation is a family owned and operated business with over 50 years of development, building and management experience. Audubon Land affiliates have built over 3,000 homes in eastern Pennsylvania, as well as many commercial facilities including apartment complexes, the Audubon Square Shopping Center, The Hilton Homewood Suites in Audubon, the 422 Business Center, The Hilton Garden Inn at Oaks, the Marketplace at Oaks, including Target, Lowe’s and Regal Cinemas and the Greater Philadelphia Expo in Oaks. Audubon also has under development, the 2,500 unit Shannondell Retirement Community, with 1,000 units completed.

Oaks. That hideous complex that always seems dirty? The Philadelphia Expo Center? Have you been there? It’s part of the long stretch of 422 development hell, isn’t it?

I have no issue with Shannondell as their rehab center does a lot of good but don’t we already have a lot of warehouses for seniors out here? And let’s be honest, is a place like Shannondell affordable for your average senior citizen?

Maybe a lot of you aren’t familiar with the whole other side of Montgomery County that is Audubon and Oaks and up Egypt Road and 422? I actually am because our son went to a charter school that pulls from these areas and a lot of friends lived over in this direction.

If you think King of Prussia is bad you have not seen anything until you’ve experienced this area. When you travel along places like Egypt Road and other areas back here in Audubon and Oaks you see strip mall after strip mall and development after development and in between you have these tiny pockets of humanity trying to survive in the midst of it.

This area actually reminds me of King of Prussia as the mall grew. And I say that because I am just old enough to remember when you were along 202 near the King of Prussia Mall years ago, there were still these cute little houses along 202 that people lived in.…until they gave up.

Is this the fate of Happy Days Farm?

I will note that Philadelphia Architects and Buildings  dates the farm as circa 1730 to 1780. They also have a 1995 site plan. I also discovered it is part of some Watershed H (Brandywine Creek, East Brandywine creek?) and there is an archeological and historical survey report.  And this abstract document from 1998 would also be of interest.

Also a few months ago, it took some digging but I did indeed find a 1998 PA Historic Resouces Survey Form. You can click HERE and I am uploading it here: H067961_67867_D. It’s fascinating and what did this survey lead me to? Oh yes, another Penn Land Grant and possibly part of Native American Hunting Grounds:

The origins of Happy Days Farm can be traced to two early land grants from William Penn, Proprietor of the Province of Pennsylvania. One tract of 1,000 acres was granted to James Claypoole in 1682. James Claypoole was an English investor who purchased several land grants in Pennsylvania, but never lived there. The other tract of 1,666 2/3 acres was granted to David Lloyd in 1703. David Lloyd was a land investor who owned a considerable portion of what became Uwchlan Township in 1712. In 1713, the heirs of James Claypoole sold 800 acres in Uwchlan to David Lloyd. In 1714, Lloyd sold to Joseph Phipps an 800 acre plantation that included parts of the two Penn grants.

The description on the 1714 deed of a “messuage, tenement plantation tract” indicates that there was already an established farm and dwelling house. Joseph Phipps was among the early Quaker settlers who requested the formation of their own meeting in Uwchlan Township in 1712. At the time, most of these Quakers were living on land owned by David Lloyd, so Joseph Phipps was probably living on the land he later purchased. Between 1712 and 1715, most of David Lloyd’s holdings in Uwchlan Township were deeded to early residents such as Phipps. The first tax records for Uwchlan Township occurred in 1715. Joseph Phipps was one of eighteen names recorded on that list and one of the greatest landowners. 280 years later, descendants of Joseph continue to live in Uwchlan Township.….For much of the eighteenth century, the Phipps family prospered. As Joseph’s children grew and married several houses were built on the family lands. Some farmland was divided, but the  “home farm” and approximately 400 acres remained intact through the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century witnessed the growth of a new agricultural industry – the dairy farm. Chester County became known for its dairy farms. By the 1880’s, 85 individually owned dairy farms prospered in Uwchlan Township. The Phipps families owned several. 

Happy Days Farm is the only farm property that remained in the Phipps family for more than two centuries. Members of the Phipps family were active in several area churches including Uwchlan Society of Friends and Windsor Baptist Church. Phipps participated in the organizing and prosperity of the Uwchlan Grange. Residents of this early farm accomplished their goals. They may not have been famous, but they were excellent examples of nineteenth century Pennsylvania farmers.

This is Uwchlan Township for Happy Days Farm, I believe. But what happens here doesn’t just affect the tenant farmers and the residents of Uwchlan Township, it affects all of us in Chester County.

It’s like we don’t matter anymore. Existing residents don’t matter anymore. It’s just all about the crazy race for development.

Like Lloyd Farm in Caln, Happy Days is part of an original Penn Land Grant, correct?

Why doesn’t that mean something anymore?

Chester County wasn’t founded for fields of Tyvek boxes and strip malls and apartment buildings.

And look at the stresses on our infrastructure now. And someone else said to me recently that people talk about the stresses on the roads and the first responders and the school districts but they don’t talk about things like the stress on the hospitals. They said:

….the strain is here and growing. I work in an ER and this week we have gone on pre-divert and divert status 3x. The hospital is full and people are being admitted but have to stay in the ER since we have no beds upstairs….several patients ask …why the wait is so long and I discuss with them the issue of the exponential population growth due to poor planning of high density housing all around the area. When I start listing the neighborhoods then they suddenly understand why we are facing a crisis.

Again, also look at the school districts. Isn’t Great Valley looking to expand and build more schools? And what of Downingtown School District? Isn’t there a whisper of eminent domain floating around as they also need land to expand and build more schools? And hasn’t the West Chester Area School District got plans in place for yet another elementary school over near or in that Greystone development? And what about Tredyffrin? How long before they need more schools or need to expand?

Chester County, now more than ever, the agricultural and equine heritage and open space HAS to matter! Residents have to matter! The future has to matter!

We are literally in the midst of a development glut, right? So what happens when this developmental gold rush is over?

No one ever talks about that. I do not believe it is everyone will settle in and get along nicely. I think we are setting ourselves up as communities for decades of problems going forward because there is no balance or sane pace to development.

And this is why I don’t like development. And why I am not a fan of organizations like the Chester County Planning Commission and their Landscapes plans. In my humble opinion, which I am allowed, this “build it and they will come” attitude is problematic. What happens when all of “they” come? It looks pretty on schematics and diagrams and plans to be shown at municipal meetings, but what is the reality? My opinion is in reality we’re not going to be able to handle it because we can’t handle it now and how is that progress?

I don’t know what else to say other than if we can’t stop the madness, we need to stem the tide. This is getting crazy. And happy days farm just makes me sad. Especially because it is still a working farm and farmers matter.

I’m getting off my soapbox now. I really didn’t intend for this to be such a long post and there’s nothing I can do personally to stop this from happening but I can express how I feel about it. At least the First Amendment still gives me that right.

To Happy Days Farm and the generations and families who have farmed you, including the current family, I say my heart broke a little more over this news. I am so terribly sorry that as human beings we can’t do better to preserve what our founding fathers fought and bled for out here.

Chester County we have to do better.

not so happy days farms on route 100 near turnpike in exton (uwchlan township)

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You know me, I love my old farms. I am obsessed with old barns.  For years, I have passed by this farm sitting all marooned by modern times with Route 100 to the front and the Pennsylvania Turnpike to its left side when you are looking from Route 100.   I found out today this property is Happy Days Farm and it is in Uwchlan Township.

At present this farm is STILL being farmed by tenants which is why I had no idea until yesterday that Vanguard even owned the land because I did not live in Chester County back when this all started.

I feel I need to mention that I know 100% for a fact that active farming is still going on because I fear as soon as I post this if I DO NOT mention Happy Days Farm is still actively farmed, they will get trespassers. DO NOT JUST VISIT THIS FARM RANDOMLY, OK? TRESPASSING HERE MEANS A VISIT FROM THE POLICE, CAPISCE?

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The Philadelphia Business Journal and Vista Today did not mention there was still active farming going on, so I kind of feel I have to, that I must point out THE FARM IS STILL IN USE.  And it is because of these publications I am writing this post because I was alarmed at the news they imparted to all of us recently about Happy Days Farm potentially literally coming to an end.

Noodling around on ChescoViews I found this:

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Nelson Realty Excel

Is it just me or is it a total disaster if this farm is lost to development???

Vista Today: After Once Considering It for a New Campus, Vanguard to Sell 246-Acre Property in Exton Posted By: Kimberly McGuane Posted date: March 12, 2019

Vanguard has decided to put Happy Days Farm in Exton up for sale, writes Natalie Kostelni for the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The investment giant has owned it for two decades and once considered using the 246-acre property for a new campus.

