the jenny lind house in historic yellow springs needs love (and a new lease on life)

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The Jenny Lind House, former home of Yellow Springs Inn looking forlorn May, 2018

A few years ago I remarked on what I thought would be the demise of the Yellow Springs Inn. It resulted in a flurry of breast beating (which can still be found on their old/existing website.)

I was off by a couple/few years but above is the Jenny Lind House as of this week. I went out to the Yellow Springs Art Show (truly amazing this year by the way, and runs through May 13th), and was honestly sad to see the sad down trodden Jenny Lind House.  It was a far cry from this photo I took a few short years ago:

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What happened? I guess the restaurant left given the deed/document thing I found on Chester County’s real estate site (2017 Deed Transfer).

But that is not ALL happening there.  Whomever owns it now seems to have had a stop work order issued on them. I kid you not:

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Sorry, not the best photos. A lot of sun glare when photos were taken.  So who is REO Acquisitions, LLC and what are they up to? The letter sent out by West Pikeland in April was sent to these REO Acquisitions c/o FCI Lender Services of Anaheim, CA.

PT Barnum Poster off of Wikipedia Commons

So what the heck were they doing to Jenny Lind house???

Now according to Historic Yellow Springs “Mrs. Holman, the retiring owner of the Yellow Springs Spa property, built the Jenny Lind House in the early 1840’s as a boarding house – it has eight bedrooms!”

How it go the nickname Jenny Lind House is history has it that she stayed in Yellow Springs during the Philadelphia portion of her P. T. Barnum-sponsored concert tour in 1850.  (Yellow Springs Catering Website)

Historic Yellow Springs Inc.,   is on the National Register of Historic Places. They can’t just do anything random to the Jenny Lind House! And this place deserves preservation!!

So here are a bunch of my photos from Jenny Lind’s Yellow Springs Inn days:

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Here are some sad photos taken this week:

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So look, anyone interested in giving the old gal some help? I have absolutely NO idea who these REO Acquisitions people are mentioned in the legal letter plastered to the door. But my guess is whomever they are, they are across the country and this is just some thing they own the paper on, right?  So my guess is West Pikeland Township and Historic Yellow Springs and the residents of the village would love to see this building in use.  I know I would. It is a lovely restaurant space, so it could be once again. Or a cafe. Or a cafe and  Air B and B (it still has a slew of bedrooms, right??)

Now it can be done because the house next door was quite derelict until the Halys bought it, and now it is a totally charming rental house for vacations, etc (Wm Haly House see VRBO). This is how Haly house looked  in 2012 or 2013 when I took this photo (before they purchased the property):

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Compare with this CURRENT photo courtesy of W.M. Haly House Facebook page:

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So how about that??? It IS possible!! W.M. Haly House is proof positive that people do want to restore historic homes! It’s awesome!

So how about it Chester County? Know anyone who would be perfect for the Jenny Lind House?  Wouldn’t it be great to have a little cafe of something with Air B and B above? Or a complete renovation into a Bed and Breakfast Inn complete with dining that would hearken back to the days of when it was a boarding house?

Check out what Schuylkill River Greenways has to say about the village:

The history of Yellow Springs Village spans nearly 300 years. The Native Lenape first attributed the name, “Yellow Springs” because of the natural mineral springs that flow through the area into Pickering Creek.

In the 18th century, Yellow Springs was a fashionable spa village that attracted visitors who sought healing waters and social interaction. During the American Revolution, George Washington commissioned a hospital to be built in the village, the first military hospital in the nation’s history. Washington himself visited on numerous occasions. 

Following the war, the village returned to a spa town during the early 19th century.

From 1868 to 1912, Yellow Springs was home to the Chester Springs Soldiers’ Orphans School for children of Civil War Soldiers. From 1916 to 1952, the village served as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Country School. 

From 1952 until 1974 the village was the headquarters of Good News Productions, a film studio in Yellow Springs that created over 400 films including the sci-fi original The Blob. From 1974 on, Historic Yellow Springs, Inc. has preserved many of these original structures and educates visitors about our unique past. 

For greater depth into the village history, visit the Historic Yellow Springs/Chester Springs Studio website.  They have all sorts of cool stuff to check out.

If you are interested in Jenny Lind House, I would say a safe place to start your inquiries would be West Pikeland Township. Their phone number is (610) 590-5300.

Here is how to reach all of their Supervisors:

Charlie Humphreys, Chair
chumphreys@westpikeland.com

Pamela Conti, Vice Chair
pconti@westpikeland.com

Noreen Vigilante, Supervisor
nvigilante@westpikeland.com

Richard Bright, Jr., Supervisor
rbright@westpikeland.com
Ernie Holling, Supervisor
eholling@westpikeland.com

 

 

grist for the mill

A really cool place in Chester County is the Anselma Mill.  As per their history on their website:

The Mill at Anselma is an   extraordinary artifact of 260 years of Chester County’s industrial heritage. The Mill   stands as the most intact, authentic example of a custom water-powered grain   mill in the United   States and has been so honored by the U.S.   Department of Interior as a National Historic Landmark.

