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 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:
……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.
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 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.