after the fire

514 Pottstown Pike was the scene of a horrible fire August 7th, 2019. I wrote about it.

We went by the location a few times this weekend and I captured these (poor) photos as a passenger in a car.

The photo that gets me is the first one posted. There is a child’s cart on that “deck”.

What happened to the displaced people?

What will be happening to these structures?

Who inspects these rental properties in Chester County and how often? Is it done at a local level or a county level?

not so happy days farms on route 100 near turnpike in exton (uwchlan township)

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You know me, I love my old farms. I am obsessed with old barns.  For years, I have passed by this farm sitting all marooned by modern times with Route 100 to the front and the Pennsylvania Turnpike to its left side when you are looking from Route 100.   I found out today this property is Happy Days Farm and it is in Uwchlan Township.

At present this farm is STILL being farmed by tenants which is why I had no idea until yesterday that Vanguard even owned the land because I did not live in Chester County back when this all started.

I feel I need to mention that I know 100% for a fact that active farming is still going on because I fear as soon as I post this if I DO NOT mention Happy Days Farm is still actively farmed, they will get trespassers. DO NOT JUST VISIT THIS FARM RANDOMLY, OK? TRESPASSING HERE MEANS A VISIT FROM THE POLICE, CAPISCE?

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The Philadelphia Business Journal and Vista Today did not mention there was still active farming going on, so I kind of feel I have to, that I must point out THE FARM IS STILL IN USE.  And it is because of these publications I am writing this post because I was alarmed at the news they imparted to all of us recently about Happy Days Farm potentially literally coming to an end.

Noodling around on ChescoViews I found this:

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Nelson Realty Excel

Is it just me or is it a total disaster if this farm is lost to development???

Vista Today: After Once Considering It for a New Campus, Vanguard to Sell 246-Acre Property in Exton Posted By: Kimberly McGuane Posted date: March 12, 2019

Vanguard has decided to put Happy Days Farm in Exton up for sale, writes Natalie Kostelni for the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The investment giant has owned it for two decades and once considered using the 246-acre property for a new campus.

When it originally purchased the property in 1999, Vanguard anticipated developing a campus that would total between one and two million square feet. But the property has been sitting without any development on it ever since…..Now, the property is expected to attract interest from a wide range of developers.

WHAT THE HECK????

THIS IS A FARM! A STILL WORKING FARM EVEN WITH TENANT FARMERS! WE NEED OUR FARMS IN CHESTER COUNTY NOT MORE BLOODY DEVELOPMENT AND DEVELOPERS, RIGHT?! 

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Happy Days Farm was once home to the Supplee Family in modern times (I think from some point in the 1940s.)  Mildred and Warren Supplee were well-loved by their community and were married for 75 years:

Obituary of Mildred M. Supplee as it appeared and was published in The Daily Local on July 30, 2013:

Mildred M. Supplee of Freedom Village Mildred M. Supplee, presently of Freedom Village, West Brandywine and formerly of Lionville and Upper Uwchlan Township, passed away in the presence of her children and loved ones on Saturday, July 27, 2013.

She was 100, having celebrated her birthday on April 15. Born in Chester Springs, she was the daughter and oldest child of H. Raymond and Mary Vail McBride. She lived her entire life in central Chester County, having lived in Chester Springs until the age of five when she moved with her family to Byers and lived there until her marriage. She attended the one-room Windsor School in Upper Uwchlan Township for eight years and then West Chester High School, graduating in 1931. She studied nursing at Chester County Hospital, and after her family was raised she was charge nurse at the former Huffman Nursing Home in Whitford.

After a five-year courtship she married her beloved late husband, S. Warren Supplee, and the couple celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary in 2008, prior to Warren’s passing. Upon her marriage she moved with Warren to his family farm where they farmed the two farm properties collectively known today as Happy Days Farm.

In 1994 they moved with son Walter from the farm property in Lionville to a home in Upper Uwchlan Township where they lived until moving to Freedom Village.

Mildred was very active in church work, being a member of Windsor Baptist Church in Eagle for 85 years. She presently was the oldest living member. She served as church clerk for 50 years, served as a trustee, was active and held positions in the mission society, taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and helped organize and advise the Christian Endeavor youth program at the church. She helped serve church suppers and weddings. She was also involved in the Central Union Association of the American Baptist convention and held positions there.

Mildred was christened a Lutheran and attended St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Chester Springs, attending there with her family prior to joining Windsor. She presently was an associate member there and attended services there as well as Windsor through her hundred years.

Besides helping on the family farm and raising her family, she made the family’s clothes, bedding, and enjoyed doing handwork. She was an excellent cook and people loved to come for a meal. She entertained many family, church and school groups. She enjoyed reading until her eyesight failed. She was a devoted daughter and provided care for her parents as well as her husband’s parents and brother. She was a member of many farm organizations with her husband….

Obituary of S. Warren Supplee as it appeared in the Southern Chester County Weeklies on May 29, 2008:

S. Warren Supplee, 98, of Freedom Village, West Brandywine, and formerly of Lionville, passed away on Friday evening, May 16, 2008, at Brandywine Hospital, surrounded by his wife and children.Born in Westtown, he was the son of the late Samuel W. and Myrtle Broadbelt Supplee.

