the end of the decade, new year’s eve 2019

Lovely Loch Aerie, Frazer, PA

It has been a crazy decade chock-full of so much. I wasn’t sure what my last post of the year was going to look like until I started looking at some of my photos of houses that had captured my interest and fancy in the past decade.

So in all of the houses I have looked at in this decade I have decided to remain true to Chester County today and give you my three favorites.

Ironically my three house picks for the decade are not traditional 18th century Chester County Farmhouses, but three 19th-century stone houses of a certain era.

You see the first house above. My ultimate old house love, beautiful and lovely Loch Aerie mansion. I have written about her enough that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel and restate her history.

Loch Aerie on Lancaster Avenue in Frazer in East Whiteland Township enters the next decade with a guaranteed and brilliant new lease on life. She is being restored to her former glory, and will have an adaptive reuse that will ensure her place in architectural history for decades to come.

Old stone house Francis Ave, Berwyn, Easttown.

Next on my list is a house I was reminded of this morning. I know nothing of her pedigree. It is the great stone house on Francis Avenue in Berwyn.

My great friend (and Chester County historian and artist) Catherine Quillman and I stumbled upon this beauty in 2016 one fall afternoon.

We took a wrong turn somewhere after leaving Jenkins Arboretum and all of a sudden we were on Francis Avenue in front of this house. And before anyone flips out, we did not trespass. I had a camera with a zoom lens with me and I took photos from the street. This house captured my fancy for a number of reasons, including the fact that the stonework reminded me a lot of Loch Aerie.

I know absolutely nothing of the history of this house other than its 19th century and in Easttown Township . I think it probably has a name (possibly according to a 1912 atlas it appears it was maybe called “Rhydlyn” home of James G. Francis, whose sister in law I believe was famed local photographer Lucy Sampson according to census records from the early 20th century and according to the census she lived there for a while!) I don’t know if it is listed on any national registries or even a state or local registry. I couldn’t find it listed anywhere. (I am told it is mentioned HERE.)

It strikes me as a similar vintage to Loch Aerie. I also do not know the current ownership of the home but I am told it is being preserved as part of some kind of a development. I am also told that the glorious slate roof is no longer which I can’t say surprises me because old slate roofs are incredibly expensive to maintain and it’s a lost art of the craftsmanship of roof building. There are very few slaters left.

My last house which captured my fancy a great deal in this last decade is the Joseph Price house in West Whiteland Township.

This house is on S.Whitford and Clover Mill Roads in Exton. The Joseph Price House in West Whiteland Township.

Here is a wonderful little slide show presentation on prezi. This house is historically listed. It was built in 1878 and altered in 1894 by the house namesake inhabitant at the time. It was altered from a Gothic style to a Queen Anne style.

I was also told in the 1990s it was separate apartments inside and there were also cottages around it which were rented out as well.

In the 1950s and 60s there was a large barn there that was a sale barn for cattle run by Bayard Taylor —a blog reader told me that. He knew because his mother did bookkeeping for that business while she was in college.

This house is not completely deserted I am told there is a caretaker who still lives there. However, this house has an uncertain future at best and nobody seems to know what will happen to it. Which is a shame because it’s very cool.

So as we lift a glass one last time to toast a crazy tumultuous decade everywhere, let us think of our future and historic preservation. There are so many cool houses like this throughout Chester County from all eras of time.

Less development. More land and structure preservation and adaptive reuse. That’s my final wish for Chester County for 2019.

Please do not trespass on these properties. Either get permission to wander around or look from the street.

Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve!

Joseph Price House. West Whiteland Township.

loch aerie takes another step into her bright future

As we all know Loch Aerie was rescued from literal ruin by the lovely Poirier family. And I do mean that compliment most sincerely as they are truly awesome and nice!

East Whiteland Township worked through the plans and whatnot with the owners and the new ballroom construction is underway!

To the historical purists this is probably not what they want to see but we have to be realistic: for a lot of these fabulous historic structures adaptive reuse is what keeps them from the wrecking ball.

I love this house and I have been fortunate to have been invited inside since they began the renovations to the existing structure.

December, 2018

December, 2018

Loch Aerie is becoming an event venue. Weddings and other types of parties, with a catering kitchen. They will have an on-site caterer for people to work with for their events last time I checked, and I am super excited to see this project moving forward!

Last fall Loch Aerie was even on the Chester County Day tour!

I had to stop at Home Depot this afternoon, so I thought I would take a peek and I think what’s happening is so wonderful and I just sort of stood there and grinned. The first time I saw the restored interior I cried.

With all the awful development we see ruining Chester County and every time we shed tears over historic structures being torn down, this is something I keep coming back to because it just makes me so happy. And I’m not the only one that is so happy to know that there are people out there who care about the structures and the history.

Loch Aerie has a bright future and that’s amazing. Adaptive reuse works. Historic preservation is possible.

visiting the lockwoods

Today I went to St. Paul’s in Exton for the Loving Our Earth Expo. It was a lot of fun and they had interesting vendors and terrific speakers including Mike McGrath from You Bet Your Garden.

While I was there, I decided to find the Lockwood family whom are buried in the graveyard adjacent to the church.

St. Paul’s is quite old and was started around 1827. It actually was apparently and offshoot of one of my favorite churches Old St. David’s Radnor. It was consecrated by Bishop William White in 1829. I will note they could probably use some angels to get some of the headstones in that graveyard repaired.

