AWESOME! conservation easement placed on dr. barnes’ ker-feal!

Dr. Barnes’s country home, Ker-Feal, was featured on the December 1942 cover of House & Garden Magazine; Dr. Barnes and Barnes foundation instructor Violette de Mazia also wrote articles in the issue. This image right here specifically in my post is from the magazine copy which I purchased.

On March 26, 2018 I wrote a post about Ker-Feal. The country home of Dr. Albert Barnes on 1081 Bodine Road off Yellow Springs Road in West Pikeland Township, Chester County. (And before people start to holler, I found the exact address on the Internet. It’s not a secret.)  It also houses a Barnes art collection. His American Art collection.

Today I learned that my favorite land conservation white hats, Natural Lands, has a conservation easement now on the property.

Now I will be honest, as per the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Stephen Salisbury, this agreement is creating four preserved parcels.

Ker-Feal August 1942. Library of Congress photo 

This broke in the Philadelphia Inquirer May 10th, and sadly I missed the news of this until I received an email from Natural Lands.

Open space restrictions will keep Barnes Foundation Chester County estate free from development
Updated: MAY 10, 2018 — 3:25 PM EDT

by Stephan Salisbury, Staff Writer @spsalisbury | ssalisbury@phillynews.com

Ker-Feal, the 137-acre Chester County property used by art collector Albert C. Barnes as a country retreat, and owned since his 1951 death by the Barnes Foundation, will have conservation easements placed on it, keeping the land open even if it is sold.

Although there are no plans to sell the property, which is in West Pikeland Township, the Barnes Foundation has worked with Natural Lands, a land conservancy based in Media, to work out an arrangement that allows for subdivision of the property into four permanently protected parcels.

Thomas Collins, head of the Barnes, said in a statement Wednesday that the purpose of the easement was to “preserve the open space and rural character of Ker-Feal in perpetuity.”

….In October, Natural Lands and the Barnes applied to West Pikeland for permission to subdivide Ker-Feal into the four parcels….In addition to the open-land restrictions, the agreement formalizes and protects the route of the Horse-Shoe Trail, a horseback riding and hiking trail that runs through Ker-Feal and on toward Harrisburg.

 

Image result for ker feal

Also part of the U.S. Library of Congress’s Gottscho-Schleisner Collection (Library of Congress). August 1942.

What the article and conservation easement do NOT cover as per my understanding of the article, is what happens to the art collection housed there.

I found photos of Ker-Feal on the Library of Congress website.

So anyway, I wanted to share this update because it is preservation progress. At least it appears the Barnes Foundation is NOT interested in selling at this point.  But since they broke Dr. Barnes’ Trust, who knows what the future might hold, right?

The house should be a museum in it’s own right.

But safe for now is a win, and I am happy about the news.

the jenny lind house in historic yellow springs needs love (and a new lease on life)

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The Jenny Lind House, former home of Yellow Springs Inn looking forlorn May, 2018

A few years ago I remarked on what I thought would be the demise of the Yellow Springs Inn. It resulted in a flurry of breast beating (which can still be found on their old/existing website.)

I was off by a couple/few years but above is the Jenny Lind House as of this week. I went out to the Yellow Springs Art Show (truly amazing this year by the way, and runs through May 13th), and was honestly sad to see the sad down trodden Jenny Lind House.  It was a far cry from this photo I took a few short years ago:

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What happened? I guess the restaurant left given the deed/document thing I found on Chester County’s real estate site (2017 Deed Transfer).

But that is not ALL happening there.  Whomever owns it now seems to have had a stop work order issued on them. I kid you not:

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Sorry, not the best photos. A lot of sun glare when photos were taken.  So who is REO Acquisitions, LLC and what are they up to? The letter sent out by West Pikeland in April was sent to these REO Acquisitions c/o FCI Lender Services of Anaheim, CA.

PT Barnum Poster off of Wikipedia Commons

So what the heck were they doing to Jenny Lind house???

Now according to Historic Yellow Springs “Mrs. Holman, the retiring owner of the Yellow Springs Spa property, built the Jenny Lind House in the early 1840’s as a boarding house – it has eight bedrooms!”

How it go the nickname Jenny Lind House is history has it that she stayed in Yellow Springs during the Philadelphia portion of her P. T. Barnum-sponsored concert tour in 1850.  (Yellow Springs Catering Website)

Historic Yellow Springs Inc.,   is on the National Register of Historic Places. They can’t just do anything random to the Jenny Lind House! And this place deserves preservation!!

So here are a bunch of my photos from Jenny Lind’s Yellow Springs Inn days:

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Here are some sad photos taken this week:

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So look, anyone interested in giving the old gal some help? I have absolutely NO idea who these REO Acquisitions people are mentioned in the legal letter plastered to the door. But my guess is whomever they are, they are across the country and this is just some thing they own the paper on, right?  So my guess is West Pikeland Township and Historic Yellow Springs and the residents of the village would love to see this building in use.  I know I would. It is a lovely restaurant space, so it could be once again. Or a cafe. Or a cafe and  Air B and B (it still has a slew of bedrooms, right??)

