Last evening on the way to an outdoor socially distanced dinner with friends, I was struck again by the beauty of Chester County. And why we need to preserve more of it and develop less all across the county.
That is all.
Yesterday I went out. I never left the car mind you, but I went out into the world. To pick up my plants from the Philadelphia Unit of the Herb Society of America. I went up to Brooks Coventry Plants.
It was lovely to be out. A beautiful day, a beautiful county. A great day to be alive.
Observations: shopping centers sitting empty is eerie to see. Developments being built that are stopped? Makes me wish they would just disappear and farm and field would return.
Life at a veritable standstill continues to feel unnatural. Or maybe it’s that it’s a pace we don’t understand in our modern world. But not all of the time. Sometimes it’s actually nice. Except that it would be nice to be able to enjoy our slower life pace with our friends and family.
My husband is an awesome guy. He is so calm, and that keeps the rest of us calm. Most of the time.
However, I find myself waking up at odd times of the night. Worrying. I am not consciously worrying but my subconscious works overtime some nights when I am sleeping. Sigh.
How long have we been doing this now? Since March? How do we all get back into the world, wherever in the world it is we live?
I am teaching myself to bake bread. I have been repairing my vintage quilts. I have been gardening. But I will admit my inner domestic diva would love a manicure about now.
Do you find your thoughts jump around sometimes with all this time to ourselves? It’s like ADD by COVID19.
I can tell you I am anxious about upcoming medical appointments that are all turned around and a little sideways because of COVID19. And it’s almost my 9th anniversary post breast cancer…which is why it’s time for all of the testing and meeting with my oncologist. It’s kind of stressful under normal circumstances. Add a sprinkling of COVID19 precautions and new procedures and well…stressful and a little scary.
Well I am still not sure of the rhyme or the reason for this post. It kind of just “is”. We are muddling through but some days it just feels muddling.
Thanks for stopping by.
Who Has Seen the Wind?
BY CHRISTINA ROSSETTI
Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by
I’m asking those who love the sea to join the challenge of posting a picture of a beach. Just a picture, no description. The goal is to flood Facebook especially with some positive photos instead of negativity. Please copy the text to your Facebook (or Instagram) timeline, put a picture up and look at some beautiful pictures.
DISCLAIMER photographing the ocean and beaches and sea birds are among my favorite things. So I can’t pick just one photo I am giving you a montage of photos taken either in the Hamptons or Bermuda.
The other day I wrote about being a little kid in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia. The mid 1960s through to the mid 1970s.
Today I picked up some things from a storage locker sale I had purchased. One thing was a limited edition book published in 1965 when I was a year old. Philadelphia: The Unexpected City by Laurence Lafore and Sara Lee Lippincott. The publisher was Doubleday. It was a copy of the “Philadelphia Edition.”
I don’t think too many people would be as excited to see this book as I was. But it was a book I remember people having in their homes when I was growing up, especially people that lived in Society Hill because there was so much of Society Hill in the book.￼
And there’s one thing that’s a picture of when they were raising the houses around Front Street to basically put in the highway. And I remember when they were doing all of that because it took a while to build and my mother’s friend Margery Niblock the artist had done a wood cut of it that I have the artist’s proof of￼￼.
So again, unless you live there during this time this probably wouldn’t mean anything to you. But it means something to me because there are so many pictures in this book of what Society Hill looks like when people like my parents came in and bought house is dirt cheap and started to restore them.
And the restoration of Society Hill is still a historic preservation triumph even with all of the houses that were in such bad condition they had to be demolished.￼￼
I guess that’s why sometimes I wonder why municipalities let people say “Oh we can’t possibly fix this, it has to be taken down!”￼ I look at what happened then when I was a kid, and the technology wasn’t as advanced and so on and so forth, yet the historic preservation actually happened and restoration actually happened.
So I wish people would look at examples like this, and then look more towards preservation where they live. It is possible. Communities just have to want it. And if communities want it, they need to make that known to local government.￼￼
People have to realize you can save pieces of the past and people will love them and will live in them.
This section of Philadelphia when I was growing up was a sea of construction and scaffolding. I remember the contrast of going to neighborhoods where other people we knew lived and then coming back to our own. But it was exciting to see.￼￼￼ Even then.
Hopefully someday when I am no longer around, someone else will happen upon what is now my copy of this book and love it as much as I do.￼
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.
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!
The past decade, which is drawing to a close, had some doozies as far as storms go. One that sticks in my mind was the Christmas blizzard of 2010.
I was in New York City at my sister’s and it had already snowed quite a bit by the time Christmas Day rolled around. But then on December 26th into December 27th was a flat-out blizzard. I still wish I had taken more photos.
You haven’t seen anything until you have seen Park Avenue in New York City with no cars or taxis or buses moving, just a blanket of snow.
I remember when the snow was really coming down in earnest how eerily still New York City was. You always expect a major metropolitan city to be constantly noisy. But it wasn’t, it was still and quiet like you were in the country￼.
A city in a major snow storm is vastly different from suburbia. Except it forces everyone to slow down whether they want to or not.
And I remember even snow plows getting stuck as they started to move the snow once it stopped.
And once it stopped that year, it felt bitter cold because I remember it was so incredibly windy.
Thanks for rambling down memory lane.