Historic Preservation

Save the Covered Wagon Inn … Say No to Demolition of Main Line Landmark!

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In front of Tredyffrin Township Planning Commissioners on Thursday night was the Preliminary Land Development application for 625/629 East Lancaster Avenue in Wayne.  Developer Summit Realty Advisors submitted a plan which demolishes the historic 18th century Covered Wagon Inn to construct a new CVS Pharmacy with drive-through and parking.

I attended the Planning Committee meeting and wanted to update on the project. But first as means of full disclosure, when it comes to historic preservation, I am biased. For the last decade I have served as president of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, (www.tredyffrinhistory.org) whose mission is to “preserve and protect historic and cultural resources in Tredyffrin Township”, chair the Annual Historic House Tour and own one of the oldest houses in the Tredyffrin Township.

On to the update:  Presenting the redevelopment application on behalf of the developer was real estate attorney Alyson Zarro, real estate attorney with Exton firm Riley Riper Hollin Colegreco. (Interestingly, Zarro’s educational background includes a BA in History and a MA in Preservation Studies in addition to a JD).  Summit’s preliminary redevelopment plan was presented to the Planning Commissioners by project engineer Joel Dellicarpini of Bohler Engineering.

According to Google Maps, the proposed redevelopment site is approx. 1.73 acres (75,358 sq. ft.), a significant redevelopment parcel. (Click here to see the aerial view of the property and note the small building in lower right corner is the Covered Wagon Inn). The historic Covered Wagon Inn is not located in the center of the property but rather its location is at the edge, on the far corner.  A tiny speck on the aerial map, the historic building is only 1200 sq. ft. in size (on the 75,358 sq. ft. parcel).

Delicarpini showed the preliminary architectural drawings for the large CVS pharmacy and its drive-through. Unlike other CVS buildings, this structure would fit its surrounds and the engineer was proud to point out the short stone wall design feature as somehow that would make up for the destruction of the 250-yr. old Covered Wagon Inn.

Following Delicarpini’s presentation, there was much discussion from the Planning Commissioners regarding the project.  Much to my surprise, many of the comments centered on the demolition plans and wasn’t there a different way that would allow the historic building to remain.  The engineer repeatedly stated that they had ‘tried’ in the design phase, but that leaving the Covered Wagon Inn would somehow impede on their ability to have a drive-through!

Once public comments were permitted, I immediately launched into an impassioned plea to the Planning Commissioners to save the old Covered Wagon Inn.  I gave the history of the township’s 2003 Historic Resource Survey which was to have been the basis for historic preservation ordinance.  I was on the township’s HARB at that point and involved in the selection of the 350 historic resources that are part of the survey. The vast majority of the resources are personal residences with a handful of commercial buildings – including the Covered Wagon Inn!

In my appeal, I revisited the demolition of the 18th century Ann Pugh

18th c Pugh Road House demolished January 2014

18th c Pugh Road House demolished January 2014

Farmhouse in January 2014. It was my personal hope that its demolition would have spurred local legislation to protect our historic properties.  Sadly, in the intervening two years, nothing has changed and all historic properties continue to remain at risk.  I explained that because Tredyffrin Township has no ordinances to protect its historic properties, there is nothing to prevent Summit Realty Advisors from demolishing the Covered Wagon Inn.

Of the seven Planning Commissioners, it was remarkable to have so many of them understand and appreciate my passion for historic preservation and indicate support the saving of the Covered Wagon Inn.  I want to personally thank four of the Planning Commissioners — Chair Tory Snyder, Vice Chair Bill Rountree, David Biddison and Scott Growney for their support! Snyder, a land use planner, Rountree, a civil engineer and Biddison and Growney , both real estate attorneys, all know that legally the developer ‘has the right’  to demolish the historic building yet each asked that they look for a way to save it.  I know that the Planning Commissioners hands are tied – their decisions have to be based on the existing township zoning ordinances.  Without a historic preservation ordinance on the books, their job is difficult!

Township supervisor Murph Wysocki attended the Planning Commission meeting as the Board of Supervisor liaison.  I have attended many, many Planning Commission meetings over the years and I have never known a sitting supervisor to take the microphone and offer his personal opinion on a land development project, until this meeting.  Wysocki was clear that he was not speaking as a supervisor but rather as resident. As a retired real estate attorney, Wysocki completely understands the ‘rights of the developer’ in this case but he too appealed to Summit Realty Advisors to come up with a way to save the old Covered Wagon Inn.  A former board member on Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and a sponsor of the Annual Historic House Tour, Murph appreciates the importance of historic preservation in this community and I thank him for his support!

