As my dear friend (and beloved Madame President of The Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust) Pattye Benson said recently:
“The saying goes, ‘If walls could talk what stories they could tell’’ — Held annually since 2004, the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust arranges for these stories to be told on its annual historic house tour. 15th Annual Historic House Tour tickets now available — www.tredyffrinhistory.org
Join us for another great tour of beautiful historic homes and gardens in Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships. Please support historic preservation and share the information!”
So true! And this year I am once again amazed at the absolutely splendid house tour that Pattye has put together! I was at the Jazz it Up Preview Party last evening at DuPortail and I know which houses are on the tour but I am sworn to secrecy!
You can still buy tickets for the tour which is Saturday, September 28, 2019 12 PM to 5 PM. They are moderately priced at $35 per person and all proceeds benefit historic preservation and the completion of the Jones Log Barn Living History Center at Duportail.
The Jones Log Barn
This tour is so much fun and the properties are always amazing. Seriously, this year is going to be crazy good. Your hint is everyone knows how much I love old farms and farmhouses, right?
The preview party was as always so much fun and I was thrilled to see so many people turn out for historic preservation.
Chester County Commissioners Terence Farrell and Michelle Kichline join my Savvy (and amazing!) friend Caroline O’Halloran and Michael Noone (First Assistant DA and candidate for Chester County District Attorney. Terence and Michelle both support this event annually! History is SO important!!)
Michael Noone with Megan King (Also in Chester County’s DA’s office and candidate for Superior Court Judge), and the ever lovely Elizabeth Mercogliano
The House Tour will be amazing, trust me, and it is a day full of super nice and knowledgeable people. The docents at each tour home know the property inside and out!
You start your day at the Tredyffrin Library (582 Upper Gulph Road, Strafford, PA, starting at 11 AM on Saturday, Sept. 28) where you pick up your tickets and tour package and then you are off!
My husband and I are event sponsors. I do not do as much in the area of volunteerism as I used to and this is my favorite sponsorship. I love historic preservation and I love house tours. Most of all I love house tours in a reasonably sized area where I can visit every home on the tour. This is a quality tour. Always exciting!
A little closer to home for us in Chester County, in addition to whatever happened or hasn’t happened or will happen in West Whiteland, Tredyffrin is now tag you are in in the municipal game of billboards.
…..With the annual historic house tour in the rear view window, I turned on the township’s Board of Supervisors meeting last night to watch a presentation by Catalyst Outdoor Advertising. Catalyst is proposing the installation of a monument billboard in Paoli to ‘welcome’ people to the township. This proposed large electronic sign (similar to the digital billboard on Rt. 202 in East Goshen) is planned for the corner of the busy intersection at Lancaster Avenue and Rt. 252…..one resident brought up exactly what I was thinking as I watched the presentation – safety concernswith the proposed digital sign at one of the busiest intersections in the township!
Although safety concerns were quickly dismissed by the Catalyst representative as not a problem, there are many available accident studies about driver distraction as a result of digital billboards that would counter his position. These digital billboards are extremely bright and are designed to be visible in bright sunlight. With images rotating every few seconds, this type of signage is designed to be eye-catching (read distracting), and they are….
Aside from my strong aversion to these large computer generated billboards, I have saved the best for last. To accommodate the installation of this large 20 ft. high billboard, Catalyst will need to demolish the historic Clockworks building that is located on the proposed site.
The Clockworks building was chosen as worthy of protection and was included in Tredyffrin Township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey. The building dates to 1900 and is built in the Colonial Revival architectural style. Although it is not an 18th century toll house, it was built to replicate a toll house which was originally located on the site. The best part of the story is that the building’s design was by none other than famous American architect R. Brognard Okie. The Clockworks building is a complete Okie house (versus an Okie restoration or addition) and is a prized building by many and meaningful in the architectural development of the township
So this is the little Clockworks Building:
I love this place! It and this place not too far away (next photo below) have always captured my imagination:
These little bits of our history are little architectural gems that dot our landscape. And Clockworks is an Okie! (Iknow nothing about the other little building and how it came to be.)
Ok so this isn’t my circus in Tredyffrin, I don’t live in Tredyffrin, but I don’t care if the billboards are digital or SMD (surface mount diodes) or platinum encased Lincoln Logs, at what point are there enough? This is at a crazy intersection of a densely populated area. WHY?????
