philadelphia mansions

Ahh this gem of a book is finally out!

I am so honored to have had this amazing book dedicated to myself and renown Philadelphia Artist (and family friend) Noel Miles by author (and friend) Thom Nickels.

This is such a treasure of a book because Thom tells the stories of these homes and their people.

Included in  his book are many homes I find amazing and two in particular.  La Ronda and Loch Aerie. I also provided photographs I took of those two incredible homes.

La Ronda. October, 2009

La Ronda, which once stood in Bryn Mawr in Lower Merion Township, stands no more. She was demolished in 2009.

Loch Aerie under restoration. 2018.in the fall of 2009.

One of the darkest weeks in historic preservation was watching La Ronda (Addison Mizner, architect) come down stone by stone, floor by floor not because she had to be torn down, but because someone could just destroy her.

Others will note the wonderful chapter on Frazer’s Grande Dame, Loch Aerie (Addison Hutton, architect),  who is being saved and restored to new life and a new use. Loch Aerie will live to see more stories happen between her walls.

There are many stories and many homes in this book.

Hear about historic Strawberry Mansion’s rise and fall and the sad life of architect Thomas Nevell who designed one of Philadelphia’s greatest mansions, Mount Pleasant.

Hear about Germantown’s mysterious Ebenezer Maxwell and his famous house that became the inspiration for theexterior of the popular Addams Family house.

You can buy the book on Amazon and support Thom’s hard work and his beautiful gift of storytelling. Yu can also purchase directly from the publisher.

Philadelphia Mansions: Stories and Characters Behind the Walls (Landmarks) by Thom Nickels

Buy on Amazon here:  https://tinyurl.com/PhilaMansions

Buy it directly from Arcadia/History Press here: https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781625859518

And on April 10th there will be a wonderful event and discussion of the book at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.  You can buy tickets HERE for that special event. They are only $10.

In the fall of 2018, the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust will also be featuring a special event with this book.  Details will be forthcoming soon on that event!

loch aerie open again tomorrow – last “open house” before auction

Loch Aerie FlyerTomorrow is the last “open house”  or public viewing of Loch Aerie / Lockwood Mansion / Glen Loch Mansion before the auction on April 21st. So that is tomorrow Wednesday, April 6, 12 pm (noon) until 2 pm. If you know of a preservation buyer, tell them!

The auction people are very nice and gracious, but you do have to stop at their registration table and fill out a form so they know who is in the house. It’s no big deal, but it is an old house. Wear sturdy shoes or good sneakers, this is an old house with many rooms and floors and stairs.

Since the signs went up, the news of Chester County’s La Ronda going to the auction block has spread like wildfire, even making the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Properties for Sale List (CLICK HERE)

I would caution people that there is still opportunity here for Loch Aerie to be saved.  This is very different from those of us who watched La Ronda fall in Bryn Mawr .  No one knew what danger La Ronda was in until Lower Merion Township found out about the desired demolition. By then it was too late. And it was insane, the person who purchase dLa Ronda demolished her just because he could.  He even had a preservation buyer prepared to buy the house and move it to another location. La Ronda was replaced by an absurdly pretentious McMansion with a hockey rink and history was lost.

La Ronda was an amazing example of Addison Mizner’s work and was at that time (2009) one of the last remaining examples if not the last example in this area.  His mansions used to dot the East Coast up through New York State if I remember correctly. And in the end with La Ronda even the seller and owner were at odds over salvage rights.

La Ronda was an amazing property. I was lucky to be able to photograph her from outside her gates before she fell. I was  there like like dozens of others on demolition day. I took photos as tears ran down my face at the sheer waste of something so amazing. Even local commissioner were there and crying. It was awful . It was a house that was beloved by her former community, just like Loch Aerie is today. And just as symbolic and recognizable which is why people sometimes call Loch Aerie Chester County’s La Ronda.

The clock is ticking but not all is lost. Loch Aerie just needs a preservation buyer and not a developer who is land greedy who will buy her for the 6 acres in total she comes with and let her rot as opposed as to just lie fallow with a caretaker in residence.