The Mill illustrates the   impact of changing technology on the milling industry over the course of three   centuries and celebrates Chester   County’s role as the breadbasket of   colonial America.

Totally cool – it is close to the Village of historic Yellow Springs at 1730 Conestoga Road in Chester Springs and they have a farmer’s market (at the mill every Wednesday from 2pm-6pm).  I did not know until today that I could actually buy flour from them, and to me that is very cool!  I can’t wait to check out the mill some day soon!

The Mill at Anselma has a fundraiser coming up I thought I would post because I for one would like to attend, and I think it sounds like fun. It would be *helpful* if one knew how much this fundraiser was going to cost to attend, but anyway:

Save the Date for The Mill’s 10th Annual

Fall Party and Auction

On Saturday, September 22, 2012, The Mill at Anselma will hold its tenth annual fundraising party and auction. The auction provides continuing support for the educational programs and ongoing preservation of The Mill, a National Historic Landmark.

The fundraiser will be held for the first time at the working grist mill located in Chester Springs. Come and join us for a beautiful evening in and among the historic buildings and landscape of The Mill. The event is from 5:30-9:30pm and features both a silent and live auction. A light dinner, cocktails, and beverages are included.
For more details and to purchase tickets, please contact us at 610.827.1906 or visit us at www.anselmamill.org.

need to know HOW you can use gilmore’s gift certificates up?

Yellow Springs Inn

So many were *shocked* when Gilmore’s in West Chester closed.  I will note, however, that some of their real people reviews had been slipping.    And I never got how Peter Gilmore was quoted on his website as saying “I didn’t intend Gilmore’s to be a destination restaurant, I wanted it to be a comfortable family restaurant.”

I had positive dining experiences at Gilmore’s, but I will admit I did not dig how restrictive it was as far as the seatings and the plate sharing fee was obnoxious.  It was not, however, not family casual. Ever.

It is sad that they are closed, but many were left with unused gift certificates. (And I know a place to use those gift certificates and gift cards not yet posted anywhere else!)  West Chester Dish has a post about this and the fabulous Michael Klein of the Philadelphia Inquirer had this to say in his Insider column:

Have a Gilmore’s gift certificate?

……And now it seems as if anyone holding a gift certificate to Gilmore’s  restaurant is out of luck.

The restaurant closed after dinner July 14.

On July 16, owner Peter Gilmore told me that he decided to close the  restaurant only days before because he had grown tired and wanted to “go out on  top.”

On July 18, he notified customers of the closing in an email that concluded:  “If you have any inquiries, please send them in writing to: Gilmore’s  Restaurant, 133 East Gay Street, West Chester, PA  19380.”

On July 20, I spoke to him about gift certificates and he told me that John  Brandt-Lee, who owns Avalon in the borough, would honor them at 50 percent of  face value. But, I replied, if you’re going to give refunds, why would anyone  take up Brandt-Lee’s generous offer?

Gilmore said he would proceed on his attorney’s suggestions.

In the last 10 days, Gilmore has not returned subsequent calls and emails.  People have posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page to inquire about gift  certificates; there’s been no response.

Those with gift certificates are indeed owed money, but if history is any  guide, they’re better off using their card as an ice scraper this winter.

When a restaurateur truly cares about his customers, he announces a closing  well in advance  – much as Gilmore’s former longtime boss, Georges Perrier,  did. Give those with gift cards a chance to use them. Bask in the glow a  little.

 

Sadly it seems that perhaps Gilmore’s is yet another victim of the current economy, doesn’t it?  Even more sad is the playing dodge ball about gift certificates or gift cards. And Chef Gilmore remarked in his final interview with West Chester Dish :

“We’ve loved working in West Chester, it’s a great town, it’s been a great run. It’s time to make a change in lifestyle. For now, I’ll be sitting by the pool drinking a scotch and soda deciding what move I want. Who knows what will happen in the future,”

Considering the apparent gift card/gift certificate debacle, that comment is a definite ouchie now. Yikes.

However, fear not.  I know where you can use the Gilmore’s gift cards that will give you an awesome meal and memorable experience.

Give up?

YELLOW SPRINGS INN!!!

Yellow Springs Inn located at 1657 Art School Road, Chester Springs, Pennsylvania 19425  ( phone (610) 827-7477 )  is accepting the gift cards and gift certificates which are unused at 50% of their original face value.

A little birdie told me about this, so I did phone Chef – Owner Charlie Orlando to verify this personally.   Charlie verified that YES Yellow Springs Inn would like the former patrons of Gilmore’s in West Chester to know that if you have any gift certificates from Gilmore’s you would like to use and not waste, Yellow Springs Inn is happy to accept those gift certificates at 50% of their original value.

