my heart is happy. ebenezer is getting help.

Ebenezer AME graveyard October 1,2016

Ever since my last go round with those fine folk at the AME Church (national and Mother Bethel in Philadelphia), I will admit I had somewhat lost faith in yet another organized religion.  After all, every time I or most have contacted them about the 184 year old ruin of Ebenezer AME on Bacton Hill Road and her graveyard the AME people have either blown people off or been generally speaking, impolite.

So when this nice man contacted me through Save the Ruins and Cemetery of Ebenezer AME Church Frazer PA and said he was going to get Boy Scouts and volunteers in there to clean up AND would get the AME Church to say OK, I was so glad to hear it, but didn’t hold out much hope given how the church had been treating myself and others.

His name is Al Terrell. The Boy Scouts are from the Willistown Troop.  And there are others. Bible study folks from Al’s bible study and Lee’s Lawn Service. And more. And this is just the beginning.

Look at the photo above. Taken this morning. October 1, 2016. I have tears in my eyes writing this. 

Ann Christie are you watching from heaven?

I learned a lesson here to have more faith in humanity. The good guys do exist and do prevail.

Mr. Terrell wants to get this place saved in perpetuity. And get the church restored. 

My faith is renewed. Going to visit today. I have to say hello to my soldier, Joshua.

184 years of history. It does mean something to people.

I will post updates as I have them.

Ebenezer in June , 2016 the day we were there with Kristin Holmes from the Philadelphia Inquirer

just doing god’s work?

After the Inquirer article appeared on the ruin of Ebenzer AME in Frazer, I contacted  Rev Dr Mark Tyler via e-email with a few interested folks on the e-mail including local historians.

Three times.

Why email? Because also included was information to help them make an informed decision. I stupidly thought maybe if they could see what we’ve been looking up, and see photos of the spot over the past few years, they would be interested in working together to clean this place up. 

When not even a simple acknowledgment of what had been sent to him was received after three attempts, I took to Twitter. Why did I take to Twitter? Because I learned that they respond to Twitter. 

But the lesson I learned again is there not particularly nice about anything if you aren’t one of their “flock”.

So I will call the good pastor but I’m not expecting much. Because the continued message I received from any level of this church is they aren’t interested in preserving their history. They also aren’t interested in communicating or speaking with me. 

They can pony up the money for fancy bicentennial celebration which must have been super expensive to put on, but they can’t clean up one small church yard and secure one small ruin?

I don’t even know where to go in my head with this. 

And what a horrible thing to think about any church. It’s so terribly sad. They all want to speak about and preach about their marvelous history, yet when their marvelous history needs saving they don’t want any parts of it?

I guess they might not want to respond in writing because then they have wiggle room for potential deniability down the road or something? 

Wow, what a take away lesson.

I do not like to think the worst of anyone, let alone a religious organization, but it’s been over three years at this point of my trying to get this place saved and it just gets more disappointing for everything of effort I expend.

The phone number is 215-925-0616.

I just phoned and I left a detailed message and who I was and why I was calling. I don’t expect a call back. I don’t expect an acknowledgment.

I really want to save this place but at this point in time I am just thoroughly disgusted.  I thought doing God’s work meant you tried to save places like Ebenezer AME. You do it for future generations, you do it for ancestors living today, do it for the history and the fact it’s a sacred place, and you do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Apparently I have been operating under a misapprehension all these years. Is no wonder that people step away from organized religion.

No I’m not disappointed in God, just the people representing him.

remembering chris thompson

Chris Thompson. 2011.

Chris Thompson. 2011.

Today I have something sad to share.  Someone I know who was a friend who had moved away passed away suddenly from a heart attack in June, and I did not know until today.  His name was Chris Thompson.  I thought he deserved more than a paid obituary locally so I have decided to write something today. He was a really good guy and extraordinarily talented.

A lot of you would remember him as Christopher Arthur Thompson as the former Director of Land Preservation from 2006 to 2009 at the Willistown Conservation Trust.

Or simply as Chris Thompson who lived in Berwyn.  Or as in Chris Thompson who used to own a sustainable food business, a true farm to table venture called Panache Foods.

Celestial Blue by Chris Thompson. Photo courtesy of family.

Celestial Blue by Chris Thompson. Photo courtesy of family.

To me he was just Chris, father of Alexandra and Margaret.  He was the former husband of my dear high school friend Sandra Hitschler Thompson (also Shipley 1981).  He and Sandra had divorced after their move back to the Midwest around 2011, and at his death he was married to Jennifer Drackley Thompson. To all of them I send love and condolences. The dynamics of couples you know change over time, but that doesn’t mean you stop being their friends or thinking about people and remembering them fondly.  Such is how I feel about Chris.  He was just a good guy.

Writing about the death of someone you knew and liked is so darn difficult.  I liked Chris a great deal and his former wife and daughters will always be close to my heart.  When I heard about his passing I thought not only of his career in land stewardship and conservation, but his art.  Chris was an accomplished artist and his work hung all over the Midwest and East Coast.  His art was powerful and lyrical and always blew me away.