A lifelong farmer, Mr. Supplee lived his entire life in the central Chester County area.

He grew up on a farm on Johnny’s Way, Westtown. At the age of 13, he moved to Lionville with his parents and brother and farmed there on the two farm properties collectively known today as the Happy Days Farm.

He loved to tell of the family’s move to Lionville from Westtown. He and his father moved machinery and some farm crops every other day using horses and wagons. On moving day, the men drove the dairy cattle from Westtown to Lionville.

He started to milk by hand at the age of 5 and milked till he was 80. He lived to see milking parlors and a robot milker.

He married Mildred McBride, and the couple recently celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.

In 1994, he moved from the farm in Lionville to Upper Uwchlan, where he lived until his move to Freedom Village.

He attended Goshen Baptist Church as a child until his move to Lionville, where he attended Windsor Baptist Church in Eagle. He joined there in 1928 and was the oldest living member. He also attended St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Chester Springs.

An avid Chester County foxhunter, he hunted with several hunts and had his own foxhounds. He also enjoyed hunting rabbits with his beagles.

He attended schools in Westtown and graduated from Lionville High School. He also attended West Chester High School.

Mr. Supplee served on the Uwchlan Township board and later the Downingtown Area School Board.

He was a member of the former Uwchlan Grange, Lionville Fire Company, P.O.S. of A, Odd Fellows, West Chester Home Clusters and several farm organizations…..

Before I found these obituaries, it was just a farm, just a big swath of land. Now I know how much this land, this farm was loved.

And I am told there are historically listed structures on this farm? Buildings that are registered with the historical society that any buyer can not remove?

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I will note that Philadelphia Architects and Buildings  dates the farm as circa 1730 to 1780. They also have a 1995 site plan. I also discovered it is part of some Watershed H (Brandywine Creek, East Brandywine creek?) and there is an archeological and historical survey report.  And this abstract document from 1998 would also be of interest.

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Also, it took some digging but I did indeed find a 1998 PA Historic Resouces Survey Form. You can click HERE and I am uploading it here: H067961_67867_D. It’s fascinating and what did this survey lead me to? Oh yes, another Penn Land Grant and possibly part of Native American Hunting Grounds:

The origins of Happy Days Farm can be traced to two early land grants from William Penn, Proprietor of the Province of Pennsylvania. One tract of 1,000 acres was granted to James Claypoole in 1682. James Claypoole was an English investor who purchased several land grants in Pennsylvania, but never lived there. The other tract of 1,666 2/3 acres was granted to David Lloyd in 1703. David Lloyd was a land investor who owned a considerable portion of what became Uwchlan Township in 1712. In 1713, the heirs of James Claypoole sold 800 acres in Uwchlan to David Lloyd. In 1714, Lloyd sold to Joseph Phipps an 800 acre plantation that included parts of the two Penn grants.

The description on the 1714 deed of a “messuage, tenement plantation tract” indicates that there was already an established farm and dwelling house. Joseph Phipps was among the early Quaker settlers who requested the formation of their own meeting in Uwchlan Township in 1712. At the time, most of these Quakers were living on land owned by David Lloyd, so Joseph Phipps was probably living on the land he later purchased. Between 1712 and 1715, most of David Lloyd’s holdings in Uwchlan Township were deeded to early residents such as Phipps. The first tax records for Uwchlan Township occurred in 1715. Joseph Phipps was one of eighteen names recorded on that list and one of the greatest landowners. 280 years later, descendants of Joseph continue to live in Uwchlan Township.

Joseph Phipps married twice and had seven children with Mary Woodyear and one son with Mary Helsby. His children included Sarah, Samuel, Joseph, Nathan, George (died young), John, Aaron (died young) and by second wife a son also named George born in 1743.

Genealogical records at the Chester County Historical Society suggest that Joseph was born in 1661, but that seems unlikely. If that were correct, Joseph had a son when he was 82 years old and died at the age of 1011 The Phipps family belonged to the Society of Friends, but records indicate that Joseph’s sons did not always live up to the Quaker high moral standards. One of Joseph Phipps Jr. was one of the few slaveowners in Uwchlan Township. In 1764, Joseph Phipps Jr. was taxed eight shillings for one negro man. At that time only five landowners in the Township owned slaves. Nathan and Joseph Jr. were both condemned for marrying out the society. George was complained of in 1727 for excessive drinking and quarreling. Samuel was condemned for having indecent familiarity with his neighbor’s wife. John was charged in 1735 with fathering a bastard child and in 1739 for assaulting a neighbor. The consequence of too much privilege and too little discipline that some complain of in today’s society seems similar to the difficulties Joseph Phipps had with his sons nearly 300years ago!

For much of the eighteenth century, the Phipps family prospered. As Joseph’s children grew and married several houses were built on the family lands. Some farmland was divided, but the  “home farm” and approximately 400 acres remained intact through the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century witnessed the growth of a new agricultural industry – the dairy farm. Chester County became known for its dairy farms. By the 1880’s, 85 individually owned dairy farms prospered in Uwchlan Township. The Phipps families owned several.

