the main line…..where it is…and where people think it should because

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File under things that drive me crazy. Not everything some developer’s marketing team labels as “Main Line” today is actually the Main Line…nor does it have to be.

One of my favorite quotes about this appeared on Facebook recently:

Die hards stick to the Original Main Line. Realtors and blow in’s want everything within 40 miles called the Main Line.

The Main Line refers to the towns between Overbrook and Paoli as per the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Malvern and Frazer are Chester County (for example) and should be delighted to be that. Realtors peddling new development are baptizing Malvern as Main Line the way they have already done with Chester Springs where they call what is actually Downingtown Chester Springs because they don’t think anyone would like living in Downingtown. Or saying Newtown Square is the Main Line also isn’t technically true. Newtown Square is Newtown Square and lovely in it’s own right.

Sad but true.  Some even try to say Exton, Blue Bell, and Chester Springs are also the Main Line. Now hell, we know Chester Springs proper isn’t the Main Line every time when the nouveau Main Line heads west for Chester County Day and Chester Springs homes are on the tour (like last year) and folks don’t know how to drive (or park) on our roads or how to be polite in the houses…but I digress…

People. Learn your railroad history.  It is how these towns were built.

The Philadelphia Main Line, known simply as the Main Line, is an informally delineated historical and socially pretentious and ridiculous region of suburban Philadelphia, as freaking created by old railroad lines. These towns became more cohesive along the Pennsylvania Railroad’s once prestigious “Main Line”, which ran northwest from Center City Philadelphia parallel to Route 30 (Lancaster Ave to some Lancaster Pike to some Lincoln Highway to others.)

The railroad first connected Philadelphia to the Main Line towns in the 19th century.

They became home to sprawling country estates and hotels belonging to Philadelphia’s wealthiest families, and over the decades became a bastion of “old money”.  People built their summer homes out here at that point.  In the 18th century wealthy Philadelphians summered in places like Fairmount Park.  In the 19th century the railroads moved them further west.

Seriously, don’t forget there were grand hotels too.  One is what is now the Baldwin School was once the Bryn Mawr Hotel. As per Baldwin:

Baldwin School, Former Historic Bryn Mawr HotelAfter the Civil War, Bryn Mawr was a popular spot for Philadelphians to come to escape the summer heat.  Of  the many hotels and boarding houses in Bryn Mawr, the one that aided most in its development was the Bryn Mawr Hotel or Keystone Hotel, as it was also known, built in 1871. This grand summer resort was constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad, and was located in the countryside just north of the station. The four-story masonry building was designed by Joseph Miller Wilson. The hotel had 350 rooms, a fashionable polychromatic slate mansard roof, and an enormous veranda. The hotel’s amenities included: gas lights, bath tubs, the first elevator on the main line, a “ten-pin alley”, first quality mattresses and one bathroom on every floor. This splendor was destroyed by a disastrous fire which broke out in October 11, 1887 at 6:30 a.m. Most of the building was destroyed by the time Philadelphia fire engines arrived by railroad gondola car.

A second Bryn Mawr Hotel was built on the site in 1890 by a neighborhood syndicate. This new, four-story, granite structure was designed by acclaimed architect Frank Furness, of Furness, Evans & Co. The Hotel was inspired by the Chateau de Pierrefonds, a 16th century French chateau, and contained the latest technologies, including steam heat and electric light. From 1896 to 1913 the hotel hosted its own annual horse show that drew high society Philadelphians. The new Furness designed building cost the promoters half a million dollars.  Half of this amount was obtained by sale of stock and half through the sales of bonds.  The stock never paid a cent of dividend, and when the bonds finally came due, the group could not pay the interest.  The mortgage was foreclosed and with this, the hotel stopped operations.  Later the building was bought by the Baldwin School for Girls.

Read the 1891 article from The Illustrated American about the Bryn Mawr Hotel

The Main Line has this fabled history. I lived there until a few years ago.  My parents moved us there when I was about 12.  So yeah, I know the history.  In some regards I think I lived there in the sunset of it’s greatness.   The Main Line as it exists today I find distasteful and gauche sometimes because well, the nouveau Main Line neither gets nor appreciates nor really cares about the actual history.

Until the railroads, the Main Line was a lot of country. Farms, quarries, mills, even factories.  It became genteel versus rural/copuntry living by it’s very history.  The Pennsylvania Railroad and 19th century real estate developers and speculators truthfully get the credit here.