The Covered Wagon Inn is a physical link to our past. Yes, we’ve all heard that before.  But it’s not just about saving an old stone building, but about saving the layers and layers of information about our lives and those of our ancestors.  Without that, we’d erase the stories of our past, as if the people came before us never existed.

Historic buildings like the Covered Wagon Inn in Strafford play a special role in creating the distinctive character of our community.  Historic places matter because they help tell the story of who we are and where we come from.  As suburban sprawl and roadside development make more and more places look the same, it should be more important to preserve the history that makes this community special.

The Covered Wagon Inn at the corner of Old Eagle School and Lancaster Avenue stands at the crossroads of Radnor Township, Delaware County and Tredyffrin Township, Chester County.  Do we really want the ‘gateway’ to our historic 300 year-old township replaced with a drive-through CVS pharmacy?  Where will it stop?

So what is the next step … where do we go?  There were a number of Summit Realty engineers, staff and legal counsel in attendance at the Planning Commission meeting.  They heard the Planning Commissioners, a supervisor, myself as president of a historic preservation organization and several other community members appeal to the developer to come up with a plan that would save the Covered Wagon Inn.  Time will tell to see if they got the message.

Because there is no historic preservation ordinance opposing the demolition of the Covered Wagon Inn, it may take public input to persuade the developers.  I will be sending the link to this post (and the last post with its many comments) to the president of Summit Realty Advisors, John Zaharck as well as the project engineers and legal counsel. In addition the links will go to the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, Township Manager Bill Martin, Planning Commissioners and PA State Rep Warren Kampf (R-157).

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What can you do to Help Save the Covered Wagon Inn –

A Facebook page, ‘Save Covered Wagon Inn’ was set up at: https://www.facebook.com/SaveCoveredWagonInn  Created less than 24 hours ago and there are over 430 Likes.  Please join the growing list of supporters.

Continue to leave your comments here on Community Matters. Not everyone is on Facebook and because I am sending the link to this post to our elected officials and developer contacts, they will your comments here.

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“If walls could talk, what stories they could tell!” — Historic House Tour tickets available

The 11th Annual Historic House Tour (hard to believe that it’s been 11 years!) is coming up in a few weeks and final preparations are in full swing!

Tickets for the 2015 house tour on Saturday, September 19, noon – 5 PM and Jazz & Just Desserts, the house tour preview party, on Sunday, September. 13, 6-9 PM at Duportail House are available online at www.tredyffrinhistory.org . The house tour is the largest annual fundraiser for Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and all proceeds from ticket sales and sponsorships support historic preservation and the completion of the Living History Center at Duportail.

The 11th Annual Historic House Tour features an interesting mix of eight private historic homes in Tredyffrin, Easttown and Willistown Townships plus the Diamond Rock Schoolhouse, an octagonal one-room school house in the Great Valley.  Discover the beauty of historic preservation on the tour, everything from a mid-1800’s French Normandy hunting lodge on Valley Forge Mountain to Deepdale, the original 19th century stone farmhouse and the 1915 English Cotswold revival estate, ‘Deilwydd’.  Enjoy stops at two different 150-year old carriage houses and marvel at how the owners skillfully adapted the buildings to 21st century family homes.

Also included on the tour is a sprawling 1900’s brick farmhouse in Malvern built by sisters, Ellen and Rebecca Winsor. Pro-suffrage activists from Haverford, the Winsor sisters were among 17 Pennsylvania women imprisoned for their “Silent Sentinel” picketing of the White House under President Woodrow Wilson.

We are still accepting sponsorships for the house tour, which helps to make the annual event possible. Ticket and sponsorship information is on the Trust website or you can email me at info@tredyffrinhistory.org.

It’s great to see many individuals and companies supporting historic preservation through the house tour, along with a number of elected officials and candidates. Its history and the preservation of our historic buildings helps to make this community special!

As the saying goes, “If walls could talk what stories they could tell.” Each featured property on the house tour has generations of original stories to tell!  Hope to see you on the tour!

11th Annual Historic House Tour Poster

 

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Preserving History Matters: Watershed Moment for Tredyffrin Township, Chester County

With the recent demolition of the Ann Pugh Farm and as  president of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, chair of the Annual Historic House Tour and owner of one of the oldest houses in the township, I feel a responsibility to speak out on the state of historic preservation in Tredyffrin Township .  