When it originally purchased the property in 1999, Vanguard anticipated developing a campus that would total between one and two million square feet. But the property has been sitting without any development on it ever since…..Now, the property is expected to attract interest from a wide range of developers.

WHAT THE HECK????

THIS IS A FARM! A STILL WORKING FARM EVEN WITH TENANT FARMERS! WE NEED OUR FARMS IN CHESTER COUNTY NOT MORE BLOODY DEVELOPMENT AND DEVELOPERS, RIGHT?! 

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Happy Days Farm was once home to the Supplee Family in modern times (I think from some point in the 1940s.)  Mildred and Warren Supplee were well-loved by their community and were married for 75 years:

Obituary of Mildred M. Supplee as it appeared and was published in The Daily Local on July 30, 2013:

Mildred M. Supplee of Freedom Village Mildred M. Supplee, presently of Freedom Village, West Brandywine and formerly of Lionville and Upper Uwchlan Township, passed away in the presence of her children and loved ones on Saturday, July 27, 2013.

She was 100, having celebrated her birthday on April 15. Born in Chester Springs, she was the daughter and oldest child of H. Raymond and Mary Vail McBride. She lived her entire life in central Chester County, having lived in Chester Springs until the age of five when she moved with her family to Byers and lived there until her marriage. She attended the one-room Windsor School in Upper Uwchlan Township for eight years and then West Chester High School, graduating in 1931. She studied nursing at Chester County Hospital, and after her family was raised she was charge nurse at the former Huffman Nursing Home in Whitford.

After a five-year courtship she married her beloved late husband, S. Warren Supplee, and the couple celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary in 2008, prior to Warren’s passing. Upon her marriage she moved with Warren to his family farm where they farmed the two farm properties collectively known today as Happy Days Farm.

In 1994 they moved with son Walter from the farm property in Lionville to a home in Upper Uwchlan Township where they lived until moving to Freedom Village.

Mildred was very active in church work, being a member of Windsor Baptist Church in Eagle for 85 years. She presently was the oldest living member. She served as church clerk for 50 years, served as a trustee, was active and held positions in the mission society, taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and helped organize and advise the Christian Endeavor youth program at the church. She helped serve church suppers and weddings. She was also involved in the Central Union Association of the American Baptist convention and held positions there.

Mildred was christened a Lutheran and attended St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Chester Springs, attending there with her family prior to joining Windsor. She presently was an associate member there and attended services there as well as Windsor through her hundred years.

Besides helping on the family farm and raising her family, she made the family’s clothes, bedding, and enjoyed doing handwork. She was an excellent cook and people loved to come for a meal. She entertained many family, church and school groups. She enjoyed reading until her eyesight failed. She was a devoted daughter and provided care for her parents as well as her husband’s parents and brother. She was a member of many farm organizations with her husband….

Obituary of S. Warren Supplee as it appeared in the Southern Chester County Weeklies on May 29, 2008:

S. Warren Supplee, 98, of Freedom Village, West Brandywine, and formerly of Lionville, passed away on Friday evening, May 16, 2008, at Brandywine Hospital, surrounded by his wife and children.Born in Westtown, he was the son of the late Samuel W. and Myrtle Broadbelt Supplee.

A lifelong farmer, Mr. Supplee lived his entire life in the central Chester County area.

He grew up on a farm on Johnny’s Way, Westtown. At the age of 13, he moved to Lionville with his parents and brother and farmed there on the two farm properties collectively known today as the Happy Days Farm.

He loved to tell of the family’s move to Lionville from Westtown. He and his father moved machinery and some farm crops every other day using horses and wagons. On moving day, the men drove the dairy cattle from Westtown to Lionville.

He started to milk by hand at the age of 5 and milked till he was 80. He lived to see milking parlors and a robot milker.

He married Mildred McBride, and the couple recently celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.

In 1994, he moved from the farm in Lionville to Upper Uwchlan, where he lived until his move to Freedom Village.

He attended Goshen Baptist Church as a child until his move to Lionville, where he attended Windsor Baptist Church in Eagle. He joined there in 1928 and was the oldest living member. He also attended St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Chester Springs.

An avid Chester County foxhunter, he hunted with several hunts and had his own foxhounds. He also enjoyed hunting rabbits with his beagles.

He attended schools in Westtown and graduated from Lionville High School. He also attended West Chester High School.

Mr. Supplee served on the Uwchlan Township board and later the Downingtown Area School Board.

He was a member of the former Uwchlan Grange, Lionville Fire Company, P.O.S. of A, Odd Fellows, West Chester Home Clusters and several farm organizations…..

Before I found these obituaries, it was just a farm, just a big swath of land. Now I know how much this land, this farm was loved.

And I am told there are historically listed structures on this farm? Buildings that are registered with the historical society that any buyer can not remove?

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I will note that Philadelphia Architects and Buildings  dates the farm as circa 1730 to 1780. They also have a 1995 site plan. I also discovered it is part of some Watershed H (Brandywine Creek, East Brandywine creek?) and there is an archeological and historical survey report.  And this abstract document from 1998 would also be of interest.

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Also, it took some digging but I did indeed find a 1998 PA Historic Resouces Survey Form. You can click HERE and I am uploading it here: H067961_67867_D. It’s fascinating and what did this survey lead me to? Oh yes, another Penn Land Grant and possibly part of Native American Hunting Grounds:

The origins of Happy Days Farm can be traced to two early land grants from William Penn, Proprietor of the Province of Pennsylvania. One tract of 1,000 acres was granted to James Claypoole in 1682. James Claypoole was an English investor who purchased several land grants in Pennsylvania, but never lived there. The other tract of 1,666 2/3 acres was granted to David Lloyd in 1703. David Lloyd was a land investor who owned a considerable portion of what became Uwchlan Township in 1712. In 1713, the heirs of James Claypoole sold 800 acres in Uwchlan to David Lloyd. In 1714, Lloyd sold to Joseph Phipps an 800 acre plantation that included parts of the two Penn grants.

The description on the 1714 deed of a “messuage, tenement plantation tract” indicates that there was already an established farm and dwelling house. Joseph Phipps was among the early Quaker settlers who requested the formation of their own meeting in Uwchlan Township in 1712. At the time, most of these Quakers were living on land owned by David Lloyd, so Joseph Phipps was probably living on the land he later purchased. Between 1712 and 1715, most of David Lloyd’s holdings in Uwchlan Township were deeded to early residents such as Phipps. The first tax records for Uwchlan Township occurred in 1715. Joseph Phipps was one of eighteen names recorded on that list and one of the greatest landowners. 280 years later, descendants of Joseph continue to live in Uwchlan Township.

Joseph Phipps married twice and had seven children with Mary Woodyear and one son with Mary Helsby. His children included Sarah, Samuel, Joseph, Nathan, George (died young), John, Aaron (died young) and by second wife a son also named George born in 1743.

Genealogical records at the Chester County Historical Society suggest that Joseph was born in 1661, but that seems unlikely. If that were correct, Joseph had a son when he was 82 years old and died at the age of 1011 The Phipps family belonged to the Society of Friends, but records indicate that Joseph’s sons did not always live up to the Quaker high moral standards. One of Joseph Phipps Jr. was one of the few slaveowners in Uwchlan Township. In 1764, Joseph Phipps Jr. was taxed eight shillings for one negro man. At that time only five landowners in the Township owned slaves. Nathan and Joseph Jr. were both condemned for marrying out the society. George was complained of in 1727 for excessive drinking and quarreling. Samuel was condemned for having indecent familiarity with his neighbor’s wife. John was charged in 1735 with fathering a bastard child and in 1739 for assaulting a neighbor. The consequence of too much privilege and too little discipline that some complain of in today’s society seems similar to the difficulties Joseph Phipps had with his sons nearly 300years ago!

For much of the eighteenth century, the Phipps family prospered. As Joseph’s children grew and married several houses were built on the family lands. Some farmland was divided, but the  “home farm” and approximately 400 acres remained intact through the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century witnessed the growth of a new agricultural industry – the dairy farm. Chester County became known for its dairy farms. By the 1880’s, 85 individually owned dairy farms prospered in Uwchlan Township. The Phipps families owned several.

Happy Days Farm is the only farm property that remained in the Phipps family for more than two centuries. Members of the Phipps family were active in several area churches including Uwchlan Society of Friends and Windsor Baptist Church. Phipps participated in the organizing and prosperity of the Uwchlan Grange. Residents of this early farm accomplished their goals. They may not have been famous, but they were excellent examples of nineteenth century Pennsylvania farmers.

