One of my favorite magazines is Country Living. When I have time, I read it as soon as it hits my mailbox, cover to cover.
But it has been a busy few months, and the magazines ended up in a neat pile next to my reading chair in my bedroom on the footstool. Until today when I decided to dig into my overdue periodical reading pile.
Well guess what business and who are right there inside the September, 2022 issue of Country Living magazine? One of my favorite Chester County businesses and owner. Yup, Malvern’s own Life’s Patina and the creative dynamo behind everything , Meg Veno.
You know how much I love Life’s Patina because pretty much every time she has an event, you can find me there shopping and taking photos! And my husband gets me Life’s Patina gift certificates for Christmas.
Part of the reason I love Life’s Patina is it’s simply put, beautiful. Every time I visit. But it is also because of Meg and her team. They are seriously the nicest. And Meg is just positive and kind. In the chaos of today’s world, this makes a huge difference. Also? They make everything look so effortless and magical. You can’t help but get a good feeling every time she opens her barn!
Also worth mentioning is how lucky is Historic Yellow Springs Village and West Pikeland Township that Meg Veno and Life’s Patina are sprinkling their magic on the Jenny Lind house? They have stripped her back to the beginning and done an incredibly painstaking renovation that is almost there. I feel that her renovation,when finally completed, will bring new life and renewed energy to Historic Yellow Springs Village which it needs.
I mean seriously, how lucky is West Pikeland Township to have both Jeff Devlin and Meg Veno taking an interest and putting businesses that celebrate Chester County and her history right there in this small Chester County municipality? So lucky! Adaptive reuse of the best kind totally loaded with heart and talent and effort!
And the funny thing is I was one of the first people who suggested Jenny Lind to Meg when she was saying she wanted a new challenge.
I have however almost regretted suggesting Jenny Lind and Yellow Springs to her at times because of the duration of the renovation, the obstacles and challenges of truly restoring the Jenny Lind. However, the renovation has survived COVID and all that this time in the world and supply chain issues that every renovation everywhere has suffered. When the Merchantile & Cafe opens it will be truly amazing!
So to say I was thrilled when I saw one of my favorite magazines featuring one of my favorite businesses and business owners was an understatement…even if I am a few months late.
So Meg & Company, I am so terribly sorry I didn’t open my magazine sooner! So well done and deserved. Lots of places are inspired by what Meg creates at Life’s Patina. Make sure you check out one of their sales when you can!
So yesterday I did a thing. I went and checked out the new Sycamore & Stone on 401!
Jeff Devlin‘s new property is one I am familiar with, because I used to patronize the antique store that was once in this barn. I love this property and was sad when it went up for sale because I was afraid some developers would snatch up the property and the beautiful barns and house would disappear. However when Jeff announced he had purchased this property I was totally psyched because I knew it was going to be saved, preserved, and wonderful!
Along with the barn which has the store there will be other things available to do on this property including the house becoming a fabulous Airbnb.
I will note that both the Mercantile/Jenny Lind and Jeff’s Sycamore & Stone are both located in West Pikeland Township. West Pikeland is a treasure trove of amazing historic properties. I hope that Township realizes how fortunate and blessed they are that they have people willing to come in and do these amazing adaptive resources that are viable on historic properties.
Jeff’s store is a feast for the eyes and there is all sorts of fun stuff! It has a great Americana country vibe. It’s a lovely space and shoppers feel relaxed in it. It is almost like welcoming someone into a great big farmhouse and not just a hands down super amazing barn. I gravitate to places that are warm and welcoming. And their staff is equally warm and welcoming!
One of the things I liked best are the reproduction hog scraper candlesticks he has available for sale. I collect the actual vintage/antique variety, so these are a real favorite with me! If Jeff Devlin had a wish list for customers mine would be to carry hand dipped taper candles that fit into hog scrapers because that is the right shape for them!
I look forward to this property further coming back to life and it is such a joy to see the work occurring on it every time I drive by. Jeff is a quality craftsman, and such a nice guy so I am glad he found his spot here on this property. My only lament is I don’t have a super old farmhouse for him to help me restore!
Sycamore & Stone is located at 1251 Conestoga Road, Chester Springs, PA. Right now the hours are WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY 12PM-7PM, SATURDAY 10AM-7PM, SUNDAY 10AM-4PM.
I will note that I have not been compensated in any way, shape, or form to write this post. I’m merely visited the store and I am now a happy customer: I like to shop local and support the businesses of people I know.
Described as an enclave of “luxury” town homes, with views of an exclusive golf course anyone has yet to see how storm water runoff will affect and whose memberships are not exactly included with the purchase price of the townhouses. (Yes holy run on sentence Batman but I don’t know how else to say it.)
You see photos of rolling Chester County fields with nature, only there is no nature at Linden Hall. Only a crumbling historic carriage stop and inn that sits and rots unrestored, even though the original developer (Benson or whomever) who sold Pulte the townhouse land and approvals promised to restore but thus far has not. All that has happened is a version of construction fencing has been erected to surround it. (Maybe with black plastic fabric fencing around it we won’t notice the building rotting, right?)
This video says that this development is 3.5 miles from a Septa Station. I assume they mean Eston which already has parking issues? And you get to that station from congested route 100 right? Or you have to invent a space at Malvern station?
