I have been busy, so I am behind in my photos. And I thought I would take a moment to share something really special: Wharton Esherick’s Sunekrest. Thanks to my dear friend Pattye Benson who is President of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, Esherick’s Sunekrest was on their historic house tour in Septmenber – every year I think Pattye can’t possibly do better, and every year she knocks it out of the park. The house tour is a fundraiser for the trust and it is so lovely and one of my favorite things.
Many of the American Impressionists of the time were taking their canvasses out into the fields to paint from nature, and Esherick was longing to get away from the city as well. With a small inheritance he received from his grandmother, he and his wife, Letty, purchased an 1839 stone farmhouse that they nicknamed Sunekrest (pronounced “Sunny Crest”), situated on a five-acre plot in rural Chester County, west of Philadelphia. Esherick focused on his painting and farmed the land to feed his family. His work from this formative period was primarily oil-on-canvas and featured sites and scenes from the bucolic life that surrounded him.
I am not getting into some protracted discussion about property rights, what this demolition has done is leave a lasting impression on me regarding historic preservation in Pennsylvania.
Historic preservation in Pennsylvania remain a lofty ideal, but is seldom a true reality. So when you hear on rare occasions that you might not like what a developer is doing, but they are saving and preserving a historic structure on a property they bought? Well that my friends is huge and doesn’t happen very often. See ( Linden Hall post July 24 and Farmhouse Post on July 27 and Adaptive Reuse from April 2013 )
I watched and documented the last sad few months of La Ronda, and to me it is a glaring reminder of what lip service preservation is. In 2009, Lower Merion Township Commissioners (including the current Board President Liz Rogan) did much beating of the collective breast and waxed long and poetically on how they were going to do things differently and how they were going to preserve historic assets.
Also facing an uncertain future is the historic Odd Fellows Hall and property and United Methodist Church and property in Gladwyne. People have said for decades that there are Revolutionary War soldiers buried there. Famous Phillie Rich Asburn is buried there and heck some of my friends have all their family buried there. So Odd Fellows is in limbo. What is historic will survive if the developers who are the owners, Main Line Realty Partners, do the proper preservation. They can do the right thing if they want to. They have in the past and truthfully the partners in these projects have done beautiful work. Last I heard that Odd Fellows plan was tabled, but these same developers have now purchased another church, First Baptist in Ardmore. They also bought the United Methodist Church in Narberth Now the developers are calling themselves Main Line rebuild.
But like I said, adaptive reuse and historic preservation by developers are the exception rather than the rule.
I do not know a lot of the preservation groups throughout Chester County as I have not lived here that many years yet . I love the Chester County Historical Society and they have lots of neat stuff in their headquarters in downtown West Chester and they do fun things like walking tours.
The event is in it’s 9th year and there are some VERY cool houses on the tour this year. The houses date from the mid-18th century to the early 20th century. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online. The tour is Saturday, September 28, 2013 Noon – 5 PM.
This tour is the week before Chester County Day, so you can do both!!!
This is a really sweet house tour and I for one got some garden ideas just doing the pre-event photos!