Now it can be done because the house next door was quite derelict until the Halys bought it, and now it is a totally charming rental house for vacations, etc (Wm Haly House see VRBO). This is how Haly house looked  in 2012 or 2013 when I took this photo (before they purchased the property):

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Compare with this CURRENT photo courtesy of W.M. Haly House Facebook page:

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So how about that??? It IS possible!! W.M. Haly House is proof positive that people do want to restore historic homes! It’s awesome!

So how about it Chester County? Know anyone who would be perfect for the Jenny Lind House?  Wouldn’t it be great to have a little cafe of something with Air B and B above? Or a complete renovation into a Bed and Breakfast Inn complete with dining that would hearken back to the days of when it was a boarding house?

Check out what Schuylkill River Greenways has to say about the village:

The history of Yellow Springs Village spans nearly 300 years. The Native Lenape first attributed the name, “Yellow Springs” because of the natural mineral springs that flow through the area into Pickering Creek.

In the 18th century, Yellow Springs was a fashionable spa village that attracted visitors who sought healing waters and social interaction. During the American Revolution, George Washington commissioned a hospital to be built in the village, the first military hospital in the nation’s history. Washington himself visited on numerous occasions. 

Following the war, the village returned to a spa town during the early 19th century.

From 1868 to 1912, Yellow Springs was home to the Chester Springs Soldiers’ Orphans School for children of Civil War Soldiers. From 1916 to 1952, the village served as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Country School. 

From 1952 until 1974 the village was the headquarters of Good News Productions, a film studio in Yellow Springs that created over 400 films including the sci-fi original The Blob. From 1974 on, Historic Yellow Springs, Inc. has preserved many of these original structures and educates visitors about our unique past. 

For greater depth into the village history, visit the Historic Yellow Springs/Chester Springs Studio website.  They have all sorts of cool stuff to check out.

If you are interested in Jenny Lind House, I would say a safe place to start your inquiries would be West Pikeland Township. Their phone number is (610) 590-5300.

Here is how to reach all of their Supervisors:

Charlie Humphreys, Chair
chumphreys@westpikeland.com

Pamela Conti, Vice Chair
pconti@westpikeland.com

Noreen Vigilante, Supervisor
nvigilante@westpikeland.com

Richard Bright, Jr., Supervisor
rbright@westpikeland.com
Ernie Holling, Supervisor
eholling@westpikeland.com

 

 

is chester county’s ker-feal at risk?

Dr. Barnes’s country home, Ker-Feal, was featured on the December 1942 cover of House & Garden Magazine; Dr. Barnes and Barnes foundation instructor Violette de Mazia also wrote articles in the issue. This image right here specifically in my post is from the eBay listing for the magazine copy which I purchased.

Ker-Feal. The country home of Dr. Albert Barnes on 1081 Bodine Road off Yellow Springs Road in West Pikeland Township, Chester County. (And before people start to holler, I found the exact address on the Internet. It’s not a secret.)  It also houses a Barnes art collection. His American Art collection. And after what I read today in The Philadelphia Inquirer, I have to ask, is it at risk?

Barnes Foundation says St. Joe’s lease deal does not mean sales are in the works
Updated: MARCH 19, 2018 — 5:39 PM EDT

by Stephan Salisbury, Staff Writer @spsalisbury | ssalisbury@phillynews.com

….“Selling Merion is expressly disallowed” by the foundation’s charter documents, said Barnes president and chief executive Thomas Collins.

…..Joseph Neubauer, chair of the Barnes board of trustees, could not be reached for comment. No other board member would comment on future plans for Merion or Ker-Feal. A Barnes spokewoman said, “The board felt they don’t have anything to add to the information we’ve already shared with you.”

….“What I’d like to do is get through this assessment project and figure out what we have at Ker-Feal,” said Collins. “There’s no art there. It’s very different from the program that we offer here. So the question is … what pieces of that do we want to present? How do we present them? What kind of resources are there, and what can we do with them in terms of public access?”

 

But there IS art at Ker-Feal, isn’t there? It is filled with Pennsylvania German/Pennsylvania Dutch folk art and such, isn’t it? Ker-Feal houses an American Collection, yes?  I guess the Barnes people today do not consider folk art/American art, art? What about the property?  At one time did people not say you could have an arboretum to rival Longwood?

Ker-Feal has been on the National Register of Historic Places since November 7, 2003.

It (as I have said and as I have read) houses an amazing art collection on its own. It’s 137 pristine acres. You do the math with greedy developers in Chester County as to what that could become, right?