The “Home” farm finally left the Phipps family in 1923, when sold to settle the estate of Phillena Phipps, widow of William Phipps, great, great, great grandson of the original settler, Joseph Phipps.

The farm property was granted to Harrison Durant in 1923, who owned it for twenty six years, but had lived there as early as 1914. The farm under Durant’s ownership continued to be a dairy farm. Durant remodeled the farmhouse by opening the two original first floor rooms to create one large living room. He eliminated one fireplace and altered the large fireplace. When central heating was installed some other fireplaces were closed off. It appears that Harrison Durant was eccentric. In 1946, he purchased some old fire equipment and advertised private fire protection services for such times as burning brush to clear fields, or to assist the volunteer fire companies. This enterprise was short-lived, he put the equipment up for sale in April, 1947.

Colonial tax records provide little information on land holdings and buildings, but by 1796 descriptions of taxpayers holdings were entered every few years. Jonathan Phipps was taxed in that year for 361 acres, with “two stone houses, 2 stories high and 1 stone kitchen, 1 log house 2 stories high, 1 barn part stone and part frame, 2 good log barns, 2 stone spring houses, 1 shed waggon house, 1 shed stable, 1 lime kiln and two log tenements. The 1799 tax records indicate that the main dwelling house was part stone and part log and was assessed at $280, a sizable sum at that time. Also included in the 1799 tax records for this 360 acre property were two small stone houses, two log houses, three stone springhouses, one log barn and two log and stone barns. This list
supports the theory that several Phipps families lived on the “home” farm.

Several buildings remain, including: the original farmhouse, two stone springhouses, one barn, the old foundation of another barn (the barn has been rebuilt.) a carriage house and some modern buildings. Of particular note is a tenant house built in 1925 with some architectural features unique to Uwchlan Township.

Note:
The Supplees also own a strip of land on the other side of Route 100 and a house and lot that lie within the Lionville National Historic District. It is unknown at this time if these parcels will be included in future development. The early twentieth century house is a one story frame bungalow.

In the past, arrowheads have been found in the area of Happy Days Farm. Uwchlan residents have long supported the premise that the farm was once part of Native American Hunting grounds. Most of the roads forming a wheel design in Lionville were originally Indian paths, but other evidence of Native American activity in the area has never been thoroughly investigated or documented.

In 2001 the Daily Local featured a letter to the editor that included a plea for this farm:

As a resident of Uwchlan Township for the past 12 years, I am typical of the many residents who moved here because of its rural charm. However, unlike many of our neighbors who are moving out because of the major changes in Uwchlan’s character in recent years, my family wants to stay. We love the community and its schools; we work and volunteer in the community and hope that the encroaching development won’t destroy all that Uwchlan is.

Of particular concern to us is the development in the high density sector of the township. According to the county’s Landscapes plan, the area surrounding Route 113 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike is targeted for the densest development in the township….The development of the Happy Days Farm by Vanguard will bring new meaning to the word density. Along with all the tax incentives Vanguard will contribute to the community, it will turn Uwchlan Township into a small metropolis…..

As tax-paying citizens who will bear the burden of the traffic and noise pollution that the Vanguard complex will bring, we should not be expected to compromise the beauty of our community as well just because we happen to be in the high density sector of the county. Uwchlan Township deserves its share of the open space proposed for purchase by the county.

LOIS GRASSO

Exton

Go back a year to 2000 and an article which appeared in the Times Herald about then Governor Tom Ridge offering major money/tax incentives to Vanguard for Happy Days Farm getting developed:

Ridge announces multi-million tax package and incentives for Vanguard
May 23, 2000 

TREDYFFRIN – Gov. Tom Ridge made it official yesterday, presenting The Vanguard Group with a $55.5 million economic package to expand itˆ’s Chester County presence and create 6,000 new jobs over the next five years.

The mutual fund giant, the county’s largest employer, recently announced plans to build a corporate campus on the 245-acre Supplee family Happy Days Farm near the Downingtown interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Uwchlan. That expansion, plus an expansion of the companyˆ’s corporate headquarters in Tredyffrin, represents a $550 million investment for Vanguard.

Ridge made the official announcement of the multi-million tax package and other incentives at Vanguard’s corporate campus surrounded by state and county officials and about 100 Vanguard senior managers.

“Vanguard is a client of ours,” Ridge said as he toured the bond traders’ offices at the company headquarters. “We’re a service industry, not out to make a profit. But the companies that do make a profit, we want them to do it in Pennsylvania.”…John J. Brennan, Vanguard chairman and chief executive officer, said Chester County, a region rich in farmland where people cultivated a living, has developed as a place rich in local talent, rich in human resources which has been “vital to our success.”

“The Supplee parcel we look at with the perspective of an investor,” Brennan said, adding that investing is his business “I manage $550 billion of other people’s money.”

Brennan introduced Ridge to a standing ovation congratulating the governor and the Governor’s Action Team for their long-term view.

Ridge called Monday a great day for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a great day for Vanguard….The Happy Days Farm property, which Vanguard agreed to buy in April, was considered by two giant malls over the last four years, as well as by pharmaceutical giant, Astra Zeneca for its US headquarters. The drug company decided to locate in Delaware wooed away by tax breaks and massive road improvements.

The governor praised the county’s sensitive, smart growth and Uwchlan’s foresight to designate the Supplee tract for economic growth.

“It’s not about a mall here,” Ridge said. “This company builds a quality campus that anybody would be happy to have as a neighbor.”

The Happy Days Farm expansion comes with expedited plans by the state Department of Transportation to improve highways associated with the project, specifically routes 100 and 113 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The “transportation improvements”, Ridge said, will make it possible for people in Lancaster and Reading to work at the Happy Days site once developed.

Wow. That was QUITE the investment offer on the part of the state, right? Funded by taxpayer dollars of Pennsylvanians, right?

I can tell you that the Daily Local featured an article in 2001 about an update to Vanguard’s then plans:

Vanguard updates plans for new campus
GRETCHEN METZ Mar 7, 2001  

The mutual fund company plans to build 2.5 million square feet of office space for 10,000 new employees next to the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Downingtown interchange on the former Happy Days Farm.

The location is desirable for employee recruiting, as well as employee commuting, Ralph K. Packard, Vanguard managing director and chief financial officer, told members of the Exton Region Chamber of Commerce.

Packard was guest speaker Tuesday at the organization’s March luncheon held at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Lionville.

Then the Daily Local had an update in 2008:

Vanguard presents Happy Days Farm site update
DANIELLE LYNCH May 1, 2008 Comments

UWCHLAN — Vanguard Group representatives presented sketch plans to Uwchlan’s supervisors Monday regarding a corporate campus to be built on the Happy Days Farm.

Back in 2000, the mutual fund company purchased the 245-acre dairy farm with the intention of turning it into office space, large enough for 10,000 employees. The farm is off Route 100, near the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Downingtown Interchange.

The plans received conditional-use approval for the project in 2000, according to Denise Yarnoff, the attorney representing Vanguard. The company received preliminary and final subdivision and land development approval of phase one of the project in 2001…

The entire master plan will be on 2.5 million square feet. And the corporate campus will be built on 2 million square feet. The new sketch plans call for a change from six large buildings to about 10 smaller buildings, Yarnoff said.

The new overall project plans show a decrease in impervious area. In 2001, the impervious coverage for the plans was 79.4 acres. The new sketch plans show the impervious coverage has decreased to 76.6 acres….In addition, the open space on the campus has increased from 48.7 percent in 2001 to 50.5 percent…..

In order to do this project, Route 100 will need to be widened between Route 113 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Downingtown Interchange and make Sheree Boulevard an overpass over Route 100.

As a result, PennDOT needs right-of-way approvals for seven parcels of land that have not been acquired yet, according to PennDOT spokesman Charles Metzger. The Vanguard Group has been partnering with PennDOT for the overall construction project of the roads, he said.

Now Happy Days Farm and Vanguard have popped up in articles for years according to my research today. For example, when State Senator Andy Dinniman was a County Commissioner he wanted Vanguard to help raise $20 million to preserve farmland in Chester County:

The county is hoping the state, local municipalities and Vanguard will chip in to help raise $20 million to preserve farmland in the northern part of the county.

“(Vanguard) is the largest job creation project in the commonwealth right now,” said County Commissioner Andrew Dinniman. “We thought we had a unique two-year window of opportunity before construction starts. We’re trying to get a head start on this.”