 

Violet Eclipse by Chris Thompson

Violet Eclipse by Chris Thompson. Photo courtesy of family.

Christopher Arthur Thompson, 56, late of Three Oaks, MI and formerly of Berwyn, PA Joliet, Ill., passed away suddenly on Friday, June 3, 2016.

Chris in his element, Photo courtesy of Chikaming Open Lands Conservancy

Chris in his element, Photo courtesy of Chikaming Open Lands Conservancy

Born January 27, 1960 in Joliet, he was the son of Arthur and Marilyn (Smith) Thompson. Surviving are his wife, Jennifer Thompson; two daughters, Alexandra and Margaret; his mother, Marilyn Thompson of Joliet, IL; two brothers, Jeff (Nancy) Thompson of Joliet, and David (Carla) Thompson of Coal City, IL; one sister, Marianne (Joe) Haake of Joliet; his former wife, Sandra Hitschler Thompson; and several nieces and nephews.

Chris was previously employed by Willistown Conservation Trust, and worked as Executive Director of the Chikaming Open Lands Conservancy in Sawyer, MI for the last five years. Chris Thompson joined Chikaming Open Lands in 2011 at the conclusion of a nationwide search for an executive director.

He was also the former owner of Panache Foods which was based in Berwyn, PA until a move back to the Midwest in 2011.

 

Panache Foods launch March 2010

Panache Foods launch March 2010

Panache Foods offered locally sourced local Chef prepared foods and offered CSA boxes seasonally.  Panache had partnered with Kimberton Whole Foods at the time and local Chefs like Chef Francis Pascal (Trzeciak) of the Birchrunville  Store Café and introduced me to my now friend Deb Street Davitt of MacDougall’s Irish Victory Cakes.  I had actually photographed the launch of this business at the time, and my friend Caroline O’Halloran wrote about it when she was with Main Line Media News.

I mention this business not to diminish any other aspects of my late friend’s career but because this business at the time was at the head of the class when it came to CSA and locally sourced food. The so called Locavore movement was just revving up in our area when this business began in my opinion.  There weren’t many businesses like this in existence if at all at the time. There were folks who were offering CSA shares, but not a direct to the consumer’s home business like this.  This wasn’t pizza delivery, it was much more and they offered catering connections and introductions as well. It is through Panache I also made the acquaintance of  the now very popular Chef Jennifer McCafferty, owner of JPM Catering in Ardmore, PA.

Panache Foods and Chris participating in Foodapalooza for First Friday Main Line in 2011

Panache Foods and Chris participating in Foodapalooza for First Friday Main Line in 2011

For 18 years while living in the Chicago area, Chris owned Event Management. He offered many jobs to local youth who helped him with the Food and Beverage at the Taste of Chicago. Those were challenging, but very fun times. That was part of the inspiration later in his life for Panache Foods.

He attended Joliet Catholic High School and received his undergraduate degree in Art and Anthropology, and Masters of Fine Arts degree from Northwestern University.

Chris, as I mentioned, was an accomplished artist. He was the recipient of the Scholastic Gold Key Award, a Scholastic National Gold Medal for painting, the Rotary International Scholarship for Art, the Ford Foundation Arts Fellowship, the Quita Brodhead Memorial Award from the Wayne Art Center, and the Squirrel Gallery Award of Excellence. Now as a related aside, the Squirrel Gallery was the brainchild of the late mother of my friend Averil Smith Barone (also an accomplished artist)  named Valerie Lamb Smith.

Chris Thompson in his role as Executive Director of the Chikaming Open Lands Conservancy in Sawyer, MI. Photo courtesy of Chikaming Open Lands Conservancy.

Chris Thompson in his role as Executive Director of the Chikaming Open Lands Conservancy in Sawyer, MI. Photo courtesy of Chikaming Open Lands Conservancy.

Chris will be remembered for his dedication to preserving the natural beauty of both Chester County and Southwest Michigan and his appreciation for the arts. He was a wonderful husband, father, son, brother, athlete and most of all friend. He loved life and was a warm and welcoming and inclusive person by nature. He was so truly multi-faceted that on some levels he could be considered a true Renaissance man.

Chris was also a Board member of  Michigan’s Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy.

Memorials in his name may be directed to the Chikaming Open Lands Conservancy. For information please call (815) 741-5500 or follow their donation and gift instructions on their website.

( related: ChrisThompson notification letter to supporters of COL )

Father, artist, husband, friend, conservationist. Chris Thompson was that and so much more.  He will be missed.  Rest in Peace, Chris.

Chris Thompson's cool vintage truck when he lived in Berwyn, PA

Chris Thompson’s cool vintage truck when he lived in Berwyn, PA

dear a.m.e. church, this is your history, your members’ ancestors, what is wrong with you people? honor your dead!


This is what the ruin of Ebenezer A.M.E. church and graveyard looks like THIS week as in right now. You see, some of the East Whiteland Public Works folks went by this week to see if there was anything they could do to help those of us interested in saving this piece of history before it is too late. They were so nice to even consider doing this.