This is something else the people who care about Chester County, folk art, architectural heritage, and open space need to be aware of and NOW.  If I had not read that Inquirer article (and been led to said aforementioned article by Vista Today) I would not have thought of Ker-Feal again.  Not unusual, most people forget it exists. Because The Barnes does nothing with it.

This was Dr. Barnes’ weekend and I presume guest retreat. It had been mentioned in his will and was supposed to be conserved and preserved but  can you trust The Barnes Foundation ?  Do we not remember all of the coverage of the breaking of the will and fighting with all of the neighbors? (Cue The Art of the Steal.)

As NPR wrote at the time:

What happened, in the film’s telling, is a plot hatched in the mid-’90s by local politicians and power brokers to break Barnes’ trust and move his collection to downtown Philadelphia, where they hope it will be a major tourist draw. In the film, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell calls the move a “no-brainer.”

“There isn’t a couple in the U.S., or Europe, or Asia who’s interested in arts and culture, who wouldn’t come to Philadelphia for at least a long weekend” — if only the Barnes collection came to the city, Rendell says.

“It’s fair to say there was a vast conspiracy to move the Barnes,” says author John Anderson.

Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight describes the move as a takeover:

“Foundations are nonprofit corporations,” Knight says. “We’re used to hearing about corporate takeovers with for-profit corporations. But this was a nonprofit corporate takeover.”

Another interesting story about this property, is in 2017, someone I know ended up going down the driveway of Ker-Feal.  I do not know how she ended up going down the driveway, it is easy to get lost where Ker-Feal is located.

As they were trying to get out of there, they were chased by a scary man who apparently is not a caretaker yet who sees the property as his own. This person I knew has a small child with her. No one has any idea who the man was.  The woman told me and I told her to call the Barnes Foundation so they knew, and she did.

Except for those who know the property is there it is mostly forgotten. And my biggest fear is The Barnes Foundation is going to sell this parcel off  and break up Dr. Barnes’ OTHER art collection. This land parcel could end up with a developer, couldn’t it?

I would love to photograph this property before anything else happens, but who the heck knows how you get permission to do that or if it safe given the woman I know’s experience in 2017.

On Wikemedia Commons, I found another image with a caption:

Ker Feal Chesco PA.JPG

Gatepost of “Ker-Feal” a house on the NRHP since November 7, 2003, at 1081 Bodine Road, Chester Springs, in West Pikeland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Ker-Feal was a home of Albert Barnes, medical-pharma businessman, and founder of the Barnes Foundation. This rotten picture is all I could get because of no-trespassing restrictions.  Photo credit Smallbones 2011 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ker_Feal_Chesco_PA.JPG 

 

 

The Library of Congress has a marvelous collection of old photos of Ker-Feal. I also found the images on a site called picryl which says there are no restrictions, so here are a couple of photos:

                                            

dr as barnes ker feal residence in chester springs pennsylvania entrance facade

 

There was an extremely illuminating article in Main Line Today Magazine in 2007 about Ker-Fea (I can only post an excerpt so read every word on their website):

FRONTLINE: Neighborhood
Keeping Tabs on Ker-Feal
Barnes’ Chester Springs estate could be lost in the multibillion-dollar shuffle
BY J.F. PIRRO

To listen to Kimberly Camp tell the story, it’s all too reminiscent of the opening scene in the movie Titanic. A refined, elderly lady is holding a treasure, a model she once constructed of Ker-Feal, the rural Chester County estate of Dr. Albert C. Barnes. Found in a closet there, it sparks million-dollar memories as she offers a priceless oral history in exchange for the right to celebrate her 90th birthday inside the 18th-century farmhouse….Yet Ker-Feal may be the real—if remote—gem that gets lost in the bitter dispute. Built in 1775, it sits on 137 prime open acres along Bodine Road off Yellow Springs Road in Chester Springs. 

….Barnes filled Ker-Feal with rare American decorative arts….The botanical garden was developed by his wife, Laura Barnes, who died in 1967.

“The Impressionist collection is so seductive, it’s very easy to ignore his American collection,” says Camp…in November 1998, its board of trustees was unaware Barnes had specifically addressed Ker-Feal in his will. In fact, in the 1 1/2-page document that’s separate from the foundation’s charter or trust, Barnes made Ker-Feal and its contents part of his more heralded collection, and stipulated that the estate be turned into “a living museum of art and a botanical garden,” says Camp.

That uncovered, Camp converted four convergent grants in 2001, including $200,000 from West Pikeland Township, to stabilize and safeguard Ker-Feal. …. By late 2003, Ker-Feal was added to the National Register of Historic Places….In 2006, another Camp-initiated grant arrived from the state totaling $40,000, for grounds and green stock assessment. …The value of the 9,000 catalogued and databased pieces—which includes those at the gallery and Ker-Feal—is incalculable. Some estimates place it between $25 and $70 billion……At Ker-Feal, based upon a comparison of inventories over time, Camp says some—a number “less than 100”—of the 2,000 decorative items have already been stolen. Worse yet, they were actually strategically replaced with reproductions….

