what is really going on in caln township with lloyd farm?

Many thanks to Abandoned Steve Explorations for the use of his gorgeous photo of Lloyd Farm in Caln Township.

Abandoned Steve Explorations took the glorious photo I am opening this post with. I am positively obsessed with the cool structures he covers. He was nice enough to lend us the use of this photo it’s part of an upcoming project. You can find him on Facebook , his website, and YouTube.

Lloyd Farm is haunting me. Part of a Penn Land Grant, dating its origins to the 1600s.

(See this history by Edward C. Lendrat)

Then there is the 18th Century farmhouse with an equally historic 1901 addition.

What am I talking about? 1757 was when the farmhouse was originally built and 1910 when the Lloyd family commissioned Gilbert McIlvaine the Philadelphia architect to build a “modern” addition that paid homage and melded with the original farmhouse. Mr. McIlvaine maintained a home in Downingtown for many years and was also active in the Boy Scouts founding several troops I am told in Chester County.

Back to Lloyd Farm…except the people who have called it home or who had something to do with it are important to the very fabric of Lloyd Farm’s history.

Yesterday I learned surprising news when a copy of an old historic preservation application was unearthed from the early 1980s – possibly 1982. Yes – seriously – Lloyd Farm Application for Historic Designation: PA Historic Resource Form Circa 1982.

From this form we learned quite a few things including that Lloyd Farm around or before the Civil War was a freaking stop on the Underground Railroad!

It’s just crazy and you have to ask what in the heck is going on in Caln Township? How long have these commissioners known the history of Lloyd Farm and why didn’t that historic designation proceed? Why wasn’t it pursued for a national historical status?

Did I mention the demolition permit? There is one. And what is with the date mismatch in that letter thing?

I don’t live in Caln. I do know amusingly enough like Lower Merion Township , it’s a First Class Township. But who runs the Township? Because it surely doesn’t seem like the elected commissioners does it? I know in Lower Merion Township years ago because I was part of it when the residents rose up after having had enough over the threat of eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore that we flipped half of the board of commissioners in one election.

And Caln residents are upset about this.

Really upset.

I want to know why the developer wants to tear down the house don’t you? Is this going to be like the death of Addison Mizner’s La Ronda in Bryn Mawr, PA? A case where a magnificent home was torn down for salvage just because someone could?

Caln resident submitted photo.

Look at the historic comparables in Chester County that are actually getting saved and restored: West Whiteland Inn, Exton. Benjamin Jacobs House, Exton. Fox Chase Inn and Barn, Exton. Linden Hall, Malvern (even if I don’t like some of what is being done it’s being saved, finally.) Loch Aerie, Malvern. The Jenny Lind House, Yellow Springs Village.

Also to be considered? Several Toll Brothers projects including in Chester County where similar vintage farmhouses and/or barns have been or are being saved. Now it is no secret how I feel about Toll Brothers developments, but if even they can preserve historic structures on properties they are developing why couldn’t the developer for Lloyd Farm do that? Or why couldn’t they contemplate something like selling off the farmhouse with a small plot of land around it to someone who might want to preserve it and live in it or something like that?

Caln resident submitted photo.

I don’t have the answers and every day I have more and more questions. This is one of those situations I just don’t get it. I just don’t get what is going on here. I don’t understand why this property isn’t more valued for the centuries of history involved here?

Our history should not always belong to the wrecking ball.

That’s all I have got.

#SaveLloydFarm #ThisPlaceMatters

Caln resident submitted photo.

lloyd farmhouse STILL not secured! caln township are you listening?

My friend Robin Ashby sent me some entirely too heartbreaking photos from Lloyd Farm. This is what he had to say to people about a visit there this weekend:

Historic Stewardship involves documenting a site before it becomes the next High Density housing project, raising awareness and speaking out – Nestled in Downingtown is a parcel dating back to Penn’s Land Grant Charter of the late 1600s. The ruins of the barn and outbuildings are stunning examples of stonework using Downingtown Blue Limestone from 1800 -1940, overgrown formal gardens in which one finds one of the largest (and oldest) Japanese Maples in Pennsylvania sit waiting to be brought back to life. The farmhouse is circa 1795 and is rapidly disintegrating, but has 8+ bedrooms and beautiful architectural elements.

This will shortly become high rise, high density commercial/residential housing for 1000+ new residents. The fields will be gone, the fox, deer and birds will find other habitat.

Of course, we have the ability to speak up and say that this doesn’t have to happen quite like this. Caln Township will discuss this project on February 12 at their meeting, DAHS (Downingtown Area Historical Society) suggests that you attend and listen.

What in the hell is wrong with Caln Township and whomever the developer is? Literally a week ago I wrote about this as then people were also inside the historic farmhouse on thr property because it was wide open and not properly secured.

It’s like someone doesn’t want this farmhouse to survive do they?

Japanese Maples are among my favorite trees! And who knew this property had the oldest one? Or had at one time such fabulous gardens? Who has old garden photos to share???

Here is the info on the upcoming meeting:

And again, many thanks to Robin Ashby for the photos. Here are some more:

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