Vanguard, the nation’s second largest mutual fund firm and the county’s largest employer with headquarters in Malvern, is planning 2.5 million square-feet of office space for nearly 10,000 employees at its new campus on the site of the 245-acre Happy Days Farm on Route 100.

“We know once Vanguard starts to get built in a couple of years, there will be an enormous pressure to eat up this land and we want to preserve some of it,” said Dinniman….Wayne Clapp, assistant director of the county planning commission, said the proposal is consistent with the county’s Landscapes master plan.

“We prefer not to see development in the rural, natural landscape,” he said.

“They should be preserved, not built upon,” said Clapp. “Agriculture is still the largest industry in the county. We tend to think of farmland as open space, but it is an industry.”

Did that ever happen? Apparently not, but read on…..

In 2001 there was an article in The Daily Local about the effects of development on  traffic and now that we are in 2019 in my opinion, we can safely say NO ONE MUCH LISTENED and CLICK HERE FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE:

Over time, Atwater in East Whiteland and Tredyffrin, Valley Creek Corporate Center in West Whiteland and Vanguard’s corporate campus in Uwchlan, could generate a total of 26,000 new jobs and about as many additional cars on the roads.

Faced with those numbers, PennDOT already has road widening projects, new bridges and better signalization either under way or in the planning stages.

For commuters, it means more aggravation.

“That type of development means a regional draw,” said Chris Williams, senior project manager at McMahon Associates, a traffic planning firm with offices in West Whiteland….The county is seeing so much development, so much traffic, Kaiser said, any one development can cause a bottleneck at an intersection five or 10 miles down the road.

On the drawing board:

Vanguard Group is set to build a 2.5 million square foot corporate campus at Happy Days Farm on Route 100 in Uwchlan. It is still in due-diligence stage, said John Demming, Vanguard spokesman. Some 6,000 people could work there when it is completed, Demming said Valley Creek Corporate Center broke ground last month. When complete, the high-end office park developed by The Rubenstein Co. on Swedesford Road near routes 30 and 202 in West Whiteland will be made up of 1.75 million square feet in 17 buildings. It is expected to attract 7,500 to 10,000 employees. The 200-acre site was once owned by Church Farm School.

Atwater by developer Trammell Crow will be a 2.6-million-square-foot office complex for about 10,000 employees. It will be located at the former Cedar Hollow Quarry site between Route 29 and Yellow Springs Road.The 380-acre site straddles East Whiteland and Tredyffrin townships but the bulk of the development is slated for East Whiteland. Both Atwater and Valley Creek will affect Route 202

Also in 2001 was the Save Our Countryside Rally.  Also reported in The Daily Local:

‘Save Our Countryside’ rally turns emotional
Bajeerah Lowe Mar 18, 2001  

Fox hunting clubs, farmers and concerned citizens from the area, surrounding townships and even surrounding counties, voiced their concerns about the disappearing landscape of Chester County to state legislators and local organization leaders.

Originally scheduled to be held at the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show Grounds, the rally was moved to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church because of rain, said James Scharnberg, master of the Skycastle French Hounds of Chester Springs and organizer of the event.

State Sen. Jim Gerlach, R-44th of East Brandywine; state Rep. Curt Schroder, R-155th of Downingtown; county commissioners Andrew Dinniman and Colin Hanna; Eleanor Morris of the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust and John Hoekstra, director of Green Valley Association, addressed the crowd regarding the importance of making their voices heard and saving open space.

Two local development plans in Wallace and Uwchlan were at the forefront of residents’ minds….The other development that concerns citizens and politicians alike is the Vanguard construction, which is to begin in two years, at Happy Days Farm, where Route 100 meets the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Uwchlan. The site will employ between 8,000 and 10,000 people.

According to Dinniman, the county has put up $5 million for farmland preservation in the area. The county is asking its three other partners — the state, the township and Vanguard — to contribute $5 million each, bringing the total to $20 million. “The only way to save open space is to save the farms and help the farmers financially,” Dinniman said. “Part of stewardship is to help us preserve land of Chester County. They are not exactly impoverished and can help us in this aspect.”

All of the speakers encouraged the crowd to let their voices be heard. “I believe the answer is the community has to mobilize,” Dinniman said following the rally. “The key is the voice. What I have heard was a deep anger level, a concern, a plea for change. Public officials need to listen and use every ounce of energy to answer the plea. The key is to keep the voice going so it can be heard.”

That is key: “concerns citizens and politicians alike.”  So I challenge these officials still around like State Senator Andy Dinniman to look at the Happy Days Farm situation again. Why? Because as years passed, residents obviously grew complacent as in maybe this wasn’t happening.  Now residents have to pick up the cause of  saving our countryside once again and FAST.

People have already said to me the following about this situation:

“What are you going to start bitching about? This tract has been talked about for years as a mall, a big pharma company…even heard of it as possibly an amusement park. A casino wouldn’t be unlikely either. Hey maybe Amazon will think about it in lieu of their NYC site. Too bad we couldn’t convince Vanguard to develop it. I think some ecological issues slowed down the Vanguard start up years ago. Something about turtles, but not sure how true that was. Who knows what we will get now.”

To my armchair quarterbacks I say it is still a working farm. THAT is what I am bitching about it. What was proposed in the past does not have to be this farm’s future. It could have a preservation-minded future.

Agriculture as noted above was once Chester County’s largest industry, right? Why not invest in THAT Vanguard? You guys do socially responsible investing, correct? What is more socially responsible that agricultural preservation in the county Vanguard calls home?  Seems win-win to me and face it Vanguard, you can AFFORD to do this, can’t you?

Really and truly I cannot stand this anymore.  Every week it seems it’s another farm. Another historically important piece of architecture.  Where has all of the preservation gone?

Someone else said to me today:

“Happy Days Farm represents a lynchpin development opportunity connecting the turnpike Eagleview development to the 113 corridor – once it falls contiguous open space to the east will diminish rapidly.”

Skip ahead to 2014 and an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  We should have paid more attention because now I ask, was this a warning of the future a/k/a our present?

PhillyDeals: Assets grow, employment slows at Vanguard
Posted: February 16, 2014 – 3:01 AM
By Joseph N. DiStefano, Inquirer Staff Writer

For a view of the “jobless recovery” – there are still fewer Americans employed today than in 2008, despite rising business profits and share prices – take a look at what has changed at Vanguard Group’s Chester County campus. And what hasn’t.

Vanguard assets have tripled, to nearly $3 trillion, since the stock market bottomed out five years ago. Its popular index portfolios, targeted-date retirement funds, and other products now account for nearly one-fifth of the U.S. mutual fund industry…..Way back in 1999, Vanguard proposed a second multimillion-square-foot office center, at Happy Days Farm just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike exit in Lionville, Uwchlan Township….The state of Pennsylvania said it was ready to grant up to $55.5 million in aid if Vanguard met its hiring goals…..But Happy Days hasn’t been needed, and the state didn’t have to provide any grants….it has cut back on the platoons of young, hourly “crewmembers” who answered phone calls from investors.

“We don’t have a goal of having fewer people at Vanguard,” said Chris McIsaac, boss at Vanguard’s Institutional Investor Group, …. “But if we can do more with the same number of people, that’s a good thing for our clients.”….As office demand has fallen, Vanguard has negotiated lower taxes, based on the reduced value investors are now willing to pay for suburban office space….Vanguard expects to keep adding assets. But it’s no longer planning for large or rapid employment growth, Reed said.

“Like every company in America, we’ve got to be more efficient tomorrow than today,” Reed added.

That article by Joseph Di Stefano tells us RIGHT THERE what some media is reporting to us this week. This 2014 article was laying out the groundwork for dumping Happy Days Farm out of their real estate portfolio, wasn’t it? Of course this article also spells out what happened to that grant money – it just seems like it evaporated as an offer as time passed, didn’t it?

To me that also says that Vanguard is also now in part perhaps just paying lip service to calling Chester County “it’s home” and I subject to you the following for consideration: if someplace else offered them a sweeter plum for the picking than all the municipalities which have bent over and kissed the corporate rear end of Vanguard all these years in Chester County would they stay? I wonder.

Heck we should have paid closer attention in 2012 when this article on Vanguard and their real estate hopscotching came out:

Main Line Suburban Life: Vanguard expanding, agrees to buy neighboring Pfizer property
By Gretchen Metz
gmetz@journalregister.com Sep 7, 2012

TREDYFFRIN – Vanguard Group Inc. confirmed on Thursday that it has signed an agreement to purchase the neighboring Pfizer property.