If you listen to the Tredyffrin township meeting recording (and who knows how long this stays on line) it sounds like this presentation occured as part of some litigation settlement agreement? Something like Tredyffrin was threatened with litigation over the way they treat billboards by the billboard company?
So yo Tredyffrin, even Phoenixville fought the billboards. And they WON:
WEST CHESTER – A Chester County Court judge dismissed a Philadelphia-area billboard baron’s challenge to the Phoenixville zoning ordinance that he claimed improperly excluded such signs from the borough.
In a May 20 ruling, Common Pleas Court Judge Mark Tunnell upheld the ruling by the borough’s zoning hearing board, finding that the zoning ordinance did allow for billboards and other large outdoor signs to be erected, just not in the location that Thaddeus Bartkowski III and his company, Chester County Outdoor, wanted to erect them.
Bartkowski had filed a substantive validity challenge to the ordinance in 2011, claiming that it unconstitutionally prohibited a type of business from the borough. In 2012, the zoning board ruled against Bartkowski, finding that the types of signs he wanted to erect were a permitted use, even if they were not specifically identified.
It makes you wonder sometimes in these situations whose rights are valued more, doesn’t it? But if Phoenixville could prevail, I am thinking so could Tredyffrin’s solicitor if challenged?
Below is a screen capture from the televised presentation and is this what you want people of Tredyffrin? I will leave you with that image. I put an arrow as to where Clockworks would be removed from. I vote for Clockworks but I don’t live in Tredyffrin, so that is just my opinion.
The Jones Log Barn. July, 2018 photo courtesy of Pattye Benson
Travel back in time this year on Saturday September 29, 2018 from 10 AM to 5 PM. If you love history and architecture, you will not want to miss the much-anticipated 14th Annual Historic House Tour.
‘The Culver House’, c.1860 ~Pattye Benson photo
To celebrate historic preservation, the public is invited to attend’Jazz it Up’ the 14th Annual Historic House Tour Preview Party on Sunday, September 16, 6 PM – 9 PM at the historic Duportail House in Chesterbrook. An evening of fun with live music, food and drinks, join us to celebrate the homeowners and the homes featured on the tour. Classical jazz music provided by the award-winning ’Jazz Mavericks’ from the Center for Performing & Fine Arts of West Chester. In addition to the historic homeowners, the preview party is a lovely thank you thank the generous individual and corporate sponsors who make the annual tour possible. Attendees also get a sneak preview of the beautiful homes featured on the 14th Annual Historic House Tour!
Wayne Bed & Breakfast, c.1885 ~Pattye Benson photo
Travel back in time … If you love history and architecture, you will not want to miss the much-anticipated 13th Annual Historic House Tour. The beautiful homes and gardens of seven historic homes featured on the 2017 Historic House Tour will be open from 12 Noon – 5 PM on Saturday, September 23 rain or shine.
With regard to this tour, and I am a Patron Sponsor. I also photographed the houses on the tour for Pattye for a few years. This tour is quite exclusive, and it is a manageable number of houses and historic structures, so you can indeed see everything!
Party for Preservation’ Preview Party ~ Sunday, September 17, 2017 6 – 9 PM
13th Annual Historic House Tour ~ Saturday, September 23, 2017 – Noon – 5 PM
The 2017 house tour features historic homes and gardens in Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships. As an added bonus, the Main Line Antiques Showis generously providing two tickets ($30 value) for its show on October 7 and 8, with each historic house tour ticket purchased. The only antiques show on Philadelphia’s Main Line, all proceeds benefit Surrey Services, which helps older adults to live with independence and dignity and to continue as active members of the community.
To celebrate historic preservation, the public is invited to attendParty for Preservation, the 13th Annual Historic House Tour Preview Party on Sunday, September 17, 6 PM – 9 PM at the historic Duportail House in Chesterbrook. An evening of fun with live music, food and drinks, join us to celebrate the homeowners and the homes featured on the tour and allow us to thank the generous individual and corporate sponsors who make the annual tour possible. Attendees will get a sneak preview of the beautiful homes featured on the 13th Annual Historic House Tour!
The annual historic house tour would not be possible without the generosity of individual and corporate sponsors. Click 2017 House Tour Sponsor Packet for information about how you can be a sponsor and receive complimentary tickets to the house tour and the preview party.
