On this day, for the first time I saw Willowbrook Farm, which most of you know as Life’s Patina. At this point in 2012, the barn where so many go to enjoy special events and charity shopping days was being restored. I had not even met Meg Veno yet.
I fell in love with this farm on that day many years ago.
The restoration and adaptive reuse of the barn and the restoration of the property is an amazing thing to behold. It’s just so beautiful.
The care, the love, the attention to detail. And I have loved all of my many subsequent visits ever since.
Meg is inspirational to me. She is endlessly creative and has an incredible eye. She is also one of the kindest people I have ever met.
I was going through old photos and came across these and thought I would share them.
Now Yellow Springs is one of my very favorite places and has been since I was much younger. I used to come to Yellow Springs with my parents. My father loved the village and we used to come for the art show and sale and the antiques show they used to host (which I always thought was fabulous by the way.)
I took these next two photos of the Jenny Lind House last May 2019. I was in the village for the Herb Society Plant Sale. It’s so wonderful to see the house come back to life!
Anyway, enjoy the photos and celebrate those who chose to restore and renovate and find an adaptive reuse for old structures. We need more of that around here!
Make sure you check out Life’s Patina on their website and Facebook page. They often have terrific events. And the bonus is you also get to see a property that’s a slice of heaven in Chester County!
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:
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:
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.
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!”
So here are a bunch of my photos from Jenny Lind’s Yellow Springs Inn days:
Here are some sad photos taken this week:
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):
Compare with this CURRENT photo courtesy of W.M. Haly House Facebook page:
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?
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.
I was astounded that when I went to the village of Historic Yellow Springs for dinner at the amazing Yellow Springs Inn over the weekend that Historic Yellow Springs or whomever owns Vaughn House has not done a blessed thing yet as far as saving this historic structure. I mean it has been years at this point.
There stood Vaughn House last Saturday evening like a ghetto shell of its former self. I had not been to the village since early fall, and would have thought by now that something other than demolition by neglect would have been happening.
And yes, I understand some of my readers take *issue* with me mentioning the deteriorating, run down Vaughn house when I talk about fabulous dining experiences at Yellow Springs Inn. The truth is I do it on purpose. Historic Yellow Springs in my opinion neither respects nor appreciates the treasure that is Yellow Springs Inn and I find them extremely hypocritical at this point because if a private citizen owned Vaughn House I have no doubt everyone would be on them like white on rice to do repairs….yet what is happening? Vaughn House continues to rot. I can’t help but wonder if it is salvageable at all at this point.
Vaughn House should not be allowed to continue to rot and moulder. It brings down property values of everything around it in its current state of disrepair it also might be dangerous as a structure. It is criminal that it is being allowed to rot like this. Have they even had a structural engineer do an assessment?
Historic Yellow Springs needs to decide what they want to do one way or the other. If they want to repair Vaughn House they need to get busy. If they need to admit that perhaps the structure is too far gone at this point, that is something else they need to decide. Otherwise what it eventually going to happen is West Pikeland might decide for them. Of course if they are passively aggressively hoping for that, they could just be honest about it.
Historic Yellow Springs is a village of beauty and history. Like many other non-profit places of historic import it apparently also has lots of problems doesn’t it?
Here’s hoping they have an epiphany sooner rather than later. They can’t recreate the specialness, so why not get back to preserving it?
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.
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.
Take for example, what is known as “Vaughn House”. It is at the end of the village right before the West Pikeland Township Building.
It had a fire at least two years ago. I have been digging around on the Internet and in 2009 I found a reference in some West Pikeland report:
K. H istoric Yellow Springs Vaughn House – Mrs. Matthews reportedthat the Township has not received a response from Historic Yellow Springs regarding the current status of repairs needed to the abandoned Vaughn House. A discussion ensued regarding the need to have the property secured by fencing to assure public safety.
Maurie Kring offered to allow Historic Yellow Springs to use fencing from his recent demolition. The Township Public Works employee will transport the fence for Historic Yellow Springs.