Vanguard spokesman John Woerth said he could not disclose the purchase price, though published reports put the deal at $40 million.

For Vanguard, the purchase was all about location.

“This is a stone’s throw from our current Malvern headquarters,” Woerth said, explaining why Vanguard is making the investment. “We had the opportunity to purchase a property close to our current property at a reasonable price.”….

Vanguard also owns Happy Days Farm on Route 100 in Uwchlan. It purchased the 250-acre property in 2000 with the intent to turn it into an upscale corporate campus. Some road work has been done since then, but no buildings have been started.

Worth said while Vanguard continues to own the property, “there are no plans to develop it at this time.”

The signs have been there all along. Sigh.

Vanguard is a financial powerhouse. As per their numbers, the assets under management are  5.1 trillion USD (January 31, 2018). They also are in the news that the have socially responsible, environmentally responsible ETFs.

As Marketwatch said at the end of September, 2018 of Vanguard and their heightened responsible awareness:

Can you afford to be a responsible investor?

That’s the question that has plagued pensions and individual investors alike as they consider financial products dedicated to environmental, social and governance criteria. In two recent polls, a majority of institutions and high-net-worth investors concluded fees were too high to justify an allocation….Just this month, Vanguard, arguably the czar of low-fee fund offerings, jumped into the ESG fray with the Vanguard ESG US Stock ETF ESGV, +0.54%  and the Vanguard ESG International Stock ETF VSGX, +0.14%  offerings. The funds will track the holdings of the FTSE US All Cap Choice and FTSE Global All Cap ex US Choice indexes — two ESG indexes — and fees are slated at 0.12% and 0.15%, respectively. The funds will incorporate elements some elements from more traditional Socially Responsible Investing (“SRI”) by excluding certain “sin stocks” such as those in adult entertainment, alcohol, tobacco, and weapons, and the funds will also exclude fossil-fuel firms from its investment portfolios. From there, the funds will apply an ESG overlay to the stock portfolios. The fund will also attempt to maximize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in its investment decisions.

Hmmm. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  Do you know what they are? No? Well I am glad you are interested so allow me to list them off of the United Nations website:

The 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world:

GOAL 1: No Poverty

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

GOAL 4: Quality Education

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

GOAL 13: Climate Action

GOAL 14: Life Below Water

GOAL 15: Life on Land

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal

Look at that: sustainable cities and communities and climate action and life on land and zero hunger just to pull out a few points. A great working farm surviving would play a role in that, right?  So many of these goals could be applied to saving a working farm they own, can’t you agree?

So Vanguard? I realize that although Jack Bogle founded you some would argue if you were really still the firm of Jack Bogle, yes?  But can you still be enough of Jack Bogle’s firm that maybe you would consider putting your socially responsible money where your corporate mouth is?

A company with TRILLIONS in assets could indeed work something out with a nature conservancy and donate the land into preservation.  The land could be preserved and still have tenant farmers.

Vanguard, you bring a lot of people to Chester County.  But if you sell this land to developers you put another nail in the coffin of Chester County’s industry of agriculture and the agricultural history and traditions.  Vanguard, if you sell to developers a parcel this big will not be open space it will be developed up as quickly as developed plans can get through, correct?

Vanguard, if you want to pay homage to where you call home, save this parcel and BE socially responsible by doing so. We don’t grow our food on the roof of Whole Foods and Wegman’s do we? We still need agrarian values and landscapes, don’t we?

Chester County, this farm land is not sold yet.  As a county can we at least try to change the conversation here? Save our countryside?

#SaveOurCountryside

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dear developer, if you are going to preserve lloyd farm’s historic farmhouse…actually DO IT

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Reader submitted photo. Lloyd Farm’s farmhouse. 2019

I received a message overnight:

I am hearing from  neighbors (across from Lloyd house) the developer isn’t tearing the circa 1795 house down. I hope that’s true! A bunch of us walked the house. Teens have vandalized it yet the house is solid. Something like 9 bedrooms!!

I met a lady in town whose mother grew up there. Her mother’s mother died when she was young so the father took a job at Lloyd farm taking care of the stables and horses and they lived in the house with the Lloyd family! (We assume based on dates it was the Lloyd family)

Sending photos I took. It’s such a huge old house.

Abandoned Steve photography documents old Chester county houses before they’re torn down. He took photos as well. His are better than mine.

Lloyd Farm. Sigh.

In December 2018 I had posted about Lloyd farm in Caln being at risk. Sources tell me that they had quite the crown turn out the other evening who turned out to protest this?

Things that people are worried about include will that historic farmhouse be torn down no matter what? Is it true that farmhouse does indeed have a fairly new roof and if this land was part of a William Penn Land Grant as in the guy who settled PA, how can this even happen? And what about the component of the big pipeline easement? How should that affect density of any development plan?

Things also being wondered about is this developer just looking for plan approvals to flip the parcel with approvals to yet another developer? And is this developer the guy who owns Suburban Propane?

Is it true that Caln’s solicitor was snippy with residents? And isn’t she the same gal who USED to hold or holds a similar position in West Goshen? East Goshen? Does something in Easttown and more places? Why does she seem so pro-development? Is she going to be mad I ask these questions? Aren’t we allowed to ask these questions? Will she try to stop me from asking these very reasonable questions?

And as for the category of “in the audience” who was the mystery attorney who seemed to object to some community flyer? Who was he there for? Apparently they also objected to residents concerned about development jacking up traffic?

So the meeting was paused until January, 2019, correct? And then there was this update January 5th that a reader posted:

Update on the Lloyd Farm. There is no public hearing being rescheduled. The people have spoken and the Commissioners have heard you!  While this plan isn’t going to get through, REGAL WILL BE BACK. As quickly as they can. Yes they have a right to develop land the own and paid $4.6M dollars for. But they need to do it in a manner that is acceptable to the Caln Twp residents. We will be watching and reporting so keep a look out for news here and on www.calnwatch.info

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I was driving by Lloyd Avenue while in Downingtown on Saturday with a friend, so is this part of that parcel?  See below:

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Is this part of “Lloyd Farm”?

So a recap is in order before I press on, ok?

Super historic. Known as the “Lloyd Farm”, “Valley Brook Farm” has a fire I would call mysterious a few years ago?  Seriously.

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 CollectionCaln Township has this buried on their website.

Pretty crazy historic, and I understand there was a fire, but  is super-sized developement all Caln Township can think is right for this property??? I am told the developer who has bought the “Lloyd Farm” was proposing 5 story apartment buildings, and commercial where there is NO zoning for it? So now what?

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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, right?

(See my prior post for links to the history I found and some document on the easement.)

Again I will tell you I have never been on this property. But people near it have, which is how I was sent the photos I am sharing.

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?

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.

They had me with part of a Penn Land Grant.  That is older than the American Revolution and is so the literal founding and early settlers.

Here is a snippet off of Wikipedia – sorry – it saves me time:

The Province of Pennsylvania, also known as the Pennsylvania Colony, was founded in English North America by William Penn on March 4, 1681 as dictated in a royal charter granted by King Charles II. The name Pennsylvania, which translates roughly as “Penn’s Woods”,[1] was created by combining the Penn surname (in honor of William’s father, Admiral Sir William Penn) with the Latin word sylvania, meaning “forest land”. The Province of Pennsylvania was one of the two major Restoration colonies, the other being the Province of Carolina. The proprietary colony‘s charter remained in the hands of the Penn family until the American Revolution, when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was created and became one of the original thirteen states. “The lower counties on Delaware”, a separate colony within the province, would breakaway during the American Revolution as “the Delaware State” and also be one of the original thirteen states.

Also check out places like the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s website. Land that was part of any Penn Land Grant is extraordinarily historically significant.  Residents near and far and hsitorians should take note and attend meetings.  Media local and regional might not find history and land development sexy, but they also need to get on the stick here. One  blip on this important topic was in the Daily Local in early December.

According to the Caln Watch Website there is a meeting Tuesday, February 12 at the Thorndale Fire Hall 3611 Lincoln Hwy, Thorndale, PA 19372 – 6pm to 8pm (Parking located in school lot):

meeting

Soooo…among the questions that should be asked and that Caln Township and this developer needs to address is are they SAVING the historic farmhouse for real? If so enough with the demolition by neglect, right? If people are sending me interior photos, then the building is not properly secured and while safe for now the longer it is exposed to punk ass vandals and the elements is not good, correct?

So the Daily Local seems to indicate that Caln Township is not really particularly chatty on the topic of Penn Land Grant becomes development and why is that?

