Historic Preservation

Tredyffrin Shows Support for Historic Preservation

Last night was the annual In the Mood fundraiser for Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and I am pleased to reported that it was another successful Trust event.  The stone barn at King’s Grant Farm was transformed, 1950’s style for the evening.  Owned by Jeff and Cindy King, we thank them for their generosity and support.  In addition to the use of the barn for In the Mood, the Jeff and Cindy King Foundation has made a very generous donation to the Capital Campaign of the Jones Log Barn rebuilding project. 

It was wonderful to have many community members show their support for historic preservation —  the event attracted some of our former and current elected officials from the school board and board of supervisors.  Former State House Rep Carole Rubley, a member of the In the Mood committee, attended with her husband as did current State House Rep Paul Drucker and his wife.  Many local historic preservation supporters attended the Trust event as did guests from Exton, Bryn Mawr and Villanova. 

Setting aside politics for the evening, this was an opportunity for some real fun . . . whether answering trivia questions provided by DJ Dick Spindler,  dancing to 50’s music supplied by a wonderful vintage jukebox; demonstrating your expertise at the hula-hoop;  following co-chair Judy DiFilippo’s lead in the Bunny Hop or taking your turn to strut your stuff for  ‘The Stroll’ . . . In the Mood provided something for everyone.  Poodle skirts, pony tails, black leather jackets, letter sweaters and penny loafers were the dress for the evening!  One of the crowd favorites was Paoli resident Gio D’Amato and wife Fran, both dressed to perfection in vintage 50’s style! 

Judy and I thank the King’s for hosting the event, the Trust Board of Directors, our sponsors and contributors, the community members who attended and a special thank you to the volunteers of the In the Mood Committee — it was a magical night and thank you all!

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6th Annual Historic House Tour — 85% Jump in Ticket Sales from 2009!

Looking outside today, what a difference a day makes!  Yesterday was one of those magical days that will be remembered long after the final guest departed.  This year’s old house owners on the Trust’s annual historic house tour were amazing –  the effort and time spent on details by each of the homeowners was truly remarkable. With blue skies, summer-like temperatures and help from many volunteers, the house tour surpassed my wildest expectations.  

Using Community Matters, email blasts, the support from the local press – Main Line Media News, www.AroundMainLine.com and www.MainLineNeighbors.com, Conestoga Woodlea Civic Association, Facebook, Twitter, and word of mouth, this year’s tour literally ‘jumped’ in attendees and in dollars raised. There was a 85% increase in attendees from last year – 278 people paid for tickets!  If I add the volunteers and homeowners, close to 350 people were on the tour. 

Proceeds from ticket sales, contributions and sponsorships totaled $11,000  from yesterday’s house tour and benefit the Jones Log Barn rebuilding project.

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Lower Merion’s La Ronda was Demolished . . . Could this Happen in Tredyffrin Township?

Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s Spring Lecture Series will kick off tomorrow, Wednesday, April 14 with a very special lecture, La Ronda . . . The Fantasy of Architect Addison Mizner.  

La Ronda was an extraordinary and unique house in Villanova that was variously described as Spanish Revival or Castilian Gothic. Built in 1929 by flamboyant architect Addison Mizner for industrialist Percival Foerderer, its National Register nomination described it as including “51 rooms, 21 of which were bedrooms, Spanish towers, Gothic porticos, Venetian stained glass, Italianate monastery cloisters, and European formal gardens.”  After a lengthy and costly battle to save La Ronda, the magnificent structure was demolished in October 2009.   

Strafford resident and architectural historian James B. Garrison will be at historic Duportail House in Chesterbrook on Wednesday, April 14 as guest speaker of the Trust’s Spring Lecture Series.  Mr. Garrison’s lecture on La Ronda will include a slide presentation which will offer a last glimpse of the house and gardens, as well as discussing some of the preservation issues related to the remaining unique residential properties on the Main Line. A reception will begin at 7 PM followed by lecture at 7:30 PM.  Lecture admission is $15 and all proceeds go toward Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s rebuilding effort of the Jones Log Barn at the DuPortail House location.  Visit Trust’s website, www.tredyffrinhistory.org for further information or click here  Spring Lecture 10 – Garrison Press Release  for press release.

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La Ronda represented a valuable historic treasure in the community and this lecture provides an opportunity to remember its significance.  Save Ardmore Coalition documented the final days of La Ronda on YouTube; click here to view. 

For purposes of full disclosure, I am Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s president.  We live in a historic community and I would encourage your to attend this lecture and show your support for preserving and protecting our historic resources. 

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The Year is 1951 . . . What Do Peacocks, Snow and the Berwyn Fire Company Have in Common?

The Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society has digitized copies of their Historical Quarterly available online for the public.  I read a cute article by Bob Goshorn (Anyone remember him?  Bob was a local history expert and president of  TEHS for many years).  Bob’s article was about peacocks and the Berwyn Fire Company — I thought with the Berwyn Fire Company in the news of late, that you might enjoy this story from 1951, as written in 1982 by Bob Goshorn.

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Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives

Source: January 1982 Volume 20 Number 1, Pages 27–28

 When the Berwyn Fire Company Rescued Six Peacocks

Bob Goshorn

Page 27

Fire companies traditionally have been called upon to rescue cats or other animals from tree tops – but peacocks?

It happened some three decades ago, in early 1951. It was a cold, winter night, with more than a foot of snow on the ground. Six peacocks, owned by Clarence Johnson who lived on Pugh Road, near Valley Forge Road in Tredyffrin Township, had escaped from their pen and flown into a nearby tree. After alternately attempting to cajole and frighten them down from their perches, with equal lack of success, their anxious owner, realizing that the birds would freeze to death if left out overnight, called the fire company for help.

The volunteers soon arrived on the scene, in their ladder truck, a 1934 American LaFrance fire engine with 50-foot ladders. Placing a ladder against the branches of the tree, the firemen climbed up to rescue and recapture the birds. But just as they were about to reach them, the peacocks noisily flew off to another tree.

Another ladder was put up aside the second tree. It was the hope of the firemen that they would either reach the birds in their new roostor chase them back again to the first tree. Instead, as the firemen were once again just about to reach their quarry, the birds flew off, to a third tree!

Page 28

“It looked like the only way we could recapture them,” Frank Kelley, the assistant Fire Chief in charge of the operation, later recalled, “would be to cut down all the trees!” But then he had another idea. Checking to be sure that his plan would not harm the birds – and that blankets were available – he decided to try to “flush” them out.

At his suggestion, a booster line was hooked up to the fire truck and taken into a nearby tree. From there, using a fine spray, the firemen doused the peacocks with water. In the cold weather, after about a half hour or so the water froze on the peacocks feathers. The birds were thus virtually immobilized.

When the firemen again climbed their ladders to reach them, the frozen peacocks, unable to fly, succeeded only in toppling over and falling down into the soft snow below. There they were easily picked up, wrapped in blankets, put into baskets, and returned to their grateful owner.

Johnson then placed them next to the furnace in the basement. The ice on the peacocks melted and the birds were carefully thawed out and none the worse for wear, despite their experience – when the Berwyn Fire Company rescued six peacocks from their perches in a tree.

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Tredyffrin Township Neighbor Raising Taxes for the First Time in 30 Years . . . to Help with Open Land and Historic Preservation Protection

I read an interesting article in yesterday’s Daily Local about one of our neighbors, West Pikeland Township.  If you are not sure where West Pikeland is located — this is the location of Chester Springs and historic Yellow Springs in the Rt. 113 area.   This is a township that is very protective of open space (West Pikeland Land Trust) and historic preservation (historic Yellow Springs on Art School Road). 

West Pikeland Township has increased its land ownership significantly over the last 10 years.  The township made a lot of modifications/improvements in the township to satisfy the residents and help the local non-profits, particularly historic preservation.  Due to increased open land purchases, a lot of revenue was lost.  The township does not have large developments and therefore does not have developers helping with parks and services and no homeowner fees to maintain the parks, etc.  This is interesting information because back in November when West Pikeland Township’s Board of Supervisors were discussing the 2010 budget, the community’s residents not only applauded their approval of a motion to increase the property’s taxes but also encouraged the supervisors to raise them higher!

This week the West Pikeland Board of Supervisors voted to reopen the township’s budget in order to increase taxes once again.  The board will increase taxes for the first time in approximately 30 years when it moved from 0.125 up to 0.2 mills.  But the plan now is to move the tax rate to 0.5 mills, quadrupling the 2009 tax rate.  The motion to reopen the budget and increase taxes will be used specifically for maintenance and infrastructure in the township.  Although the supervisors recognized that these are difficult times, it was also recognized by supervisors that taxes have not been increased in 30 years.  The community residents openly supports continued open land purchases and contributions to preserving historic resources but it is understood that there is also a cost to maintain the township’s infrastructure.  Residents currently pay between $30 and $40 per year in property taxes in West Pikeland on the average. Now they will pay between $120 and $160.  I know, I know, their property taxes are very low but I am still fascinated that because West Pikeland Board of Supervisors and residents hold open land purchase and historic preservation protection in such high regard, that they will applaud a tax increase that will essentially quadruple the 2009 rate.  As an aside, the township cuts its expenses by 10% in the initial budget process.