…..“It’s such a wonderful place,” Camp says. “In a way, it has more aesthetic and cultural integrity than the gallery, but it’s such a small snapshot compared to what’s at Merion.”….But Camp says that when she arrived, she was point-blank instructed to prepare Ker-Feal, the estate and its contents, for liquidation to help fund operations at Merion. “When I went out there, I said, ‘You can’t sell this. You’ve got to be kidding me!’ Camp remembers…..

In my humble opinion, this latest article in The Philadelphia Inquirer signals that Ker-Feal could really be at risk, and can’t you agree?  They have never really dealt with the property, and if it had not been for that Kimberly Camp, it would not have had anything done and mold and whatnot would have taken over.

I picture Ker-Feal like a beautiful time capsule.  I am certain the Barnes Foundation could save it and preserve it and open it up for tours or what not if the want to. But do they want to?

So Chester County, how do you feel about Ker-Feal? I think it is worth saving, don’t you?

Here are some other articles I found on Ker-Feal:

Philadelphia Business Journal: Barnes’ Ker-Feal country estate gets infusion

By Peter Van Allen
Feb 4, 2002, 12:00am

Life is never dull at the Barnes Foundation: Financial problems, battles with Lower Merion Township, board in-fighting, territorial neighbors.

In short, in three years as executive director of the world-famous-yet-notoriously private Barnes, Kimberly Camp has seen it all. With a $7 billion collection featuring work of Cezanne, Picasso, Renior, Van Gogh and Matisse, there’s a lot to fight over.

Camp, who has been tireless in invigorating the Barnes as an educational center for students and scholars, is now devoting energy to another campaign: turning the country estate of Dr. Albert Barnes in Chester County into a learning center.

Though it’s been strapped for cash, the Barnes Foundation has invested $7 million in the historic home, which Dr. Barnes bought in 1941…

Built in 1775, Ker-Feal, which sits on 137 acres, was always a country getaway for Barnes, never a primary residence. Yet Barnes filled it with goods nonetheless — Pennsylvania Dutch blanket chests, elaborate metal work, paintings and pottery.

The mildew was ruining the items, and the building needed a climate-control system, security, updated electric and costly mold remediation on the building and individual pieces — all 2,000 of them.

 

Daily Local News: Fund-raiser benefits Ker-Feal estate
By Jason Kotowski 3/28/2004

The West Pikeland Land Trust is holding the fund-raiser, said Chairwoman Eileen Juico, because the estate, which belonged to the late Albert Barnes, is one of the largest remaining pieces of open space in West Pikeland and houses a collection of 18th- and early 19th-century American decorative arts.

The Barnes Foundation, which owns the estate, has had financial difficulties in recent years and has proposed moving its gallery and art education program from Lower Merion to Philadelphia. But the foundation has received criticism for the proposal because the move would violate Barnes’ will.

Judge Stanley Ott has instructed Barnes officials to find out how much money could be raised through the sale of the estate instead of moving to Center City. The case will resume this summer.

Kimberly Camp, executive director of the Barnes Foundation, has said it often receives offers for the property, some as high as $12 million….

Ker-Feal is Breton Gaelic for “Fidel’s house,” in honor of Dr. Barnes’ dog, Fidel. Barnes died in 1951.

The artwork collected at Ker-Feal consists of antique furniture from many regions of colonial America, Pennsylvania Dutch painted blanket chests, pewter, glass, wrought iron hinges and ceramics — redware, spongeware and English “Gaudy Dutch.” Ker-Feal is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Philadelphia Inquirer: Sizing up the plants at Barnes’ old place
Updated: MAY 2, 2008 — 3:01 AM EDT

by Virginia A. Smith, Inquirer Staff Writer vsmith@phillynews.com

A walk in the woods with Ernie Schuyler is like no other…

Schuyler, curator emeritus of botany at the Academy of Natural Sciences, prefers “Ernie” to his given name, Alfred…..Which is where you’ll find him these days: down to earth, literally, walking the grounds at Ker-Feal, the 138-acre retreat in Chester Springs that belonged to the late Albert and Laura Barnes….At the behest of the Barnes Foundation, Schuyler is doing a plant inventory at this once showy estate, which has lain fallow since Albert Barnes’ death on July 24, 1951…..

Four overgrown terraces barely hint of their magazine-quality gardens back in the day. Once-smooth lawns are tufted with dandelions. And the surrounding forest is so choked with invasive plants that much of the native flora is being squeezed out.

A caretaker lives atop the garage, in view of the 1775 fieldstone farmhouse, which is shuttered tight. The house still holds Albert Barnes’ collection of more than 2,000 pieces of early American decorative art and furniture, a fascination he once suggested derived from his Pennsylvania Dutch grandmother…..Imagine Albert on the porch, Fidèle at his feet, chatting with British actor Charles Laughton or philosopher John Dewey. Both were such frequent guests at Ker-Feal, they had their own bedrooms.

