Yesterday I wrote about the wrecking ball of doom hanging over a very beloved and well-recognized landmark, the Old Covered Wagon Inn of Strafford PA. Once it was a tale of two counties, and apparently at some point the structure got plunked 100% in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County. (Say, has anyone asked Radnor Township how they feel about this?? It is right on the border and they are always taking care of than intersection aren’t they?)
Today thanks to Pattye Benson I have these great photos to share with you. And a new post:
There has been questions about the exact date of the Covered Wagon Inn. According to Tredyffrin Township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey, the construction date is attributed to circa 1780. A team of professionals from Preservation Design Partnership in Philadelphia conducted the municipal survey documentation project, which surveyed and documented over 350 historic resources in Tredyffrin Township.
Interestingly in 2004, the Historic Resource Survey was given the Government Award by Preservation Pennsylvania. The project was described as “providing a usable preservation planning tool for a suburban township currently under intense development and redevelopment (in the form of “tear-downs”) pressure.” The award description went on to say that, “Tredyffrin Township Historic Resources Survey represents a model for the use of technology to document and plan for the management, protection and preservation of historic buildings, sites and districts valued by a municipality.”
The township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey was funded with taxpayer dollars and was intended to aid the municipal officials and staff in the protection of Tredyffrin Township’s resources. The preservation of historic buildings like the Covered Wagon Inn is a one-way street. There is no chance to reuse or save the building, once it’s gone. Preservation and restoration is the ultimate form of recycling. What is historic, and worth saving, varies with the beholder.
How horribly and sadly true. Not everyone sees the value in our old and historic structures.
photo courtesy of Pattye Benson and Community Matters. artistic filters applied courtesy of Simple Shots Photography: The Magic of Ordinary Days
When my friend Pattye Benson told me about what was up for discussion at a recent Tredyffrin Township meeting, I thought I misunderstood her. I thought they could NOT possibly raze the old Covered Wagon Inn located in Strafford on the corner of Lancaster and Old Eagle School. After all, it is one of the most rcognized landmarks on that part of the upper end of the Main Line in Tredyffrin, Chester County. It also is an ongoing example of adaptive reuse. No matter who rents or owns the site, it endures.
The last item in front of the Planning Commissioners tonight has personal interest – a land development application to demolish a building a construct a CVS Pharmacy and drive-thru. Summit Realty Advisors will present a plan for the 1-1/2 acre property located at 625/629 East Lancaster Ave. in Wayne. This property is located on the corner of Old Eagle School Road and Lancaster Ave – the Paddock Restaurant (previously John Harvards Brew House) property.
I have no issue with the redevelopment of this property, including the demolition of the ‘new addition’ located at 629 Lancaster, which housed the Paddock Restaurant. But … I have a real problem with demolition of 625 East Lancaster Ave, the historic building that currently houses Thos. Moser Furniture. According to Tredyffrin Township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey, the building was built about 1780 as a private resident. John Palmer owned a farm which included this structure in 1873, indicated on the 1881 atlas map. The structure was enlarged during the 20th century and was known as the Covered Wagon Inn. Well-known on the Main Line for fine dining and dancing, in its heyday the Covered Wagon Inn featured big name bands and performing artists such as Count Basie and Duke Ellington and their orchestras.
I personally also have no issue with redevelopment per se (although I will admit I do not see the need of yet ANOTHER big box of a chain drug store or a big box store in general) but like Pattye I have a HUGE issue with razing this historic building. The old Covered Wagon Inn has stood for 250 years. It’s a local landmark in use currently, means something to the area, so why demolish it? Especially when the Summit Group ironically was involved with a very special adaptive reuse in Ambler, PA as Pattye continues:
In a review of the Summit Realty Advisors website, there are many, many CVS Pharmacy development projects, including a similar current project in Media. However, in the midst of their drug store building portfolio, I discovered a very special project by John Zaharchuk, owner/developer with Summit Realty Advisors. Zaharchuk oversaw the redevelopment of Ambler Boiler House, the 19th century power plant of an abandoned asbestos factory. Working with historic architectural firm, Heckendorn-Shiles (a former historic house tour sponsor) of Wayne, the project redesigned the circa 1897 brick building, preserving its architectural integrity and recycled it into a clean-and-green office development.
Now…what to do with this? You see a major stumbling block is Tredyffrin, like many Chester County municipalities, historic structures are NOT protected (you know like Linden Hall and Loch Aerie in East Whiteland for two other examples?)
