the jenny lind house in historic yellow springs needs love (and a new lease on life)

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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:

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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:

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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.

PT Barnum Poster off of Wikipedia Commons

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!”

How it go the nickname Jenny Lind House is history has it that she stayed in Yellow Springs during the Philadelphia portion of her P. T. Barnum-sponsored concert tour in 1850.  (Yellow Springs Catering Website)

Historic Yellow Springs Inc.,   is on the National Register of Historic Places. They can’t just do anything random to the Jenny Lind House! And this place deserves preservation!!

So here are a bunch of my photos from Jenny Lind’s Yellow Springs Inn days:

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Here are some sad photos taken this week:

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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):

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Compare with this CURRENT photo courtesy of W.M. Haly House Facebook page:

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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?

Check out what Schuylkill River Greenways has to say about the village:

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. 

For greater depth into the village history, visit the Historic Yellow Springs/Chester Springs Studio website.  They have all sorts of cool stuff to check out.

If you are interested in Jenny Lind House, I would say a safe place to start your inquiries would be West Pikeland Township. Their phone number is (610) 590-5300.

Here is how to reach all of their Supervisors:

Charlie Humphreys, Chair
chumphreys@westpikeland.com

Pamela Conti, Vice Chair
pconti@westpikeland.com

Noreen Vigilante, Supervisor
nvigilante@westpikeland.com

Richard Bright, Jr., Supervisor
rbright@westpikeland.com
Ernie Holling, Supervisor
eholling@westpikeland.com

 

 

a little peek inside the fox chase inn and barn

Looking out the front porch at the Fox Chase Inn

Looking out the front porch at the Fox Chase Inn

So last week in the midst of a brilliant thunderstorm, off I went to photograph and tour the restoration of the Fox Chase Inn and barn on Swedesford Road in West Whiteland. Today I am going to share some of the photos I took with all of you with the property owner’s permission. I will be going back for more appropriate exterior shots sometime this week, it was just too wet when I took these photos to do the exterior justice. I even got my camera a tad wet getting inside it was raining so hard at times! The Fox Chase Inn is a brilliant example of restoration and adaptive reuse. And these people did it because they wanted to do it right. No one told them they had to. And their caring and attention to detail shows. For more on the history of the property check out this file from West Whiteland’s website: Fox Chase Inn West Whiteland Site 325_ historic information . Here are some photos of the restoration in progress – and it is amazing because this place was a wreck when they bought it: BARN: DSC_8607 DSC_8608 DSC_8610 DSC_8612 DSC_8613 DSC_8616 DSC_8617 DSC_8618 DSC_8621 DSC_8623 DSC_8630 DSC_8634 DSC_8635 DSC_8640 FARMHOUSE: DSC_8656 DSC_8712 DSC_8660 DSC_8661 DSC_8670 DSC_8675 DSC_8682 DSC_8684 DSC_8691 DSC_8664 DSC_8666 DSC_8694 DSC_8695 DSC_8697 DSC_8699 DSC_8700 DSC_8702 DSC_8703 DSC_8709 DSC_8710

the fox chase inn lives again!

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File under longer letter later but I just had to share: I was invited to tour an AMAZING adaptive reuse by the new owners of the historic Fox Chase Inn on Swedesford Road in West Whiteland just before the intersection of Ship Road.

I have written about the Fox Chase Inn and its  equally gorgeous neighbor the Benjamin Jacobs House before. Both are being restored. Both are being restored by people who care enough to do it right and who reside there.

I will post more photos at a later time but I just wanted to say WOW!!!! It is a beautiful restoration!  Every township manager and supervisor in Chester County should look at what is happening in West Whiteland. Actual historic preservation and adaptive reuse.

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Fox Chase Inn

The Fox Chase Inn on Swedesford Road was the first licensed public house in West Whiteland township, acquiring its first tavern license in 1786. Prior to that time, it had been a family home and, briefly, from 1775 to 1778, the home and workship of Eli Bentley, a well-known clockmaker. John Quinn  was the owner by 1783 and after securing his license for the tavern, continued to run the public house until his death in 1793. David Williams was the new owner and he rented the inn to Thomas Cummins who ran it until 1800. After that time, no further petitions for license were filed for the Fox Chase.

rapps dam covered bridge destroyed by tractor trailer

rappsdamRapps Dam Bridge in East Pikeland  is one of those crazy beautiful covered bridges that dot Chester County.  It goes over the French Creek and it was only finished being restored in late 2011, to the tune of what was it? A million and a half dollars? It is East Pikeland but what we  would call Phoenixville, right?

Well thanks to a tractor trailer driver who must have been in a hurry, who knows how much repairs will cost THIS time.

Yup, a truck has decimated this beautiful bridge.

I don’t get it. Who drives an 18 wheeler on a covered bridge?  There is a sign with a height limit! Why don’t drivers know their limits and the specs of their rigs?

Phoenixville News: Truck hits and severely damages Rapps Dam Bridge (video)

By Frank Otto, fotto@21st-CenturyMedia.com

Posted: 04/29/14, 2:34 PM EDT

EAST PIKELAND — PennDOT crews said the Rapps Dam Covered Bridge is structurally unsound after a tractor-trailer carrying flowers damaged it by driving through it.

Although a sign warns that the bridge can only accommodate vehicles that are 10 feet high, the tractor-trailer drove into the bridge heading south on Rapps Dam Road around 9:45…Broken a beams hung from the covered bridge’s rafters or lay in splinters on the deck of the bridge and the roadway leading out.

Cpl. Ben Martin said the truck was driven by Antoine Branham hauling flowers Centerton Nursery, a family-owned nursery in Bridgeton, N.J., when it went into the bridge. Branham was driving a leased truck at the time.

A representative for Centerton who did not give her name said they had no comment on the incident and would have no information to offer.

PennDOT crews surveyed the damage on the bridge and said it was structurally unsound. Cones and orange fencing blocked it off and will continue to for the foreseeable future

So….as per media reports, the truck was a flower or nursery delivery truck owned by Centerton Nursery (345 Woodruff Rd, Bridgeton, NJ 08302)

Now the media reports no comment from the business but I would have to ask if I was going to interview them how they could have a truck that big with a licensed driver think they could drive over an old covered bridge? But I can only ask that question here.

I am appalled and truthfully this driver’s actions could put this nursery into serious financial hock, because face it, aren’t they ultimately responsible for this accident if he was driving for them? And I notice that 6ABC says driver was on the job four days? So why wasn’t someone driving with him if that new? That is a big truck.

This bridge was built around 1866, right? Originally? 6ABC WPVI says that the bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places too. I am so sad about this bridge. I hope it gets rebuilt. But we are talking about PENNDot, right?

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6 ABC WPVI PHILADELPHIA Local/State

Covered bridge heavily damaged by tractor trailer in East Pikeland Twp.

Officials have closed a road in East Pikeland Twp., Pa. after a tractor trailer was driven through a covered bridge, heavily damaging the structure.It happened Tuesday morning on Rapps Dam Road at the Rapps Dam Covered Bridge, which spans French Creek.

Police say a truck carrying potted plants was heading over the bridge from Route 113 toward Route 23.

The truck apparently made it all the way through the bridge, but not before tearing out most of the wooden support beams…..Police say the driver of the truck was Antoine Branham, and he had been on the job just four days…The bridge was originally constructed by Benjamin F. Hartman in 1866 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.