Yellow Springs Inn is open Wednesday through Saturday 5 pm to 9:30 p.m.  They have a Facebook page now too.  They also offer catering services.

Yellow Springs can do what Gilmore’s never could: they can be BOTH a destination and a comfortable family restaurant.  I would not suggest insulting Chef or staff by showing up in a ripped t-shirt and jean shorts, but you can come comfortably attired and enjoy a wonderful evening on the porch or in one of their dining rooms.  Yellow Springs Inn is BYOB.

If you enjoyed dining at Gilmore’s, you will love Yellow Springs Inn.  And truthfully, I think Charlie Orlando is a better chef.  And the historic village in which the Yellow Springs Inn sits is also amazing!

No disrespect to other restaurants offering to use Gilmore’s gift cards, but if I were you I would use those gift cards or gift certificates up at Yellow Springs Inn.

Tell Yellow Springs Inn you read about this on Chester County Ramblings.

 

historic yellow springs…additional thoughts

I wrote a post recently about Historic Yellow Springs Village looking like a dust bowl run down ghost town.

I keep receiving comments.  Like for example:

You ask  the questions that many  wonder about.  Join the HYS Board, and continue to ask these good questions. They need you.

Uhh no.  My role is one of provocateur.  I am someone who admires the village.  So I blogged about it. I photographed it. I visit it.  The village has a board that should be doing more and can do more.  If they are unwilling to do so, they should move on.  But to be on the board of Historic Yellow Springs I would have to have the time to commit and  the coin to donate in the degree they need in that village desperately.  I do not right now, plus I also have not decided where exactly I want to volunteer in Chester County.   And if you want to consider thinking about this in a different way, my taking the time to write about the plight of Historic Yellow Springs Village and photograph it  is like volunteer work.

Now I did have a nice exchange back and forth with the new-ish Executive Director Eileen McMonagle.  She has the heart and the smarts but she is not an island of one.

One thing she wrote to me, I would like to share:

I read that you feel  the village is falling apart.  Sadly many of the historic sites in our area are struggling because there is no funding on the federal, state or local level.  HYS however has been blessed with a great group of volunteers and members who are working hard to turn the village around. As with all major projects, everything cannot be done at once.

 

I still say her board needs to step up.  I also think they need to cross pollinate with other preservation boards, and consider the other amazing people they have living close if not in  the Historic Village of Yellow Springs who want to see the village survive and thrive.  As in Chester Springs people.  Maybe they aren’t people who have been there for decades or centuries, but sometimes you need fresh blood.  And I can think of a few people right off the bat.  But it is not my job to find people to help this board and village.  They have the tools and creativity to do it themselves.

And they have a very cool art show starting August 2nd that runs through August 31st.  It is a weekend thing or by appointment during the week:

Historic Yellow Springs Presents :

The Lost Generation of Pennsylvania Impressionists

 

When: August 2nd through August 31st 2012

Where: First Floor Lincoln Galleries, Historic Yellow Springs, Chester Springs, PA

Open: Opening Thursday August 2nd at 5:30 as part of Chester County’s Town Tour.  Gallery is open weekends Saturday 10-4 and Sunday 12-4.  Weekdays open by request.

Cost: FREE

Historic Yellow Springs (HYS) will be hosting a diverse collection of work by talented students who attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) Country School from 1917 to 1952.  The PAFA Country School is now the village of Historic Yellow Springs, Chester Springs, PA.

The beautiful landscape of Yellow Springs prompted then PAFA president John Fredrick Lewis to open a summer school for artists at the turn of the last century. The Country School provided the much needed en plein air (in the open air) style of art training to these already accomplished Academy artists. The foundation of the PAFA Country School’s teaching philosophy was the 19th century French Impressionist movement. The magnificent grounds and scenery of the Country School attracted some of the area’s best art instructors and students, including Daniel Garber, N.C, Wyeth, Albert Laessle, Roswell Weidner and Albert Van Nesse Greene. In addition to landscapes, Country School artists were educated in portraiture and sculpture.

The artwork is from Historic Yellow Springs’ own archives and various private collections. Many have not been seen in over a decade.  The collection of artwork features work by well known artists who attended the Country School such as Darce Boulton, Lucus Crowell, Albert Van Nesse Greene, Roy C. Nuse, Francis Speight, Dorcas Kunzie Weidner, Roswell Weidner and Paul Wescott.  A number of the works were saved from destruction by Country School instructors Dorcas Kunzie Weidner and Roswell Weidner.

About Historic Yellow Springs: Historic Yellow Springs (HYS) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1974 and dedicated to the visual arts, the environment, and the village’s  300-year old history. The mission of Historic Yellow Springs is to share, preserve, and celebrate the unique living village of Yellow Springs. Focusing on the visual arts, history and the environment, HYS enriches the lives of all who come here.

 

And if you know anyone on the board of Historic Yellow Springs get them to get those trails in order.  Those springs made the village, and people still want to see them! And right now you really can’t.  Things are too overgrown.