After a review of the history  of preservation  in Tredyffrin and the demolition requirements, the following editorial was written and appears in this week’s Main Line Suburban newspaper and and online.  As I say in the article, the people who purchased the 250-year old Ann Pugh house and then immediately demolished it did not break any laws.  There were no ordinances in Tredyffrin Township to protect the 18th century house and there are no ordinances to protect the other 350+ historic properties in this community from a similar fate.

Pugh Road House

Pugh Road Farm House front

Preserving History Matters: Watershed Moment for Tredyffrin Township

Historic buildings play a special role in creating the distinctive character of each community. Historic preservation is about protecting, promoting, and using historic places. It is also about the power of place, places that matter because they help tell the story of our community, of who we are and where we come from. As suburban sprawl and roadside development make more and more places look the same, it becomes important for communities to keep their identities intact.

In January, we mourned the loss of the 18th century Ann Pugh house on Pugh Road in Wayne.  The demolition of this beautifully restored historic treasure illustrates the plight of America’s old homes.  Historic homes are on demolition lists all over America but many of us hoped that it would never happen in Tredyffrin. As president of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, whose mission is to “preserve and protect historic and cultural resources in Tredyffrin Township”, chair of the Annual Historic House Tour and owner of one of the oldest houses in the Township, I feel it is my duty to speak out.

Typically, historic houses that have been badly neglected over the years, and are in such a state of disrepair that they are considered eyesores, are the ones targeted for demolition. However, the Ann Pugh house was neither neglected or in a state of disrepair. The stunning Georgian stone farmhouse on Pugh Road with its manicured landscaping and guest barn, springhouse and swimming pool had been meticulously restored and maintained.  The real estate company described the Ann Pugh Farm as the “quintessential Pennsylvania farmhouse – a Main Line Classic”, a family home with five bedrooms, four bathrooms and five fireplaces.

The 2.2-acre property was sold on December 12, 2013 for $1.4 million; a demolition application followed two weeks later. According to township staff, the demolition application was approved within 48 hours of its submission with no notification to adjourning property owners required.  Aside from the fact that the house demolished was historic, I found the lack of notification to neighbors concerning, especially given its location next to New Eagle Elementary School.

Mindful of private property rights, what can the township do, and what should it do (if anything) through its zoning and land use ordinances to stop the demolition of historic buildings? The issue of historic building regulation, and land use regulations, versus the rights of individual property owners has seen much debate over the years in Tredyffrin with little agreement.

Although preservation issues facing Tredyffrin Township are similar to those faced by other communities, it is interesting that municipalities like Willistown, Lower Merion and Radnor have managed to balance the rights of individual property owners with the protection of historic properties.  For instance, in Lower Merion, a demolition permit for a property on their Historic Resource Inventory list requires the recommendation of their Historic Commission plus approval from the Board of Commissioners.  The demolition process requires similar review in Willistown and Radnor townships. No such requirement for review of demolition applications exists in Tredyffrin Township.  No ordinance protects the demolition of any historic building nor does a demolition permit require the review of any township board or commission or the approval of the Board of Supervisors.

Since its founding by Welsh settlers in 1707, Tredyffrin Township has enjoyed a rich inventory of historic resources. In the 1960’s Tredyffrin Township was the first municipality in Pennsylvania to establish a Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) and they had authority over a Historic Site List of 29 historic properties. Unlike the conventional historic society, the HARB is a regulatory body with the legal authority to recommend approval to the Board of Supervisors for building permit applications that involved the reconstruction, alteration or demolition of these 29 properties.  Some of the historic properties on the list included the one-room Diamond Rock Octagonal School, Old Eagle School, Great Valley Mill, Wharton Esherick Museum, Baptist Church in the Great Valley, Lee & Bradford Quarters (Picket Post Swim Club), Van Leer Cabin next to Conestoga HS, Strafford Train Station)

In 2003, an award-winning Historic Resource Survey, recognized by the Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission, was completed for the Township. The study provided a detailed inventory of 356 important historic resources in the Township.  A database and Geographical Information System (GIS) were included to link the historic resources to the Township’s existing GIS tax parcel data.

The survey listed and classified historic properties into three categories – Class I, Class II, and Class III.  The recently demolished Ann Pugh house was listed as a Class II property in the Township survey with an additional recommendation for potential listing on the National Register of Historic Places. As an aside, National Historic Register properties are not protected from demolition in Tredyffrin Township. The Federal government recognizes historically and architecturally important properties but leaves their regulation to local municipal government.