Like Wayne, PA which was essentially a developer planned community of it’s day.  Don’t believe me? Visit the Radnor Historical Society Website.  Here is a photo of a real estate brochure they have on their website from when Wayne was being developed:

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Courtesy Radnor Historical Society

People just don’t know the history any longer. Like this ad also courtesy of the Radnor Historical Society:

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Another real estate advertisement courtesy of Radnor Historical Society

There were SO many hotels up and down the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Like the Bellevue Hotel which burned to the ground in 1900:

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The Bellevue Hotel circa 1895 courtesy of Radnor Historical Society.

Or…

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Waynewood Hotel courtesy of the Radnor Historical Society

One of my favorites which no longer exists? The Devon Inn.

The Devon Inn is (I think) where part of Valley Forge Military Academy now exists.
Your Town and My Town Archives Courtesy of Radnor Historical Society
Devon Inn, Bryn Mawr Hotel, Valley Forge Military Academy
SEPTEMBER 10, 1954 / EMMA C. PATTERSON

….So it was with Devon Inn, a brief history of which was given in the series on large fires which have occurred in this vicinity in past years. In the early morning hours of January 18, 1929, this famous Main Line hostelry burned to the ground. The pictures illustrating today’s column show two views of the Inn as it appeared in its heyday. They were sent to your columnist by James L. Kercher, of Conestoga road, soon after the story of the fire appeared in “Your Town and My Town” in the spring of 1952. The reverse side of this picture postcard of the Devon Inn describes it as the “social center or the Main Line,” located in “beautiful Chester Valley” and “open from May to December.”

….Among its attractions they list the Devon Horse Show, polo matches, kennel show, Rose Tree Horse Show, Belmont trotting event, Chesterbrook races, Bryn Mawr Horse Show and Devon fancy cattle show. And these are not all, for the list continues with the Horse Show Ball, Spring flower show, golf and tennis, private theatricals, Bal Masque, Autumn flower show, auto exhibition, the County Ball and Devon Inn’s beautiful Japanese Floral Cafe. This cafe was evidently located on one of the Inn’s wide porches…The history of this old inn is an interesting one. The original structure, called the Devon Park Hotel, had been built in 1876 to house the overflow of visitors to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Three years later, fire destroyed the first building, but it was replaced soon after by a larger and more ornate structure, erected on the same site. This is the one shown in today’s picture.

For some years there was great rivalry between the Devon Inn and the Bryn Mawr Hotel for the patronage of fashionable Philadelphia summer boarders. Located on the site of what is now the Baldwin School, the Bryn Mawr Hotel was owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad. This rivalry ended in a complete victory for the Devon Inn, when the Devon Horse Show made its initial bow. The show immediately became a nationally famous event, with entries and visitors from all over the United States. The socially elite from New York and the Long Island Colony, from Boston, Chicago and many other cities throughout the country filled the Devon hostelry to capacity each horse show season.

When the Bryn Mawr Hotel burned to the ground, the Devon Inn lost its only serious rival….

Most people don’t even remember there was ever a Devon Inn, which is why my friend Michael Morrison’s lecture at Jenkins Arboretum a couple of years ago was so popular.

Devon Inn circa 1900 postcard

Image from Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society

When this topic of what the Main Line actually is and what the actual historical boundaries are crops up on social media, someone always leaves a conversation feeling offended.

Sorry not sorry but Malvern isn’t and never will be the Main Line.  As I have said before, it’s Chester County and everyone in the Malvern area should be ok with it as Malvern already has a wonderful identity and history.

There is this booklet called Plan The Keystone which has a lot of great history in it (05.30.19 – Booklet – History of Paoli Station):

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But marketing being the illusion maker that it is creeps in even in the 1963 Franklin Survey Company publication:

Duffy Real Estate actually has a quirky but fairly accurate Main Line History page:

In 1828, the Pennsylvania legislature authorized the construction of the railroad between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. This was known as the “Main Line” of the Public Works system. This, in turn, caused the development of the surrounding area.

After the Civil War, track improvements were sought and new station houses were erected to include more stops along the line. In recognition of the heritage of the areas along the rail line, many stations were given English and Welsh names, such as Narberth, Ardmore and Bryn Mawr.

Many changes were made to the rail route and so the Commonwealth purchased lots surrounding the rail line with stipulations on setbacks and improvements to the land next to the station houses. In Bryn Mawr, it stated that the building of “hotels, taverns, drinking saloons, blacksmiths, carpenter or wheelwright shops, steam mills, tanneries, slaughterhouses, skindressing establishments, livery stables, glue, candle or starch manufactories, or other buildings of offensive occupation” was prohibited.

The result was “a complete picture of suburban comfort and elegance with wide avenues and roomy and open ornamental grounds, spacious lots for building and homes of more than ordinary architectural tastes.” These new homes served as the summer residences for many affluent families. The Main Line was now established.