1.Mr. Ross stated he has spoken to Prudence Haines, Director of Historic Yellow Springs in regards to the fire damaged Vaughn House. Ms. Haines informed Mr. Ross that Historic Yellow Springs has secured the facility and does not have funds for maintenance and repair and would consider selling the property.
Barbara Miller of Art School Road stated that she has observed two properties damaged by fire; one being the Vaughn House owned by Historic Yellow Springs and the other a private home located in the eastern most portion of the village. Ms. Miller stated that the properties are blighted and are unattractive and asked if they were going to be repaired. The Board informed Ms. Miller that the private home has been sold and is plans are presently being made for renovation. Eileen McMonagle of Historic Yellow Springs was present and stated that Historic Yellow Springs is currently working on a solution to restore the property.
Connie’s House dates to the late 1800’s and was originally a post office and general store. It is now owned by the Chester Springs Studio and is used for exhibitions and artists’ residencies. The building was given to the Studio by Yellow Springs Founder Connie Fraley, hence the affectionate name. The Vaughn House, named for its last resident, is a charming small farmhouse built in the 1830’s. Historic Yellow Springs completely restored the house in 1989 and it serves as a tenant residence.
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!
The Yeaworth House, also named for its last resident, was built in 1899 as an infirmary for the Soldiers’ Orphans School. It was converted to a residence in the 1950’s, extensively renovated in 1987-88, and now serves as another tenant residence.
The English actress Fanny Kemble describing her visit to Yellow Springs during July 1843 in her book Records of Later Life, 1882:
“This morning the children took me up a hill which rises immediately at the back of the house (the Jenny Lind House), on the summit of which is a fine crest of beautiful forest trees, from which place there is a charming prospect of hill and dale, a rich rolling country in fine cultivation – the yellow crops of grain, running like golden bays in the green woodland that clothes the sides and tops of all the hills, the wheat, the grass, the variegated patchwork covering of the prosperous summer earth.”
Vaughn House is no charming tenant property now. I took a good look at it on Sunday. It is a wreck after a fire, and how embarrassing that Historic Yellow Springs can’t be honest about it.
I dug around and was told Historic Yellow Springs did collect insurance post-fire,but it was not enough to effect historic preservation repairs. Given the June 2012 meeting minutes I quoted above, I would say they are in a fair pickle when it comes to this property.
Someone I know who looked at the house recently said it was not beyond redemption but would be soon if they did not get busy.
The irony is everyone knows there is some serious money in and around Yellow Springs, so why can’t some of those people rescue this house and preserve it? What happened was a tenant fire, I am unsure of the timeline, but I noticed on West Pikeland’s website a last name that is the same as that general store, or Harold M. Hallman III. From what I have been told years ago, this family has been around forever and own a lot of land? Couldn’t a family like this help Historic Yellow Springs?
See this is what I do not get about this place: those who can’t don’t.
Yellow Springs has an amazing history and still has three mineral springs: magnesium, sulphur, and iron. The whole village grew up around the medicinal value of these springs. There are references to them in Colonial Times and Washington hung out there…and they can prove it. People used to travel up the Schuylkill by packet boat from Philadelphia to Pottstown/Phoenixville and then by coach to the Inn for taking the waters in the springs.
On their website, the iron spring gazebo is in a field neatly cut. It is practically drowned by brush and rushes right now. There used to be these amazing walking trails that you could take to check out the springs. I could not see any of the trails this weekend, as things are that overgrown.
I totally get Historic Yellow Springs currently seems to be swinging toward a more public revenue stream with using the village for weddings, rentals, and sponsored events. I have done enough work with small non-profits to know non-profit funding is there but grantors want specific results over the long-term. However, when I say the place needs donor angels I am not kidding. They are advertising the old inn “The Washington” as being event ready, and maybe it is o.k. but I have heard from people who inquired that you have to bring in a kitchen to do an event, there is no longer a kitchen. That adds significantly to what you have to rent.
