The Joseph Price House. 401 Clover Mill in Exton, West Whiteland Township, Chester County. The corner of Clover Mill Road and S. Whitford Road. Historically rotting since we can safely say 1988 when the current owners acquired the property.
I actually know people who tried in recent years to purchase the historic house to save it but present owners can never seem to sell, can they? Do they think they will get millions of dollars more than property is worth? And if I am honest, part of what I fear with this property is not only the house, completely falling apart to the point where it can’t be saved, but the possibility of this property ending up in some weird tax sale, and someone unscrupulous getting the property and then just tearing down a legit and registered historic house.
I have made a black-and-white photo of this house in its current state the banner for this website and the Chester County Ramblings social media channels. The reason I did that in June is because I think it’s beautiful and needs to be saved, and I keep hoping if people keep seeing the house, it will provoke conversations, and folks will ask questions, send me old photos and history. Recently, someone did. Their dad was born in the house in 1926.
I took exterior shots with a zoom lens from across the road earlier this year in June. I did not trespass. The house as previously mentioned is in grave peril.
I had questioned before if the house was secure. At one point it did have a caretaker but after what I saw through the lens of my camera I do not see how it is possible for anyone to live in that house safely or legally. But I suppose anything is possible?
However a couple of years ago I was sent a couple interior photos of recent vintage. I do NOT know how they were obtained. I also don’t know who sent them to me and I have searched to find the old message and it is long gone. I have never posted these images but I think it is time. Maybe it will of help to motivate West Whiteland to get the owners to properly secure the structure or even help someone, anyone to get a conservation/preservation buyer? I figure the current owners have to be getting up there in age? I also found a random and old court docket with the owners on it, have no idea what it was about does anyone?
Anyway this house is glorious and if Loch Aerie in neighboring East Whiteland could be saved and repurposed with a new life, why not this place too?
#thisplacematters #history #historichouses
I mean are there ANY reporters TV or print media with the gumption to cover this? It’s not a human bleeding and dying, it’s just a house. A historically noted house. We can’t save everything but we should save some things, right?
Save the Joseph Price House in Exton. But please don’t trespass there, it is still someone else’s property.
I just posted about the Oaklands Estate Tenant Farm House after driving by a couple of days ago. I said in that post, I feared it would just be torn down. I didn’t know. Now I know that it’s actually true I am going to say that out loud.
A bit after I posted my post, some of the family that used to live in that beautiful farmhouse posted some photos. Of a pool refurbished in 2021 and things like that. The house had huge beautiful gardens and a wonderful library in the house. It was a home, a much loved home.
Some McIlvaine family members were living on site until they had to leave after the sale. They have been kind enough to give me these photos to show all of you.
I get that a car dealership probably doesn’t care about an old farmhouse but we in Chester County should care about our old farmhouses, and I want the memories to survive through photos. The descriptions on the photos have been provided by a family member and I would like to thank Shane McIlvaine in for sharing his precious memories. And these are precious memories for these people.
But when estates have to be settled and there are a bunch of relatives involved, properties sometimes have to be sold. And given the absolute insanity of the real estate market and how developers on a quest to play PAC MAN and gobble up land all over, it makes it hard for individuals to compete to try to save these properties, let alone family members who want to hang on to familial homesteads and be able to afford to buy out other family members.
So when someone else asked Shane McIlvaine about the situation, we all learned some interesting information and the reality of the damage overdevelopment does over time:
“I moved out last year when we sold it to Exton Nissan. The chimney never caught on fire…it was an electrical fire from a poor stucco job exposing a wire…Even though I had just recently refinished the pool, the property was slowly sinking into the wetlands because of surrounding development. It needed hundreds of thousands in repairs. Decided it was time to go when yellow jackets were discovered within the entire back wall of the home. In the 70’s it never flooded and it had a useable pasture for farm animals.…Brand new pool put in 2021. It does make me a bit sad since it had been in the family since the 1700’s. My grandmother lived in the guest house and was the owner. When she recently passed her estate was divided, and I couldn’t afford to buy everyone out of their share of the acreage.”
The house and/or the spring house is sinking slowly into wetlands because of surrounding development. That old phrase you hear about water seeking it’s own level strikes me as apropos in a sad way. This is a real cost of over-development, which sadly is somethings the West Whiteland corridor has plenty of. Water no longer has anywhere to go because of all of the development. And with climate change and increasingly obnoxious weather patterns, where we never had flooding, we have flooding.
And if there was more open space, water would have a place to go. They can engineer stormwater basins and whatnot all they want, but it doesn’t really replace old fashioned open space with room for water to go.
Back to death of a farmhouse….
So Shane McIlvaine is the nephew of former State Representative Barbara McIlvaine Smith who was also Vice President of West Chester Borough Council once upon a time. Shane’s father was her older brother. His dad passed away in 2012, so his aunt became the Executrix.