They did post a teensy 2/1/2019 update on this issue:

2 1 update

Sooooo…my suggestion? Contact these folks. Make your opinions known. Flood meetings with bodies. Reach out to  public officials and those who want to be in office or ummm have aspirations for higher office who are in local office now. Reach out to any historic preservation or media contacts you have.

Caln officials:

Jennifer Breton jbreton@calntownship.org

George Chambers gchambers@calntownship.org

Josh Young jyoung@calntownship.org

John Contento jcontento@calntownship.org

Lorraine Tindaro ltindaro@calntownship.org

Always cc ​info@calntownship.org

It borders Downingtown, right?

Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell would be on my list and he wishes to be a Chester County Commissioner. Jmaxwell@Downingtown.org

Downingtown Borough Council:

Borough Council

Anthony Gazzerro, President
Ward: West
Term Expires: 2021
Contact: agazzerro@downingtown.org

Alex Rakoff, Vice President
Ward: East
Term Expires: 2019
Contact: arakoff@downingtown.org

Phil Dague – Councilperson
Ward: East
Term Expires: 2019
Contact: pdague@downingtown.org

Jeff Thomas, Councilperson
Ward: West
Term Expires: 2019
Contact: jthomas@downingtown.org

Ann Feldman, Councilperson
Ward: East
Term Expires: 2021
Contact: 610-518-5615
afeldman@downingtown.org

Patricia McGlone, Councilperson
Ward: West
Term Expires: 2021
Contact: pmcglone@downingtown.org

The Chester County Planning Commission:

Brian N. O’Leary, AICP,
Executive Director

boleary@chesco.org

Carol Stauffer, AICP,
Assistant Director

cstauffer@chesco.org

(P) 610-344-6285
(F) 610-344-6515

CLICK HERE FOR ENTIRE STAFF DIRECTORY.  You never know who you may know, right?

Like Crebilly (in Westtown and still at risk) this is a call to arms. (See Crebilly Farm Friends and Neighbors for Crebilly  for more on that issue.)

Also at issue and not in Caln and not Lloyd Farm but I must mention given the shared solicitor?

Development in East Goshen.

Those misguided supervisors are voting on higher density B.S. zoning thing I never thought I would see in that township on Tuesday February 5th. I heard and was not surprised to hear they refused a resident petition against this? The East Goshen  meeting starts at 7 PM.  The agenda is posted and can be read HERE. People and media should attend that as well and read the packet linked here. (Also on Tuesday in East Goshen? A chicken ordinance.  I find it ironic that chickens have such issues in a township that was once also a lot of farms. Yes, I am pro-chicken although I personally keep none.)

Why is this a call for arms? Simple. Chester County is groaning and suffering under the weight of over development and it needs to slow down or even stop for a good long while.  Just this weekend I was in Glenmoore for example.  They seem to suffer from lots and lots of power outages.  Locals speculate part of the cause is the infrastructure can’t keep up with the pace of development.

Moderation is the key to true and actual smart growth.  Only we don’t see that any longer. There is limited respect for the past and the architectural heritage of Chester County.  Just like there is lip service paid to open space and agricultural preservation at times.  It’s great when small parcels are preserved and handed down to the next generation, but what about these big parcels? Parcels like Crebilly and Lloyd farm are what a lot of our county was like for a very long time.

Now I actually do believe progress has a place but it’s the vision of progress I take issue with.  Progress doesn’t have to hurt and wanton development hurts.  We can’t support it long-term and by the time a lot of folks figure that out, the developers and current elected and appointed officials will be long gone, correct?  As a county we have to look past the damn ratables that elected and appointed officials salivate over.  They are a short-term financial gain if a gain at all since is it not true sometimes the ratables are not what people thought they would be?

Maybe some do not like my opinions, but I am entitled to them. Not every square inch should be developed. Not every square inch needs to be developed.  Y’all aren’t going to get your veggies off the roof of places like Whole Foods are you?

Farms, open space, history need to be respected and preserved.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  What do you as a resident want the future to look like? Lots of Tyvec wrapped plastic beige boxes? More stucco McMansion horror show stories?  Human warehouses for seniors and others? More ugly strip malls? The end of Main Street? Constipated bits of “open space” which is usually land that is not able to be developed?

Tick tock Chester County, tick tock.

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Reader submitted photo Lloyd Farm 2019

east whiteland do you know your own history?

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It took years, but I finally located a copy of A Brief History of East Whiteland Township by J. Gilmore Wilson from 1965.  It is a slender volume, but it captures the history of a Chester County municipality that has no town center and to most is a place you drive through.

But East Whiteland has historical significance and as I do not wish to damage the spine of my book, I converted photos I took with my phone into a PDF so people can see it.

East Whiteland is one of those places thanks in part to organizations like the Chester County Planning Commission that people think they can just keep dumping development in.  Someone said to me again last week how King of Prussia was once upon a time farms and open space.  They then compare East and West Whiteland to King of Prussia, as in these municipalities are getting WAY over-developed.

I have said it before that I object to the Chester County Planning Commission being head up by a carpetbagger from Lower Merion Township. He doesn’t live in our county, how much of the history of places like East Whiteland does he know?

East Whiteland is a funny place because as much as it use to be farms, it was also equal parts mines and quarries and industrial.  That of course is why there are some astoundingly toxic areas past and present in East Whiteland Township.

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East Whiteland is home to random historical facts and locations.  For example: Dead Horse Hollow. Yes, a lovely name and according to J. Wilson Gilmore was at one time located south of the then PA Railroad, a quarter-mile east of the township line. As the railroad was being built all dead horses and mules were…well…dumped there. Can you imagine how THAT place stunk to high heaven in warmer weather? Gross.

Or how about Cabbagetown? It was a small community on Summit Road. And Barker’s Corners? That was a little village at the intersection of Swedesford and Church Roads.

Or how about the giant Penn Oak that was said to pre-date colonial settlers on Flat Road? Does it still stand somewhere, or was it cut down or did it die years ago?

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What about the Native Americans who once lived and roamed what is East and West Whiteland? Like the Okohocking which were for a while given a 500 acre reservation somewhere in Willistown Township? Do the residents of East Whiteland know the Indians referred to the area as “The Dark Valley” because of all of the woods? Of course today they would not recognize the area given all of the development.

How many know East and West Whiteland used to be one Whiteland? And they split into two areas circa 1764-1765?

Around 1777 do people realize that George Washington and his army after the Battle of the Brandywine marched into the area and encamped near Malin Hall? To quote Mr. Wilson:

With his troops deployed along this ridge from Three Tuns at the junction of King Road and Goshen Road, and west approximately three miles as far as Ship Road, he was in an excellent position with an army of approximately 11,000 men. During his march up the Valley, quite a number of local farmers joined his ranks.

And residents see reference to the Battle of the Clouds in East Whiteland but do they realize this was a battle which didn’t actually ever happen? Why? Inclement weather, apparently. Mr. Wilson states had the battle occurred, “the British army might well have been routed.”

The history goes on and meanders from schools to Duffy’s Cut to all of the inns and taverns and residents and industry and quarries and farms and early schools and churches.  Did you know the Catholic Church tried several times to build a church in various locations in East Whiteland but were never able to complete the task?  Mr. Wilson also talks about Ebenezer AME whose ruin barely stands today on Bacton Hill Road with its abandoned graveyard with a mobile home park to one side, and new development approved last year to spring up and around it.

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This book is fascinating and this is why I wish more local historical societies had really good websites with archives available online. I can tell you East Whiteland does not. Bits of local history continue to get lost and it would behoove the township to give the historical society more resources or help them build a proper website and archives.

Things in this book Mr. Wilson refers to are a mystery to me.  What were the Speakman apartments, for example?  And the Chester County Academy? Where is it?

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And what of a crazy cool log barn ?

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Or a crazy cool log cabin? “South of Conestoga Road, on Bacton Hill”?

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Or what was known as the “Black Maria” ?

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Now Elinor Janney Detterline also wrote a brief history of East Whiteland for the Tredyffrin Easttown Hostorical Society around 1970. It is available in the online archives they have for the public to use.

But Mr Wilson’s book? To me finding a copy was like finding the holy grail.  It’s fascinating.  And I wish more would take an interest in the history of East Whiteland before everything of historical value disappears. Because if this township doesn’t start to have more interest that extends past people like me and members of the historical society, then what?

Until I got this book I had no clue that they totally celebrated East Whiteland’s Bicentennial.  And then I found related to that, this super cool thing from a page about Frazer on Facebook:

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And East Whiteland had a tagline/slogan before “The Heart of the Great Valley” and it was “Land of Limekiln, Plow and Millwheel”.