After the completion of the Historic Resource Survey in 2003 and the updated Comprehensive Plan and Historic Preservation Plan in 2009, there was discussion about adding historic properties to the list of 29 protected properties. It was determined that the easiest way to add to the list would be to replace the HARB with a Historical Commission which occurred in June 2011.  Unfortunately, a list of protected properties in Tredyffrin Township no longer exists and the protection for the original 29 properties is gone.

Over a decade ago, Tredyffrin Township’s elected officials acknowledged the importance of our historic buildings, hired a consulting company to catalogue, and document them for the Historic Resource Survey. However, other than receiving accolades from Harrisburg … nothing further was done with the survey results.  If the Township had used the Historic Resource Survey as a tool to protect historic properties, the Ann Pugh house would probably still be standing.

Tredyffrin Township is always mentioned when discussing Philadelphia’s Main Line historic suburbs. In fact, the Township has the distinction of the highest number of historic properties of all municipalities in Chester County. Seven years ago, the Township celebrated its first three hundred years of history (Tredyffrin 300), the same year that it received Preserve America designation for “protecting and celebrating its heritage”.

For historic preservationists, the destruction of any historic property is difficult but is compounded when it occurs in your own backyard.  What makes Tredyffrin Township truly unique is its rich architectural heritage:  the old homes and buildings that tell the story of the community’s past, that continue to bring pleasure in the present, and will, if properly cared for, inform and inspire the future.

To be clear, the people who purchased the 250-year old Ann Pugh house and then immediately demolished it did not break any laws.  There were no ordinances in Tredyffrin Township to protect the 18th century house and there are no ordinances to protect the other 350+ historic properties in this community from a similar fate.

For historic preservation to matter, and for our local history to be meaningful, it needs to be supported. A watershed moment for historic preservation in Tredyffrin Township, will the loss of the Ann Pugh house serve as the needed impetus for change.  Or, will it send the message that Tredyffrin Township values individual property rights and development at all costs and allow the destruction of our historic buildings to continue.

We understand that change will occur as the future unfolds, but this does not have to happen at the expense of our community’s historic properties. A community that respects its history respects itself.

Pattye Benson
President, Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust
Chair, Annual Historic House Tour

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Ann Pugh Farm … an 18th century Tredyffrin Township historic treasure lost to demolition

Pugh Road House

Demolition of Ann Pugh farmhouse

For historic preservationists, the destruction of any historic property is difficult but is compounded when it occurs in your own backyard.  What makes Tredyffrin Township truly unique is its rich architectural heritage:  the old homes and buildings that tell the story of the community’s past, that continue to bring pleasure in the present, and will, if properly cared for, inform and inspire the future.

In 2003, Tredyffrin Township’s Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) undertook what would become an extensive award-winning architectural survey, identifying more than 350 historic resources in the township.  As a member of HARB, I was involved in the review and cataloging of the township’s historic buildings for this project.

According to this historic resource survey, the William Pugh Farm (also called Ann Pugh Farm and A. Glass Farm) received a historic survey Class II structure rating.  The primary architectural style was listed as Georgian and identified the structural system as stone with shake roof.  In the report on the Pugh farmhouse, the surveyor comments include, “recommendation for potential individual listing on the National Register of Historic Places”.

The township’s historic survey description of the property states that the original owner, William C. Pugh, made iron augers in his blacksmith shop at this farm in 1873 and is responsible for the road’s name.  A 1980 survey date suggests that the Pugh farmhouse lists a date of 1750 for the first section and 1830 for the later wing.  This date associates with the date stone of the springhouse of 1832 and that of the barn showing 1839 (see photos below).  According to the historic survey records, “the blacksmith shop was extant in 1980 close to the road, but appears to have been demolished.  Pugh’s property was sold by 1883 to A. Glass, who held 20 acres in 1887.  The complex is distinctive as a combined farmstead with a farmer blacksmith shop and barn.”

When completed, Tredyffrin Township’s award-winning historic resource survey received statewide attention with the 2007 Preservation Award from Preservation Pennsylvania.  At the December 2004 Board of Supervisors meeting, former State Representative Carole Rubley presented the Government Initiative Award on behalf of the Commonwealth to Jim Garrison, who was the Chairman of the Historical Architectural Review Board at that time.  In the minutes of that BOS meeting, Rubley stated that the survey “will be a planning tool for preservation practices in the Township. Mrs. Rubley congratulated the HARB for this great honor, and said it made her proud of the Township.”  A longtime supporter of historic preservation in Tredyffrin Township, I don’t know that the demolition of the 18th century Ann Pugh Farm would make her proud.