Imagine Laura’s summer terraces ablaze with roses, the botanical garden she fashioned from a quartz quarry and her unusual hand-picked trees and shrubs. She also had an orchard, a bamboo grove, a heath garden and a blueberry patch, of which little survives.

Today, in a place that once hosted classes in horticulture, botany and plant geography, Schuyler has cataloged 400 plant species and identified about 80 percent of them. 

 

I am a gardener.  I love Pennsylvania Folk Art and had a Pennsylvania German grandmother. To me this sounds like heaven inside and out. Huffington Post contributing writer Lee Rosenbaum wrote about Barnes and mentioned Ker-Feal in 2012.

In the book  Lost in the Museum: Buried Treasures and the Stories They Tell By Nancy Moses (preview on Google HERE)  there is an entire chapter on Ker-Feal

 

 

The above is but a tiny excerpt of the very in depth chapter on Ker-Feal in Lost in the Museum: Buried Treasures and the Stories They Tell By Nancy Moses.  You can pick up a used copy of the book inexpensively on Amazon . I actually found a copy that was hardbound for $5.50 on al libris.  (And if you are a person with a lot of books and need to sell some, you can sell them easily on al libris too.) Halfprice Books is also a good place to search for books, but I digress.

Because Barnes never really had time to do anything with Ker-Feal before his death a lot of this is still the great unknown, with the farmhouse in West Pikeland existing like a giant time capsule with once glorious gardens disappearing under brush and weeds. It is mentioned in other books like Art Held Hostage: The Battle over the Barnes Collection by John Anderson (2013), and some 2013 photos appeared on blog by Kellygreen  who apparently is (or was) a Barnes horticultural student:

Also, if you are wondering about the Barnes of it all and the famous 2004 court case, I found a copy of Ott’s Barnes Opinion on a Maryland Law web page.   I downloaded it, and have uploaded it to this blog for those who wish to peruse it. (Barnes opinion December 2004 ) Ker-Feal is discussed in this judicial opinion. (begins on page 4 and the discussion over appraisals of the Ker-Feal land is very interesting. And also see Friends of the Barnes website as well as this other thing on barneswatch.org.)

There was also a mention of Ker-Feal in a Patch article in 2017 having top do with Schuylkill River Heritage Area Awards grants. And found a student thesis from 2005. And a mention in ArtNet news recently.

So, that is all I have got.  It’s one of the great mysteries unless you have been there.  But wouldn’t it be great if it could survive and the gardens get restored and be able to see the folk art collections publicly?

Thanks for stopping by.

Ker-Feal, West Pikeland Township, Chester County, Pa

Image discovered on Pinterest. Date unknown. https://www.pinterest.dk/pin/270427152597517279/

historic demolition by neglect?

yellow springs 2I was astounded that when I went to the village of Historic Yellow Springs for dinner at the amazing Yellow Springs Inn over the weekend that Historic Yellow Springs or whomever owns  Vaughn House has not done a blessed thing yet as far as saving this historic structure. I mean it has been years at this point.

There  stood Vaughn House last Saturday evening like a ghetto shell of its former self. I had not been to the village since early fall, and would have thought by now that something other than demolition by neglect would have been happening.

yellow springs 1And yes, I understand some of my readers take *issue* with me mentioning the deteriorating, run down Vaughn house when I talk about fabulous dining experiences at Yellow Springs Inn.  The truth is I do it on purpose.  Historic Yellow Springs in my opinion neither respects nor appreciates the treasure that is Yellow Springs Inn and I find them extremely hypocritical at this point because if a private citizen owned Vaughn House I have no doubt everyone would be on them like white on rice to do repairs….yet what is happening?  Vaughn House continues to rot. I can’t help but wonder if it is salvageable at all at this point.

Vaughn House should not be allowed to continue to rot and moulder.  It brings down property values of everything around it in its current state of disrepair it also might be dangerous as a structure. It is criminal that it is being allowed to rot like this. Have they even had a structural engineer do an assessment?

I really do hate to criticize Historic Yellow Springs but sometimes I can’t help but wonder if they squander  the breathtaking beauty and charm that is this historic village? It’s not just all about the art studio and I think for all the effort they put into the studio and promoting the studio and promoting events at the studio that they could hold a fundraiser or something to raise the roof back up on Vaughn House and repair it before it falls in on itself.yellow springs 3

Historic Yellow Springs needs to decide what they want to do one way or the other. If they want to repair Vaughn House they need to get busy.  If they need to admit that perhaps the structure is too far gone at this point, that is something else they need to decide.  Otherwise what it eventually going to happen is West Pikeland might decide for them.  Of course if they are passively aggressively hoping for that, they could just be honest about it.

