Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Chester County

Chester County DA Tom Hogan Decides Not to Seek Re-Election – Thank You For Your Service, Your Dedication and for Making Chester County a Safer Place!

Today, I sadly learned that our Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan will not seek re-election for a third term.  For those that have followed Community Matters for a while, you will know that I have not kept my friendship with Tom a secret. Well over a decade ago, when he was Tredyffrin Township’s solicitor, we bonded over historic preservation issues.  The friendship and mutual support for historic preservation has continued through the years.

It’s easy for some to say that “everyone is replaceable”, but there is no doubt that many of the 500,000 Chester County residents will miss having Tom Hogan at the helm, when he leaves office at the end of the year. During his eight years as our District Attorney, Tom has contributed greatly to making Chester County a safer place for its citizens and for that we can all be grateful.

Thank you District Attorney Hogan for your service and dedication to our community and best wishes for the future. Without a doubt, you will continue to have success!

Rather than anyone speculating as to why he will not seek a third term, I think it is best to just post Tom’s very personal message directly from his Facebook page:

To My Beloved Chester County:

It has been my privilege and duty to serve as the Chester County District Attorney for the last two terms. Today I am announcing that I will not seek re-election to a third term.

There are three reasons that I have reached this decision, after careful consultation with my family and colleagues.

First, we have accomplished everything we set out to achieve and more. And when I say “we”, I mean the entire team that worked together every step of the way to deliver justice to Chester County. We made Chester County the safest county in Southeastern Pennsylvania. We created successful protocols for active shooters, homicides, child abuse, sexual assaults, elder abuse, and many other crimes. We responded early and hard to the opioid epidemic, bringing every tool available to the job, and have kept Chester County’s overdose levels down and falling. We inherited a dysfunctional office, modernized it, recruited outstanding people, then trained them to be even better. We have one of the best in-house trial advocacy programs in the nation. We created a vertical prosecution model for major cases, pairing prosecutors with investigators right from the start of a case, leading to both deeper investigations and more coordinated trials. We conducted major anti-violence and anti-drug initiatives, like Operation Silent Night in Coatesville and Operation Wildfire across Chester County. We built a new Computer Forensics Lab, a new Drug Unit work space, and a new Crime Scene Forensics Unit work area. We established a Central Booking Facility, a project that was a law enforcement dream in Chester County for decades. We doubled the resources for the Child Abuse Unit and created an Elder Abuse Task Force, creating protections for the most vulnerable populations.

We also always have been tough on violent criminals, predators, and corrupt officials. James Hvizda, Gary Fellenbaum, Richard Como, David Desper, Sammy Smith, Duron Peoples, Jack Mayer, Barry Baker, Clayton Carter – – these are just a few of the defendants who wish they never heard of the Chester County DAO.

But we also proved that you could be both tough on crime and establish meaningful reforms. On the reform front, we required independent investigations of officer-involved shootings, scientifically valid eye-witness identifications, truth in testimony from the police, the recording of interviews of suspects, and an open-file discovery process to make sure that the defense was never denied any evidence. Our prison population is at a historically low level, because we have robust diversionary programs for non-violent criminals. We did the right thing, the hard thing, for the right reasons. And of course we made mistakes, but they were always honest mistakes that we tried to correct and never repeat.

The Chester County District Attorney’s Office now stands as that “shining city upon a hill,” an example of what a prosecutor’s office should and must be. The DAO is as strong and deep as it ever has been. I am proud to leave that as my legacy.

The second reason for my decision is that I am honoring the request of my family. This is a note that my daughter found one morning outside her door when she was in middle school: “I went to a homicide scene. Mom is in China for work. Make your little brother breakfast. I will be back to take you guys to school. Love, Dad.” As the District Attorney, I am often gone. And even when I am there, I am often someplace else in my head, thinking about a case. I left my family at a vacation in Disney World to fly home to deal with a homicide. But nobody’s family should have to put up with a life like this forever. Being the kids and wife of the District Attorney is not easy. My family never wanted me to run for another term (the vote was unanimous). Should I have listened to them at the end of last year? Of course. But I was too busy being District Attorney to even think about it. My family deserves a break.

Third and finally, it is time for a new challenge. I have been a line Assistant District Attorney, trying every case that came along. I have been a federal prosecutor, with the enormous powers that accompany that job. I have been the District Attorney, and got to re-make the DAO into my own vision, a hybrid between a federal prosecutor’s office and a local prosecutor’s office. Now is the right time in my life to take up a new challenge.