Loch Aerie has stood there on her hill and watched Chester County change.  This mansion has survived Home Depot being built, turnpike and other highway expansions, motorcycle gangs and general ignorance.

Addison Hutton is one of the finest architects that ever worked or lived in Philadelphia. Loch Aerie is fanciful and lyrical in her Swiss Gothic style. Her original gardens were designed by Charles P. Miller, the landscape architect who designed Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. The gardens are all but gone and the difference between this spring and some other springs I have seen Loch Aerie go through seems to be that some of the last remaining foundation plantings are but memories.

You can read the report that the Chester County Historical Society compiled for a Historic Buildings Survey in the 1950s for The Department of the Interior by clicking HERE.

You can read author Thom Nickel’s Huffington Post essay on Loch Aerie by clicking HERE.

I will note that East Whiteland Historical Commission has a meeting tomorrow evening – 4/6/2016 from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm.  Supposedly they will be discussing Loch Aerie although no agenda is posted as per usual. they also never seem to post any meeting minutes. So I can’t tell you what they are doing but they certainly have not gotten out in front of this.  Or if they have it’s a secret they keep from everyone.

We can’t save every old house, barn, mansion, structure but we should save some, right?  The crime here is just like with the Old Conestoga Inn in Tredyffrin, the Strawbridge House next to the boat place on 30 in Malvern, or Linden Hall on Route 30 in Malvern at the base of 352 and countless other structures all over, there is nothing legally keeping any of them from being torn down. The drawback to living in Pennsylvania, which is a heavy private property rights state (which of course given the eminent domain for private gain all over the state for decades is somewhat contrary in and of itself.)

But the thing is this: Pennsylvania needs more meaningful historic preservation. And there need to be more financial incentives available to preservation buyers. Other states in this country have them.

Pennsylvania also needs an overhaul of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (“MPC” or Act of 1968 P.L. 805 no. 245 as Reenacted and Amended).  This weighty tome is the bible which guides zoning and land use on local levels. This what your local elected officials will lament prevents them from preventing development/density and so on and so forth at times.  Legislators will tell you the MPC is flawed, heck they even did a comprehensive report on it around 2002-2004.)

Communities around Pennsylvania desperately need balance and even protections from development. What defined a suburb and exurb in the past may no longer fit and how does historic preservation in communities fit in? The truth is historic preservation is more of a nice option in Pennsylvania rather than the occasional requirement.

Sorry, don’t mean to put you to sleep, but I feel quite passionately about preserving our open spaces and history.

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Loch Aerie is a symbol to us. A symbol of the rich history and past, homage to a time gone by, an example of legendary architecture which has withstood the test of time and is still so beautiful. And Loch Aerie could be a private home again, or an adaptive reuse. It would be a fabulous boutique hotel and there is a need. I could see a small hotel with a chic restaurant on the first floor.

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Even artists have been captivated by Loch Aerie over time.  In a garage sale group I bought a print  done by Chester County artist named  Christopher Schultz.  Schultz used to present the land and wildlife of the Brandywine Valley in his watercolors and prints of his watercolors.  What I got was Loch Aerie. Apparently the print was popular 15 to 20 years ago.  I have never seen anything else by this artist, and I bought this print because it was of Loch Aerie. Not terribly valuable but pretty and spoke to me because of the subject matter.

Loch Aerie speaks to me as she does to so many of you. She needs a preservation buyer. She deserves to be saved. But someone has to want to and be able to afford to do it.  Here is hoping and praying that somewhere preservation buyers are thinking about this. It would be criminal for Pennsylvania to lose this treasure.

#thisplacematters

Thanks for stopping by.

 

a walk down memory lane

 In  2009 I documented through photographs the last few months of architect Addison Mizner’s famed La Ronda in Bryn Mawr.  The tale of La Ronda even made the Wall Street Journal back then.