This place is like a ghost town now. The life comes from the restaurant in the Jenny Lind House, The Yellow Springs Inn. But that is privately owned, and the care taken to do a restoration there is obvious. So should Historic Yellow Springs consider selling some of the properties provided they can ensure they can, and will be preserved?
Heidi Brett, Arts Program Manager – 610-827-7414 ext. 16 email@example.com Callie McGlone, Office and Events Manager – 610-827-7414 ext. 10 firstname.lastname@example.org
Eileen McMonagle , Executive Director – 610-827-7414 ext. 14 email@example.com
Sandra S. Momyer, Moore Archivist – 610-827-7414 ext. 19 firstname.lastname@example.org
Diane Peterson, Business Manager – 610-827-7414 ext. 17 email@example.com
John Shaw, Volunteer Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been told the Executive Director is fairly new and very nice and really into preserving the historic village. Maybe they need some new board members then?
The history from the springs, the Revolutionary War Hospital, the who artist colony history makes Yellow Springs cool. But it does not matter how many volunteers it has if no movement is occurring.
They used to do so many events, and that has dwindled. You need events to bring people to town, not just putting the event for rent sign out on the village. Bring back the antiques show, for example. That drew thousands to the village.
They could host re-enactment events. There are tons of people who live to come to these things in correct period costume and share their knowledge of particular periods in United States History – I have seen it at places like Historic Goshenville. I have seen it at various Civil War re-enactments. Also things like Farmers’ Markets will draw people to a community – look no further than the markets we all go to every week in Chester County during growing seasons. Or flower shows. Or old-fashioned things like quilt shows. Open air antiques and crafts markets. Partner with local farms for farm table dinners in the Village or haunted hay rides in the fall. People love those too. There are a lot of things that can be done, but the people controlling this historic village need to want to do things to better the lot of the village.
And what can the West Pikeland Township people do that is positive for the village to encourage and entice people to support the village.
I know so many areas that would kill to have history like this. Don’t squander it Historic Yellow Springs. People care about the village. I watched a guy cutting really long grass just to make things look better. I asked someone if he worked for the township. The answer was no, he is just a resident who cares about the land.
If Chester Springs is supposed to be one the most affluent sections of Chester County, then I wish some of them would wake up and see that Historic Yellow Springs gets a shove.
No one wants to write a donation check in this economy that is not going to be accounted for, I get that. So what about targeted donations? Or very specific fundraising efforts? Like how much needs to be raised to restore Vaughn House?
What kind of special events (not just recurring ones) can the board of Historic Yellow Springs bring to the Village? If those people want to sit on the board then are they responsible for helping raise a certain dollar amount in donations? Face it, this place needs not only an active board, but a proactive board. And if these board members aren’t bringing in a certain amount of donations each year, or giving it themselves, they need that board freshened up a little more often. Who can they partner with in neighboring communities or other areas of historic interest to raise awareness?
And the walking trails. People love walking trails, especially when there is not only beauty, but a lot to look at. And face it, those springs are still cool a couple of hundred years later! But the trails seem to be lacking maintenance. Why not invite boy scout troops from Chester County to adopt the trails as service projects? Maybe let them camp once in a while in one of the fields like the one being used for parking of studio vehicles.
O.k. rant over. Sorry, but I think this is worth saving and the people in control do have the tools to do so. Only I can’t figure out what they are waiting for.
Oh deer, indeed. Never had deer as an almost daily yard critter before moving to Chester County. And since the Retirement Vatican known as Hershey’s Mill apparently has the largest deer herd in Chester County, I am ever watchful.
On the roads.
…and in my garden.
I have until recently found my garden left unmolested. Then the other day I notices something was making a salad out of hosta leaves here and there, the hosta flowers, and the day lily blooms. And since I hadn’t invited Morticia Adams to tea, I know I have critter visitors.
So I know that deer really don’t like Irish Spring soap and the scent given off by human and dog hair. So I have been spreading hair around my plants where not so close to the house and it seems to be working. I also know dried blood will work (until it rains or a dog discovers it).