The Pennsylvania Railroad promoted this area in brochures describing the “opportunities provided by the railroad for ‘summer sojourns’ away from the city and the desirability and convenience of suburban living.”

When we were growing up there was this little thing we did to remember the order of the train stations.  Old Maids Never Wed And Have Babies. Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr.  You can find this mentioned here on this blog which I find amusing because they say they think the ditty ends with Bryn Mawr Station because it was thought of possibly by a Bryn Mawr College girl. This blog is called Philadelphia Reflections and I love it because they write about the most interesting stuff!

One of my dear friend’s grandfathers was an executive with the Pennsylvania Railroad.  He moved his family from the city to Haverford near Merion Cricket Club.  The road they settled on had several homes built as a direct result of the railroad.  Like many of the homes in Wayne, it was desirable because one could walk to the train station.

Growing up, we never thought the Main Line was one centimeter past Paoli…because we knew the history.  Today it’s like saying you are from Greenwich, Connecticut or similarly affluent and storied suburbs.  Or even what defines Manhattan, versus living in the other boroughs of New York City but saying you live in Manhattan.

Pennsylvania Center for the Book: Philadelphia’s Main Line: It’s Not Just a Place – It’s a Lifestyle  By Casey Murray, Spring 2014

The mansion stood at the end of a half-mile long drive, in the midst of 750 acres. The estate was magnificent, to say the least. It had been erected in 1911, in the style of the Georgian Revival, and was crafted by the prolific architect Horace Trumbauer – designer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Duke University Chapel, and the main Harvard University Library, to name just a few. The façade of the manor was classic “old money” – adorned with brick, accented with ornate cream molding, and finished with large traditional sash windows….Too good to be true? A fairytale perhaps? Surely, a scene from a movie? Well, yes… and no. Because not even MGM, the esteemed motion picture conglomerate, would believe it. The mansion, Villanova’s Ardrossan estate, was the inspiration for 1940s The Philadelphia Story, and has since been dubbed by the Philadelphia Inquirer a “house so grand, even Tinseltown had to tone it down.” The house in question, however, is very much real, as is the lifestyle that comes with it.

But Ardrossan is only one small portion of the prestigious and affluent area known as the Main Line. Situated just west of Philadelphia, it is comprised of the seventeen different towns in Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester counties – each of which is connected by the railroad, and the area’s namesake, the Main Line…..These estates and their residents have come to define the Main Line. But what does that mean? With the birth of the Main Line in the late 1800s, there also came “an extreme type of class-consciousness. The flood of wealth that created American family fortunes in the late 19th century settled around a handful of cities and was expressed in different forms of conspicuous consumption and elaborate social behaviour,” writes Ian Irvine in the Sunday Telegraph. Irvine compares Manhattan’s Upper West Side to Philadelphia’s Main Line to call attention to the grandeur associated with the area; but that’s where the similarities end. “In more traditional… Philadelphia, however, society turned almost feudal, almost English in its attitudes – ‘old’ money and ‘old’ families counted for everything. The very term WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) was coined to describe members of Philadelphia society,” a term popularized by University of Pennsylvania professor E. Digby Baltzell. And an appropriate term it was….Nowadays not every Main Liner may live like a Scott, but the expectation to act like one endures. As Betty Feeney and Julia Lorenz Gaskill noted in 1955: “the Main Line is a way of life which both its natives and newcomers tend to view as the best this side of Paradise.”

The lure of the Main Line as well as the lore of the Main Line. I still find it crazy.  And I for all intents and purposes grew up there. It’s only the Magic Kingdom if you can really afford it and I often wonder how many can actually afford it versus the great pretenders? I lived there for so long because it was where I called home from the age of 12 into my 40s.  And yes, I always knew I would probably eventually leave not for anything else than it keeps getting more expensive and if you are realistic you have to ask is the Main Line really worth it?  

Back to history, this time courtesy of the Lower Merion Historical Society:

The Philadelphia & Columbia Railway

A Ride on The Main Line. The War of 1812 had ended and the country was expanding by extending its borders westward. New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia were the major seaports which stood to benefit the most in trade to the west. The road system could not handle the increased traffic so we entered into the age of canals, which offered faster service and were cheaper to operate.

New York built the Erie Canal which joined the Hudson River with Lake Erie, thus providing a through waterway from New York City to the Great Lakes. The Erie Canal opened in 1825.

Maryland, replacing their National Road, began the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal which connected Baltimore with the Ohio River.

As a counter measure, Pennsylvania decided that it wanted to develop its own canal system linking Philadelphia to the frontier city of Pittsburgh and authorized its construction. But when the survey was made, it was found that there was not enough water in the right places for a canal between the Delaware and the Susquehanna Rivers.