Putting all the drama of the La Ronda and her demolition and the upheaval the demolition caused in Lower Merion Township and across the country aside, the saddest part of the tale of La Ronda is there was a man willing to have the mansion moved brick by brick, who was willing to buy it fairly. Only he was denied that by both the seller of the property and buyer of the property.  Those people sold La Ronda to be torn down and tore down La Ronda because they could and that is kind of sad especially since they were players in the socioeconomic levels where they could actually afford to be more preservation minded.

I am not getting into some protracted discussion about property rights, what this demolition has done is leave a lasting impression on me regarding historic preservation in Pennsylvania.

Historic preservation in Pennsylvania remain a lofty ideal, but is seldom a true reality. So when you hear on rare occasions that you might not like what a developer is doing, but they are saving and preserving a historic structure on a property they bought? Well that my friends is huge and doesn’t happen very often. See ( Linden Hall post July 24  and Farmhouse Post on July 27 and Adaptive Reuse from April 2013 )

Truthfully, all these years later and salvagers are still selling bits of La Ronda. And people still write about La Ronda and what happened (reference Proper Philadelphia in 2012 )

I watched and documented the last sad few months of La Ronda, and to me it is a glaring reminder of  what   lip service preservation is. In 2009, Lower Merion Township Commissioners (including the current Board President Liz Rogan) did much beating of the collective breast and waxed long and poetically on how they were going to do things differently and how they were going to preserve historic assets.

Flash forward to 2014 and well, much like other places, it’s all been talk. Or political gob smacking…. take your pick. Now the William Penn Inn is under a 90 day stay of execution err demolition, which means it will inevitably come down.  And that is the case even though people are saying it may have had something to do with the underground railroad (and see cool photos of the place here thanks to Main Line Media News.)

3971577793_125d8e9098_o

Also facing an uncertain future is the historic Odd Fellows Hall and property and United Methodist Church and property in Gladwyne.  People have said for decades that there are Revolutionary War soldiers buried there.  Famous Phillie Rich Asburn is buried there and heck some of my friends have all their family buried there.  So Odd Fellows is in limbo. What is historic will survive if  the developers who are the owners, Main Line Realty Partners, do the proper preservation.  They can do the right thing if they want to.  They have in the past and truthfully the partners in these projects have done beautiful work.  Last I heard that Odd Fellows plan was tabled, but these same developers have now purchased another church, First Baptist in Ardmore.  They also bought the United Methodist Church in Narberth Now the developers are calling themselves Main Line rebuild.

3941005703_d390c4249e_oBut like I said, adaptive reuse and historic preservation by developers are the exception rather than the rule.

I do not know a lot of the preservation groups throughout Chester County as I have not lived here that many years yet .  I love the  Chester County Historical Society and they have lots of neat stuff in their headquarters in downtown West Chester and they do fun things like walking tours.

Also worth noting is the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust. Their 10th annual house tour is September 27th, 2014.

 

And if you like house tours you should also consider signing up for Chester County Day which benefits Chester County Hospital.  They have preview lectures starting in September which are open to the public.

Anyway, remember the La Rondas…once they are gone, they are gone.

Thanks for stopping by today!

maybe loch aerie is indeed chester county’s la ronda.

This is in "City and Suburban Architecture" by Samuel Sloan, published in 1859 by Lippincott in Philadelphia. Sloan was partnered with Hutton when the house was built, but Hutton seems to get all the credit! The book is at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia

I am a lover of old houses and I love the quirky and fanciful.  But I had no idea that so many of you out there shared my fascination with Loch Aerie or the Lockwood Mansion in Frazer, PA.  When I said yesterday that Loch Aerie was like Bryn Mawr’s La Ronda was, well, hmmm maybe I am not so far off base?

It’s a shame that Loch Aerie isn’t loved and cared for like Granogue, Irenee Du Pont’s Estate in Delaware. Granogue is privately held and once upon a time Mr. Du Pont was kind enough to give me a tour, let me check out the green houses and the amazing view of the Brandywine Valley from a top the water tower.

Thanks to all of you yesterday, I learned who owns Loch Aerie — the Tabas family, and I discovered a tear sheet from what appears to be the realtor on the property on the Internet.  Unfortunately, it seems for these people, this magnificent home is just another steak on the grill.