So what can we do? Quite simply raise awareness and try to change the developer’s mind. Can we do it Chester County and beyond? The answer is we can darn well try! The building is in good shape and occupied and has been basically continually throughout the course of time.
In less than 24 hours we have just shy of 500 signatures already on the petition (and growing!) and well OVER 1000 Facebook page likes and growing. Thank you to those who have joined us already and here is an invitation for any of you out there wherever you are to join us!
#ThisPlaceMatters so we have shared our early efforts with The National Trust For Historic Preservation too! In addition to the petition and Facebook page we invite anyone who is preservation minded especially when it comes the the old Covered Wagon Inn to take a photo outside the building with a simple hand lettered sign on a pie of copy paper that says #THISPLACEMATTERS and either post it on the Save The Covered Wagon Inn Facebook Page or post it on Twitter to @SavingPlaces @tredyffrin @TredyffrinTwp .
Also we are looking for photos of the Old a Covered a Wagon Inn throughout the years. You can send them to Pattye Benson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or post them on or message them to the Facebook page.
One thing that has come out of this since we launched the Facebook page is people sharing memories of The Old Covered Wagon Inn throughout the years. My friends and I in our early 20s danced many a night away at the then “Main Lion” . Here are some of the other memories:
“My parents met at the Covered Wagon! It was a family favorite…..for so many reasons.”
“I have a personal connection, it was the site of my wedding reception. More long term, my family, Davis’, have a long history in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County ,dating back to the 1600’s as shown by Graves in the Valley Baptist Church off Valley Forge Rd, Devon. Please preserve and protect the history of this area and this building in particular.”
“My mother took me to see Harry James at the Covered Wagon. She convinced me to go backstage to get his autograph. He must have been in his 70s but he could really play. Nicest guy you’d ever want to meet.”
“They can’t do it!!! Our Saint Katharine of Siena eighth grade graduation celebration was there!! It’s like tearing down Independence Hall, or Betsy Ross’s house. Buildings that involved very very important people and/or events MUST be preserved, cherished and maintained.”
“I remember the 70’s when Mt. Zion AME Church Devon had many Fashion Shows at The Old Covered Wagon Inn. It was gorgeous. So much history. Hopefully it will be restored.”
“The Old Covered Wagon was a frequent advertiser in the Radnor Historical Society Bulletin years ago; feel free to use this ad if you wish to post it.”
from the Radnor Historical Society
There is also another post on Community Matters you should read:
Patience is a virtue every gardener must have. But right now I am feeling a garden of frustration. So much seems missing after the winter.
Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain. ~Henry David Thoreau
As I wander around my garden I am thrilled by all the daffodils. I see some tendrils of ferns unraveling and the pink and purples of bleeding hearts and a couple of the peonies as they start to emerge.
And mint, the mint will be coming in with a vengeance. May it grow tall and strangle out the bishop’s week which nothing seems to kill.
Some hostas are emerging. So are some of the day lilies. But tradescantia is nowhere to be seen and my specimen hydrangeas are somewhat decimated after the winter. And I seem to be missing so many hostas.
Remarkably the roses are leaf budding already and I see some daisies coming back and the garden phlox.
“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” ~Gertrude Jekyll
But so much is missing. I am hoping these plants are not really missing, just still sleeping. Like all my coneflowers and remarkably a very old and established buddleia and all my species of monarda. And where are the Lillie’s of the valley? They should be poking up their little heads!
In the back garden I am so distressed about the wonderful shrubs I planted to break up the pachysandra ponds in the back. But I think I am going to loose a lot of them. The winter was just too hard.
Hence my garden of frustration.
It is so hard when you work so hard on your garden and then along comes Mother Nature to redefine and redecorate. So today I just stood and looked. And looked. And wondered.
The more one gardens, the more one learns; And the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows. –Vita Sackville-West
Now I wait. It is early for some things, but I think I have a LOT of digging in the dirt ahead of me.
Mind you it isn’t all bad. The lilacs are beginning to bud and the forsythia are happy and vigorous, with their graceful yellow arms bobbing in the breeze.
My Japanese maple is getting ready to start to leaf as is my weeping willow. And I love Japanese maples. I think I need to have more of those in my woods.
But right now in spite of what brings me delight, I am admittedly frustrated over what may have been lost. Sigh….only time will tell how my garden will grow!