This is a magical day always in Chester County and the preview party is a lot of fun! I hope you join us!
When you love history and historic preservation, there are things that make your heart beat faster.
Preservation is a balancing act. Not everything can be saved in perpetuity. Such was the case of Fritz Lumber in Berwyn. But now I have learned from my dear friend and Preservation Wonder Woman, Pattye Benson, that Fritz’s beautiful big old red barn as it is deconstructed, will be going to the restoration of the Jones Log Barn!
Here is what Pattye wrote:
The final phase of the rebuilding of the Jones Log Barn is finally underway! With the generous help of Stacey Holmes Ballard and Eadeh Enterprises, the Trust is now able to complete the Jones Log Barn at Duportail House. Scott Walker of Axe Handle Timber is the contractor for the project.
The Barn Saver of Lancaster County is deconstructing the large red barn at Fritz Lumber — the materials from the red barn will help complete the Jones Log Barn. How wonderful that a part of the of the Fritz Lumberyard Development project will also include the rebuilding of the 18th century Jones Log Barn.
For all of those who support historic preservation, we are asking you to ‘like’ the Rebuilding the Jones Log Barn Facebook site and follow the progress of the project. The Living History Center at Duportail will be a win-win for the community!
This is what it is all about: all these different people coming together with true generosity of spirit to save history, salvage history, and pay it forward! Bravo!
Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust has an exciting lecture coming up next week on Wednesday, April 12 with Bruce Mowday.
Bruce will speak on two of his books — “The Battle of Brandywine” and “The Johnston Gang”. A great storyteller, you will want to plan to attend. For information and to reserve tickets, call 610-647-1051.
Howellville, one of Tredyffrin’s earliest villages, grew in an area convenient to the farms of the Great Valley. A tavern was often the start of a town, and the first one here was built about 1712. By the early 1700s, sawmills and gristmills had appeared. Nearest to the center of town was the sawmill on Crabby Creek. Several of the early farms had their own limestone kilns. The first school opened about 1720. A factory of some kind belonging to the Workizer family is listed on the 1798 Direct Tax. [Note 1] By the late 18th century, a shoemaker and a wheelwright had set up shop.
More industry developed in the 19th century, including a woolen mill owned by Samuel Wood. There was at least one blacksmith. By the middle of the century there was a store and the Chester Valley Railroad, and by the late 1800s Howellville was a thriving industrial town. The limestone quarries became big business and Italian immigrants arrived to work at them. Other nationalities followed, but were never as numerous or as prosperous as the Italians.
By the early part of the 20th century, Howellville had become a close-knit community-a bit naughty, with lots of drinking and gambling. Then came the Depression which dealt rather harshly with the village. Having lost their jobs, and with no place to go, the quarry workers lived hand-to-mouth. In 1934 Frances Ligget, later a member of the Tredyffrin Easttown History Club, marshalled the help of the Valley Forge Farm and Garden Club to clean up the town and help the unemployed workers and their families. Free seeds were given for gardens. The state provided medical assistance as well as sewing, knitting, and cooking classes, and a nursery school. Weaving was taught by Lettie Esherick, wife of the artist Wharton Esherick.
In 1681 land in the center of Tredyffrin Township that would eventually become most of Howellville belonged to William Mordaunt and John Hort Each owned 500 acres. They were Welsh Tract brokers-they bought the land from William Penn but never lived on it. In 1711 Mordaunt’s sons sold their 500 acres to John Evans, who had previously been Governor of Pennsylvania. Just to the east lay 1340 acres that David Meredith sold to William Powell in 1706. They were also Welsh Tract brokers.
Llewellyn David, a Welshman and one of the early settlers, bought 300 acres in 1708. The name David (later changed to Davis) was the biggest name in Howellville for the next two centuries.
The area sat at the bottom of a natural bowl where three hilly roads met to form a triangle. Swedesford Road, forming the north side of the triangle, came into existence about 1720, very early in the settlement of the Great Chester Valley. It led from the vicinity of Randall Malin’s house in East Whiteland to the Swede’s Ford at the Schuylkill River, near present day Norristown, and gave settlers in the interior access to Philadelphia.
Bear Hill Road, which formed the southeast side of the triangle, connected the Valley with the Black Bear Tavern at the top of the South Valley Hill near the Lancaster Road and today’s village of Paoli.