Historic Yellow Springs is a village of beauty and history.  Like many other non-profit places of historic import it apparently also has lots of problems doesn’t it?

Pity that.

Here’s hoping they have an epiphany sooner rather than later.  They can’t recreate the specialness, so why not get back to preserving it?

if stepford were a real place, is this is what it would look like?

Chester County residents, do you want the entire county to look like this?  Didn’t some of you move out here to escape this in the first place? Can you now shudder at what that old DuPont Estate will look like?  Can you imagine what that next  Appledumb, Mountainfake, Potters Field, and Byers Remorse will look like? (Can’t keep track of all the municipalities and doofy names of developments or developers so pardon the comedic license.)

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historic yellow springs…additional thoughts

I wrote a post recently about Historic Yellow Springs Village looking like a dust bowl run down ghost town.

I keep receiving comments.  Like for example:

You ask  the questions that many  wonder about.  Join the HYS Board, and continue to ask these good questions. They need you.

Uhh no.  My role is one of provocateur.  I am someone who admires the village.  So I blogged about it. I photographed it. I visit it.  The village has a board that should be doing more and can do more.  If they are unwilling to do so, they should move on.  But to be on the board of Historic Yellow Springs I would have to have the time to commit and  the coin to donate in the degree they need in that village desperately.  I do not right now, plus I also have not decided where exactly I want to volunteer in Chester County.   And if you want to consider thinking about this in a different way, my taking the time to write about the plight of Historic Yellow Springs Village and photograph it  is like volunteer work.

Now I did have a nice exchange back and forth with the new-ish Executive Director Eileen McMonagle.  She has the heart and the smarts but she is not an island of one.

One thing she wrote to me, I would like to share:

I read that you feel  the village is falling apart.  Sadly many of the historic sites in our area are struggling because there is no funding on the federal, state or local level.  HYS however has been blessed with a great group of volunteers and members who are working hard to turn the village around. As with all major projects, everything cannot be done at once.

 

I still say her board needs to step up.  I also think they need to cross pollinate with other preservation boards, and consider the other amazing people they have living close if not in  the Historic Village of Yellow Springs who want to see the village survive and thrive.  As in Chester Springs people.  Maybe they aren’t people who have been there for decades or centuries, but sometimes you need fresh blood.  And I can think of a few people right off the bat.  But it is not my job to find people to help this board and village.  They have the tools and creativity to do it themselves.

And they have a very cool art show starting August 2nd that runs through August 31st.  It is a weekend thing or by appointment during the week:

Historic Yellow Springs Presents :

The Lost Generation of Pennsylvania Impressionists

 

When: August 2nd through August 31st 2012

Where: First Floor Lincoln Galleries, Historic Yellow Springs, Chester Springs, PA

Open: Opening Thursday August 2nd at 5:30 as part of Chester County’s Town Tour.  Gallery is open weekends Saturday 10-4 and Sunday 12-4.  Weekdays open by request.

Cost: FREE

Historic Yellow Springs (HYS) will be hosting a diverse collection of work by talented students who attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) Country School from 1917 to 1952.  The PAFA Country School is now the village of Historic Yellow Springs, Chester Springs, PA.

The beautiful landscape of Yellow Springs prompted then PAFA president John Fredrick Lewis to open a summer school for artists at the turn of the last century. The Country School provided the much needed en plein air (in the open air) style of art training to these already accomplished Academy artists. The foundation of the PAFA Country School’s teaching philosophy was the 19th century French Impressionist movement. The magnificent grounds and scenery of the Country School attracted some of the area’s best art instructors and students, including Daniel Garber, N.C, Wyeth, Albert Laessle, Roswell Weidner and Albert Van Nesse Greene. In addition to landscapes, Country School artists were educated in portraiture and sculpture.

The artwork is from Historic Yellow Springs’ own archives and various private collections. Many have not been seen in over a decade.  The collection of artwork features work by well known artists who attended the Country School such as Darce Boulton, Lucus Crowell, Albert Van Nesse Greene, Roy C. Nuse, Francis Speight, Dorcas Kunzie Weidner, Roswell Weidner and Paul Wescott.  A number of the works were saved from destruction by Country School instructors Dorcas Kunzie Weidner and Roswell Weidner.

About Historic Yellow Springs: Historic Yellow Springs (HYS) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1974 and dedicated to the visual arts, the environment, and the village’s  300-year old history. The mission of Historic Yellow Springs is to share, preserve, and celebrate the unique living village of Yellow Springs. Focusing on the visual arts, history and the environment, HYS enriches the lives of all who come here.

 

And if you know anyone on the board of Historic Yellow Springs get them to get those trails in order.  Those springs made the village, and people still want to see them! And right now you really can’t.  Things are too overgrown.

 

the historic village of yellow springs is falling apart.