The house was originally named Glen Loch, but when the Pennsylvania Railroad named its last Main Line station “Glen Loch” without asking permission first, William Lockwood the mansion’s owner changed the name of the estate to Loch Aerie.

I found this information in a book by Brian Butko called Lincoln Highway. Because of Mr. Butko’s book, I also learned that William Lockwood made the mistake of granting access to his springs to the railroad.  After all, the Pennsylvania Railroad needed water to power their steam locomotives.   Apparently Lockwood had to really go after the railroad and the legal battles depleted his fortunes, even as he prevailed in court against the railroad.  I find this part of the history fascinating because I think our railroads of today are lousy neighbors, and this shows that lack of consideration along this rail line in particular is historical.

William Lockwood had daughters who lived in Loch Aerie until 1967.  At that time Daniel Tabas, patriarch of the Tabas clan along the Main Line purchased the estate.

Now here is where I get confused.

Gretchen Metz of the Daily Local wrote in June 2010:

The Lockwood Mansion is going back on the market.

The seller, the Estate of Lockwood Mansion, a Tabas family trust, turned down the winning bid of $720,000 by a New York businessman.

Yet Brian Butko in his book Lincoln Highway says in 2002 (and I quote):

So that is most curious? Did the estate  ever leave the Tabas family after Daniel Tabas purchased the house?  I am sooo curious.  Thanks to The Library of Congress, we all have access to a Historic American Buildings Survey (mind you there are lots of other Chester County-centric stuff too.)  I found several copies on the Internet of the one in  particular about Loch Aerie to and will embed a copy below, but it appears to have been done in the 1950’s.  So maybe this Tony Alden did not actually own the house as was implied in Butko’s book?

Now take a minute and check out this article from 1992 from The Philadelphia Inquirer:

It’s Not The End Of The Line For This Landmark It Fell Into Disrepair. But Now Loch Aerie Has Been Lovingly Restored. 

 June 07, 1992|By Sharon O’Neal, INQUIRER CORRESPONDENT

As an East Whiteland Township landmark, the house known as Loch Aerie is more than the history of its original owner, who made a fortune manufacturing paper shirt collars and lost it fighting the Pennsylvania Railroad.

It is the end of the Main Line.

Loch Aerie, originally owned by William E. Lockwood and occupied by his family for 102 years, was a 19th-century gentleman’s farm built on 836 acres. It contained three separate farms and tenant houses and four railroad stations, including the last Main Line station of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The stop was known as Glen Loch (Scottish for “lake of the glen”) after the estate’s original name.

Lockwood built the Swiss Gothic house in 1867 for the then-astronomical cost of $250,000, using blue marble and blue limestone mined from quarries now covered by Route 202. Only the house and about 26 surrounding acres remain of that huge estate. The rest has become dense commercial development. The Sheraton Inn Great Valley is directly across the highway.

Because of its size, Lockwood’s Glen Loch estate was a town by itself. Mail was handled by the Glen Loch post office. But when the Pennsylvania Railroad adopted the name Glen Loch for its station without first consulting Lockwood, the angry owner changed its name to Loch Aerie.

That was not the only disagreement Lockwood had with the railroad. He had given the line permission to use some of the water from the estate’s many springs to power its steam engines, with the agreement that the railroad would maintain the pipes.

Eventually, however, the railroad was pumping all of Lockwood’s water from the springs, to the extent that Loch Aerie had no water. The ensuing battles in Chester County Court, many of which Lockwood won, cost him his fortune……until 1967, when the property was bought by Daniel Tabas….. Since 1980, the house has been occupied by architectural consultant Tony Alden.

Here again is where I find more curiosity: was this definitively designed by Addison Hutton as an original idea?  I ask because a friend from the Radnor Historical Society Greg Pritchard (he is one of my favorite people and helped me so much as I was going through the approval process to gain a PA historical marker for what once was The Wayne Natatorium)  sent me a message last night with a photo he took from a plate in a book that was published nine years before Loch Aerie was built.  The photo is above and the first one in this post.  It is a photo of a plate in a book titled “Rural Villa” and I can’t quite make out the name on the bottom right hand corner of the plate.  But that is Loch Aerie, is it not?  So was this drawing done for/by Addison Hutton before Lockwood commissioned his mansion, or was this drawing the inspiration for Hutton’s design? If it was inspiration, is there a Loch Aerie look-alike somewhere?