Happy Days Farm is the only farm property that remained in the Phipps family for more than two centuries. Members of the Phipps family were active in several area churches including Uwchlan Society of Friends and Windsor Baptist Church. Phipps participated in the organizing and prosperity of the Uwchlan Grange. Residents of this early farm accomplished their goals. They may not have been famous, but they were excellent examples of nineteenth century Pennsylvania farmers.

The “Home” farm finally left the Phipps family in 1923, when sold to settle the estate of Phillena Phipps, widow of William Phipps, great, great, great grandson of the original settler, Joseph Phipps.

The farm property was granted to Harrison Durant in 1923, who owned it for twenty six years, but had lived there as early as 1914. The farm under Durant’s ownership continued to be a dairy farm. Durant remodeled the farmhouse by opening the two original first floor rooms to create one large living room. He eliminated one fireplace and altered the large fireplace. When central heating was installed some other fireplaces were closed off. It appears that Harrison Durant was eccentric. In 1946, he purchased some old fire equipment and advertised private fire protection services for such times as burning brush to clear fields, or to assist the volunteer fire companies. This enterprise was short-lived, he put the equipment up for sale in April, 1947.

Colonial tax records provide little information on land holdings and buildings, but by 1796 descriptions of taxpayers holdings were entered every few years. Jonathan Phipps was taxed in that year for 361 acres, with “two stone houses, 2 stories high and 1 stone kitchen, 1 log house 2 stories high, 1 barn part stone and part frame, 2 good log barns, 2 stone spring houses, 1 shed waggon house, 1 shed stable, 1 lime kiln and two log tenements. The 1799 tax records indicate that the main dwelling house was part stone and part log and was assessed at $280, a sizable sum at that time. Also included in the 1799 tax records for this 360 acre property were two small stone houses, two log houses, three stone springhouses, one log barn and two log and stone barns. This list
supports the theory that several Phipps families lived on the “home” farm.

Several buildings remain, including: the original farmhouse, two stone springhouses, one barn, the old foundation of another barn (the barn has been rebuilt.) a carriage house and some modern buildings. Of particular note is a tenant house built in 1925 with some architectural features unique to Uwchlan Township.

Note:
The Supplees also own a strip of land on the other side of Route 100 and a house and lot that lie within the Lionville National Historic District. It is unknown at this time if these parcels will be included in future development. The early twentieth century house is a one story frame bungalow.

In the past, arrowheads have been found in the area of Happy Days Farm. Uwchlan residents have long supported the premise that the farm was once part of Native American Hunting grounds. Most of the roads forming a wheel design in Lionville were originally Indian paths, but other evidence of Native American activity in the area has never been thoroughly investigated or documented.

In 2001 the Daily Local featured a letter to the editor that included a plea for this farm:

As a resident of Uwchlan Township for the past 12 years, I am typical of the many residents who moved here because of its rural charm. However, unlike many of our neighbors who are moving out because of the major changes in Uwchlan’s character in recent years, my family wants to stay. We love the community and its schools; we work and volunteer in the community and hope that the encroaching development won’t destroy all that Uwchlan is.

Of particular concern to us is the development in the high density sector of the township. According to the county’s Landscapes plan, the area surrounding Route 113 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike is targeted for the densest development in the township….The development of the Happy Days Farm by Vanguard will bring new meaning to the word density. Along with all the tax incentives Vanguard will contribute to the community, it will turn Uwchlan Township into a small metropolis…..

As tax-paying citizens who will bear the burden of the traffic and noise pollution that the Vanguard complex will bring, we should not be expected to compromise the beauty of our community as well just because we happen to be in the high density sector of the county. Uwchlan Township deserves its share of the open space proposed for purchase by the county.

LOIS GRASSO

Exton

Go back a year to 2000 and an article which appeared in the Times Herald about then Governor Tom Ridge offering major money/tax incentives to Vanguard for Happy Days Farm getting developed:

Ridge announces multi-million tax package and incentives for Vanguard
May 23, 2000 

TREDYFFRIN – Gov. Tom Ridge made it official yesterday, presenting The Vanguard Group with a $55.5 million economic package to expand itˆ’s Chester County presence and create 6,000 new jobs over the next five years.

The mutual fund giant, the county’s largest employer, recently announced plans to build a corporate campus on the 245-acre Supplee family Happy Days Farm near the Downingtown interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Uwchlan. That expansion, plus an expansion of the companyˆ’s corporate headquarters in Tredyffrin, represents a $550 million investment for Vanguard.

Ridge made the official announcement of the multi-million tax package and other incentives at Vanguard’s corporate campus surrounded by state and county officials and about 100 Vanguard senior managers.

“Vanguard is a client of ours,” Ridge said as he toured the bond traders’ offices at the company headquarters. “We’re a service industry, not out to make a profit. But the companies that do make a profit, we want them to do it in Pennsylvania.”…John J. Brennan, Vanguard chairman and chief executive officer, said Chester County, a region rich in farmland where people cultivated a living, has developed as a place rich in local talent, rich in human resources which has been “vital to our success.”

“The Supplee parcel we look at with the perspective of an investor,” Brennan said, adding that investing is his business “I manage $550 billion of other people’s money.”

Brennan introduced Ridge to a standing ovation congratulating the governor and the Governor’s Action Team for their long-term view.