I do not want to upset anyone. Or deliberately offend any volunteers.  But Historic Yellow Springs Village is falling apart. And there was a lot of activity not so many years ago.  I know Congressman Jim Gerlach got money for the village around 2009. And he honored the village around then too.

Not to be blunt, but WHAT HAPPENED?

Take for example, what is known as “Vaughn House”.  It is at the end of the village right before the West Pikeland Township Building.

It had a fire at least two years ago.  I have been digging around on the Internet and in 2009 I found a reference in some West Pikeland report:

K.  H istoric Yellow Springs Vaughn House – Mrs. Matthews reportedthat the Township has not received a response from Historic Yellow  Springs regarding the current status of repairs needed to the  abandoned Vaughn House. A discussion ensued regarding the need   to have the property secured by fencing to assure public safety.

Maurie Kring offered to allow Historic Yellow Springs to use fencing from his recent demolition. The Township Public Works  employee will transport the fence for Historic Yellow Springs.

Then I saw this report which mentions it:

February 12, 2010.

1.Mr. Ross stated he has spoken to Prudence Haines, Director of Historic Yellow Springs in regards to the fire damaged Vaughn House. Ms. Haines informed Mr. Ross that Historic Yellow Springs has secured the facility and does not have funds for maintenance and repair and would consider selling the property.

Then I find another reference from June of this year, 2012:

PERSONS WISHING TO BE HEARD

Barbara Miller of Art School Road stated that she has observed two properties damaged by fire; one being the Vaughn House owned by Historic Yellow Springs and the other a private home located in the eastern most portion of the village. Ms. Miller stated that the properties are blighted and are unattractive and asked if they were going to be repaired. The Board informed Ms. Miller that the private home has been sold and is plans are presently being made for renovation. Eileen McMonagle of Historic Yellow Springs was present and stated that Historic Yellow Springs is currently working on a solution to restore the property.

I dug a little more and this is what Historic Yellow Springs has to say on it’s website today even as Vaughn house is all boarded up and half covered by tarps:

Connie’s, Vaughn, Jenny Lind, and Yeaworth Houses

Connie’s House dates to the late 1800’s and was originally a post office and general store. It is now owned by the Chester Springs Studio and is used for exhibitions and artists’ residencies. The building was given to the Studio by Yellow Springs Founder Connie Fraley, hence the affectionate name. The Vaughn House, named for its last resident, is a charming small farmhouse built in the 1830’s. Historic Yellow Springs completely restored the house in 1989 and it serves as a tenant residence.

Mrs. Holman, the retiring owner of the Yellow Springs Spa property, built the Jenny Lind House in the early 1840’s as a boarding house – it has eight bedrooms!

The Yeaworth House, also named for its last resident, was built in 1899 as an infirmary for the Soldiers’ Orphans School. It was converted to a residence in the 1950’s, extensively renovated in 1987-88, and now serves as another tenant residence.

The English actress Fanny Kemble describing her visit to Yellow Springs during July 1843 in her book Records of Later Life, 1882:

“This morning the children took me up a hill which rises immediately at the back of the house (the Jenny Lind House), on the summit of which is a fine crest of beautiful forest trees, from which place there is a charming prospect of hill and dale, a rich rolling country in fine cultivation – the yellow crops of grain, running like golden bays in the green woodland that clothes the sides and tops of all the hills, the wheat, the grass, the variegated patchwork covering of the prosperous summer earth.”

Vaughn House is no charming tenant property now.  I took a good look at it on Sunday.  It is a wreck after a fire, and how embarrassing that Historic Yellow Springs can’t be honest about it.

I dug around and was told Historic Yellow Springs  did collect insurance post-fire,but it was not enough to effect historic preservation repairs.   Given the June 2012 meeting minutes I quoted above, I would say they are in a fair pickle when it comes to this property.

Someone I know who looked at the house recently said it was not beyond redemption but would be soon if they did not get busy.

The irony is everyone knows there is some serious money in and around Yellow Springs, so why can’t some of those people rescue this house and preserve it?  What happened was a tenant fire, I am unsure of the timeline, but I noticed on West Pikeland’s website a last name that is the same as that general store, or Harold M. Hallman III.   From what I have been told years ago, this family has been around forever and own a lot of land?  Couldn’t a family like this help Historic Yellow Springs?

See this is what I do not get about this place: those who can’t don’t.

Yellow Springs has an amazing history and still has three mineral springs: magnesium, sulphur, and iron.  The whole village grew up around the medicinal value of these springs. There are references to them in Colonial Times and Washington hung out there…and they can prove it.  People used to travel up the Schuylkill by packet boat from Philadelphia to Pottstown/Phoenixville and then by coach to the Inn for taking the waters in the springs.

On their website, the iron spring gazebo is in a field neatly cut.  It is practically drowned by brush and rushes right now.  There used to be these amazing walking trails that you could take to check out the springs.  I could not see any of the trails this weekend, as things are that overgrown.