I offer this as interesting local information on a neighboring municipality. Historic Yellow Springs and the surrounding West Pikeland area offers some of the most beautiful Chester County vistas.

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Successful Earnings of AmerisourceBergen, Chesterbrook-based Drug Distributor Announced

You often hear about the salaries of corporate executives, especially this time of the year as end-of-the-year bonuses are given.  So it was interesting to read an Associated Press article about the compensation package paid to the top executive of one of our Tredyffrin-based companies.  Drug distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp. is headquartered in Chesterbrook and David Yost has been its CEO since 2001 and its president since 2007.  Yost’s total compensation package for 2009 rose 3% to $5.5 million.  Included in the package, his salary rose by 4% to $1.2 million, and his performance-based cash bonus grew 11% to $3 million.  However the value of his stock options dropped 16% to $1.1 million.  AmerisourceBergen’s operating profit grew 7% due to lower expenses and better profit margins.  Total revenue increased by 2% TO $71.76 billion.  Yes, that is billion not million.

It’s great to know that we have such a successful company in our community.  The Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust is kicking-off our Build the Barn Capital Campaign for the Jones Log Barn rebuilding project.  I’m thinking that as a Chesterbrook-based corporation, that maybe Mr. Yost and his AmerisourceBergen company might like to make a splash in their own backyard and help us with our barn rebuilding project at Historic DuPortail.  Can’t think of a better way for this local company to show their community-spirit than through a donation to support historic preservation. 

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Local Nonprofit Organization has Apartment For Rent in Historic Revolutionary General's House

General DuPortail House

Do you know someone who would enjoy the unique experience of living in a Revolutionary War General’s headquarters? I serve on the Board of Directors for  historic DuPortail House in Chesterbrook and the home’s 2-BR apartment is now available for rent.  I’m sure that most people don’t realize that there is a rental apartment, located on the 2nd floor of the 270-yr. old stone farmhouse.  The DuPortail House property also contains a rental cottage on the grounds (the cottage is currently leased). Up until a few weeks ago, the house apartment was rented by a lovely young professional but unfortunately Rachel’s company went through an acquistion, she lost her job and was forced in to moving to her parents home. 

The DuPortail House board is now trying to find a new tenant; below is the Craigslist posting for this wonderful historic apartment.  For information or to see the apartment, please contact me at pattye@greatvalleyhouse.com .

Apartment has two bedrooms, one bath, kitchen and living room on second floor of historic DuPortail House in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County. Includes a room A/C and washer and dryer in basement. Rent is $1100 per month, including untilities. Close to shopping and Route 202. Located in lovely park setting in Chesterbrook. Quiet small pet permitted with additional security deposit.

DuPortail House and the Federal Barn in Chesterbrook are both on the National Register of Historic Places.  DuPortail House is available to rent for weddings, receptions, corporate meetings, etc.  There are ongoing maintenance costs in the preservation of this historic landmark property and our nonprofit board struggles to meet these financial demands.  The rental of the house, the cottage and the apartment are required just to meet the monthly costs of the house and grounds.  We can not afford to have the apartment vacant – please, if you know someone who may be interested, I ask you to pass the information along.  If you want details of renting the house for a meeting or special event, contact Event Cordinator Kate Frey, 610.644.4840 or visit the website.

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Why Did BAWG Report Exclude HARB & Library Boards

At the end of the BAWG report, there is a yearly calendar which lists the various township boards, month by month.  Now I didn’t go through each board on the township to see if it is listed but I know there are at least 2 boards that didn’t make the cut — Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) and the Library Board.  For the BAWG volunteers that put the calendar together, I am sure that they would simply view it as an oversight.  However, for the volunteers who serve on these boards they may feel slighted. 

I understand that to some people preservation of our historic resources may not be as important as other township boards such as Zoning, Pension Trustees, Municipal Authority, etc. But for people like myself who serve on HARB and have done so for many years, it is just as important to the landscape of this community.  I often joke that on any budget, whether it is federal, state or  county budgets that historic preservation is the last item on the budget and is the first item off the budget. Guess in the case of the BAWG report, it never got in the report!  Just for the record, the HARB board meets monthly, 3rd Wednesday of the month at the Township Building. 