Sorry folks, it’s that time of year when I dream in verdant greens and plan new planting beds in my head…..and start to dig in the dirt!
“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
~A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
Well, even out here where there is plenty of green and trees between houses, the misplaced sound of a buzz saw way before 8 a.m. will jar you awake. Such was the case with me, so I decided to get some baking out-of-the-way for later.
Heat oven to 325° F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice, then the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Reduce mixer speed to low. Add half the flour mixture, then the yogurt, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix just until combined (do not overmix).
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 65 to 75 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 1 of the remaining tablespoons of lemon juice until smooth, adding the remaining lemon juice as necessary to create a thick, but pourable glaze.
Ok so above is the recipe straight. I fiddle with everything, and what I do here is I add the zest of TWO lemons to the batter, I add grated fresh ginger, and I do a lemon soak before the glaze;
My lemon soak is juice of 2 lemons, grated zest, 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and a couple of tablespoons of a liqueur called Framboise (right now I have an US Framboise out of Bonny Doon Vineyards.)
What I do is I line my pan (or pans as the case may be) with parchment baking paper after I do the grease and flour, so I can hike the cake or cakes out the pan or pans.
Anyway, I cool the cake or cakes post baking for 10 minutes, maybe a few longer. Then I pull them out of the pan gently, peel down the parchment paper and allow to cool for 30 minutes all in all on a baking rack on clean parchment paper.
I then poke little fork holes up and down the cake (no need to make hamburger out of the top, so be neat!) and gently pour the lemon soak goodness over the top of the cake. You will see today where I have propped up the new clean parchment paper with a single toothpick on each end of my cakes so the lemony-sugary goodness doesn’t run all over.
After that has all soaked in and everything is set I will either make a glaze or light lemony flavored royal icing and drizzle it over the top, or I also sometimes just dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving and adorn my platter with fresh mint sprigs and nasturtium blossoms. Today I soaked, I adorned with lemon royal icing, dotted with Nasturtium blossoms and mint sprigs.
In other fun of the day, my arugula is growing unmolested, apparently the blasted squirrels only liked the lettuce.
And in the nesting of it all, thanks to Food Network I have discovered The Pioneer Woman. I am still not sure if her rancher hubby likes the cameras all over, but she has some terrific recipes. She has a website called (of course) The Pioneer Woman. I am also digging Trisha’s Southern Kitchen with Trisha Yearwood. Her website is here. I also love Barefoot Contessa, but she has been all re-runs lately. I used to watch Nigella Lawson a lot, but I got tired of the odd Euro pop music in the background and the fact they seemed to have an obsession with seeing her on camera raiding her fridge late at night. But she has some great recipes.
Cooking is also somewhat instinctual. Almost everyone in my family cooks. My late father was a fabulous cook. I had one grandmother who was Italian and one who was Pennsylvania German. I also learned a lot from an Italian Great Aunt, Millie, whom I still miss to this day. Millie was a trip and if she was worried about her figure, she used to cut out the coca cola that she used to have in the afternoon for a while. And my maternal grandmother? No one, not any diner on earth could make meringues on pies go as high or be as perfect as my mumma’s were.
As a kid, I soaked this all up. I did not realize at the time I was soaking it all up, but I did. My cooking style blends my heritage of Italian, Irish, and Pennsylvania German. I can go haute or keep it simple. I actually have a handful of recipes uniquely my own on Scribd, including my epicurious.com award winning Sunday Pasta Sauce – yes I actually won a contest on this!
I should probably write down more of my recipes, like my chocolate chip cookies or various incarnations of gnocchi, traditional bolognese, sweet potato soup, crab mac and cheese, cranberry sauces and chutneys, apple and fruit butters, and pies, salads, and such, but most of my cooking is out of my head – a little this, a little that, judging flavors and textures. And when I use recipes, I am bad, I will often have several recipes open and cook from multiple recipes at one time for one meal. I am also the cookie fiend at Christmas, so I am happy to adopt any old cookie tins as I find them, especially vintage ones. (Speaking of which, I need to start hunting for those tines soon – I gave too many away last year during cookie craze!)
How can you not love these vintage wooden spoons? Don’t they just make you want to cook?! Vintage wooden spoons if in good shape are even just pretty to look at, but I use mine. So much more fun that new wooden spoons and for the most part are better made and utilize better woods.