A few final thoughts. To the men and women of law enforcement, thank you for your courage, integrity, and loyalty. You are the best.

To our prosecutors, you make me proud every day. You try difficult cases, you protect victims, you never cut corners, and you uphold the integrity of the Chester County DAO. You can tell by the number of other agencies and law firms constantly trying to lure our folks away to higher-paying jobs that we produce skilled and ethical prosecutors.

To the victims of crimes and their families, you taught me lessons about grace and courage that I will never forget. It has been an honor to seek justice for you.

To the citizens of Chester County, thank you for all of your support over the years. I could go anywhere in Chester County and have people greet me with, “Hello Mr. District Attorney!” From North Coventry to Oxford, from Honey Brook to my home in Willistown, our citizens rejoiced in the victories of the DAO. Looking into the future, please realize that Chester County is still growing rapidly. We have about 800 police officers right now. Within the next ten years, we should grow to about 1,000 police officers. Invest in the safety of you, your family, and your business. And finally, respect each other. Chester County is like living in Wonderful World of Oz. We have everything: safety, education, health, wealth, and happiness. While the rest of the country and world may argue, keep working together. Chester County must remain a special place.

As my replacement to run for District Attorney, I respectfully suggest First Assistant District Attorney Michael Noone. Mike has served as First Assistant for the last seven years and knows the operations of the DAO intimately. He also is the co-chair of the Overdose Prevention Task Force, leads the Elder Abuse Task Force, and reviews all sexual assault prosecutions. In addition to his extensive trial experience, he was the lead prosecutor against Gary Fellenbaum, now serving life imprisonment for the torture and killing of three-year old Scotty McMillan. Mike is well-known to law enforcement and our judges. He will keep Chester County safe.

That’s it. No scandals. I am still happily married to my wife of 22 years and have two great kids. No back story. I am still the nerd who never even tried marijuana. Nope, I am just somebody recognizing that there is a time to leave public life. I will complete my second term, and then help my replacement take over the DAO. After that, I am off to a new adventure.

Until then, I will sign off with our usual salute: #chescojustice. Forever.

Thomas P. Hogan

Chester County District Attorney

FREE: “Opioid Crisis in Our Back Yard” – Sunday, Sept. 10, 1-4 PM, Wilson Farm Park, Chesterbrook

Addiction can strike anywhere and in any community, including ours — we have watched heroin use and seriously life-threatening addictions become more common. Our community, like many across the country, is learning this first-hand with a dramatic rise in the cases of drug abuse, addiction, overdoses and deaths.

Learn about the “Opioid Crisis in Our Back Yard” on Sunday, September 10, 1-4 PM at Wilson Farm Park in Chesterbrook. A free informational session, open to the public, please plan to attend.

Depression, alcoholism and drug addiction … “Saving lives is the Answer”

IDrug addictionn June, I learned that a local 20-something year old CHS graduate had committed suicide. Although I did not know the young man personally, I was told that he suffered from depression, drug addiction and was on probation through the courts. Having attended the funeral of his friend, another young man, himself a Conestoga graduate, sent me an email.

Overcome with grief over losing his close friend from high school, and looking for answers, his email read in part,

I’ve been struggling with addiction for 5 years now. I know that people need to get it on their own, but I mean trying to educate them before this happens. If I saw a fellow peer talk about how he/she just started out experimenting with drugs and eventually led to what it led to for me who knows what I would have done differently.

The problem is hard drugs have been normalized in the high school and almost glorified because they don’t see what happens when they are a little older and all of their friends are dying.

We have 15-year-old girls in Conestoga that are shooting heroin! It’s absolute insanity. Something needs to be done; we just lost ANOTHER graduate, one of my best friends, 3 days ago to this stuff.

The young man who sent me this email told me that had sent an email to the T/E School Board asking for their help with the drug problem in the schools.

Last year, Chester County officials released the statistics report on fatal heroin overdoses in the county. Since 1999, the overdose death rate in Chester County has doubled with 24 overdose deaths in 2013, with victims ranging from 21 to 79 years old. Fourteen were men and 10 were women. The report indicated that 18 of the fatal overdoses or approximately seventy-five percent, both heroin and prescription drugs were involved.

When the statistics were released, Chester County DA Tom Hogan stated, “One clear trend from these statistics is that prescription drug abuse is a gateway to a heroin overdose. Heroin does not discriminate. It is a deadly drug that is abused by young and old, poor and rich, white and black. Nobody is safe. There are students in every high school in Chester County who are using heroin, from Conestoga to Coatesville, from Unionville to Oxford.”