Then we have the Library Board and its absence on BAWG’s township calendar.  Unlike HARB, the library does have much mention in the text of the report – with suggestions for reduction in book and equipment purchases, reduction in operating hours, staff reductions, etc. For many people, particularly seniors, living in our community the Tredyffrin Library and the Paoli Library are their life blood to the outside world.  I continue to be concerned about the future of our libraries with the diminishing services.  Please take the time to read the section of the BAWG report about the Paoli Library and its future.  As a board member of Paoli Business & Professional Association (PBPA) I know how many people depend on this community library.  Many of the people that use the Paoli Library are in a different income bracket than those that visit the Tredyffrin Library.  The Paoli Library visitors may not have computers at home and depend on the library and the use of the computers. The Library Board is another township board whose volunteers work tirelessly trying to juggle the budget constraints with programming demands, operational challenges, etc.  For the record, the Library Board meets monthly on the 4th Tuesday of the month, rotating between Tredyffrin and Paoli Library.

As I said, I didn’t check the BAWG monthly calendar for each of the township boards so there may be others that did not make it in to the report.  But for HARB and Library Board members, thank you for your service and contribution to the community.

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Updated: November 16, 2009 — 2:56 PM

Celebrate Spring – Jones Log Barn Capital Campaign Kicks Off!

The Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust hit a milestone tonight — we kicked off the Capital Campaign to raise the remaining funds for the rebuilding of the Jones Log Barn. With a tag line, ‘Saving our Barn. Building our Future’ the fundraising campaign is organized and members are enthusiastic about this final stretch before construction begins. When rebuilt, the barn will be a ‘living history museum’ for the community to enjoy. The owners of Stonehouse Antiques & Design in Strafford (next to Paddock Resturant) graciously allowed the use of their shop for an after-hours fundraiser to Celebrate Spring. I was delighted by the turnout, and excited by the support from those who attended the event. We are all believers that the ‘raising of the barn’ can be a reality.

For nearly 9 years, members of the Trust have worked together to raise funds through Fall and Spring Lecture series, annual Historic House Tour and In the Mood event, etc. We hired Dale Frens of Frens & Frens Architects in West Chester who has designed the rebuilding of the barn. After much discussion and consideration, the relocation of the historic 18th century barn will be on the property of the DuPortail House in Chesterbrook. Although originally slated for Wilson Farm Park, the Trust Board determined that the DuPortail House property is a better location. Along with the 18th century house and the Federal Barn, the Jones Log Barn will help to create a historic enclave for the community and visitors to enjoy. The barn will be placed on the stone foundation of an earlier barn which burned in 1985. Members of the Trust and the DuPortail House Boards have formed a working agreement to facilitate the rebuilding.

As president of the Trust, I am excited to see this project really moving forward and the Trust able to meet its mission to preserve a special historic resource. It is special and fitting that the Jones Log Barn, which was originally located at British General Howe’s headquarters in Berwyn, will find its new home at French General DuPortail’s headquarters. For details, history and photos of the Jones Log Barn, and ways you can help, please visit the Trust website: http://www.tredyffrinhistory.org/

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Updated: April 5, 2009 — 2:06 AM

Historic Preservation Plan

The township’s Comprehensive Plan was recently approved. As a member of HARB (Historical Architectural Review Board) and president of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, I was part of the comp plan process, serving on the Historic Preservation Chapter component of the plan. Over the 2 year review process of the comp plan, there was an opportunity for much discussion between members of the HARB and Planning Commission. Discussion centered on the importance of preserving our historic structures yet at the same time allowing for development. The two sides were challenged to consider development opportunities but also to be mindful of the need to preserve historic resources. Although sometimes at ‘odds’, together we did reach consensus and were able to create a Historic Preservation Plan that should serve residents well in the years ahead.

Owning a 300-yr. old house here in Tredyffrin gives me an interesting perspective on development. Although I am committed to historic preservation, I do understand the need for development. What I suggest by ‘thoughtful’ development is more about consideration for the immediate neighborhood of the construction. Forward thinking about livable communities that have quality open space, a variety of uses — mixed zoning with sidewalks and the ability to walk to stores — and variety of building types — homes, apartments, stores, and other places to walk to or bicycle to. Historic preservation is smart business. Smart communities preserve their historic places as they develop. It makes strong business sense. Better models of development are economically profitable to a community. For example, tourism — much of it of the “heritage” variety — is Pennsylvania’s second largest industry. In 2001, tourists spent $20.5 billion Pennsylvaniawith a total economic impact of $37.2 billion in sales, supporting 618,000 jobs and $13.3 billion in compensation. Part of Valley Forge National Historical Park lies within Tredyffrin’s boundaries. We also have Philadelphia, Lancaster County and Brandywine all within a 30 min. drive that contribute to tourism dollars being spent in Tredyffrin. Preserving our history and our historic resources add to the character of our community and encourages people to want to live and work here and also to visit.
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Updated: April 2, 2009 — 1:29 PM
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