not a fine chester county tradition: demolition by neglect

105 S. Whitford Road 7/13/22

Recently I wrote about two historic houses within close proximity to one and other on S. Whitford Road in Exton (West Whiteland Township.) I am revisiting it today because I just don’t understand no matter what the municipality how this is OK.

I am also including the rotting historic farmhouse with a fabulous probably rotting barn behind it at 310 Lancaster Avenue in Frazer (East Whiteland Township) which I have been writing about for years (like the Joseph Price house at 401 Clover Mill Road at the corner of South Whitford in Exton, West Whiteland Township.) 310 Lancaster Avenue is the Clews & Strawbridge property, which if I recall my research correctly is three parcels under the same entity name.

Historic farmhouse at Clews & Strawbridge 310 W. Lancaster Avenue, Frazer (East Whiteland Township)

What is interesting about the Clews and Strawbridge property is I found a website today for self storage units there. I hope the storage is an inside the historic farmhouse given its dilapidated condition.

What I don’t understand with this location like the other two in this post is why people can’t take care of them? Why the demolition by neglect? And these are hardly the only examples in Chester County, either.

Joseph Price House 401 Clover Mill Road,
Exton (West Whiteland)

The Joseph Price House at 401 Clover Mill Road is so sad. That is a magnificent property, and it appears to be on still buy two old men in Ambler. I think at least one of them used to live around maybe? I also know they have had offers for that property for restoration/preservation but in this case it’s demolition by neglect meets greed isn’t it?

Today it looks like some kind of cheap roofing material was being thrown up to cover the holes in the roof and some of the porch roof. So is that because they’re trying to sell it or is there actually still a tenant/caretaker living there? There used to be but the more it deteriorated, people just wondered but Loch Aerie had a caretaker living there as that was rotting up until the end. And Loch Aerie is a prime example that restoration and a viable adaptive reuse is entirely possible. Loch Aerie went from a proverbial lump of coal for decades to a glittering diamond.

And the farmhouse at 105 S. Whitford is also legitimately historic. It’s even recognized by West Whiteland Township as such. It was part of the Oaklands estate. And was it also not once also a family home to a very popular former Chester County State Representative?

When I went by both houses along South Whitford Road today I was astounded by the condition of the property at 105. The farmhouse looks sad but not completely dilapidated yet. But give it time because if no one pays attention it will get that way.

Demolition by neglect is an old unpleasant thing in so many communities. A few years ago you even saw foreclosure versions of that when banks would come in and take over the properties and just leave ghost houses, or whatever the correct nickname was.

I don’t know what the future holds for that farmhouse but shouldn’t it matter somehow? Shouldn’t the condition of the property matter somehow? And that’s the whole thing: you get that not every historic house can be saved or every old house or every beautiful swath of land, but this whole demolition by neglect and chest high weeds thing is ridiculous. Don’t the people that live in the area already matter? Shouldn’t these property owners at least be respectful of the township in which they have these properties?

It’s just that in spite of how difficult Pennsylvania seems to make historic preservation because they just don’t offer nearly what a lot of other states offer, there are people who still want to restore these properties. It would just be nice if there was more restoration and less demolition by neglect.

rotting 18th century chester county farmhouse in east whiteland.

This is the farmhouse at the Clews and Strawbridge boat dealership. I have written about it off and on for years. I started taking photos of it around 2011. ( see here, and here, and here)

This was a once lovely 18th century farmhouse. If my research is correct, it was built in 1734. According to the Tredyffrin-Easttown Historical Society, Lincoln Highway, Lancaster Pike, Lancaster Avenue was laid out in 1732! (Now I know the place has to be on a historic resources inventory list, but I can’t find that on East Whiteland’s website, although I can find it on one of the little maps on the comprehensive plan.)

This is so freaking sad.

It just rots.

Talk about demolition by neglect.

decay in black and white

The farmhouse owned by Clews and Strawbridge in Malvern, East Whiteland Chester County. They must be immune to how sad this once marvelous Chester County Farmhouse looks, huh?

How about an adaptive reuse?

Or some day will it just cease to exist?

a historic old farmhouse as seen over a few aprils…sad

Taken by my friend Tina April 6, 2018

A lot of my friends like the cool historic houses and properties around Chester County. It’s not just me.

So above is that once lovely 18th century farmhouse.  If my research is correct, it was built in 1734.  According to the Tredyffrin-Easttown Historical Society, Lincoln Highway, Lancaster Pike, Lancaster Avenue was laid out in 1732! (Now I know the place has to be on a historic resources inventory list, but I can’t find that on East Whiteland’s website, although I can find it on one of the little maps on the comprehensive plan.)

I am not sure if the house’s address is 307 or 310 W. Lancaster Pike. Or W. Lancaster Ave. Or W. Lincoln Highway.

Ironically, I have previously photographed this same farmhouse April/May 2013, April  2015, and April 2016.

My photo. April, 2016

Looking at the naked acres of it all today makes me wonder what is going on with the property.  The trees that were around it are gone, and possibly one of the dead Saabs I remembered on the side of the house.  So is it going to be rehabbed or is stripping away the greenery mean it is truly marked for death? Inquiring minds would love to know.

My photo. April, 2015

Historic houses seen rotting is never pretty, is it?  So Clews & Strawbridge or Clews Boats, what’s up with the old farmhouse?

My photo. Taken in late April 2013 (maybe May?)

crumbling colonial next to clews and strawbridge in frazer

next to clews and strawbridge

Look at it crumble. Astounding.  Soon the vines that twist and cover will own what I believe to be an 18th century house next to Clews & Strawbridge on Route 30 in Frazer, PA.  Does anyone know anything about this? And is this the ultimate historic preservation in what I assume is East Whiteland? Structures just molder until they completely rot away? So if I am say, “Getting on Board With Bill”, is this what I am signing up for? Should things like this that rot (Loch Aerie, Linden House, Ebenezer AME just to name a few in East Whiteland) be considered accomplishments during his tenure? I am a realist, and I know that not every old house can be saved, nor every truly historic structure, but wow, it just seems like East Whiteland Supervisors need to kick it up a notch, don’t they?  Why can’t they ask all these deep pocketed developers in the Township to assist?

Where is historic preservation in East Whiteland? I mean other than what Immaculata has accomplished for Duffy’s Cut that is?