Enjoy the book, I think I got it all back into order before I converted to a PDF.  East Whiteland has history.  And it’s not just the modern-day history of groaning under development.

Thanks for stopping by.

it takes a village

The only photo I have ever seen from a book by Chester County Historian Catherine Quillman (History of the Conestoga Turkpike)

The only photo I have ever seen from a book by Chester County Historian Catherine Quillman (History of the Conestoga Turnpike)

I have been writing about the ruins of Ebenezer A.M.E. Church and Graveyard for a few years now. I wrote two posts in May of this year alone:

private joshua johnson and the other old souls at ebenezer a.me. on bacton hill road in east whiteland

remembering soldiers on memorial day that a.m.e. church doesn’t care about.

Lately I have been really bummed out about the whole thing.

Why?

Because I do not get how the A.M.E. Church as a national organization about to celebrate themselves and their bicentennial in Philadelphia July 6 to July 13th as in right after  4th of July this year doesn’t seem to care about this historic and sacred place on land they still own!

I have a file of e-mails and attempted contact. National A.M.E. church leaders, regional leaders, local ministers.  Some give an initial acknowledgement of my outreach, some have wasted my time with pleasant platitudes and a complete lack of action and I wonder if they really care, but most? Most just blow me off.

There are bits of newspaper articles here and there, including this one from the 19th century with horrible language that was sadly acceptable and not considered offensive back then:

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It is maddening.  These aren’t my ancestors, this isn’t my religious history per se, but this place speaks to me. It speaks to me of our country’s history and the important part these brave individuals buried there played.  Freed slaves, free people of color, black Civil War soldiers. They matter. #ThisPlaceMatters — yet it rots.

Then, all of a sudden people have started to connect with me again about this place:

One of my friends…. lives in Malven Borough. She and her brother went o try and locate that headstone but weren’t successful.  I’ve never been back to the site myself but would love to go once the poison ivy is gone. I don’t know the exact location..is it at the corner of Bacton Hill and 401 or Bacton Hill ? I don’t want to trespass. Their family has been around forever. Her father was a minister and there were a large number of siblings but all are gone. Thanks

 

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And then this from another local historian I just met:

 

I recently had a lady reach out to me who’s looking for information on their relatives that were supposedly buried at that Ebenezer Church. I was hoping I would be able to find more information when I went there but everything was so grown over that we couldn’t even find the gravesite…The people that she is looking for is a James Williams, but he also went by the name Perry Ringgold. He bought his freedom in 1851 and lived in this area as a circuit preacher in the AME churches. He had a daughter who we do not have any records of and that is who I’m looking for. The daughter also had a daughter and then passed away shortly after the baby was born leaving the child to a Sophia Lane, who we do not know the relation of them to the baby. I think it may have been a sister-in-law

 

And then a lady named Tia contacted me. She is looking for family buried there. She is looking for the family the historian told me about above. She shared wondrous documents with me. The original deed, and a few other gems. I do not know where the originals of these documents are, but I was so happy to receive her e-mails.

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It will take a village to save this.  I would love to get the weeds hacked back so we can see the graves. It has been a couple of years.  I heard the boy scouts will do this, but the gentleman I messaged who suggested it never responded.

If anyone from the A.M.E. church sees this, I really wish they would give a damn.  We are talking about cleaning up and maintaining a historic sacred place. Is it as exciting as Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia? No, but it is JUST as important.  A lot of the history of these churches is being lost, not just here. Records were haphazard, a lot of the history oral.

Here is the text Tia sent me from the deed:

Deed of Trust

James Malin to Samuel Davis et al.

 

This indenture made the eleventh day of the sixth month in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty one between James Malin of the Township of East Whiteland in the county of Chester and state of Pennsylvania, yeoman of the one part  and Samuel Davie, Ishmael Ells, Charles Kimbul all the said county of Chester, Trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church to erected in the Township of East Whiteland in the said County of Chester, of the other part.   Witnesseth that the said James Malin as well for and in consideration of the trusts, hereinafter mentioned, created & declared for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar, lawful money of Pennsylvania, to him in hands paid by the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells & Charles Kimbul, the receipt of which one dollar is hereby acknowledge, hath granted, bargained, sold, aliened, enfeoffed, released and confirmed and by these presents doth grant, bargain, sell, alien, enfeoff, release & confirm unto the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells and Charles Kimbul, their heirs and assigns a certain lot or piece of land situate lying and being in the Township of East Whiteland aforesaid, beginning at a  post or stone thence by land late of Doctor John Jacobs, deceased, north sixty degrees, east eight perches to a post or stone, thence by other land of the said James Malin, North thirty one degrees and an half, West nine perches to a post or stone, thence by same and land sold to Charles Kimbul, South sixty degrees west eight perches to a post or stone, thence by land late of John Jacobs now of Joseph B. Jacobs, south thirty one degrees and an half, East nine perches in the place of beginning, containing seventy two perches of land which Joseph M Paul by deed of Indenture dated the eighth day of the fourth month on thousand eight hundred and sixteen and recorded in the recorder’s office in and for the County of Chester in book M3, page 245, granted and conveyed unto the said James Malin, his heirs and assigns forever.  Together with all & singular the ways, rights, liberties, privileges, improvements, hereditaments & appurtenance whatsoever thereunto belonging on or any wise appertaining and the reversions and remainders, rents issues and profits thereof, and also all the estate eight title interest use /codeftion property claiming demand whatsoever as well at law as in equity otherwise housover of him the said James Malin of in to and out of the same.  To have and hold the said described lot or piece of land, hereditaments and premises hereby granted or mentioned or intended so to be with the appurtenances unto the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells and Charles Kimbul and their heirs to the use and behoof of the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells & Charles Kimbul their heirs & assign and the survivors and the survivor of them and the heirs and assigns of such survivors and survivor forever.  In trust nevertheless and to the use, intents & purposes herinafter mentioned, expressed & declared that to say that the said lot or piece of land hereby granted and conveyed shall be appropriated as a place & spot of growing whereon to build and erect a church to be called and styled the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Township of East Whiteland in the County of Chester for the members of said church to meet in and at, for the purpose of performing divine worship and for the erecting other necessary guildings for the conveniency and accommodation of the members of said church and for the purpose of a burial ground to bury and inter their dead and to and for no other use, intent or purpose whatsoever.  And the said James Malin for himself his heirs, executors or administrators doth covenant, declare & agree to and with the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells & Charles Kimbul & their  several & respective heirs & assigns in manner following that is to say that upon the death of any one of them the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells and Charles Kimbul or upon their or any of them being mindful or desirous to quit him or themselves of the said Trust, or upon their or any of them being expelled from religious membership by the discipline of said Church, it shall & may be lawful to & for the majority of the members of said Church in meeting assembled as often as occasion may require to make choice of another or others to manage and & requite the said Trust in the room and stead of such as shall depart this life, be desirous of parting him or their selves  of the said Trust, or being expelled from religious membership as aforesaid.  And the said Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells and Charles Kimbul and the survivors and survivor of them and the heirs and assigns of such survivor shall at the request of the majority of the members of the said Church in meeting assembled as aforesaid convey the said lot or piece of land with the appurtenances agreeably to the Trusts, uses intents and purposes aforesaid to such person & persons and their heirs & assigns as shall be by the majority of the said meeting in that behalf chosen, nominated & appointed in order to keep on foot and in continuance the said Trust estate for the uses and purposes aforesaid.  And also that the Samuel Davis, Ishmael Wells & Charles Kimbul or any or either of them shall not, nor will not at any time or times hereafter assign or convey over his or their said trust estate of or in the said dasonibet lot or piece of land and premises or any part therof unto any person or person or persons so as to make a tenancy in common or otherwise to sever the joint tenancy on the premises hereby created or intended so to be or in any other manner whatsoever buy shall stand and be (?) of the premises with the appurtenances to and for the uses, intents & purposes aforesaid, and to have no other use intent or purpose whatsoever. In witness whereof the said James Malin have hereunto set his hand and seal dated the day, month & year first above written.  James Malin. Seal.  Sealed & delivered in the presence of us John Rogers, James Dilworth, before me the Subscriber, one of the Justices of the peace in and for the County of Chester cam the above named James Malin and acknowledged the above written Indenture of Trust to be his ad & deed to the intent the same as such might be recorded according to law.  In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hands and seal the eleventh day of the sixth month in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty one.  James Dilworuth. Seal

Recorded Febry 18, 1832

 

 

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EBene

Troop 65 Research

Property Dimensions

Ok local history buffs, have I whetted your appetites yet? Come on, it took a village to get this far, what can the extended village do to save it?