In 2009, the township staff, representatives of the Planning Commission and HARB and members of the community took on the arduous task of updating the Comprehensive Plan & Historic Preservation Plan. At that time, I was a member of HARB and served on the citizens committee that helped create the revised planning tool.

In the description of purpose for the Historic Preservation Plan, the document states, “…the Township recognizes the importance of its existing historic resources and the role they play in contributing to the Township’s character. The Historic Preservation Plan will assist the Township and its residents in appreciating the importance of preserving and protecting historic resources.”

Given the township’s stated support of historic preservation, then I must believe that something went terribly wrong regarding the Ann Pugh Farm, insofar as there were no red flags raised before granting the demolition permit on this property.  According to Bill Martin, the township manager, the permit was applied for and reviewed by township staff.  In an email he stated, “Unless the home is protected, the code department has no ability to deny or delay these applications.” 

The township has the  historic resource survey book that documents, by street address, the 350+ historic properties, with descriptions and photographs.  When the township staff receives a demolition permit request, it would only take a couple of minutes to check whether the property is included in the historic resource survey.  The property was only purchased last month, how is it possible that a demolition permit can go through the township in less than 30 days?  It’s too late to make a difference for the 18th century Pugh Road house but going forward, something needs to change.

Unless the process changes regarding notification of demolition applications, there’s nothing to keep this from happening over and over. Although I am no longer a member of the Historic Commission, I continue to serve as the president of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and chair of the Annual Historic House Tour.   I was disheartened to read on that township website that starting in 2014,  the Historic Commission is no longer holding monthly meetings but has instead decreased its meeting schedule to quarterly. And unfortunately, the township no longer has a HARB which may have helped protect this historic property from demolition.

For historic preservation to matter, and for our local history to be meaningful, it needs to be supported.

In 2007, I had the pleasure of co-chairing the township’s Tredyffrin 300 celebration with my friend Judy DiFilippo.  The community came together that year to celebrate our three hundred years of history.  Our history was important when the township was founded in 1707, it was important when we celebrated the 300th year of its founding in 2007, and …  its history and its historic resources should be important to preserve in 2014.   

In the words of early preservationist William Morris, “These old buildings do not belong to us only, they belong to our forefathers and they will belong to our descendants unless we play them false. They are not in any sense our own property to do with as we like with them. We are only trustees for those that come after us.”   

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Remembering the Ann Pugh Farm, circa 1792 with a few photos — a loss of an 18th century historic treasure

Pugh Road Farm House front

  Ann Pugh Farmhouse, circa 1792

Ann Pugh Farm Barn and Swimming Pool

Barn and swimming pool

Barn date stone

Barn date stone

Great room of guest barn

Great room of guest barn

Beautiful 18th c dining room

Beautiful 18th c dining room

Pugh farmhouse kitchen

Pugh farmhouse kitchen

Living room at Ann Pugh farmhouse

Living room at Ann Pugh farmhouse

Ann Pugh farmhouse bedroom

Ann Pugh farmhouse bedroom

 

 

 

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Beautiful 18th Century House is Demolished in Tredyffrin Township — Why?

When I was looking for houses for the  9th Annual Historic House Tour last year, there was a beautiful 18th century home at 523 Pugh Road in Wayne that was for sale.  The stately home, known as the Ann Pugh Farm, has its early roots in the 1700’s.  The stone farm house, garage, barn and springhouse were all wonderfully restored and and 2.2 acres of beautifully landscaped lawn.

Described in the real estate brochure as a a “historic estate property with stately farmhouse”, the stone house was fully restored with five fireplaces, a ‘guest’ barn,  swimming pool with spa, 5 bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, library, 4500 square feet and all the modern amenities for the 21st century family.

The property was absolutely stunning and a perfect house for the annual historic house tour!  I contacted the real estate agent in June to see if the owners would consider having the house on the tour in September.  Occasionally there are houses for sale on the house tour and sometimes the ‘perfect buyer’ for the old house is on the tour. And with a location next to the elementary school, this  home would be a real attraction as a family home and the house tour a perfect opportunity for more potential buyers to see it.

Although flattered to be asked, I was told by the real estate agent that the older couple who owned house  declined the house tour offer, stating that they were very private people and were not interested.  I was disappointed — neighboring Avonwood Farm (c.1750) also on Pugh Road was already scheduled to be on the 2013 house tour and the addition of the Ann Pugh  Farm would have connected the histories of those two early farms.