In March 1823, the Pennsylvania State Legislature issued a charter for the first railroad in the state. It authorized the construction of an 82 mile railway, from Philadelphia through Lancaster, terminating at Columbia (on the Susquehanna River), as part of the “Main Line of Public Works of the State of Pennsylvania.” The nickname, “The Main Line,” derived from this early Pennsylvania railroad…A Government Venture. The Philadelphia & Columbia Railway was one of the earliest railroads in America and the first in the world to be built by a government rather than by private enterprise. The contracts for the work were granted by the Canal Commission, under whose supervision the line was operated. Considered a public toll road, individuals and companies paid tolls to the Commission for use of the rails. They also supplied their own horses, rolling stock and passenger or freight facilities.

The Philadelphia & Columbia Railway finally became operational on September 1832, with carts and wagons dragged by horse power on a 20-mile section which began in Philadelphia (at Broad and Vine Streets) and ended at Green Tree Inn, west of Paoli….More than any other person or entity, it was the Pennsylvania Railroad that built the Main Line. For 111 years, its trains linked Lower Merion with Philadelphia and the nation. Even today, three decades after the railroad merged with a rival, the Pennsylvania’s legacy continues to shape life in the township.

The Pennsylvania Railroad began its long association with the Main Line when it purchased the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad from the state in 1857. At that time, there were only three stops in Lower Merion: Libertyville (serving modern Narberth and Wynnewood), Athensville (now Ardmore) and White Hall (Bryn Mawr). For a little over a decade, the Pennsylvania concentrated on rebuilding the line and developing long distance traffic. As late as 1869, the railroad operated only a handful of local trains along the Main Line.

So…look at the dates referenced by The Lower Merion Historical Society.  1832. Duffy’s Cut anyone? (Duffy’s Cut is the name given to a stretch of railroad tracks about 30 miles west of Philadelphia, United States, originally built for the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad in the summer and fall of 1832. The line later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Main Line. Railroad contractor Philip Duffy hired 57 Irish immigrants to lay this line through the area’s densely wooded hills and ravines. The workers came to Philadelphia from the Ulster counties of Donegal, Tyrone and Derry to work in Pennsylvania’s nascent railroad industry. They were murdered.)

And just so we are clear, I am not some old Main Line trust fund baby.  We lived there because my parents decided to move us there as we got older for access to better schools and a way of life that included being able to play outside whenever we wanted.  However, where I grew up was close to where one of my great-grandmothers was in service.  Rebecca Nesbitt Gallen.  She was a summer housekeeper for the Cassatt family (think Merion Cricket Club) at their Cheswold Estate.   Of course Alexander Cassatt was also famous for his Chesterbrook Farm in Berwyn.  We of course know Chesterbrook today as the giant development that popped the cherry of suburban density development.  It’s hard to believe that Chesterbrook today was once a glorious 600+ acre farm, right?

Photo source: Pinterest

And yes, Chesterbrook Farm was in Berwyn…yet Chesterbrook the development today has a Wayne post office zip code. Yup even Chesterbrook wasn’t o.k. where it really was, was it?

Technically Chesterbrook although it has a Wayne post office zip code isn’t Main Line. In my opinion, it probably got the Wayne zip code to make it marketable as Main Line when the development was built.  The fight over the Chesterbrook Development went all the way to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. Chesterbrook is I think actually over 800 acres if you count the other land parcels that went into it.  I still view it as planned development at it’s worst.  My late mother in law was one of the many, many residents who fought it for years.
(From Lower Merion Historical Society) Chesterbrook retells the story of Wayne for the 20th century
Finding homes for people drawn here by technology isn’t anything new

By David Schmidt
Special to Main Line Life

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That could apply directly to two very dissimilar areas of Radnor today. But each was a result of technology creating a need and ambitious men filling it. Although they don’t look the same at all, each was its century’s response to changes caused by technology.

In the late 19th century, the railroad had opened up the western suburbs for white-collar workers who wanted to escape the filth and disease of the city. It’s almost impossible today to imaging just how dangerous it was living in a large city and that didn’t even include crime.

Infant mortality was rife, and often mothers died in childbirth or from infections afterwards. Influenza today dreaded mostly for its discomfort killed tens of thousands each year. Men died young, maimed and broken in brutal factories. Everything was dirty, both from the coal smoke that permeated every space and from the animals which were ubiquitous.

But the trains made it possible for people to live and work in different places. After the railroad barons moved themselves along the Main Line, building monstrous estates, it was time for the middle class. The first development in Radnor designed to bring folks from the city was a 300-acre estate belonging to J. Henry Askins. Called Louella Farms, it was named after his two daughters, Louise and Ella.