In 2014, we learned of the arrest of 11 people involved in the ‘Main Line Take Over Project’, a drug trafficking ring. Two Haverford School graduates were the drug operation kingpins and hired students at main line high schools, including Conestoga, Radnor and Lower Merion as their drug peddlers. Every child is at risk. According to experts, those with risk factors, such as a family history of mental illness or addiction, have a greater chance of becoming addicted.

Alcoholism and drug addiction is a disease. People are suffering from this disease and dying from this disease every day. We really can’t do anything as a society to help those people until we start talking about it.

I received the following statement from T/E School Board Director Liz Mercogliano with a request to add it to Community Matters:

Rescue for Overdose

My name is Liz Mercogliano. I serve as a current T/E school board director. I also have practiced psychiatric nursing since 1984. I am a practicing Realtor and lawyer.

I wanted to share the facts on overdose and/or harm to self or suicide. At T/E, I support giving our students mental and emotional support. Every year we lose a child to suicide or overdose. Overdose can happen in a second with prescription, legal and illegal drugs.

Many students and families are not familiar with the signs and symptoms of psychiatric disease or the fact that everyone has different levels of depressions throughout their lives. As a result, there are accidental overdoses as well as serious unidentified clinical depressions that may lead to suicide.

Please realize depression is treatable and many overdose accidents result in life changing events for the individual. The right thing to do is to help those who need our help. This help includes identifying persons at risk and offering professional help. This is not a small matter in our community. When it happens to you or a loved one, find help. In my mind, EMTs and the ability to reverse the overdose will make our community a better place.

Saving lives is the answer. Provide mental and emotional support all the sick whether it is a traditional medical disease or drug or alcohol disease.


Liz Mercogliano, RN, Esquire
T/E School Board Director

Chester Valley Trail Phase II section through Tredyffrin Township opens … Think Spring!


snowy trail

Looks like Mother Nature has dug her heels in this winter … with 8 or 9 inches of snow on the ground and the weather forecasters claiming there is more on the way tonight, it’s hard to ‘Think Spring’. Further bad news came on Sunday with Goundhog Punxsutawney Phil forecasting six more weeks of what already has felt like a brutally long and cold winter.

But today is one of those sunny days- where the air is crisp and you can feel the promise of spring hidden somewhere away in the barren branches of the trees. In the midst of the cold temperatures, snow and ice, you may have missed last week’s announcement that the Phase II section of the Chester Valley Trail opened in Tredyffrin.

Phase I which opened in 2010, is a 4-mile section from Exton Park to Route 29 at Wegmans in Malvern. The Phase II section extends the trail an additional 5.8 miles from Uptown Worthington to Old Eagle School Road for a total of 9.8 miles. I contacted Tim Lander, president of the Friends of Chester Valley Trail, for a comment about the opening and about resident parking in Tredyffrin.

According to Tim, there is no county-owned parking in Tredyffrin for trail use but offered a couple of suggestions. Penn Medicine has agreed to allow weekend-only parking at their lot on Chesterbrook Boulevard and you can park at Cedar Hollow Park. Cedar Hollow Park is a small township park on Cedar Hollow Road close to the Vanguard campus. Many people use the parking at Uptown Worthington for Phase I and since Wegmans is the pick-up point for Phase II, that’s another option. Tim mentioned that the County is speaking to various commercial landlords in Tredyffrin, hoping to establish additional parking facilities close to the trail.

Tim’s reaction to the recent opening of Phase II …

It’s very exciting to have the Chester Valley Trail open in Tredyffrin. Having watched years of discussion, planning, and construction it’s great to be able to use the trail at last. I’ve spoken with many local residents who feel the same way, some of whom took advantage of the favorable weather on the first weekend in February to get out for a walk or bike ride. There were walkers, joggers, and cyclists of all ages; a great cross-section of our community. I have also heard from several people who plan to commute via the trail, and are encouraged to know that the County will keep the trail plowed during winter months.

The Friends of the Chester Valley Trail expects to work closely with County staff to plan volunteer activities that encourage community involvement with the trail. In addition, the Friends will hold a public meeting at the Tredyffrin Township Building in March. All are welcome to attend. Keep an eye on our website – – for details as they unfold.

Tim Lander, President, Friends of the Chester Valley Trail

The Friends of Chester Valley Trail is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to assist the Chester County Parks and Recreation Department promote trail activities, plan for future programs, facilities and improvements, alert staff to trail conditions, assist in reducing maintenance costs, and provide other assistance to the public as may be requested.