The video proclaims 4 miles from Main Street at Exton and 10 miles from the King of Prussia Mall because God forbid people support local, small businesses, right?
And my favorite, they tout the Great Valley “School System”. Of course no one ever talks about the effect a rampant increase in development has on a school district which eventually affects our taxes and our kids, do they? And before all the PTA cheerleaders gather up their pom poms against me, that is NOT a slam at the school district, that is a very grim reality which is inevitable.
But overall what bothers me the most is here is yet another developer touting our beautiful Chester County they are carving up into plastic houses one acre at a time. The site these townhouses are on once supported quite an ecosystem. Foxes and birds and rabbits and so on. I know the neighbors behind Linden Hall are very unhappy and worried how this development will affect their property values down the line.
The price points are not affordable for those who would need affordable housing. The quality is not so spectacular that the exteriors won’t wear quickly after a few Chester County winters. And the way they describe them, well you don’t realize if you are looking at a development essentially sitting on a highway. No matter what you do to them they are sitting on a major thoroughfare. And it’s not pretty.
Ok this brings me to the impetus behind this post:
….“The quality of the experience of being in Boulder, part of it has to do with being able to go to this meadow and it isn’t just littered with human beings,” said Steve Pomerance, a former city councilman who moved here from Connecticut in the 1960s….These days, you can find a Steve Pomerance in cities across the country — people who moved somewhere before it exploded and now worry that growth is killing the place they love.
….But a growing body of economic literature suggests that anti-growth sentiment, when multiplied across countless unheralded local development battles, is a major factor in creating a stagnant and less equal American economy….
Zoning restrictions have been around for decades but really took off during the 1960s, when the combination of inner-city race riots and “white flight” from cities led to heavily zoned suburbs…To most people, zoning and land-use regulations might conjure up little more than images of late-night City Council meetings full of gadflies and minutiae. But these laws go a long way toward determining some fundamental aspects of life: what American neighborhoods look like, who gets to live where and what schools their children attend.
And when zoning laws get out of hand, economists say, the damage to the American economy and society can be profound. Studies have shown that laws aimed at things like “maintaining neighborhood character” or limiting how many unrelated people can live together in the same house contribute to racial segregation and deeper class disparities. They also exacerbate inequality by restricting the housing supply in places where demand is greatest.
This article is written by someone who doesn’t get the realities of rampant development. Nor does the author mention the fact that a lot of these developments are built just to build, not because there is an actual need.
The author of this article of this article also does not get how these developers are actually contributing to what he seemingly despises. As in these developers are actually contributing to racial segregation and deeper class disparities. They are in fact limiting the housing supply by their very price points. How many families of multiple people and kids are going to look at condos for example that are studios and one bedrooms and if not rentals start at mid 500,000s? How many agricultural, factory, or service related workers are going to be able to afford Linden Hall or Atwater or so on or be encouraged to buy there?
And look at all the zoning together. That is developments in progress in one area, regardless of municipality, along with other development in various states of approval. A sleeper to watch for in East Whiteland would be that thing a developer named Farley got approved a while back, remember? A multi acre parcel that is accessed off a property on 352 that looks like a hoarding situation that goes up into woods and would be shoehorned in between Immaculata and the William Henry apartments for lack of a better description? So you have the increasing traffic nightmare on Route 30 by Linden Hall which will only get worse with completion of neighboring projects like off of Frame Ave and Planebrook Rd. Can you imagine adding this 352/Sproul to that? And the effect it will have potentially on King Road? Let alone what one more project so close together would have on the ecosystem of the area AND the school district!
See that is the problem with all these developments, developers, and the factual analysis this New York Times writer Conor Dougherty thinks he has done. The reality is we do NOT live in a bubble. We are connected. Developers envision and present these projects as stand alone things with no real time or effort put into the relationships between projects. It starts when you see the plans presented at a local municipal meeting.
These projects are depicted all by themselves with nothing around them, or nothing around them realistic to human or other scale. They do traffic studies when no one is around, they don’t really look at what a large uptick in population will do to anything from roads, to hospitals, to school,districts, to the environment. They do not care about us, they just want to build, get their money, and get out. So pardon the hell out of us Conor Dougherty if we want to preserve the character of where we live and do not want our school districts, property values, and our shrinking open space detrimentally affected. And his affordable housing argument doesn’t wash at least around here because they are not building affordable housing. These developers truthfully don’t give a rat’s fanny about actual affordable housing. None of this is about actually helping others, it’s about lining their pockets at the expense of many communities.
Chester County is at risk. I am not sure why Chester County even has a county planning department because everything getting built is about the dollars developers get from density. Our open space and communities and agricultural heritage are seriously at risk. That doesn’t anyone make sny person saying that some kind of NIMBY ….it is the truth. Why is it that the rights of those who already live in an area seem so less important than what politicians and developers want? Look at Embreyville and Bryn Coed – what happens to those areas if development gets approved for maximum capacity? Embreyville is already in play, and Bryn Coed is only a matter of time, right?
Community preservation and open space preservation aren’t dirty words. They should be our right as residents of this beautiful county we call home.
Happy July 4th. Our forefathers fought for our freedoms and apparently we are still fighting for our rights.