Around 1974, Elizabeth Biddle Yarnall wrote a biography on Addison Hutton (Addison Hutton, Quaker Architect 1834-1916).  On page 41, she writes of what appears to have been a visit to the home with her husband.  William Lockwood’s daughters were still living there.

Apparently, as per this book, Loch Aerie/Glen Loch/Lockwood Mansion was one of Hutton’s favorite commissions because it was an independent one.  I also learned thanks to Elizabeth Biddle Yarnall how William Lockwood made at least some of his money:  paper collars.  Mrs. Yarnall remarked upon her 1958 visit how intact the house still was at that time that it seemed that they “…had stepped into the Victorian world of Addison Hutton“.

Flash forward to 1995, and another Philadelphia Inquirer article about Loch Aerie.  The Philadelphia Inquirer used to do all sorts of cool pieces like this, but their issues and various changes of ownership means that not only don’t you see articles of interest like this very often, they also don’t seem to give the reporters the time or encouragement to write articles like this.  I find that a shame.  Anyway back to 1995:

CollectionsLove Affair

A Battle Between House And Store Retailer’s Plan Is Too Close For Comfort.

December 10, 1995|By Susan Weidener, INQUIRER CORRESPONDENT

FRAZER — Loch Aerie was once the scene of lavish outdoor parties attended by gentlemen farmers living along the fringes of the Main Line.

A century later, the house, with its peaked roofs, gables and Romanesque windows, achieved fleeting fame when the Warlocks motorcycle gang took up illegal residence there.

Situated on Route 30 across from the Sheraton Great Valley Hotel, Loch Aerie is now in the midst of an escalating battle between preservationists and developers.

The latter have proposed to build a 103,000-square-foot Home Depot store and a 23,400-square-foot lawn-and-garden center about 50 feet from the side porch of the house, built in 1867 by paper magnate William E. Lockwood.

While the house would not be demolished under the Home Depot proposal, the proximity of a large commercial development would destroy its integrity, said Sylvia Baker, chairwoman of the East Whiteland Historical Commission.

Loch Aerie is owned by Daniel Tabas, who plans to keep the house and about two acres around it. Home Depot has bought the other 19 acres, contingent on township approval.

Even though the house would remain, Baker and Dan Maguire, vice chairman of the historical commission, said Tuesday that the proposal “won’t do.”…..”This plan would destroy the ambience of the property, not to mention the underground icehouse and gasworks,” two of the home’s most unusual features, Maguire said…..”This is the most valuable house in East Whiteland, maybe even in Chester County,” Baker said Tuesday as the late afternoon sun cast an orange glow over the small lake and formal gardens behind the house.

“And they want to destroy it,” she said.

But Tabas, former owner of the Tabas Hotel in Downingtown, said he is ”very hurt by a small minority” who think he would see Loch Aerie destroyed.

“I bought that house in 1960 because I loved it,” Tabas said Wednesday.

“It’s been a love affair ever since.”….

Tony Alden, an architectural consultant, has been living in the house since about 1975 and has been “meticulously restoring the furnishings,” Tabas said.

Tabas added that he has turned down a “dozen” development offers that would have destroyed the house.

“Then came Home Depot. They didn’t want the house, either, but then they agreed to keep it and establish a protection zone around it……The house is not on the National Register, Baker said, but it qualifies. The necessary paperwork was never completed. However, the house is considered ”an important structure” by preservationists around the state….The plan also shows a building that is “not the typical concrete block warehouse” Home Depot usually builds, but one with an architecture “more characteristic of the Main Line,” according to Snyder’s associate, Wendy McLean.