In 1869 he began building houses some of which remain on Bloomingdale Ave. in Wayne clearly designed for middle-class families. But he was really too early, although he did create a community of sorts. The farm lay alongside the Main Line tracks. His mansion, also called Louella is now the Louella Apartments.

This was the center for further development in what would become Wayne. Askins liked the feudal nature of his “community” and encouraged development of other facilities south of Louella and the train tracks. This resulted in the Presbyterian Church, the Opera House and the Post Office, all built between 1870 and 1874….

A century later, transportation technology did it all over again. In the mid-1960s the state announced that it was turning Rt. 202, a two-lane highway running south from King of Prussia into a limited access four-lane highway. Radnor officials knew that meant urban sprawl was coming to Philadelphia’s far suburbs….The Fox Companies didn’t build everything, but they developed and controlled it. “The scale was large enough for two or more companies for construction and retailing,” he says. “Part of what we wanted to do was create a community with a physical and social sense, and landscaping is very important for that…..The original idea was to have a mix of housings. “We wanted teachers and cops to be able to afford to live here, for instance,” he says. “Unfortunately the economic realities of what happened to housing prices in the 1970s defeated that.” There are still different styles and price ranges grouped together, so that the 2700 units seems more to be clumps of housing.

As part of a plan to help control the tide of growth Radnor created a unified development area on a 1000-acre plot alongside the highway. This meant that the rules as to density of population and other zoning and regulatory issues would be worked to encourage controlled development. The Fox Companies, headed by Dick Fox, bought up most of the land and although there were several parcels of land, by far the largest was Alexander Cassatt’s “country place,”Chesterbrook. Farm” He named the development for Cassatt’s farm.

Chesterbrook is a mixed development, with office buildings, several types and styles of houses and townhouses and open spaces.”Issues such as schools, open space, traffic and roads were defined to help counter urban sprawl,” according to Jim Hovey, president of The Fox Companies. “Cassatt’s farm was owned by a company owned by Bill Levitt, Jr. son of the creator of Levittown. The Fox Companies were able to acquire three of the four packages of land.

Yeah, I know this has been quite the ramble. But I just don’t think Chester County needs to be completely annexed to the freaking Main Line. It’s preposterous.  Stick to the history. It tells you the boundaries.  And yes, there are several towns (and townships) that have parts of themselves which are part of the Main Line historically, although not in their entirety. Like parts of Chester County.  Chester County has a rich history that is far more interesting than the mere history of the Main Line which was created by the railroads.

I will close with this funny as hell map of the Main Line I found on Pinterest.  It is by a local artist and graphic designer named Barb Chotiner. She lives in Narberth…which is another place with it’s own unique and lovely history, yet it is part of the Main Line by history.

Thanks for stopping by….writing today as always from beautiful Chester County, PA. (NOT the Main Line.)

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The Main Line as envisioned by Barbara Chotiner of Narberth PA

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

too young to die:chester county native was beautiful with whole life ahead of her

 Have you ever read something from a complete stranger in a group you belong to and just started to cry because it just gets you right through the heart?  As in immediately at the time of reading? Well I have, and I am writing about it because my heart is so sad for this lady I don’t know, who just lost her daughter to some tragedy across the county. And the mom is a recent breast cancer survivor. So it hits me in more than one way.

In my few years living in Chester County, I have discovered this is a place with a huge heart and in Chester County we take care of our own. So at the end of this I am going to put in a couple of things on how we can help this family. Not through any non-profit, we will help because we care, deal?

So I read this post this morning from Jennifer Lynch that said:

It has been 4 days, now, since our youngest daughter was identified as the Eugene Oregon Jane Doe. Every day is different, but equally horrifying. I finally got a call, from the detective working her case. He is in the violent crime division. There has been some “creative storytelling” from the parties we believe to be involved in the circumstances surrounding the death of a beautiful, vulnerable 24 year old girl, but we are no closer to real answers, as of yet.

Sometimes, I border on ok, sometimes I am out of my mind. Other times, I am just standing in the shower, when I suddenly realize that I am putting out more water than the shower head, and I have no idea how long I’ve been in there. Time has no meaning. I have a constant flow of still frames, in my mind. How could I have stopped this? What could I have done or said differently, to convince her to come home?

I don’t know.

She was stubborn, and willful, and there were times that we went at it like two Billy goats on a log. God, what I wouldn’t do, to be able to have another argument, another hug just one more moment, frozen in time.

Hug your children, even if they think they are too old, for hugs. You never know if it could be the last time.

 

So I went scrolling through the group looking for more information and I found this article:

THE REGISTER GUARD EUGENE POLICE

“She wasn’t a Jane Doe. She had family and friends who loved her and were looking for her.”