Ridge called Monday a great day for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a great day for Vanguard….The Happy Days Farm property, which Vanguard agreed to buy in April, was considered by two giant malls over the last four years, as well as by pharmaceutical giant, Astra Zeneca for its US headquarters. The drug company decided to locate in Delaware wooed away by tax breaks and massive road improvements.

The governor praised the county’s sensitive, smart growth and Uwchlan’s foresight to designate the Supplee tract for economic growth.

“It’s not about a mall here,” Ridge said. “This company builds a quality campus that anybody would be happy to have as a neighbor.”

The Happy Days Farm expansion comes with expedited plans by the state Department of Transportation to improve highways associated with the project, specifically routes 100 and 113 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The “transportation improvements”, Ridge said, will make it possible for people in Lancaster and Reading to work at the Happy Days site once developed.

Wow. That was QUITE the investment offer on the part of the state, right? Funded by taxpayer dollars of Pennsylvanians, right?

I can tell you that the Daily Local featured an article in 2001 about an update to Vanguard’s then plans:

Vanguard updates plans for new campus
GRETCHEN METZ Mar 7, 2001  

The mutual fund company plans to build 2.5 million square feet of office space for 10,000 new employees next to the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Downingtown interchange on the former Happy Days Farm.

The location is desirable for employee recruiting, as well as employee commuting, Ralph K. Packard, Vanguard managing director and chief financial officer, told members of the Exton Region Chamber of Commerce.

Packard was guest speaker Tuesday at the organization’s March luncheon held at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Lionville.

Then the Daily Local had an update in 2008:

Vanguard presents Happy Days Farm site update
DANIELLE LYNCH May 1, 2008 Comments

UWCHLAN — Vanguard Group representatives presented sketch plans to Uwchlan’s supervisors Monday regarding a corporate campus to be built on the Happy Days Farm.

Back in 2000, the mutual fund company purchased the 245-acre dairy farm with the intention of turning it into office space, large enough for 10,000 employees. The farm is off Route 100, near the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Downingtown Interchange.

The plans received conditional-use approval for the project in 2000, according to Denise Yarnoff, the attorney representing Vanguard. The company received preliminary and final subdivision and land development approval of phase one of the project in 2001…

The entire master plan will be on 2.5 million square feet. And the corporate campus will be built on 2 million square feet. The new sketch plans call for a change from six large buildings to about 10 smaller buildings, Yarnoff said.

The new overall project plans show a decrease in impervious area. In 2001, the impervious coverage for the plans was 79.4 acres. The new sketch plans show the impervious coverage has decreased to 76.6 acres….In addition, the open space on the campus has increased from 48.7 percent in 2001 to 50.5 percent…..

In order to do this project, Route 100 will need to be widened between Route 113 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Downingtown Interchange and make Sheree Boulevard an overpass over Route 100.

As a result, PennDOT needs right-of-way approvals for seven parcels of land that have not been acquired yet, according to PennDOT spokesman Charles Metzger. The Vanguard Group has been partnering with PennDOT for the overall construction project of the roads, he said.

Now Happy Days Farm and Vanguard have popped up in articles for years according to my research today. For example, when State Senator Andy Dinniman was a County Commissioner he wanted Vanguard to help raise $20 million to preserve farmland in Chester County:

The county is hoping the state, local municipalities and Vanguard will chip in to help raise $20 million to preserve farmland in the northern part of the county.

“(Vanguard) is the largest job creation project in the commonwealth right now,” said County Commissioner Andrew Dinniman. “We thought we had a unique two-year window of opportunity before construction starts. We’re trying to get a head start on this.”

Vanguard, the nation’s second largest mutual fund firm and the county’s largest employer with headquarters in Malvern, is planning 2.5 million square-feet of office space for nearly 10,000 employees at its new campus on the site of the 245-acre Happy Days Farm on Route 100.

“We know once Vanguard starts to get built in a couple of years, there will be an enormous pressure to eat up this land and we want to preserve some of it,” said Dinniman….Wayne Clapp, assistant director of the county planning commission, said the proposal is consistent with the county’s Landscapes master plan.

“We prefer not to see development in the rural, natural landscape,” he said.

“They should be preserved, not built upon,” said Clapp. “Agriculture is still the largest industry in the county. We tend to think of farmland as open space, but it is an industry.”

Did that ever happen? Apparently not, but read on…..

In 2001 there was an article in The Daily Local about the effects of development on  traffic and now that we are in 2019 in my opinion, we can safely say NO ONE MUCH LISTENED and CLICK HERE FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE:

Over time, Atwater in East Whiteland and Tredyffrin, Valley Creek Corporate Center in West Whiteland and Vanguard’s corporate campus in Uwchlan, could generate a total of 26,000 new jobs and about as many additional cars on the roads.

Faced with those numbers, PennDOT already has road widening projects, new bridges and better signalization either under way or in the planning stages.

For commuters, it means more aggravation.

“That type of development means a regional draw,” said Chris Williams, senior project manager at McMahon Associates, a traffic planning firm with offices in West Whiteland….The county is seeing so much development, so much traffic, Kaiser said, any one development can cause a bottleneck at an intersection five or 10 miles down the road.