I totally get Historic  Yellow Springs  currently seems to be  swinging toward a more public revenue stream with using the village for  weddings, rentals,  and sponsored events. I have done enough work with small non-profits to know non-profit funding is there but grantors want specific results over the long-term.  However, when I say the place needs donor angels I am not kidding.  They are advertising the old inn “The Washington” as being event ready, and maybe it is o.k. but I have heard from people who inquired that you have to bring in a kitchen to do an event, there is no longer a kitchen. That adds significantly to what you have to rent.

This place is like a ghost town now.  The life comes from the restaurant in the Jenny Lind House, The Yellow Springs Inn.  But that is privately owned, and the care taken to do a restoration there is obvious.  So should Historic Yellow Springs consider selling some of the properties provided they can ensure they can, and will be preserved?

This is the list of HYS board members as per their website and if it is not current that is their issue:

Mark Ashton, President

Anne M. Congdon

Stephen P. Cottone

Polly Gable, Secretary

Karin E. Gedge

Rita Kaplan

William LaCoff, Vice President

Edward A. Meltzer, Treasurer

Terri Moran

Moira Mumma

Matthew E. Roberson

Brendan J. Sherman

Robert C.F. Willson

I do not know any of these people but is this board active?  Or are they a board that treats their non-profit as a private club?

Here is the staff list:

Heidi Brett, Arts Program Manager – 610-827-7414 ext. 16 hbrett@yellowsprings.org
Callie McGlone, Office and Events Manager – 610-827-7414 ext. 10   cmcglone@yellowsprings.org

Eileen McMonagle , Executive Director – 610-827-7414 ext. 14 emcmonagle@yellowsprings.org

Sandra S. Momyer, Moore Archivist – 610-827-7414 ext. 19 smomyer@yellowsprings.org

Diane Peterson, Business Manager – 610-827-7414 ext. 17       dpeterson@yellowsprings.org

John Shaw, Volunteer Coordinator jshaw@yellowsprings.org

I have been told the Executive Director is fairly new and very nice and really into preserving the historic village.  Maybe they need some new board members then?

The history from the springs, the Revolutionary War Hospital, the who artist colony history makes Yellow Springs cool.  But it does not matter how many volunteers it has if no movement is occurring.

They used to do so many events, and that has dwindled.  You need events to bring people to town, not just putting the event for rent sign out on the village.  Bring back the antiques show, for example.  That drew thousands to the village.

They could host re-enactment events.  There are tons of people who live to come to these things in correct period costume and share their knowledge of particular periods in United States History – I have seen it at places like Historic Goshenville.  I have seen it at various Civil War re-enactments.  Also things like Farmers’ Markets will draw people to a community – look no further than the markets we all go to every week in Chester County during growing seasons. Or flower shows.  Or old-fashioned things like quilt shows.  Open air antiques and crafts markets.  Partner with local farms for farm table dinners in the Village or haunted hay rides in the fall. People love those too. There are a lot of things that can be done, but the people controlling this historic village need to want to do things to better the lot of the village.

And what can the West Pikeland Township people do that is positive for the village to encourage and entice people to support the village.

I know so many areas that would kill to have history like this.   Don’t squander it Historic Yellow Springs.   People care about the village.  I watched a guy cutting really long grass just to make things look better.  I asked someone if he worked for the township.  The answer was no, he is just a resident who cares about the land.

Look at the historic homes inventory in and around Yellow Springs Village. (Mind you one thing I found interesting on that list was the 1083 Bodine Road owned by The Barnes Foundation.)

If Chester Springs is supposed to be one the most affluent sections of Chester County, then I wish some of them would wake up and see that Historic Yellow Springs gets a shove.

No one wants to write a donation check in this economy that is not going to be accounted for, I get that.  So what about targeted donations?  Or very specific fundraising efforts?  Like how much needs to be raised to restore Vaughn House?

What kind of special events (not just recurring ones)  can the board of Historic Yellow Springs bring to the Village?  If those people want to sit on the board then are they responsible for helping raise a certain dollar amount in donations?  Face it, this place needs not only an active board, but a proactive board.  And if these board members aren’t bringing in a certain amount of donations each year, or giving it themselves, they need that board freshened up a little more often.  Who can they partner with in neighboring communities or other areas of historic interest to raise awareness?

And the walking trails.  People love walking trails, especially when there is not only beauty, but a lot to look at.  And face it, those springs are still cool a couple of hundred years later!  But the trails seem to be lacking maintenance.  Why not invite boy scout troops from Chester County to adopt the trails as service projects?  Maybe let them camp once in a while  in one of the fields like the one being used for parking of studio vehicles.

O.k. rant over.  Sorry, but I think this is worth saving and the people in control do have the tools to do so.  Only I can’t figure out what they are waiting for.