Body found Feb. 20 near Eugene bike path identified as Rachel Lee Lynch

She was like a sparkle — burning bright, hot and fast.

And in an instant, she was gone.

That’s how the family of Rachel Lee Lynch described the vivacious 24-year-old who was found dead near the bike path along the west bank of the Willamette River in Eugene on Feb. 20.

It would be nearly a week before her identity would be known — police initially identified her as Jane Doe and learned of her identity only after circulating surveillance images from the Safeway store on Coburg Road, where she had shopped on Feb. 16……Most of her family, including stepmother Jennifer Lynch, lives in Chester County, Pa. They said they had no idea Rachel Lynch was even in Oregon. But they did know, they say, that she was in trouble and had hoped it wouldn’t come to this.

“She was a cheerleader, an honor student,” Jennifer Lynch said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “She made one bad decision, she trusted the wrong person and it took her across the country. It took her life.”….“It’s just been incredibly hard,” Jennifer Lynch said on behalf of the family. “She was a good kid. But she’s like any young girl. They think they are in love, and they just can’t see the danger that they’re in. Guys like that, they work these girls. And like any woman, you see what he can be and not what he is. He played her like a violin.”

According to Jennifer Lynch, Rachel Lynch graduated from high school in 2009, and attended Temple University in Philadelphia for two years before she met a slightly older and charming boyfriend.

Almost immediately, the two were inseparable, Jennifer Lynch said. Her stepdaughter quit school and began following her new boyfriend’s wishes, she said.

“He was isolating her and it just kept getting tighter,” Jennifer Lynch said. “He was controlling her. And we saw her less and less and less.”

….Rachel Lynch loved music, movies and art. Her laugh was contagious, and her family is “gutted” by their loss, her stepmother said.

“She wasn’t a Jane Doe,” Jennifer Lynch said tearfully. “She had a family and friends who loved her and were looking for her. Right now, we just want to get her home.”

I. Can’t.Even.  Then I read this:

Ladies..it is with a very heavy heart that I once again am reaching out for one of our own today. As many of you read last night about the loss of Jennifer’s daughter Rachel.
Rachel’s body was found on a bike trail in Eugene Oregon on Saturday. She was only 24 yrs old.
Jennifer is currently waiting on details from the coroner as I spoke with her thismorning. At this point she is more than appreciative of all the offers of help but their priority is to get their daughter HOME.
With Jennifer’s recent battle with Breast Cancer taking a major financial toll on them they desperately need the power of our group right now.
To lose a child at any age is a parents worst pain. We are praying for you Jen

Ladies our PayPal is open for donations which I will get directly to Jen for her to use for arrangements ASAP!

PLEASE PLEASE…use friends and family when donating AND put JENNIFER in the notes as we also have another fundraiser going

 

2help.momadvice@gmail.com

 

*ANYONE NOT HAVING PAYPAL CAN PM ME FOR MY ADDRESS

4000 women can make a difference together! Thank you Ladies.😢

 

Tomorrow, a dear friend’s daughter who is a varsity cheerleader at another Chester County high school has a birthday. And seeing Jennifer’s Rachel’s photo really hit that home for me. And I am also a step-parent and a breast cancer survivor, so on so many levels I get this. And most importantly as a human being I get this.

The newspaper article which I thought had great heart thanks to the reporter makes me think back to when I was the age of Rachel Lynch.  When you are that young, remember how easy it was to get stars in your eyes over the wrong person? If we are honest we all had those experiences, or a lot of us did.

As an adult we read about domestic violence all of the time. We all say “it could never happen to us” but it happens to many of us, male and female.  Sometimes it is brutal and physical, sometimes it is sneaky and subversive, almost subtle as it is all about control and the bruises from emotional and mental warfare you can’t see. I think those situations are even worse than physical abuse.

When you are in an abusive relationship it’s not necessarily so easy to get out. Sometimes you do not recognize (or want to recognize) how toxic a relationship is even if friends and family express concern. That sounds almost silly to people, but if you have ever witnessed anyone go through this you know that it is true.

I don’t know Jennifer, and I never knew Rachel.  But I have known women like Rachel and by the grace of God they are still alive.

Here is the information again regarding sending donations via MomAdvice founder Kelly Lammey. Donations are NOT tax deductible. They will go towards the family’s expenses and to help out with bills post breast cancer. I am still paying off breast cancer treatment bills almost five years later, so I get how this is.

Here is the information:

Use PayPal and put “JENNIFER” in the notes as the group is involved in  another fundraiser

 

2help.momadvice@gmail.com is the email address. 