On the drawing board:

Vanguard Group is set to build a 2.5 million square foot corporate campus at Happy Days Farm on Route 100 in Uwchlan. It is still in due-diligence stage, said John Demming, Vanguard spokesman. Some 6,000 people could work there when it is completed, Demming said Valley Creek Corporate Center broke ground last month. When complete, the high-end office park developed by The Rubenstein Co. on Swedesford Road near routes 30 and 202 in West Whiteland will be made up of 1.75 million square feet in 17 buildings. It is expected to attract 7,500 to 10,000 employees. The 200-acre site was once owned by Church Farm School.

Atwater by developer Trammell Crow will be a 2.6-million-square-foot office complex for about 10,000 employees. It will be located at the former Cedar Hollow Quarry site between Route 29 and Yellow Springs Road.The 380-acre site straddles East Whiteland and Tredyffrin townships but the bulk of the development is slated for East Whiteland. Both Atwater and Valley Creek will affect Route 202

Also in 2001 was the Save Our Countryside Rally.  Also reported in The Daily Local:

‘Save Our Countryside’ rally turns emotional
Bajeerah Lowe Mar 18, 2001  

Fox hunting clubs, farmers and concerned citizens from the area, surrounding townships and even surrounding counties, voiced their concerns about the disappearing landscape of Chester County to state legislators and local organization leaders.

Originally scheduled to be held at the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show Grounds, the rally was moved to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church because of rain, said James Scharnberg, master of the Skycastle French Hounds of Chester Springs and organizer of the event.

State Sen. Jim Gerlach, R-44th of East Brandywine; state Rep. Curt Schroder, R-155th of Downingtown; county commissioners Andrew Dinniman and Colin Hanna; Eleanor Morris of the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust and John Hoekstra, director of Green Valley Association, addressed the crowd regarding the importance of making their voices heard and saving open space.

Two local development plans in Wallace and Uwchlan were at the forefront of residents’ minds….The other development that concerns citizens and politicians alike is the Vanguard construction, which is to begin in two years, at Happy Days Farm, where Route 100 meets the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Uwchlan. The site will employ between 8,000 and 10,000 people.

According to Dinniman, the county has put up $5 million for farmland preservation in the area. The county is asking its three other partners — the state, the township and Vanguard — to contribute $5 million each, bringing the total to $20 million. “The only way to save open space is to save the farms and help the farmers financially,” Dinniman said. “Part of stewardship is to help us preserve land of Chester County. They are not exactly impoverished and can help us in this aspect.”

All of the speakers encouraged the crowd to let their voices be heard. “I believe the answer is the community has to mobilize,” Dinniman said following the rally. “The key is the voice. What I have heard was a deep anger level, a concern, a plea for change. Public officials need to listen and use every ounce of energy to answer the plea. The key is to keep the voice going so it can be heard.”

That is key: “concerns citizens and politicians alike.”  So I challenge these officials still around like State Senator Andy Dinniman to look at the Happy Days Farm situation again. Why? Because as years passed, residents obviously grew complacent as in maybe this wasn’t happening.  Now residents have to pick up the cause of  saving our countryside once again and FAST.

People have already said to me the following about this situation:

“What are you going to start bitching about? This tract has been talked about for years as a mall, a big pharma company…even heard of it as possibly an amusement park. A casino wouldn’t be unlikely either. Hey maybe Amazon will think about it in lieu of their NYC site. Too bad we couldn’t convince Vanguard to develop it. I think some ecological issues slowed down the Vanguard start up years ago. Something about turtles, but not sure how true that was. Who knows what we will get now.”

To my armchair quarterbacks I say it is still a working farm. THAT is what I am bitching about it. What was proposed in the past does not have to be this farm’s future. It could have a preservation-minded future.

Agriculture as noted above was once Chester County’s largest industry, right? Why not invest in THAT Vanguard? You guys do socially responsible investing, correct? What is more socially responsible that agricultural preservation in the county Vanguard calls home?  Seems win-win to me and face it Vanguard, you can AFFORD to do this, can’t you?

Really and truly I cannot stand this anymore.  Every week it seems it’s another farm. Another historically important piece of architecture.  Where has all of the preservation gone?

Someone else said to me today:

“Happy Days Farm represents a lynchpin development opportunity connecting the turnpike Eagleview development to the 113 corridor – once it falls contiguous open space to the east will diminish rapidly.”

Skip ahead to 2014 and an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  We should have paid more attention because now I ask, was this a warning of the future a/k/a our present?

PhillyDeals: Assets grow, employment slows at Vanguard
Posted: February 16, 2014 – 3:01 AM
By Joseph N. DiStefano, Inquirer Staff Writer

For a view of the “jobless recovery” – there are still fewer Americans employed today than in 2008, despite rising business profits and share prices – take a look at what has changed at Vanguard Group’s Chester County campus. And what hasn’t.

Vanguard assets have tripled, to nearly $3 trillion, since the stock market bottomed out five years ago. Its popular index portfolios, targeted-date retirement funds, and other products now account for nearly one-fifth of the U.S. mutual fund industry…..Way back in 1999, Vanguard proposed a second multimillion-square-foot office center, at Happy Days Farm just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike exit in Lionville, Uwchlan Township….The state of Pennsylvania said it was ready to grant up to $55.5 million in aid if Vanguard met its hiring goals…..But Happy Days hasn’t been needed, and the state didn’t have to provide any grants….it has cut back on the platoons of young, hourly “crewmembers” who answered phone calls from investors.