With the opening of the Tredyffrin section of the Chester Valley Trail, let’s support the Friends of Chester Valley Trail with a 2014 membership. Membership — $15 Individual, $25 Family and $100 Sponsor. To download the membership form, click here.

To the Board of Friends of Chester Valley Trail – Tim Lander, Steve Warren, Mike Broennle, Bob Cochlin, Phil Hoke, Bob O’Leary and Gail Lipstein , Chester County employees and County Commissioners Ryan Costello, Kathi Cozzone and Terence Farrell – thank you for your dedication and hard work to make the trail a reality in Tredyffrin! To read Chester County press release, click here.

From Friends of Chester County Trail website

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

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.”


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




The Chester Valley Trail … Open Land Conservancy to Offer Update at their Annual Meeting

Cheser Valley TrailToday, when I visited Wegmans in Frazer, the Chester Valley Trail, located next to the parking lot, was filled with walkers, runners and bicyclists The glorious Spring weather had people of all ages out enjoying the trail — so how appropriate that Open Land Conservancy will use the trail as the topic for the annual meeting tomorrow night.

What is the status on the trail through Tredyffrin?

In describing the Chester County Trail, Open Land Conservancy offered — “It seems like it would be easy – lay down some tar on an old railroad right-of-way for a few miles, and you have a nice multi-use trail. The reality: it takes years – hundreds of hours spent by local and state government officials, a huge financial commitment, countless hours of volunteer work, and pledges for decades of on-going maintenance.” According to the Chester County website, the Chester Valley Trail project dates back to 1991, when representatives of Chester County, Montgomery County and PennDOT envisioned a soon-to-be abandoned rail line as a major trail.

For their 74th annual meeting, Open Land Conservancy has invited Owen Prusack, Chester County Regional Park Superintendent and responsible for the Chester Valley Trail. Prusack will explain the many challenges and rewards associated with the creation and preservation of the Trail. Also hear about future plans for the trail, connections to the local trail network, and the importance of trails such as those on our preserves in helping maintain a high quality of living.

The Open Land Conservancy annual meeting is open to the public and interested residents are encouraged to attend. The meeting is Wednesday, April 10, 8 PM at the Great Valley Presbyterian Church, on Swedesford Road, north of Paoli. Following the meeting, refreshments will be served.

Tredyffrin Receives 92% Fund Ratio Score from PERC

On January 21, 2013, a letter to the editor appeared in Main Line Suburban Life written by Chris Smith of Paoli. In his letter, ‘Willistown’s pension-fund shortfall must be addressed’ , Smith questioned how the supervisors planned to finance the $2.6 M pension shortfall? Smith pointed out that Willistown’s EIT is already at the highest level legally permitted.

Due to their pension shortfall, Willistown Township has received a Fund Ratio Score of 77 from Pennsylvania’s Public Employee Commission (PERC) that means that Willistown is only 77% funded against its liability. Every two years municipalities are required to submit their actuarially determined liabilities and in December PERC released their report, ‘Act 205 Distress Scores Based on the 2012 Actuarial Valuation Reports – 12/12/2012’. All municipalities contained in the report have listed all of their reported pension plans filed with PERC. The distress score based on the aggregate funded ration of a municipality’s pension plan. The score is used to determine a distress level and a municipality’s corresponding funding ratio.

Willistown’s Fund Ratio Score of 77% was an improvement from 2010 when PERC listed their pension funding at 65%. A Community Matters reader sent me Smith’s letter and suggested that I review the report for Tredyffrin. According to the December actuarial report from PERC, Tredyffrin Township received a Fund Ratio Score of 92%. In 2011, Tredyffrin reported assets in its public pension fund of $36,994,373 and liabilities of $40,257,326 for a shortfall of $3,262,954. Willistown’s Fund Ratio Score improved during the previous two years, Tredyffrin’s unfunded accrued liability of $1.4 M ranked a slightly higher 94% PERC score in 2010 versus 2012.

Of the 51 Chester County municipalities listed in the report, unfortunately approximately 50% received rankings in the ‘distressed’ category – Thornbury Township received the distinction of receiving a ‘severely distressed’ ranking of 23% with assets of $7.6 M as opposed to liabilities of $33 M. Twenty-five Chester County municipalities are listed in the ‘not distressed’ category including Tredyffrin Township. It was interesting to note that several Chester County municipalities received extremely high Fund Ratio Scores from PERC including our neighbors, Malvern Borough (122%) and East Goshen Township (125%).