Ahhh what a tangled tale.  So with all due respect to the late Dan Tabas, if he had such a “love affair” with the house, why did it rot for many and have motorcycle gangs hanging out?  Why does it in essence sit and rot today?  Let’s get real, this was always a juicy plot of land.  Someone who has a love affair with a home like this, restores it, doesn’t sell off all the land around it to a big box store, effectively marooning it like a small desert island.  Someone with a love affair, restores it and moves his family in to enjoy the splendor and privilege of living in such a home. Or they find a suitable adaptive reuse. Yes, think Addison Hutton’s Beechwood on Shipley’s campus which the Committee to Save Beechwood saved – yes volunteers did that, not the school although the school reaps the ultimate benefit now.  Or up closer to Bryn Mawr Train Station (around 802 W. Montgomery).  That is also an Addison Hutton designed home, and if memory serves it could have been the house Hutton built for his family.  In any event, this property was recently converted to condos.  Mind you, I will never be a condo girl, but in this case, it provided a viable adaptive reuse that saved the structure.

I also love how Home Depot described their store design as “more characteristic of the Main Line.”   And then they woke up.  I have been to that Home Depot several times, and Ardrossan it ain’t.  Not even close.  It is what it is: a big box with concrete floors.

Of course I wonder given another article unearthed from the Philadelphia Inquirer if East Whiteland could have said no?  According to this article, not only was the sale of the property on which Home Depot now sits contingent on this approval, Home Depot went to this  “township to amend its zoning ordinance and create a special classification for retail and home and garden center use.”  This article also says how the reason Home Depot wanted to big box in was traffic from the Exton Bypass on Route 202.

That just kills me.  Big boxes might have their uses but not only do they slowly starve out independent businesses, the big boxification and strip mallification of Chester County is something which astounds me.   So many Chester County municipalities seem to an outsider completely thoughtless when it comes to preservation and the future.   All these plastic mushroom house developments, and countless big boxes and sub par strip malls, not all of which have full occupancy.  Look at what has been built over the past 25 years or so.  Is any of it spectacular? No.

I don’t get why Chester County doesn’t have a more cohesive plan for commercial development county-wide, and it is obvious in some of these municipalities that they see the short-term salivation over ratables, and not much else.  Of course if you ever watch any public meetings, eleted and planning officials love to fall on the sword of Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code which in my humble opinion needs an updating.  Suburbs and exurbs are vastly different and Pennsylvania needs better comprehensive planning, so that  many local municipalities run out of excuses on why they don’t need better planning.  Not all local municipalities are horible at historic preservation, but a lot of them could do much better, or simply pay less lip service to the idea of preservation and employ more doing.

I also think that Pennsylvania as a state needs to have more that means more in the area of historic preservation.  People need incentive to preserve, and I wish that Pennsylvania would follow the lead of other states in this country who offer more enticing incentives to preserve historic structures.

Now the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission administers the federal rehabilitation investment tax credits , but it just seems a lot of other states simply do more.  At a minimum the Municipalities Planning Code needs to be more in sync with historic preservation in a top down approach in Pennsylvania.  Of course that opens other cans of worms as Pennsylvania is most definitely a private property rights state.  We all learned that lesson again when it can to La Ronda.  La Ronda was demolished I think as much as anything else because the owner could demolish it.

It is a crying shame that Loch Aerie has never made it to The National Trust for Historic Preservation.  I wish in addition that preservationists in Pennsylvania and Chester County would take an interest in preserving this La Ronda of Chester County.  No, we can’t save every old house, but once in a while it would be nice if some of the more important homes, of which this mansion is definitely one, were not left to rot.  We are in a crappy economy no doubt, but still so much our past in our communities is left to rot.  There seems to be plenty of money to build new, but not much money or incentive to preserve.  Private property rights state or not, once the architectural history is gone, it’s gone and not coming back.

What kind of adaptive reuse do you think could fit Loch Aerie?  I would like to see something that preserved the exterior and enough of the interior.  It would make a cool B&B or boutique hotel.  Even a restaurant.  Or a quirky office space.  Antique store or art center.  The landscaping would be key as it’s views are now either highway or big box.  Given how it was cut off, it wouldn’t make an ideal single family home.  If I were an official in East Whiteland, I would be looking for a way to make preservation of Loch Aerie happen.  But we all know the reality of that as it is far simpler to approve a demolition plan and look the other way.  Or to let many old structures rot and look the other way until no one wants the properties except for another doofy strip mall, drive thru pharmacy, bank branch, or fast food restaurant.