“We don’t have a goal of having fewer people at Vanguard,” said Chris McIsaac, boss at Vanguard’s Institutional Investor Group, …. “But if we can do more with the same number of people, that’s a good thing for our clients.”….As office demand has fallen, Vanguard has negotiated lower taxes, based on the reduced value investors are now willing to pay for suburban office space….Vanguard expects to keep adding assets. But it’s no longer planning for large or rapid employment growth, Reed said.

“Like every company in America, we’ve got to be more efficient tomorrow than today,” Reed added.

That article by Joseph Di Stefano tells us RIGHT THERE what some media is reporting to us this week. This 2014 article was laying out the groundwork for dumping Happy Days Farm out of their real estate portfolio, wasn’t it? Of course this article also spells out what happened to that grant money – it just seems like it evaporated as an offer as time passed, didn’t it?

To me that also says that Vanguard is also now in part perhaps just paying lip service to calling Chester County “it’s home” and I subject to you the following for consideration: if someplace else offered them a sweeter plum for the picking than all the municipalities which have bent over and kissed the corporate rear end of Vanguard all these years in Chester County would they stay? I wonder.

Heck we should have paid closer attention in 2012 when this article on Vanguard and their real estate hopscotching came out:

Main Line Suburban Life: Vanguard expanding, agrees to buy neighboring Pfizer property
By Gretchen Metz
gmetz@journalregister.com Sep 7, 2012

TREDYFFRIN – Vanguard Group Inc. confirmed on Thursday that it has signed an agreement to purchase the neighboring Pfizer property.

Vanguard spokesman John Woerth said he could not disclose the purchase price, though published reports put the deal at $40 million.

For Vanguard, the purchase was all about location.

“This is a stone’s throw from our current Malvern headquarters,” Woerth said, explaining why Vanguard is making the investment. “We had the opportunity to purchase a property close to our current property at a reasonable price.”….

Vanguard also owns Happy Days Farm on Route 100 in Uwchlan. It purchased the 250-acre property in 2000 with the intent to turn it into an upscale corporate campus. Some road work has been done since then, but no buildings have been started.

Worth said while Vanguard continues to own the property, “there are no plans to develop it at this time.”

The signs have been there all along. Sigh.

Vanguard is a financial powerhouse. As per their numbers, the assets under management are  5.1 trillion USD (January 31, 2018). They also are in the news that the have socially responsible, environmentally responsible ETFs.

As Marketwatch said at the end of September, 2018 of Vanguard and their heightened responsible awareness:

Can you afford to be a responsible investor?

That’s the question that has plagued pensions and individual investors alike as they consider financial products dedicated to environmental, social and governance criteria. In two recent polls, a majority of institutions and high-net-worth investors concluded fees were too high to justify an allocation….Just this month, Vanguard, arguably the czar of low-fee fund offerings, jumped into the ESG fray with the Vanguard ESG US Stock ETF ESGV, +0.54%  and the Vanguard ESG International Stock ETF VSGX, +0.14%  offerings. The funds will track the holdings of the FTSE US All Cap Choice and FTSE Global All Cap ex US Choice indexes — two ESG indexes — and fees are slated at 0.12% and 0.15%, respectively. The funds will incorporate elements some elements from more traditional Socially Responsible Investing (“SRI”) by excluding certain “sin stocks” such as those in adult entertainment, alcohol, tobacco, and weapons, and the funds will also exclude fossil-fuel firms from its investment portfolios. From there, the funds will apply an ESG overlay to the stock portfolios. The fund will also attempt to maximize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in its investment decisions.

Hmmm. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  Do you know what they are? No? Well I am glad you are interested so allow me to list them off of the United Nations website:

The 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world:

GOAL 1: No Poverty

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

GOAL 4: Quality Education

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

GOAL 13: Climate Action

GOAL 14: Life Below Water

GOAL 15: Life on Land

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal

Look at that: sustainable cities and communities and climate action and life on land and zero hunger just to pull out a few points. A great working farm surviving would play a role in that, right?  So many of these goals could be applied to saving a working farm they own, can’t you agree?

So Vanguard? I realize that although Jack Bogle founded you some would argue if you were really still the firm of Jack Bogle, yes?  But can you still be enough of Jack Bogle’s firm that maybe you would consider putting your socially responsible money where your corporate mouth is?

A company with TRILLIONS in assets could indeed work something out with a nature conservancy and donate the land into preservation.  The land could be preserved and still have tenant farmers.

Vanguard, you bring a lot of people to Chester County.  But if you sell this land to developers you put another nail in the coffin of Chester County’s industry of agriculture and the agricultural history and traditions.  Vanguard, if you sell to developers a parcel this big will not be open space it will be developed up as quickly as developed plans can get through, correct?

Vanguard, if you want to pay homage to where you call home, save this parcel and BE socially responsible by doing so. We don’t grow our food on the roof of Whole Foods and Wegman’s do we? We still need agrarian values and landscapes, don’t we?