 

If you do NOT use PayPal e-mail KINGMOM123@AOL.com 

 

DO NOT GET THE E-MAIL ADDRESSES MIXED UP! AND ALL CHECKS WILL BE MADE PAYABLE TO JENNIFER LYNCH .

 

If you can contribute goods or services towards the family holding a memorial service for their daughter or know someone willing to donate a hall  somewhere in the Downingtown or Kennett Square area that would also be appreciated. AND AGAIN FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN A PAYPAL DONATION E-MAIL KINGMOM123@aol.COM

Remember Rachel and her family in your prayers. And hug your kids. This can happen to anyone.  A young girl smiling at us now forever a moment in time in her Downingtown East cheerleading uniform. It isn’t supposed to be like this. She is supposed to grow old, fall in love, raise her own family.

Thank you for reading this.

too young

rotting in downingtown

  These photos were sent to me by a reader named Kathy. They came with this message:

“This eyesore in Downingtown at Boot Rd & 322 lingers on. Will it ever be cleaned up and developed or is it forever stuck in the cycle of red tape and paperwork? I thought the bicycle trail was supposed to continue on through this area but who knows if it will happen. All of the first floor windows and doors of these homes have been boarded up and an endless number of No Trespassing/Danger signs have been posted.”

So when we last spoke of the Borough of Downingtown, the rather young mayor was all gung ho over a giant development project where an RFP was put out for a garage on borough owned land, correct? Does he not see these rotting houses? And developer Eli Kahn bought HOW many acres in Downingtown from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia?

  So, I have to ask: if they did not let homes like pictured in this post rot, maybe a lot of country towns would have housing that more fit the history and flavor of the area?

  This is yet another reason why people in Chester County need to hold local governments and state level elected officials accountable for all the crazy development carving up communities one land parcel at a time.

  

contrasts

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Yesterday was a study in contrasts. Started out my morning in Chester County, and headed up to New York City for the day.

New York City in October is very alive and bustling. A cacophony of sights and sounds and smells. I worked in New York for a few years when I was younger and fall and spring were my favorite seasons. It is such a contrast now to go from the quiet of Chester County to the very definition of urban.

From the east side to the west side, New York City is a sea of constant motion…and taxi cabs. It’s beeping and honking and massive waves of people bustling across giant intersections.

It is one of my favorite places to take photos, but yesterday there wasn’t time for that. I appreciate the beauty and the urban canyons of Manhattan, but I truly am a Chester County person now….I love getting back to the trees and fields.

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From New York City it was back to Ardmore for the last First Friday Main Line. The event was the Happy Howl O’Ween dress up your dog contest.

Since 2006 First Friday Main Line has been there to bring art and music to every day life ; bringing local artists, musicians, and small businesses together. Inspired by the Old City (Philadelphia) First Friday, First Friday Main Line has had people discovering art in unexpected places.

Because Ardmore doesn’t really have gallery spaces, the art and music were tucked in alleys, store fronts, restaurants and on the street. All of this was done by Executive Director and Ardmore business owner and resident, Sherry Tillman. These were never Lower Merion Township as in municipal sponsored events. Many municipalities are deeply involved in the First Friday celebrations of their communities, but the extent of Lower Merion’s involvement was basically collecting permit fees.

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First Friday Main Line was something I was deeply involved in until the spring of 2013. I did the publicity and event photography and it was an amazing ride, including a Congressional Commendation in 2010 for our Operation Angel Wings initiative.

But change is inevitable. Sherry called me a couple of months ago to let me know she was putting First Friday on hiatus. I had stopped actively participating because of my move to Chester County and new life here. I was sad to hear her news, but understood. She wanted to focus on different kinds of art events and get back to creating on her own. Sherry is an artist in her own right.

Coming back to the last First Friday Main Line was a bittersweet, yet sentimental journey. I had spent so much time in Ardmore between First Friday Main Line and the community activism I was part of a few years ago. (Lower Merion Township had once to seize part of the historic business district via eminent domain for private gain.)

Coming back to the area I once called home is now like being a stranger in a strange land. What once was home, is now just a place I used to live. The contrast was very pronounced to me this visit. I loved seeing all the old and in many cases beloved familiar faces, but I see everything now through different eyes in a thanks for the memories kind of way. I no longer belong to these old places, I belong to Chester County.

Part of the contrast which was sad to see is just well, how grungy and almost worn around the edges Lower Merion Township seems to look. And that isn’t just the business districts. When I was a kid Lower Merion really was a beautiful place to live. Now it is just an expensive place to live, which is not the same thing.

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What I observed was a lot of the sense of community and neighborliness no longer seems to be self evident. A lot of strangers bustling by, and I wonder are there still people stepping up to foster a true sense of community? Or maybe it’s no longer that kind of place?