The southwest side of the triangle was Howellville Road, until a traffic light was installed at the corner about 1960. Then it became part of Swedesford Road and the north side of the triangle was made one-way. It was this way until most of Howellville’s buildings were torn down and Route 202 was completed and dedicated in 1971.
The triangle at the bottom of these roads was a convenient place for horses and wagons to stop and rest, and in 1745 a license was granted to establish the first tavern. When David Howell settled in the area and became the second innkeeper of the tavern, about 1765, it was called Howell’s Tavern. The village that grew up around it became Howellville. When the old inn was razed in 1921, the only house in the triangle was the little house described by Henry Darling later in this article.
The triangle disappeared in 1967 when Route 252 was widened and Route 202 was built.
The history of Howellville is fascinating and rich. Most people just think of Howellville Road today…not that it was a historically important crossroads village. It is an integral part of the history of Tredyffrin and was discussed in Tredyffrin’s 2009 Historic Preservation Plan.
Last time I was on Howellville Road was in the fall when I was noodling around and found myself on that road. It has long fascinated me and I lament the loss of one crossroads village after the other as time progresses.
You may recall the abandoned Jimmy Duffy property on Lancaster Avenue in Berwyn and the subsequent construction of Daylesford Crossing, an assisted living facility on the site. The approval for Daylesford Crossing was a long, drawn out redevelopment process in 2012 that required a text amendment to permit senior living facilities as a by-right use in C-1 (commercial) zoning.
Some argued at the time that the zoning change to permit senior living in C-1 was ‘spot-zoning’ to accommodate this specific project and others questioned what this would mean for future C-1 development in Tredyffrin Township. In 2015, the township expanded the C-1 District zoning to also include townhouses as a by-right use.
During the last few years, developers have flocked to the township with their assisted living and townhouse, apartment and condominium plans. Assisted living projects currently under construction or in the review process include Erickson Living at Atwater Crossing in Malvern (250 beds) and Brightview Senior Living on E. Conestoga in Devon (196 beds).
On the townhouse-apartment side in the township, there are many projects in the planning stages or under construction….Areas that were once farmland continue to be developed. Top ranking school district, T/E brings an influx of people to the area which means an influx of students, and the growing problem of finding a place to put them….. a new proposed land development plan in the works that is extremely troubling – townhouses on Howellville Road. The proposal is to wedge a cluster of 20 townhouses, in four buildings, between the village of Howellville and the shadow of the Refuge Pentecostal Church.
….The proposed land development plan on Howellville Road is not compatible with the character and appearance of the area. Beyond the impact of traffic on Howellville Road, the proposed development plan creates serious safety concerns. The steep narrow winding nature of Howellville Road makes entry and exit from the proposed dense townhouse project a dangerous situation.
Benson Company’s proposed townhouse project on Howellville Road will change the look and character of this community as well as place a greater burden on the narrow, winding road – and again more students for the school district!
John Benson of Benson Company has enthusiastically offered that his proposed Howellville Road townhouses will look like his Grey’s Lane townhouses on Lancaster Ave. A couple of things – (1) Grey’s Lane is on Rt. 30, a commercial 4-lane road vs. Howellville Road, a rural country road and (2) he squeezed 12 townhouses in at Grey’s Lane in 3 buildings where as this proposal is for 4 buildings with 20 townhouses….Areas that were once farmland continue to be developed. Between the assisted living communities and the townhouses and apartments, should the objective in Tredyffrin Township be to approve any and all land development projects regardless of the impact?
And from an aesthetic point of view, every time I see a staged interior of a “fabulous” Benson new construction piece of new construction dreck I am struck with the fact that every interior looks the same. If you want Barbie’s dream house, you are pretty much there. No character, predictable, mass produced, plastic.
Residents of Tredyffrin are soooo right!! How much of this does any one township want or need? And much like neighboring East Whiteland it seems like people are hell bent on developing every square inch of the township! Who needs King of Prussia? Soon Tredyffrin and East Whiteland will definitely resemble King of Prussia meets Bensalem.
Oh yes, one more thing? Tredyffrin residents need to get to the Planning Commission TOMORROW February 16th when this next great godforsaken plan makes it’s debut along with “Westlakes Hotel” and “Chestnut Road Apartments”.
Again I ask where the hell the Chester County Planning Commission and Brian O’Leary are? Lord above, Chester County is drowning, yes drowning in development plans.