tragic photos of the desecration of lloyd farmhouse

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Submitted by Anthony, a photographer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also of note are  videos out there on Lloyd Farm:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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history down in the hollow….cedar hollow

Someone messaged me this photo of this house. Apparently it is at the end of Cedar Hollow on the left before you go under the tunnel? Does anyone know anything about this house or it’s history? I’m not even sure which Township it’s in.

Apparently the house is in very dangerous condition.

The person who messaged me was looking for any history available.

I am NOT advocating anyone explore it. It looks creepy and super derelict.

Whoever owns the land really should secure the house. But who knows if anyone actually owns it or it was a property abandoned long, long ago?

barbarians at the gate…of lloyd farm

 

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Social media has totally amped up since earlier this afternoon and Caln residents and historic preservationists and history buffs all over Chester County are SO upset.  I am upset right along with them. The raping and pillaging of a historic house before demolition has begun.

1757.  The Lloyd Farm farmhouse was built in 1757.  We weren’t even a country yet.  I could just cry it’s so awful.

Yes….sadly, the barbarians have arrived at the proverbial gates of Lloyd farm.

Today, hours ago, people started getting messages that salvagers were in the house ripping away. Hardware, mantlepieces, doors, paneling, trim, you name it. Going going until it’s gone, right?

52926870_773931022988143_1379312911565979648_nReaders, I didn’t want to be right about what is happening here, but sadly my gut instinct when I first heard about this is coming true. This is just like Addison Mizner’s La Ronda in Bryn Mawr all over again. I don’t understand people that take houses down not because they have to but because they can, do you?

Much as was the case with La Ronda (and I was there then), residents came over today to Lloyd Farm on a sacred pilgrimage to say good-bye.  As you can see, residents have sent me LOTS of photos.

(I will note again however that in the case of La Ronda (which was in Lower Merion Township also a first class township like Caln ), the commissioners in Lower Merion and their township staff were 100% supportive of their residents wishing to save La Ronda – the township wanted it saved too.  Mind you, you can’t say that about Caln, can you?)

53039138_301373790444613_7807780605986340864_nSomething I find profoundly disturbing looking at the photos is whomever the people were inside the house salvaging today have seemingly broken every window in the house and WHY????? Why be common vandals? Every salvager and antique and scrap dealer will tell you there is big money in intact 18th century windows complete with glass, so why wanton destruction? Sadly my opinion is they do it because they can. Today’s salvaging was described to me as like ripping limbs off a body. And they weren’t very bright because of the hardware and shutter dogs and things they left behind based on the photos I saw.

 

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These resident submitted photos are probably the last ones you will ever see of this farmhouse standing.  Next I will get the demolition photos and I will post those too.  People also went to visit the Lloyd graves today.  They aren’t on site.  They told me they went to the graveyard to pay their respects and to apologize for the destruction of their beautiful home.

And speaking of graves, are there graves actually on Lloyd Farm given the fact people have lived on that land since when? 1682 if you count the Penn land grant? And isn’t their a limestone quarry on the site too? But if their are graves discovered during construction, then what? Will the remains be respectfully removed elsewhere or just plowed under to haunt the development?

This developer is apparently a local guy. He has other businesses and is it true he lives in West Whiteland Township? He has a development in Delaware that looks like a plastic Lego land. Which of course is great if you’re in elementary school, but after that it just looks…fake and plastic.

img_3118-1Caln Township has zero respect for their historic commission or their residents or the history being lost, can’t you agree?  The commissioners in Caln will wring their hands and say they couldn’t do anything. Well if course not, because when exactly is it they do anything productive and for the benefit of their residents at all?

(Here is where I am pausing to remind those commissioners and their solicitor that no one in Washington DC has repealed the First Amendment yet, so if I want to have the public opinion that they are a bunch of turds, it’s legal.)

262 years of history are about to become dust. And there are even more years if you count the fact that the land itself that the farmhouse sits on is part of a Penn land grant. And what about the Underground Railroad history? That links this site to Glen Isle, correct?

 

53211079_268640844029190_829416385959428096_nI wish I could say something really intelligent here but I just think this totally sucks. I don’t understand people that have to destroy history when they don’t have to.

The residents of Caln Township have to stay vigilant. And they need to replace every single commissioner until they are all gone. Every last one of them. And once all of the commissioners are replaced they need a new township structure from the inside out don’t they?