Other information: Shane McIlvaine has the original deed, William Penn land grant paperwork, and some pictures of the farm workers from long ago.
Let that sink in: this is yet another property that was a William Penn land grant being destroyed for development. (Yes, that is my opinion that too much land, too many farmhouses, farms, open space, etc are being destroyed.) Lloyd Farm in Caln is also crumbling by the minute, was a William Penn land grant. Our history of Chester County, of Pennsylvania, of this very country is lbeing destroyed and for what?
If you look at other countries like the one we spring from originally, England, they value their heritage. In this country, it’s super sad but we do not. Not all of us, but too many decision makers for sure in Harrisburg, for example.
So maybe, just maybe if state representatives and state senators could get off their collective political asses in Harrisburg and do their jobs, which includes updating the Municipalities Planning Code comprehensively to protect the constituency they are supposed to serve as opposed to special interests, that would be awesome. And it’s not all of the state representatives and state senators, but there are so many that are in with all sorts of obvious that they forget whom they’re there to serve.
So hypothetically, speaking, maybe if the Municipalities Planning Code had been updated, there might not be so much development in West Whiteland, and this farmhouse and William Penn Land grant remainder would be worth maybe saving?
We all need to do better. We can’t keep standing idly by as our very history disappears.
Here in Chester County we keep losing what makes this county special. Farms, land, open space, history. We loose it with every devil of a development project we don’t really need – you know like that warehouse development project being discussed at present in Uwchlan Township? Or any of the apartment and townhouse developments we don’t actually need more of in a county once known for farms and open space. It’s all bullshit being shoved at residents as the latest and greatest until it’s not. And it’s not.
I don’t think any bells can be unrung here with this historic farmhouse that’s part of a historic William Penn land grant. That actually upsets me. To follow in screenshots is all the West Whiteland stuff talking about the demolition execution timeline.
One last comment from Shane McIlvaine about all of this development. It makes me sad. He literally has been someone in a farming family who has grown up watching farms disappear. Imagine what he has seen. Chester County has lost so much. When will it stop?
“ It is sad. In the early 90’s when my Grandad and his brothers sold the 300 or so acres between Whitford and Rt100 (becoming Waterloo Blvd and a bunch of condos), I knew it was all downhill for Exton as peaceful farmland. A few yrs later Waterloo gardens sold to a developer when the matriarch of the Le’Bouttlier family passed and that property had to be split between siblings. So will go every other last chunk of Chester County land. Honey Brook is the next target for developers. Our other family farm called Springton Manor towards that direction was sold as well but partially preserved luckily.”
I have written about both houses before and they are neighbors. First is the Joseph Price House at 401 Clover Mill Road in Exton. It’s on the corner of S. Whitford Rd.
Supposedly it has a caretaker, but there seem to be so many holes in the house as it sits and rots, that you have to wonder if it’s safe. There are constant rumors that the guys who own it have sold it, but it never seems any sales go through, so are they just a pair of house hoarders? (You can look up the owners, it’s public record.)
Then there is the neighboring and equally rotting old farmhouse at 105 S. Whitford Road in Exton. It’s an old tenant farm from what was the Oaklands estate once upon a time. Supposedly dates from 1750 and this is the respect it gets? (Again, you can look this house up, it’s public record.)
Yes fuzzy photos taken in the rain as a passenger in a car yesterday and there was traffic, so not the best photos.
I don’t really have much more to add. I’ve written about these properties before. And it always gets me when you go up S.Whitford Road that these two historic properties are so close to each other. I will note that the white farmhouse looks like something is going on to the side- the right side when driving by to meet Route 30.
Both of these houses in my opinion are demolition by neglect. What is happening to both of these houses is criminal. The Joseph Price house in particular will shortly reach the point of no return if someone can’t convince those owners to sell to preservation minded people. I don’t think there’s any hope for the beautiful old farmhouse and My guess is that will be torn down. I predict with both these houses someday we will all say to one another “Do you remember those really cool houses?”
I really hope that the West Whiteland Historic Commission is able to fully document these properties inside and out before it’s too late.
Once upon a time there was a neglected farmhouse on Dorlan Mill Road. Above is a photo I took in 2020. I wrote about it then too.
Today was the last day standing in Chester County for this once beautiful farmhouse. Another historic structure bites the dust and this farmhouse had a slow decline and was it initially demolition by neglect?
You have to wonder why so many of these beautiful old houses have to go bye bye around here? What ugliness will replace this?
So it is now five days before Christmas in 2022. Nothing has happened except once again, Lloyd farmhouse is not secure. How I learned about this today was from someone whose dog got loose and they went in a panic across the field stopping the dog just before the entrance of the house.
This is not someone who’s been involved with this issue. They sent me photos and videos taken from outside the house asking me if this is the same house I used to write about. And I said yes it was.