Chester County, this farm land is not sold yet.  As a county can we at least try to change the conversation here? Save our countryside?

#SaveOurCountryside

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skin in the game of pipelines?

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So I started looking at the interactive pipeline map again along with the pipeline website for Chester County set up by the Chester County Planning Commission. And it prompted an email to pipeline companies and the Chester County Planning Commission to clarify how we would possibly be affected where we live. ( I will note we have neighbors not so far away who have like three pipelines running through their property.)

“When I look at our mapping, which uses the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) that the Federal Government maintains, in conjunction with the pipeline operators, the western edge of your house is roughly 1,030 feet from the closest line, which is Interstate Energy, which is planned to be converted to natural gas.”

~ Carrie from Chester County Planning Commission

Close enough.

Yikes. (and that is the most polite phrase fit to print.)

And for what isn’t planned, possibly planned, maybe planned, who knows what plan exists right through my backyard and/or woods, well I would be close enough to be in a blast zone. Only it is apparently not politically correct to use that phrase, because when I did, I was told:

Regarding your concern about being in a “blast zone,” our office does not define or utilize the phrase “blast zone.” We do use the term Consultation Zone, which is a term used by the federal government and operators to distinguish an area of 1000 feet (in Chester County) on either side of an existing transmission pipeline where coordination between local officials, landowners, and operators are encouraged to consult with each other before land developments are planned for these areas. The US Department of Transportation (which houses the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s Office of Pipeline Safety) sponsored a planning effort known as “Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance” (2010,) which identified the phrase Consultation Zone. They define it as an area extending from each side of a transmission pipeline to describe when a property developer/owner, who is planning a new development in the vicinity of an existing transmission pipeline, should initiate a dialogue with the operator. (see https://primis.phmsa.dot.gov/…/pipa-report-final-20101117.p…) These zones are a recommended practice and not something that is required.

As another person pointed out to me:

 …the Blast Zone is something different. PHMSA calls it the “Buffer Zone” but sorry, we and our loved ones are not buffers.

If Adelphia [and others] end up being like Mariner East, at a 1000 ft you will be within the Blast Zone.

 

Whether Buffer Zone, Consultation Zone, or Blast Zone….they are all scary bad zones to me, o.k.?

Well now, apparently I will have skin in the game? That now I can join all of the other Chester County and Delaware County residents worrying about pipelines?

Fabulous. Worry is such a good look on people, right? (Dripping sarcasm, can you feel it?)

What started me like Alice down the proverbial pipeline rabbit hole this week is something I saw posted on Charlestown’s website:

adelphia

You see, in neighboring East Whiteland Township where I live, the township doesn’t have much out there yet on the pipelines.    All I found (easily – I say easily because perhaps information is hidden deep down in website ) was the Adelphia Gateway letter from January, which I had already seen.  Here it is:

A lot of townships now have stand alone pages with pipeline information.  Like East Goshen, Uwchlan, and Upper Uwchlan, for example. (CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE) All townships with any pipelines should have these informational pages in my opinion.

I will note that when I sent my email to Chester County Planning about pipelines in my particular neighborhood, while the planning commission was kind and replied to me, only  ONE pipeline company gave me the courtesy of a reply acknowledging my outreach. Ryan Lumbridge from Enbridge. He offered up his phone number if I need to speak with him.  I will call him but I am most concerned with Adelphia Gateway and Interstate Energy. And apparently since now a couple of days has passed without even a simple acknowledgement of contact, Adelphia Gateway and Interstate Energy don’t seem to think they need to communicate with residents.

Wrong.

The pipeline companies need to communicate. To Interstate especially I say if you plan to maybe possibly or maybe definitely plan to do something 1,030 from the edge of our property, you can show a little interest. I am on a well, I have gardens, I have beautiful woods and more.  I want to know exactly what Interstate is planning to do if they do it and when. I am sure I am but one of many emails they get, and I am trying to be calm and rational, except I have seen what is going on in neighboring municipalities with Sunoco, and well, I don’t want my neighborhood to have these problems. 

I reiterate my objections to these pipelines which rape and pillage and destroy so they can ship their good overseas so other companies in Europe and elsewhere can do things like make more plastic.  Our homes are our castles, our American dreams and it is heinous that American companies can just take our land (without even just compensation in my opinion) and trash it for their profit. And put us in danger.

We are also densely populated enough that what if with other pipeline companies wishing to be Sunoco-Mariner East II-Lite something blows up? Collapses? Ruins wells, breaks water mains? Causes sinkholes? Brings down property values? We as residents are NOT protected. Officials can’t say it won’t happen because all the media coverage and whatnot shows it HAS happened.  Are we just to repeat the same darn patterns over and over from pipeline company to pipeline company and municipality to municipality???

I am sure pipeline companies want residents to just go quietly into the night.  We can’t. Our lives and our homes and our properties are at stake.  You can’t bully, harass, or threaten us into submission. We live here and like it or not, we have rights.  We shouldn’t have to be pipeline guinea pigs should we?

And right or wrong, I feel like these pipeline companies, our sitting Governor Tom Wolf, and even municipalities at times want us as residents to know as little as possible.