I have to be honest I do not miss the congestion and traffic of the Main Line nor do I miss the constant development. I felt really old passing by locations where I remember the house and the people who lived there, only now planted on those spots were condos and McMansions and such. All of what replaced what was in these spots are built out to the last possible inch with no real attempt at human scale let alone compatible style. In fact, no real style at all, these projects between Wayne and Ardmore scream nothing more than “new”. Sad.

Down the street from where my parents used to live, I read recently about a house which has a property which is now the subject of potential development. I knew it as the Woodruff House.. The super family which once lived there is long gone and sadly mostly passed away. Realistically, the development will probably happen. There is no zoning and planning to prevent it even if it is a ridiculous and vastly inappropriate spot for infill development.

But it has been almost 40 years at this point since Lower Merion Township had a comprehensive plan update, and the lack of planning is showing. What worries me about what is happening on the Main Line is the same developers snapping up whatever they can there are also in Chester County.

Take Downingtown, as in the borough. If they don’t watch it, they will make the same mistake that Malvern Borough did with Eli Kahn and Eastside Flats, which should really be seen from the rear too. An article appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer recently:

Archdiocese sells Delco property, 2 others for $56.2M By Harold Brubaker, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: October 04, 2014

…..In addition ……..the archdiocese said that it had an agreement to sell a 454-acre property in Northampton County for $5.5 million, and that it had sold 55 acres in Chester County for $3.7 million.

The $3.7 million from the sale of excess land at the St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, a behavioral-health center for clergy and women religious, was deposited into the archdiocesan priests’ pension fund. That fund previously had a $76.3 million deficit.

The buyer was Woodbine Partners L.P., a partnership of Chester County developers E. Kahn Development and J. Lowe & Associates.

Stephen Sullins, Downingtown’s borough manager, said the expected mixed-use development was significant for the town, which covers just two square miles.

“It looks like it is going to expand our tax base somewhat. We’re looking forward to some new jobs,” Sullins said.

Yep, Eli Kahn.again….Eastside Flats which still look vastly out of place in Malvern and unfinished although they are finished and the project is for sale (See Philadelphia Business Journal, July 2, 2014) .

And remember that very telling Patch article a couple years ago that told a very different tale of how much money Malvern Borough would actually make off of this project?

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$60,000: East King Revitalization’s Impact on the Borough The new apartments and businesses won’t be a windfall for the borough. By Pete Kennedy (Open Post) Updated June 29, 2012 at 1:38 am

During a discussion…at….Malvern Borough Council, resident Joan Yeager asked a related question:

“Once the King Street project is completed, how much additional money is going to come into the borough? In taxes and all,” she said.

“Something in the neighborhood of $60,000 a year,” council president Woody Van Sciver said, citing a financial feasibility study done before the project was approved.

“That’s it?” Yeager replied, expecting a bigger payoff from the several new businesses and hundreds of new residents that will be moving to the east end of the borough.

Downingtown can afford a development misstep even less than Malvern Borough. And I love Malvern, but if there is some benefit to having that Christ awful development once you get beyond having Christopher’s there and Kimberton Whole Foods moving in, I haven’t seen it. And the development looks like giant Lego buildings (with about as much finesse) plunked down in Lilliput.

There are a lot of empty store fronts in Eastside Flats and the borough itself, and last time I was there to have lunch at Christopher’s there were cigarette butts all over the sidewalk in front of the nail salon. Of course I also wondered why such “high end” and new real estate could only get a nail salon? And have you ever see Eastside Flats from the rear? It shows it’s backside to a lot of Malvern residents over the tracks and wow, a little landscaping might help. But do developers like this care about the existing residents?

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My travels yesterday merely reaffirmed the true contrast between urban, suburban, and Chester County. And suburban doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be the mini-me to urban, and well for us out here in Chester County, we shouldn’t want developers to spin their tales of the Emperor’s New Clothes out here and give us the awkward new urbanism fairy tale or hybrid cross of what they are shoe horning in everywhere else. Maybe that is NIMBY (not in my back yard) of me, but heck I have lived with bad projects and bad planning in my back yard–it’s one of the things I was happy to leave behind on the Main Line when I moved to Chester County.

I still believe Chester County is incredibly vulnerable to these projects, and these tiny towns and boroughs need to think carefully before jumping to the extremes of these very dense developments. Places grow and evolve and not all development is bad, but there is just way too much of it. The pace needs to slow.

The open space and gracious rolling farm lands,fields, and forests which make up Chester County are worth preserving. So is the way of life which accompanies it. Thanks for stopping by today. I know this post has rambled along, and when I started out with my original thought of contrast I wasn’t quite sure where this post would lead me.

Enjoy the beautiful day!

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