The 9th Annual Historic House Tour occurred in September — with Avonwood Farm and without the Ann Pugh Farm, which was still for sale at that point.   It sometimes can take longer for historic homes to sell so I assumed that the house was still on the market — that was until I learned otherwise yesterday!  I was shocked when Tredyffrin Township resident Christine Johnson posted a demolition photo of  this beautiful historic home on her Facebook page yesterday.  It seems impossible to believe that this could happen here in Tredyffrin Township and no one cared enough to try and save it a piece of our local history!

According to Zillow, the Ann Pugh Farm was sold for $1.4 million on December 12th.  Although less than the original asking price of $1.7 million, certainly a significant price tag. In less than a month after the purchase, the house is being demolished.

  • Doesn’t a demolition permit take longer than 30 days?  
  • Where was the township’s Historic Commission and the Board of Supervisors?  
  • Was there even a pause by anyone on the township staff before the permit was granted?  

It would be one thing if this 18th century house had been neglected and in disrepair but that was not the case. The former owners purchased the house  in 1982 for $230K. They lived in the house for thirty years, raised their family and lovingly restoring their historic treasure, down to every detail! With their children grown and out of the house, they decided to downsize and sell the family home.

I cannot imagine how the former owners must now feel knowing their beautiful historic home has been demolished. I wonder if they had any idea what the ‘new’ owners intended to do when they signed that sales agreement in December?  Beyond the purchase price, the ‘new’ owners have the demolition and rebuilding costs of their new McMansion.  It’s hard for me to understand why anyone would spend $1.4 million on a completely restored historic home, only to turn around and knock it down.

From the Tredyffrin Township website — “Few townships in Pennsylvania are as rich in history as Tredyffrin Township, which is located at the easternmost edge of Chester County, Pennsylvania … The Township had its beginning in 1682 when a group of Welsh Quakers went to William Penn in England and purchased, at a price of ten cents an acre, forty thousand acres of land in southeastern Pennsylvania. Penn promised the Quakers that here they could enjoy their customs and language in a little “barony” of their own…”

As president of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and chair of the annual historic house tour, the destruction of the Ann Pugh Road Farm is more than just a sad day for me; it’s a loss to the community.  Historic buildings serve as reminders of the past. This is one of the reasons preserving historical buildings is important. Understanding the past and having reminders of the past allows people to understand there they are and where they are headed.  When people understand what the community has gone through and have visual reminders of their past then they can feel more connected to the place. Preserving our past gives us more understanding and hope for the future.

The loss of the Pugh Road farmhouse is a loss of our local history … and represents a very sad commentary on the value of  historic preservation in Tredyffrin Township.

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Preservation Matters as evidenced by 9th Annual Historic House Tour turnout — thanks to all!

house tour 2013The Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s 9th Annual Historic House Tour was held this past Saturday, September 28.  It was a wonderful day with beautiful historic homes,  supportive sponsors, enthusastic volunteers, perfect weather and a record number of house tour guests — thanks to all who helped make this a successful event!

The House Tour raised nearly $20,000 for the final phase of the rebuilding effort of the Jones Log Barn as the ‘Living History Center at Duportail’ (www.tredyffrinhistory.org) with 400 tickets purchases and the support of many individual and corporate sponsors!  Here’s my letter to the editor published in today’s Main Line Suburban.  The next time you see one of these sponsors, please thank them for supporting historic preservaton in our own backyard … local history and preservation does matter!

Thank you historic homeowners for taking part in Historic House Tour
Published: Thursday, October 03, 2013
By Pattye Benson,

Preservation Matters: Thank you historic homeowners for opening your doors for Trust’s 9th Annual Historic House tour!

The mission of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust is to help preserve and protect historic and cultural resources and to educate the public about the preservation and protection of historic and cultural settings. As President of the Trust and Chair of the annual Historic House Tour, I would like to thank the special historic homeowners. These homeowners graciously opened their doors for the 9th Annual Historic House Tour held this past Saturday, September 28 so others can enjoy and learn about the architecture and history of their homes.

What a truly delightful group of old house owners on this year’s tour – the effort and time spent on details by each homeowner was remarkable. Old house owners are very special people and this year’s house tour participants were no exception. In addition to the private homes on the 2013 tour, the beautiful First Church of Christ, Scientist (c.1886) in Berwyn was a featured stop. For those guests who stopped at the church, they were treated to a special musical performance by church organist Dr. James Sullivan. It is wonderful to live in a community that has people who cherish their historic properties and then allow others the opportunity to enjoy them!