In addition to Tredyffrin’s pension fund ratio score of 92%, there is some encouraging economic news – this month, Auxilium Pharmaceutical announced its moving its corporate headquarters to Lee Road in Chesterbrook and yesterday we learned that Teleflex, a medical device manufacturer is moving its headquarters from Limerick Township to Swedesford Road. With Auxilium and Teleflex moving into the township, that’s 300+ new Tredyffrin workers.

8th Annual Historic House Tour Saturday – Tickets Available!

In my world, there’s nothing better than the beautiful historic homes that memorialize the history of our community. With great pleasure, the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust brings you the 8th Annual Historic House Tour this Saturday, September 22. On behalf of the Trust, I would like to personally thank this year’s special homeowners who have allowed us to showcase their wonderful 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!

Willowbrook Farm, c.1710, photo by Carla Zambelli

The Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s 8th Annual Historic House Tour is this Saturday, September 22, 2012 and tickets are still available!

Click here for 2012 Historic House Tour Press Release describing the tour and information about some of the houses on this year’s tour, including Willowbrook Farm, twice a Vassar Show House. Tickets can be purchased online at using your credit card. Click here for 8th Annual Historic House Tour flyer, which has additional details on the second page. If you have friends, neighbors, co-workers that might enjoy the tour, I hope that you will consider passing the information on to them.

Pick-up of guest badges, maps and brochures is anytime between 11 AM – 1 PM on Saturday, September 22 at the Duportail House, 297 Adams Drive, Chesterbrook (Wayne) 19087 (corner of Chesterbrook Blvd. and Adams Drive). The House Tour is 12 Noon – 5PM. Please note that the houses will not open until 12 PM.

Hope to see you on the House Tour and thank you for supporting historic preservation in our community!

Pattye Benson
Chair, 8th Annual Historic House Tour
President, Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust
Tel: 610-644-6759


As the president of the Board of Directors of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and chair of the 8th Annual Historic House Tour, I wish to thank the following sponsors for their generous support of the House Tour and their personal commitment to historic preservation in the community!

Host Sponsor

Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm

Supporting Sponsors


Penn Medicine

Period Architecture Ltd.

Contributing Sponsors

Arcadia Land Company

Golden Valley Farms

Michael & Michelle Kichline

Michael D’Onofrio Historical Restoration & Construction

Paul & Andrea Olson

Murph & Lois Wysocki

Patron Sponsors

18th Century Restorations, Inc.

Corinne Ackerman

Paul Drucker for PA State House


Mike & Shelley Heaberg

Tom Hogan & Victoria Silbey

State Representative Warren Kampf

Glenna LaSalle Keene

Dr. & Mrs. Gerald M. Long

Carolyn Mead

Pete & Bonnie Motel

Post Haste Handyman, division of

Pendulum Solutions Design Build

Brad Tiffany – Kistler Tiffany Benefits

Tredyffrin Township Historical Commission

Wade, Goldstein, Landau & Abruzzo, PC

Wise Preservation Planning

Carla Zambelli


Need Jobs Now!

What’s the saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’?

As I drove along Swedesford Road to Wegmans a few days ago, I actually did a u-turn in the middle of the road … not quite believing what I saw. In the median strip on Swedesford Road in the shadow of the Great Valley Corporate Center and its mega-commercial buildings, were these two gentlemen holding ‘need help’ signs. I stopped the car to chat with them – both were out-of-work, one for 2-1/2 years, the other for 18 months. One was a union carpenter but explained that his local union had no work for him and he was managing by living off odd jobs. The other man, a veteran, explained that he had lost his family and his house since losing his job.

They said they generally came to this location in the morning during the work week, hoping that someone would offer them a job (even a few hours of work) or donate food or money. As if on cue, a well-dressed young may stopped his car and came over to us – giving each man a bag of food from a local carry-out. Aside from a polite thank you, no other words were exchanged, leaving me with the impression that this was not the first time this young man stopped to offer the men lunch.

I asked why did they choose this particular location and they said they thought it was important to serve as a reminder to the local corporate center workers, that they themselves were but ‘one paycheck away from a similar situation’. I asked them who they blamed — their response, “the government” … adding that “nobody cares”.

This photo serves as a reminder that unemployment and the job crisis is no longer ‘somewhere else’ — it’s right here in our backyard — Pennsylvania … Chester County … Tredyffrin Township! In the coming months between now and November, I want to hear some real ideas about how to get people back to work in this country. And that includes jobs for people in Chester County.




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