#DefendWhatYouLove

Here is a round-up of some recent articles I found:

DelCo Times Guest Column: An opposing view to Sunoco’s rosy outlook on pipeline project

Daily Local News: Middletown to Pa.: Stop pipeline construction

Dragonpipe Diary: Here’s how the “worst case” could happen: a dry run

Philadelphia Business Journal: PUC rules to keep Mariner East 2, 2X pipeline construction on hold

Delco Times: Delco moves forward on pipeline risk assessment study

Daily Local News:  Local lawmaker calls on PUC to post pipeline public comments online

State Impact PA:Officials: Water main contractor struck Mariner East 2 in Delaware County

Daily Local: Chesco Commissioners urge PUC to stand against pipeline projects

the witch house of exton…a/k/a what was the whelen/ferrell/meredith farm

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Photo by Andrea M. Moore found on Flickr. Taken on July 3, 2011. “Exton Witch House”

One of THE most talked about houses that languishes in Chester County, PA is known literally far and wide as the Exton Witch House. It’s on/off Gordon Drive.

It was even in The San Francisco Globe in 2015.  That article also has the Abandoned Steve video embedded:

I will note that the video refers to “vandals” having the headstones. Mmmm, do they mean these headstones (and thank you Lee Wisdom for the photos!!):

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Let’s just say those poor headstones are in municipal protective custody to preserve them. They were removed so people did not steal them.

This house is a YouTube star. Seriously, people film it again and again and again.  Here is another one from 2016:

Here is a video that was posted recently. Not sure of the date.  Maybe 2017?

Why I look at the videos is it shows the progression of deterioration. And the progression of the vandals who graffiti the poor house and decorate it with profanities.  Note to graffiti practitioners here: you all deserve to be haunted for tagging old farmhouses, and if you believe in that sort of thing, maybe you are?

I have never gone back there as of yet, because it’s private property and I have not been invited.  People say it is haunted. Now maybe it’s just that the spirits can’t rest because too many thrill seekers tromp back there?

This house is in Uwchlan Township.

When I asked Lee Wisdom who contacted me about the house about the grave stones this is what she said:

They are not graves but markers. No one is sure why they were there. I think they could have been grave stones for a burial on the property and when the land was developed they were moved. Another person I talked to had another theory but now I can’t remember what it was! So no one buried under those that we know of. They were placed like stones for a path, so no room for a grave.

So when people run out here to photograph and ghost video this house, perhaps some of these things might start reverting to facts versus urban legend.

As per what I found on the University of Pennsylvania online archives:

Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the 17th and 18th centuries, the area now known as Uwchlan Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania was occupied by the Leni-Lenape (Delaware) and Iroquoian-speaking Susquehanuck peoples. The first Europeans in the area were Swedish explorers in 1637-1638, although the first permanent settlement was not established until the 1700s.

Welsh Quakers were the main group to settle in Uwchlan, requesting their own meeting in 1712, which is the same year that Uwchlan Township was founded. An additional tract was added to the eastern portion of the township in 1726, likely at the behest of prominent resident and large landholder David Lloyd. In 1858 the upper part of Uwchlan Township split from Uwchlan to form Upper Uwchlan Township.

Uwchlan was a primarily rural farming community until World War II, when post-war suburbanization resulted in rapid development. The population increased has increased dramatically from about 500 in 1920 to over 6,000 in the 1970s and upwards of 18,000 at the beginning of the 21st century.

Lee Wisdom is one of the volunteers on the Uwchlan Historic Commission. (They can be found HERE on their township website  and also HERE on their super fun Facebook page.)  With regard to this house she tells me:

The Merediths lived here before they moved to Taylor Rd . It was called Richmere Farm by them. They are my step family. I think the progression was Whelen, Ferrell, Meredith (not sure if there were owners in between).

The headstones in protective custody were those of the Ferrells. Where they were located and rescued from are not believed to be where they may have been  buried. I don’t know where theses graves truly are, and whatever they succumbed to all in a similar time frame was likely a disease, or an influenza. Not witchcraft.

This property is kept after by whomever owns the property.  Some commercial real estate concern is my guess.  They keep boarding it up when people break in and they keep grass cut.  If I had the opportunity to go back there with the Uwchlan Historic Commission I would.  I would love to photograph back there. But even though I know where it is, it is a far different situation than the farmhouse at Main Street at Exton which is out in completely plain view.

It disturbs me that people seem to think they can graffiti tag these old properties. And I think the profanities routinely tagged here add to the property’s spooky reputation.  Is the property REALLY haunted?  Well the place is what? 200 years old give or take? It has seen a lot of life, and death.

I would love to know more about the families who lived here, so if you know please comment.

Now enjoy a whole slew of photos courtesy of Lee Wisdom:

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A post script to this post which may finally debunk the four buried witches urban legend and the curse of everyone dying at once comes from one of the local genealogy buffs that send in information from time to time named Tina. She messaged me this morning the following:

Hi
I just did a quick search. I think someone bought a new stone for the Farrells. They are in Fairview Cemetery. Also Jesse’s daughter Mary A married a Richard Meredith.

So now we know how it came to be a Meredith farm,right? And Fairview Cemetery is where? Coatesville?