As one of the Trust’s most anticipated annual events, the Board of Directors is extremely grateful to our historic homeowners who by sharing their extraordinary homes allow us to better understand the significant and unique history of our community. The annual house tour provides an opportunity for our historic community to showcase their neighborhood architectural heritage and demonstrate how historic homes can be a perfect fit for our modern lives. Opening their doors to hundreds of guests, the 9th Annual Historic House Tour raised close to $20,000 to benefit the Trust’s Capital Campaign to complete the rebuilding effort of the Jones Log Barn as the ‘Living History Center at Duportail’ in Chesterbrook.

The Board wishes to thank the many individuals, corporate sponsors and elected officials who appreciate historic preservation and understand its importance in the community including Penn Medicine, Arcadia Land Company, Heckendorn Shiles Architects, Lamb McErlane PC, Paul and Andrea Olson, Period Architecture, Murph and Lois Wysocki, Golden Valley Farms Coffee Roasters, Michael and Corinne Ackerman, Ann Ledger Architect, Axiom Asset Management, Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello, Duportail House, Gardner/Fox, James Garrison, AIA, Tm Hogan and Victoria Silbey, Janiczek Homes, PA State Representative Warren Kampf, Glenna LaSalle Keene, Michael and Michelle Kichline, Dr. and Mrs. Gerald Long, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, Brad Tiffany – Kistler Tiffany Benefits, Urban Engineers, Maurice Weintraub Architect, Carla Zambelli, Main Line Media News, Daily Local News, Chester County Times, Around Main Line and TE Patch.

Thank you to the Trust Board members and the many community volunteers who offered their time and talents to make this another successful Trust event. And a special thank you to the house tour visitors who through their ticket purchase showed their support for historic preservation in the community.

I have received many emails and calls from guests who enjoyed the house tour. A Bryn Mawr realtor wrote, “Thank you and your committee for an incredibly enjoyable day. I have been selling real estate on the Main Line for over 20 years and on this house tour I heard historical anecdotes and discovered hidden treasures. What a treat!”  Upon exiting the 18th century Lenape Farm (also known as the ‘Churchill House’), a house tour visitor remarked, “These houses have souls of the past. They’re more than a house. They are part of the history of the neighborhood.”

Pattye Benson
President, Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust
Chair, 9th Annual Historic House Tour

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Thank You House Tour Homeowners, Volunteers, Sponsors & Visitors!

The 7th Annual Historic House Tour is next Saturday, September 24. As President of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and Chair of the annual historic House tour, I would like to personally thank this year’s special homeowners who have allowed us to showcase their beautiful homes.  It is wonderful to live in a community that has people who cherish their historic homes and then allow others the opportunity to enjoy them.

I thank the many House Tour visitors who will visit these beautiful homes on House Tour day.  Please know that your ticket purchase furthers the effort of historic preservation in our community. Tickets may be purchased at the Trust website, www.tredyffrinhistory.org or click here for ticket order form.

I thank the individuals, organizations and the companies for their generous financial support of the Trust and historic preservation through their sponsorship of the House Tour.  The economic climate of today’s world has forced many of us to re-think our priorities, particularly as it relates to charitable giving. In that regard, it is important to give a special thank you to those who do place an importance on our local history and preserving our historic resources.

On behalf of the Trust, I thank the following House Tour sponsors for their generosity.  If you are interested in joining the list of House Tour sponsors, click here for information.

Supporting Sponsors
AroundMainLine.com
Michael & Michelle Kichline
Main Line Neighbors
Penn Medicine

Contributing Sponsors
Golden Valley Farms
Montessori Children’s House of Valley Forge
Paul Olson
Period Architecture, Ltd.

Patron Sponsors
Jim & Janet Bruce
BeThereOnline.org
Cottage Industries
Michael Heaberg
Tom Hogan & Victoria Silbey
State Rep Warren Kampf
Glenna LaSalle Keene
Kristen Mayock
Liz Mercogliano
MJ Monahan Builders, Inc.
Pete & Bonnie Motel
James & Nancy Sanborn
Victoria ‘Tory’ Snyder
Strategic Realty Investments, LLC
Susan Levin Design
Tredyffrin Township Historical Commission
Warren Claytor Architects, Inc
Wise Preservation Planning
Murph Wysocki

I thank the Trust board members and the many volunteers who help make the annual House Tour a success – please know that your time and talents are greatly appreciated!

Historic homeowners, Trust board members, volunteers, sponsors and visitors . . . I thank you all!