The Lockwood family are the people for whom Loch Aerie was built. I have been meaning to visit their graves for a few years, so today I made the time for it and I’m glad I did. I will also note one of the newer buildings is named after the Lockwood sisters.

now loch aerie smiles

Today I went to Loch Aerie to drop off my “housewarming gift” —- my big Loch Aerie print by Christopher Schultz and he is or was a Chester County Artist. The print belongs there. (I wish I knew more about the artist!)

The house is so happy she’s smiling. I know it sounds crazy but you can feel the difference in the house now that she has a family that so loves her once again.

The house will be used as a venue space. It is privately, not publicly owned, so please be respectful of that.

Loch Aerie is a jewel and god bless the Poiriers for saving her.

loch aerie photos from 1991 courtesy of george w. pyle, jr.

Lockwood mansion 1991 (13)

All photos courtesy of George W. Pyle, Jr.  Today’s photos are from 1991.

Late yesterday, almost like the perfect birthday present, George W. Pyle, Jr. sent me more photos of my favorite old lady, Loch Aerie/Lockwood Mansion.  The photos came with a note:

These photos were taken in 1991.  My family and I were back visiting relatives and I saw some people standing out in front of the house so I took a chance and drove in to speak with them.  The person living there with his family at the time was Anthony Alden.  Mr. Alden was an architect.  He allowed me to walk around the property and take pictures.  I have 23 photo total.

Anthony (“Tony”) Alden is an architectural curator who loved Loch Aerie and put buckets of his own money into her from around 1980 until the mid 2000s when he moved out.  According to The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2016:

In 1980, architectural curator Anthony Alden moved into a Loch Aerie with boarded-up windows and no heat. He sank thousands into its restoration, hoping to buy it from the Tabases. Alden called it an “undertaking of love” but was unable to reach an agreement with the Tabas family. He moved out in the mid-2000s.

Before he left, Alden joined with a group of residents, environmentalists, and historical commission members who fought to keep Home Depot at bay when it bought land next door to build a store in the mid-1990s. The historical commission negotiated to minimize the impact to the house, Caban said. But its gas works were removed, and the pond and much of its grounds were paved over.

These photos are truly amazing to see and they show Loch Aerie BEFORE Home Depot when the beautiful old fountain still worked and the pond existed. Remnants of the original Lockwood Gardens still existed.

After looking at the photos, and knowing the history which includes two fires (one believed to have been started by vagrants), it is truly a testament to how she was built and her architect Addison Hutton that she survived.

If you drive by Loch Aerie, as I do weekly, you will notice work is progressing nicely. The lovely new owners had hoped to be opened by this spring, but if you have ever lived through an old house restoration or an adaptive reuse, you will know that it takes it’s own time.  I am so grateful to the  Poirier family for taking on the restoration. It makes me so happy every time I drive by!

Here are the photos:

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loch aerie compare and contrast: 1963/2016

George W. Pyle Jr photo. 1963

George W. Pyle, Jr. took the above photo in 1963. Next is same room, taken by me in 2016.

Next is another photo taken by George W. Pyle Jr. in 1963. The little dots are basically age spots on the 1963 negatives. What follows is a photo of the same room that I took in 2017.

loch aerie 1963 photos and some of a more recent vintage.

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George Pyle sent me more photos.  This morning I have lined up his 1963 photos with my more recent vintage photos taken over the past couple of years.

unnamed (2)

 

unnamed (1)I do not know what of the ornate plaster work will survive the adaptive reuse in progress, but I imagine what can be saved, will be. It was so badly deteriorated in spots, and in other spots just plain missing.

But it is so cool to see the rooms as they once were. Add to that the juxtaposition in time of when my photos were taken, decades later – 53 years later give or take.

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MORE loch aerie 1963 photos!!

Loch Aerie, 1963
George W. Pyle, Jr courtesy photo

Yes MORE photos!! How cool is this? (Oh and on SCRIBD you can read the Historic American Buildings Survey of Loch Aerie in the 1960s!)

Loch Aerie, 1963. Photo courtesy of George W. Pyle, Jr.

I always wanted to see more into Loch Aerie when inhabited by the Lockwoods. My friend author Thom Nickels was someone who as a boy got to interview the aged Lockwood sisters and has told me stories of kids trying to sneak through the then woods around Loch Aerie (now Home Depot).  In his book Philadelphia Mansions: Stories and Characters Behind the Walls, Thom brings the Lockwood family and the era in which they lived to light.

One thing Thom speaks of on page 177-178 of his book  was a painting which apparently now hangs in the Valley Forge Memorial Chapel called Washington after the Battle of Trenton by Christian Schussele.

And guess what? Thanks to my new friend Mr. Pyle, I can see how the painting hung in Loch Aerie!

Loch Aerie, 1963. Photo courtesy of George W. Pyle, Jr. – Large painting is Washington after the Battle of Trenton by Christian Schussele.

My friend Thom in his book , speaks of Miss Edith Lockwood and I think I would have liked her.  In Philadelphia Mansions: Stories and Characters Behind the Walls he has a photograph of Edith with her dogs on the back porch.  She had terriers, and they look to have been Scotties.  She was also a gardener, and Miss Edith was an integral part of the Church Farm School’s floriculture program and had quite a hand in the running of the greenhouses, “and a large peony field from which 60,000 to 70,000 flowers were cut and sold annually.”

Now the gardener in me of course wonders if Church Farm School has any of Miss Edith’s peonies left?

Loch Aerie, 1963. Photo courtesy of George W. Pyle, Jr.

According to Thom Nickels’ research the things in the house were auctioned off. Makes you wonder where everything ended up.

It is so cool to have access to these photos.  It is so interesting to see what it was like inside when lived in!

Loch Aerie, 1963. Photo courtesy of George W. Pyle, Jr.