So what I want to know, is why Caln Township is looking the other way? This house is for all intents and purposes, a construction site, correct? So legally, isn’t it supposed to be secured?
The inside apparently is more trashed than ever. I’m wondering if the owner of the property is just waiting for me to post something like this or for someone /anyone to post something like this, so they have an excuse to take it down because there’s nothing stopping them from getting a demolition permit?
Except Caln Township, hello? Why is everything look the other way in your neck of the woods? Of course, however, this does give me the opportunity to point out once again how this is a historic resource that is rotting to the point it’s criminal.
Now nothing has been built on the site and it’s been a few years, so is nothing going to get built? I’m guessing given the economy in the way rates have been the answer is nothing is happening right now. And since nothing is happening right now then perhaps the property owner should be securing the property or the township should be doing it for him and sending him a bill?
I also seem to recall that there were supervisors elected that were supposed to help with issues like this? Are they still there? What happens when kids decide to explore over here because you know they will and obviously have been, and what not f something bad happens?
Merry Christmas, Caln residents. This is another fine example of your government at work. And yes, Caln Township I can indeed have this opinion. Just like I can have the opinion that this is still one of the finest examples in Chester County of demolition by neglect. Such a time honored tradition.
Last word? This beautiful farmhouse, which is a prime example of the Chester County style of farmhouses, also predates the American Revolution, and nobody gives a shit. Yeah, you can still see even in this state of disarray her good bones.
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.
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.
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.
Odessa, Delaware is one of my favorite places. It is literally a jewel of a historic town, almost frozen in time.
Located in New Castle County, Delaware, Odessa was founded in the 18th century as Cantwell’s Bridge, her name was changed in the 19th century after the Ukrainian port city of the same name.
I will be posting a separate post of just photos I took today in Odessa, but would also interested me separately is a study in contrasts.
When you’re coming into historic Odessa, on the edge of the town, there is literally this house that has been falling apart for years. It is a clear example of demolition by neglect or abandonment, take your pick. We see examples of this in Chester County all the time. I realized today that the house that used to be right on the corner of Boot Road and Greenhill across from Hershey’s Mill and the fire house is so overgrown I can’t wonder if it has met or is meeting a similar fate? The deterioration of this old house reminds me a lot of the deterioration of the historic farm house in Malvern along route 30 that is part of the Clews and Strawbridge boat property in East Whiteland.
But then as you get into town and around the corner from Cantwell’s historic Tavern is a house that obviously suffered a fire that is being rebuilt. So that is your contrast. You have letting a historic structure rot versus someone painstakingly rebuilding a structure after a devastating loss.
This post is not a dig at Odessa, Delaware because the historic preservation is remarkable. It’s just sort of food for thought of the whole historic preservation of it all. The next post shows how pretty Odessa is.
Yes again, I am writing about the Joseph Price house in West Whiteland Township.￼ It’s really starting to deteriorate badly in my opinion.￼ (And I say that from observing it across the street today- I have not been invited to be on the property so I would not presume.)￼
This house is historically listed. It was built in 1878 and altered in 1894 by the house namesake inhabitant at the time. It was altered from a Gothic style to a Queen Anne style.
￼￼I was also told in the 1990s it was separate apartments inside and there were also cottages around it which were rented out as well.
In the 1950s and 60s there was a large barn there that was a sale barn for cattle run by Bayard Taylor —a blog reader told me that. He knew because his mother did bookkeeping for that business while she was in college.
This house is not completely deserted I am told there is still a caretaker who still lives there. However, this house has an uncertain future at best and nobody seems to know what will happen to it. Which is a shame because it’s very cool.￼
There are so many amazing houses like this throughout Chester County from all eras of time￼.
I am told the house is owned by two people in Ambler. Chesco Views confirmed that today.￼￼
This afternoon I had some time so I pulled into the business parking lot across the road on Clover Mill Road. I took some photos from across the road and I just looked at the house. It has been historically listed since the 1980s.￼ And yes I know I’m being repetitive, but it just blows my mind that these gorgeous houses that are historically listed not just locally but nationally rot like this￼.
Things are just crumbling and the property also seems to be quite the haven for dead car bodies.
Truly (and sadly), the house is becoming so decrepit, more decrepit. I really wish these owners would sell to somebody who could restore it.
￼￼￼￼It is just so crazy to me, as this could be the most fabulous property. It’s big enough and there is enough land left that it could be a great restaurant or even a boutique bed-and-breakfast which is not a stretch considering there is one up the road from it on South Whitford – the Duling-Kurtz House and Country Inn.
Anyway, I continue to be obsessed by this property which is not for sale￼. It’s just that this is a historically listed property (since 9/6/1984) and is this demolition by neglect?￼ I really hope someone will save this place.