I will further note that people need to look at any new candidates coming forward for public office carefully. For example, I would not be too jazzed about “endorsed” Republicans. As a former Republican when the real ones return to the party then maybe I won’t say that. However, don’t discount truly independent candidates from either the Republican or Democrat party.  A candidate who is not endorsed is often preferred in many places. Caln, you want independent thinkers and they don’t need to have zippy little bow ties, either.

These are the current Caln Commissioners and when their term expires (and YES I can name them they are publicly elected officials):

Jennifer Breton – term expires 2019

George Chambers – term expires 2019

Joshua Young – term expires 2021

John Contento – term expires 2021

Lorraine Tindaro- term expires 2021

Follow this link to learn about the appointed officials and other township personnel. And explain to me again why they saved Ingleside Golf Club and can they afford it? And what about the Zoning Hearing Board and Planning Commission? 

Lloyd Farm doesn’t have to die. It truly doesn’t. But it is. Today is proof.

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Also upsetting? Once again  Chester County’s history and architectural heritage hasn’t been sexy enough for media to really cover. And I understand the realities of media today whether it’s television or print journalism (what’s left of it) but media gives people a voice and things that are important aren’t just about what’s going on in the cities, whatever is going on in Washington D.C. , drugs and murder.

Sadly and pathetically, this situation is playing out all over Chester County and Southeastern Pennsylvania. This kind of crappy ass development, infill or not is why I moved off of the Main Line. But now I am sadly realizing more and more every day that it doesn’t matter where you move to this plague known as over-development is just following all of us. Everywhere.

Our history, our heritage, our open space, our agricultural traditions and past, they all matter. And they keep disappearing more every day.

And the loss of Lloyd Farm should be a rallying point. Enough is enough.

Many thanks to the residents who sent in the photos, and signed me completely and utterly disgusted.

Our history shouldn’t always belong to the bulldozer and wrecking ball. It just  shouldn’t.

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meanwhile back at lloyd farm in caln

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#SaveLloydFarm

#ThisPlaceMatters

BREAKING big fire at atwater

UPDATE: One of my readers has pointed out a great article in The Daily Local which has outlined this fire which obviously is still under investigation:

Firefighters face difficult factors batting a fire in a building under construction

By Ginger Rae Dunbar gdunbar@21st-centurymedia.com @GingerDunbar on Twitter

Atwater is a ginormous development that is new in Chester County. Part of it which is in Tredyffrin Township is on fire.

900 block of Atwater Drive. 6ABC is on site. Echo Lake.

This is scary stuff and multiple fire companies have responded. My photos are from my readers. (Who are also reporting so many fire trucks that first responders are walking up the driveway.)

Below is from Chester County Working Fires. I think it is beyond 3 alarms. Thank God this building is unoccupied and please say prayers for all the first responders involved.

This last photo from another of my readers shows the long line of first responders. It makes you wonder about new construction doesn’t it?

Again, thank God this wasn’t occupied yet. Especially because it is for senior citizens I am told.

I will close with noting I have no idea what caused this fire. Some are speculating high winds, but I don’t know what the origin of the fire is. I will update the post if any of that is made known. I will update the post as additional media reports on it.

Many thanks to my readers for the photos and for Chester County Working Fires for covering it.

I do not know if the fire has been contained as I post this.

getting an epic fail on preservation in exton (west whiteland)

Sometimes photos just have to stand alone without much commentary. I have taken these photos because I am shocked at the continued deterioration of the historic farmhouse and outbuildings at Exton Main Street in West Whiteland Township.

I had always heard part of the deal for this mall was preservation of these structures and not demolition by neglect? Is it just me or is this actually demolition by neglect? WTF West Whiteland Township? Are you all so salivating over there in the township building at the prospect of more apartments or some other form of Tyvec-wrapped boxes that you can’t see what should smack you in the face since the township building is right there???

Epic preservation fail.

a recurring theme?

I was out taking photos in the snow in my garden and I had to laugh because I realized I have three Buddhas.

The thing about shade gardens and even shade into Woodland Gardens is some of the most beautiful gardens like that I have seen have been Asian-inspired gardens.

I guess my subconscious has been leading my garden in that direction, given what I have planted.

My first Buddha came from my sister. But he had to relocate into a patch of ferns and pachysandra because the chipmunks chewed holes in him. Yes that Buddha is officially a chipmunk condominium.

The other two Buddhas sort of found me in my travels. I love taking their photos in the snow.

Thanks for stopping by.