And again, if anyone from the A.M.E. church is reading, please please step forward.  Don’t just talk the talk, actually HELP.

great lecture coming up: rediscovering devon – the history of the devon horse show

devon oldMy pals at the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust have this amazing lecture planned about the history of the Devon Horse Show. And  Jenkins Arboretum is hosting the event.  And well…my friend Michael Morrison is giving the lecture! No matter how you slice it, this will be terrific!

Devon Inn circa 1900I completely expect nouveaux Devon will be distressed but why fuss? It’s just history. It’s part of the Main Line, Philadelphia, and Chester County. This is not a horse show event, this is a local lecture that will be fascinating.  Our history belongs to all of us, after all.

The Tredyffrin Preservation Trust is a marvelous organization and I just love Jenkins Arboretum and have plants from their plant sales in my garden! And I love learning more about local history! We have such a rich history to draw on, so lectures like this are always interesting and informative.

Here are the Details:

On the eve of the opening of the 120th anniversary of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust is delighted to welcome guest speaker             J. Michael Morrison to the 2016 Spring Lecture Series on Thursday, May 25 at Jenkins Arboretum, 631 Berwyn-Baptist Road, Devon, PA. Reception will begin at 7 PM, followed by lecture at 7:30 PM.

Morrison will present, “Rediscovering Devon”, based on the Society’s book, created to commemorate the history of the Devon Horse Show since its inception in 1896. The oldest and largest outdoor multi-breed competition in the country, Devon’s history is interwoven with the history of the Main Line and Chester County and continues to be part of the fabric of our community.

A native of Upper Merion Township, Morrison has enjoyed a lifelong interest in local history and is currently involved in historic restoration and architectural interior design, featuring antique and repurposed materials.  In addition to serving as President of Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society, Morrison is the President of The King of Prussia Historical Society and has written three books, Images of America”, “Then and Now”’, an in-depth look at the history of King of Prussia and “Upper Merion Township: The First 300 Years”.  In the words of Morrison, “If you are unaware of your past, you are destined to repeat it, and not even know why”.

The Trust is grateful to Dr. Harold Sweetman and the Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens, for their generous sponsorship of the “Rediscovering Devon” lecture on May 25. Plan to arrive early for the lecture and enjoy the botanical gardens wonderful collection of trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns.

“Rediscovering Devon … The History of the Devon Horse Show”
Guest Lecturer: J. Michael Morrison, Historian, Lecturer & Author
Date: Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Cost: $15/person
Refreshments: 7:00 PM – Lecture: 7:30 PM
Location:  Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens,  631 Berwyn Baptist Road, Devon, PA 19333

You can access ticket purchase through the Tredyffrin HistoricPreservation Event Page 

loch aerie open again tomorrow – last “open house” before auction

Loch Aerie FlyerTomorrow is the last “open house”  or public viewing of Loch Aerie / Lockwood Mansion / Glen Loch Mansion before the auction on April 21st. So that is tomorrow Wednesday, April 6, 12 pm (noon) until 2 pm. If you know of a preservation buyer, tell them!

The auction people are very nice and gracious, but you do have to stop at their registration table and fill out a form so they know who is in the house. It’s no big deal, but it is an old house. Wear sturdy shoes or good sneakers, this is an old house with many rooms and floors and stairs.

Since the signs went up, the news of Chester County’s La Ronda going to the auction block has spread like wildfire, even making the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Properties for Sale List (CLICK HERE)

I would caution people that there is still opportunity here for Loch Aerie to be saved.  This is very different from those of us who watched La Ronda fall in Bryn Mawr .  No one knew what danger La Ronda was in until Lower Merion Township found out about the desired demolition. By then it was too late. And it was insane, the person who purchase dLa Ronda demolished her just because he could.  He even had a preservation buyer prepared to buy the house and move it to another location. La Ronda was replaced by an absurdly pretentious McMansion with a hockey rink and history was lost.

La Ronda was an amazing example of Addison Mizner’s work and was at that time (2009) one of the last remaining examples if not the last example in this area.  His mansions used to dot the East Coast up through New York State if I remember correctly. And in the end with La Ronda even the seller and owner were at odds over salvage rights.

La Ronda was an amazing property. I was lucky to be able to photograph her from outside her gates before she fell. I was  there like like dozens of others on demolition day. I took photos as tears ran down my face at the sheer waste of something so amazing. Even local commissioner were there and crying. It was awful . It was a house that was beloved by her former community, just like Loch Aerie is today. And just as symbolic and recognizable which is why people sometimes call Loch Aerie Chester County’s La Ronda.

The clock is ticking but not all is lost. Loch Aerie just needs a preservation buyer and not a developer who is land greedy who will buy her for the 6 acres in total she comes with and let her rot as opposed as to just lie fallow with a caretaker in residence.

Loch Aerie has stood there on her hill and watched Chester County change.  This mansion has survived Home Depot being built, turnpike and other highway expansions, motorcycle gangs and general ignorance.

Addison Hutton is one of the finest architects that ever worked or lived in Philadelphia. Loch Aerie is fanciful and lyrical in her Swiss Gothic style. Her original gardens were designed by Charles P. Miller, the landscape architect who designed Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. The gardens are all but gone and the difference between this spring and some other springs I have seen Loch Aerie go through seems to be that some of the last remaining foundation plantings are but memories.

You can read the report that the Chester County Historical Society compiled for a Historic Buildings Survey in the 1950s for The Department of the Interior by clicking HERE.

You can read author Thom Nickel’s Huffington Post essay on Loch Aerie by clicking HERE.

I will note that East Whiteland Historical Commission has a meeting tomorrow evening – 4/6/2016 from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm.  Supposedly they will be discussing Loch Aerie although no agenda is posted as per usual. they also never seem to post any meeting minutes. So I can’t tell you what they are doing but they certainly have not gotten out in front of this.  Or if they have it’s a secret they keep from everyone.

We can’t save every old house, barn, mansion, structure but we should save some, right?  The crime here is just like with the Old Conestoga Inn in Tredyffrin, the Strawbridge House next to the boat place on 30 in Malvern, or Linden Hall on Route 30 in Malvern at the base of 352 and countless other structures all over, there is nothing legally keeping any of them from being torn down. The drawback to living in Pennsylvania, which is a heavy private property rights state (which of course given the eminent domain for private gain all over the state for decades is somewhat contrary in and of itself.)

But the thing is this: Pennsylvania needs more meaningful historic preservation. And there need to be more financial incentives available to preservation buyers. Other states in this country have them.

Pennsylvania also needs an overhaul of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (“MPC” or Act of 1968 P.L. 805 no. 245 as Reenacted and Amended).  This weighty tome is the bible which guides zoning and land use on local levels. This what your local elected officials will lament prevents them from preventing development/density and so on and so forth at times.  Legislators will tell you the MPC is flawed, heck they even did a comprehensive report on it around 2002-2004.)

Communities around Pennsylvania desperately need balance and even protections from development. What defined a suburb and exurb in the past may no longer fit and how does historic preservation in communities fit in? The truth is historic preservation is more of a nice option in Pennsylvania rather than the occasional requirement.

Sorry, don’t mean to put you to sleep, but I feel quite passionately about preserving our open spaces and history.

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Loch Aerie is a symbol to us. A symbol of the rich history and past, homage to a time gone by, an example of legendary architecture which has withstood the test of time and is still so beautiful. And Loch Aerie could be a private home again, or an adaptive reuse. It would be a fabulous boutique hotel and there is a need. I could see a small hotel with a chic restaurant on the first floor.

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Even artists have been captivated by Loch Aerie over time.  In a garage sale group I bought a print  done by Chester County artist named  Christopher Schultz.  Schultz used to present the land and wildlife of the Brandywine Valley in his watercolors and prints of his watercolors.  What I got was Loch Aerie. Apparently the print was popular 15 to 20 years ago.  I have never seen anything else by this artist, and I bought this print because it was of Loch Aerie. Not terribly valuable but pretty and spoke to me because of the subject matter.

Loch Aerie speaks to me as she does to so many of you. She needs a preservation buyer. She deserves to be saved. But someone has to want to and be able to afford to do it.  Here is hoping and praying that somewhere preservation buyers are thinking about this. It would be criminal for Pennsylvania to lose this treasure.

#thisplacematters

Thanks for stopping by.