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6th Annual Historic House Tour – Today!

Today is the 6th Annual Historic House Tour . . . wonderful historic homes, welcoming homeowners and perfect weather!  The tour’s focused neighborhoods of Strafford and Berwyn will be alive today with 100’s of people enjoying the beautiful day and celebrating historic preservation. 

I hope I have covered all the details in the planning and organizing and by noon if will be out of my hands.  Not only is the local community supporting Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s event today, I have taken registrations from West Chester, Exton, Philadelphia, Pottstown, etc. 

If anyone is reading this and would like to go on today’s House Tour, you have until 12 Noon to register online at www.tredyffrinhistory.org I will have my laptop with me for check-in starting at 11 AM at DuPortail House and will be able to process late ticket sales. 

Support your neighbors . . . Support historic preservation! All proceeds from today’s 6th Annual Historic House Tour go toward the rebuilding effort the Jones Log Barn as a living history museum.

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Tredyffrin & Easttown Houses on Annual Historic House Tour . . . 7 days and counting!

Thank you www.AroundMainLine.com for the press coverage of the 6th Annual Historic House Tour (article below).  Sarah Lockard, the eMagazine’s CEO/President graciously included the House Tour online and thanks to her Twitter and Facebook accounts, the Trust’s House Tour information is going out to thousands. 

With a week to go . . . the ticket sales are starting to really take off!  Please visit the Trust’s website, www.tredyffrinhistory.org to purchase your tickets.  The first photo below is of the rear of Buttonwood Farm’s stone farmhouse and the second photo is of the interior of Buttonwood Farm’s ‘party barn’.  Light refreshments will be served in the barn for visitors during the House Tour. 

Remember, you can own a piece of Chester County history . . . Buttonwood Farm is for sale!

Trust’s 6th Annual Historic House Tour

Old houses tell wonderful stories, and the houses of Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships have many tales to tell. On Saturday, September 25, 2010, the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s 6th Annual Historic House Tour will be opening doors to community’s past. This year’s tour will spotlight Berwyn and Strafford neighborhoods by opening the doors to eight private homes; three homes in Easttown Township and five homes in Tredyffrin Township. Featured houses span 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and offer visitors an opportunity to experience Chester County history through original, restored and historically significant homes.

“We are excited about the 2010 Historic House Tour,” Pattye Benson, President of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for historic Berwyn and Strafford neighborhoods to showcase their diverse architectural heritage and for homeowners to show visitors how their historic homes blend with modern lives. The House Tour has become one of the Trust’s most anticipated annual events and we are grateful to our generous homeowners who open the doors to their extraordinary homes. If you love history and architecture, you will not want to miss this year’s tour.”

One of the houses on the tour this year, Buttonwood Farm in Berwyn, is available for purchase and tour visitors are invited for light refreshments in the farm’s 19th century ‘party barn.’ One of the houses on the tour this year, Buttonwood Farm in Berwyn, is available for purchase and tour visitors are invited for light refreshments in the farm’s 19th century ‘party barn.’

The houses on the House Tour are as diverse as their owners. The historic houses include a Chester County hunting lodge; an unusual ‘house within a house’ that lays claim to a resident ghost; an early R. Brognard Oakie original; a Colonial Revival mansion that boasts a hidden servant staircase and Howerton Hill, a 1911 home whose history of past owners reads like a racy Danielle Steele novel. Another home on the tour was constructed in 1939 but uses building materials and architecture from the mid-1800’s and fools the untrained eye. There are two horse farms featured on the tour, a pre-revolutionary stone farmhouse in a pastoral setting and an early 19th century farmhouse featuring a new 3-story addition and a restored barn. One of the houses on the tour this year, Buttonwood Farm in Berwyn is available for purchase and tour visitors are invited for light refreshments in the farm’s 19th century ‘party barn’.

The historic homes and gardens will be open from 12 Noon to 5 PM on Saturday, September 25, rain or shine. Knowledgeable guides staff each historic home on the tour and house tour admission will include individual house history with map and parking details. Tickets are $35 and advance purchase is necessary, as there will be no tickets sold at the door. Tickets are available online at www.tredyffrinhistory.org using your credit card or download an order form and mail with your check to Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, PO Box 764, Devon, PA 19333-0764.

If you would like additional information about the house tour, consult www.tredyffrinhistory.org or call Pattye Benson at 610.644.6759 or email Pattye at info@tredyffrinhistory.org. All proceeds are tax deductible as the trust is a registered 501 c3 organization.

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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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