I asked a few plant folks I deal with for tips and product suggestions. Rebekah from Woodlawn Lanscaping on Paoli Pike at Sugartown Road and Catherine from Yellow Springs Farm on Yellow Springs Road were kind enough to reply.
It’s nice to hear from you again! I’m going to do you one better by asking my managers Max and Sue at Chadds Ford and Malvern, respectively, to weigh in on this since they each have their own favorite recommendations.
Gardening in deer habitats is a challenge we address with our clients everyday! What we have found is that deer will eat ANYTHING and there really is no plant that is safe from browsing. They tend to stay away from high fragrant and textured plants but, if they are hungry enough, will nibble on whatever is in front of them. : (
We do sell several deer repellant products such as Deer Scram, Deer Stopper and Liquid Fence. Woodlawn also carries deer fencing which can be installed and removed when deer browsing is less, in the summer. Customer favorites vary but the most popular brands of repellents are the ones that we carry that customers seem to return to ask for by name. There are other products available commercially but so far our local customers tell us that the three brands I’ve mentioned are successful in repelling their deer herds. That said, each herd does seem to have its own favorite plants to chew, and some will chew on plants that are usually left alone.
Woodlawn sells most of these and anyone can call to check on availability. 610-459-8788 in Chadds Ford or 610-647-1300 in Malvern.
Finally, I’ve gardened in three high deer density states, CT, NJ and now PA, where I’ve found that the solution is a combination of approaches. There is no magic bullet to safeguard your landscape plants that are in deer habitat, aside from an 8 foot double fence with a driveway cattle grid. I’ve literally tried everything. I’ve tried electric fencing my beds, coyote pee, a radio playing, bars of soap, sparkly old AOL CDROMs hung from trees, a large barking boxer dog, a small yappy JRT mix, bb guns, Milorganite, homemade hot pepper sprays, a motion sensor water sprayer, and every imaginable product available. I’ve settled on dealing with deer browse when it happens by pruning and replacing, not planting heavily browed plants, and companion planting. I’ve personally found that planting Egyptian walking onions (sold at Woodlawn Malvern) among my hostas keeps the deer from munching on them. I leave Cleome seed volunteers and marigolds. I plant Fritillaria Imperialis, Crown Imperial, near my tulips. These are all highly aromatic and seem to keep deer away. I also poke several sticks among my hostas so that when a deer bends down to take a bite it gets poked in the nose. These approaches have all worked well for me and enabled me to plant many ornamentals that I would otherwise be feeding to the deer in my gardens near Valley Forge Park.
Thanks for asking and as soon as I hear back from my managers I’ll post their recommendations on our Facebook page too.
I also asked a couple other places I patronize, Del Vacchio and Somerset, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet with their approaches.
I figure there is no one magic bullet (pardon the pun since many communities cull the deer herds and I have NO problem with that as face it man has eradicated a lot of their natural foes in the animal kingdom and development has gobbled up habitat), and you never know what will work.
I like to try more natural alternatives with things, when possible, but that is just me as a breast cancer survivor – I am much more aware of chemicals and interactions now. I hate to say it, but I do try to think pink and live green.
I would have asked Waterloo, but remember a while back when I made a comment about Waterloo in a post? Where I said Devon did not look up to normal stuff in the spring? Someone from Waterloo posted a reply, and interestingly enough June 1st brought local gardeners the news that Waterloo was closing. I don’t know much about Exton, so if someone from Exton reads this post, or any other nursery I have missed reads this post and wants to add tips on keeping Bambi and his tribe at bay, the more the merrier.
I will close with a question: does Hershey’s Mill do anything about their deer population, or do they just leave it to other people outside the compound to deal with? (I have found, however, that some of their residents are as dangerous on the road as deer.)
I have heard that the economy has been tough on this little slice of heaven, so remember to support historic preservation endeavors like this. Developers can build all the McNasties they want, but they will never come close to evoking the charm like you find when strolling through historic villages like this.