One last question.  Has this home ever been on a Chester County Day Tour?   There certainly are enough cool Victorians in Chester County that they could do an entire Victorian Day, or given all the historic homes at risk ALL over, they could do an “at risk” themed tour.  I love my barns, don’t misunderstand me, but there are a lot of cool houses in Chester County that are in desperate need of rescuing from various points of time in history.

Here are the documents I loaded on SCRIBD and also check out The Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society’s Historical Quarterly Digital Archives “A Brief Glimpse of East Whiteland“:

Just a little end note added courtesy of a reader.  They suggest all get familiar with Landscapes2: bringing growth and preservation together for Chester County.   In their call to action this website says (and I quote):

Chester County is at a critical point in its history. We must make a choice for our future.  We can let the unsustainable development pattern of the past continue, or we can  choose to work together toward a new pattern of development that preserves the  unique character of Chester County.

 

Chapter 1 of the comprehensive policy plan, Landscapes2, outlines how the Board of County Commissioners and the Chester County Planning Commission plan to address growth management and preservation strategies in collaboration with public, private and corporate citizens.

There is also a section on historic resources.

Thank you one and all for your continued interest in this blog.

favorite things and photos of days gone by

In advance of a photography gig I was checking out what I had on some old chips, and came across photos of one of my favorite things:  Sugartown Strawberries.  Have you been to Sugartown Strawberries? Met Farmer Bob?  What are you waiting for?

Sugartown Strawberries kept me in some awesome veggies and things this past summer and fall.  They also do these farm table dinners in the fall along with hayrides, and they have a little country store. I wasn’t able to attend any of the farm table dinners in 2011 and hope to change that in 2012 as they looked pretty awesome.

As much as I tote my camera, almost every time I went to Sugartown Strawberries this past summer and fall I almost always forgot my camera.  I plan to remedy that soon because I love the property – it’s very cool much like the owner.   It is located at 650 Sugartown Road in Malvern.

Before I get onto the second part of this post, I wanted to take the time to thank all of you have discovered my latest blog project and read the posts.  I also figure I must be gaining in site visits as attempts at spamming have increased dramatically.

Now to part 2.  A few years ago, before it came down, I started photographing Addison Mizner’s La Ronda in Bryn Mawr.   It was the castle of our childhoods along the Main Line. As a matter of fact I know a woman who once called it home when I was little.  I never played in it’s cavernous front hall, but was always fascinated by it.

Somehow as the decades pased, La Ronda survived.  Until a few years ago when the last owner of the house while it stood decided to sell it to a man whose heart’s desire was to tear it down. And tear it down he did.  The bones of the mansion were picked over via salvage and bits and pieces are still being sold today.

In the place of La Ronda a gross McMansion has grown – complete with a hockey rink because you know every kid needs one.  The irony is that the new house is basically the same size as what was torn down.  The McReplacement is a Pohlig product.  As in Pohlig Builders the developers out of Malvern. (And speaking of Pohlig, I swear I  have seen a new Pohlig sign on Sugartown in Easttown on the grounds of what I thought was an intact estate – anyone know anything?)

So check out the Proper Philadelphia’s post titled La Ronda Revisited .  That is part 2 of this post.  The blogger quotes me as I was quoted in an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer in May 2011. It’s a weird feeling revisiting your activism past…..

I did several photo sets on La Ronda.  Some of the favorite photos I took were of La Ronda’s woodchucks.  If you are interested in the photos:

10/1/09 La Ronda Demolition Day.

Gray Skies Over La Ronda 9/16/09

La Ronda on Monday September  21, 2009

La Ronda Friday September 18, 2009

La Ronda on 9/1/09 & The La Ronda Woodchucks

La Ronda Protest 8/31/09

La Ronda Watch: 8/26/09