They asked how to get permission from the A.M.E. Church (national) to do this.

Good freaking question since the A.M.E. church elders are not overly communicative is a substantive way when you contact them.

Oh the irony that here they are all ready to celebrate their bicentennial in Philadelphia right after July 4th and this is how they value their history and pay tribute to their dead. What a bunch of holy hypocrites.

A.M.E. Church can you hear me now?  People are willing to help and you still don’t seem to give a good god damn about these people buried here! Historically important yet everyday people.

What would Bishop Richard Allen who founded your church think? What would Bishop Richard Allen who founded your church do? Personally I think he would have come out himself to help clear the weeds. I also think he would be ashamed and disappointed in you for not being better stewards of history and of the departed.

Shame on you A.M.E. Church, shame on you .

loch aerie in the 1950s

 

I found a copy of the 1950s publication by Time Life that featured a picture, a glorious picture of Loch Aerie in the 1950s and bought it.

The photo is taken from the rear one there were still the water features out in the backyard and swans. 

There were even once roses the climbed up the back porch.

Look how stunning!

#thisplacematters

Praying the right preservation buyer steps up for the auction April 21st.

thank you philadelphia inquirer for caring about loch aerie!

Loch Aerie at the most recent auction preview last week.

This morning Loch Aerie a/k/a Lockwood Mansion a/k/a Glen Loch is front and center with attention where she deserves to be thanks to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Kristin Holmes wrote a beautiful article and I can’t thank her enough for the time she has spent over the past few months with my friends and I. We pitched her the story of Chester County’s LaRonda starting months ago, and the nature and cycle of news being what it was, only recently did the hard work on the article begin. Kristin told me the mansion’s story would be told again. She is a woman of her word!

Thank you Kristin.

East Whiteland’s Historic Commission ended up featured somewhat prominently in the article with a somewhat dramatic statement from it’s chair:

Loch Aerie will be razed over “my dead body,” vowed Timothy Caban, chairman of the East Whiteland Township Historical Commission

Hope he means it. Oh and he is welcome for the attention that Loch Aerie has been getting in the hopes of attracting a preservation buyer. 

  A small correction to the article is the misperception that Linden Hall also in East Whiteland is actually saved.  It’s not. The developer said they would save it if they could build the cheap looking stick frame townhouses going up around her at Routes 30 and 352, but nothing has been done restoration-wise that is noticeable to residents thus far, isn’t that true? If some restoration has actually begin, it would be nice if East Whiteland’s Historic Commisison would share the details, wouldn’t it?

And yes I drove past Linden Hall twice yesterday. (I will stop harping about Linden Hall when I actually see some restoration and preservation occurring. Until then she is just looking like demolition by neglect.) 

There is nothing substantive in East Whiteland Township to save historic structures.  That needs to change. What also needs to change is East Whiteland’s historical commission needs to join the modern era and cease operating like a secret society. It should not take a reporter to get a statement out of them. They should be publicly posting agendas and meeting minutes and preservation initiatives and they do not.

  Thank you to everyone who cares about Loch Aerie because #thisplacematters . And that includes the auction company. They have been so gracious and I think even they want the old gal preserved.

It will take a village and then some to save Loch Aerie. Holding my breath until it happens.

Thank you again Kristin Holmes for caring and writing a terrific article. Thank you Philadelphia Inquirer for the amazing, amazing placement!

Here is an excerpt of the article and please take the time to read the entire piece and look at the amazing photos he Inquirer took:

News: Squeezed by development, grand Chester County mansion goes on the block

by Kristin E. Holmes, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer Updated: APRIL 10, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT

Before the Sheraton moved in across the road, before Home Depot set up shop next door, Loch Aerie was the bewitching summer estate of a gentleman farmer who amassed a great fortune manufacturing paper shirt collars…..Loch Aerie’s admirers worry for its future.

“What tends to happen with sites like these is that because they are outside the city, they are viewed as only locally significant, when that’s not true,” said Aaron Wunsch, an assistant professor of historic preservation at the University of Pennsylvania. “This house is regionally significant, and we are losing the interesting big suburban houses of that period.”

La Ronda, a Bryn Mawr mansion by renowned resort architect Addison Mizner, was razed in 2009….The two-acre property is owned by the family of Daniel Tabas, who bought it in 1967. With his brother, Charles, Tabas amassed a business and real estate empire that included Mickey Rooney’s Tabas Hotel in Downingtown, Twelve Caesars banquet hall on City Avenue, and the Riverfront Restaurant & Dinner Theater in Philadelphia. He died in 2003.

The family attempted to auction off Loch Aerie several years ago, and turned down an offer of more than $600,000, said Bob Dann, the auction house’s chief operating officer. This time the family will accept the minimum bid, he said…Chester County historian Eugene DiOrio contends that Loch Aerie would easily qualify for the National Register of Historic Places

You have survived so much Loch Aerie. Finger crossed for your future.