Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Chester County

Sean Moir’s Animated Maps Brings the Battles of Paoli and Brandywine to Life!

At last week’s Trust lecture, Sean Moir, a GIS Analyst with Chester County, presented an animated map of the Revolutionary War troop movements in Chester County and Tredyffrin Township. Sean has worked for the last three years researching, mapping, and animating the conflicts of the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign, specifically the Battle of Brandywine and the Paoli Massacre.

His lecture for the Trust drew a standing-room only crowd to the Duportail House and his exciting presentation held the attention of everyone in attendance.

Sean’s award-winning mapping project is amazing and how he managed to bring to life the Revolutionary War battles of Paoli and Brandywine is remarkable. I feel privileged to live in one of the houses on a road that witnessed troop movement during that part of our country’s history.

With Sean’s approval, my husband Jeff videotaped the lecture and uploaded the 1 hr. and 19 min. presentation to You Tube for others to enjoy. Jeff noted that the video is best viewed if you select ‘full screen mode’ in You Tube. Jeff added the following comment when he emailed the link:

I thought that the anecdotal comments by Sean, including relating modern locations to the battlefield was great. I think this could be used as a great tool to teach people this part of history locally and nationwide.

Jeff is right – the mapping project and Sean’s lecture are important and should be included in the local history curriculum.

Here’s the link to the You Tube video of Sean’s lecture. Hope that you will watch it and maybe learn something new about the historic community that we all call home.

A great presentation Sean — thank you my friend!


Local Elections Matter . . . Will you vote on November 8?

Take your pick – empty storefronts and vacant office buildings, roads and bridges in desperate need of repair, unemployment, environmental issues, such as storm water, dropping real estate values, rising taxes. Where do we start . . . how do we prioritize the issues? Tredyffrin Township may have fared better than some other areas of the country, but we have not escaped these problems. It may have taken longer for us to feel the pain . . . loss of jobs or a decrease in property values, but for many in our community, the problems now are very real.

There is a dark mood in the country about the high unemployment and Washington’s constant bickering over how to solve pressing problems. The economic gloom shows in cutbacks, layoffs, bailouts and outright bankruptcies; what is it going to take to move this country forward in morale, reward and recognition.

Like everyone else in this country, the residents of Tredyffrin are looking for solutions. In four short weeks, on Tuesday, November 8, it will be Election Day . . . we need to elect people who have forward-looking vision for this community. We need problem-solvers with specific solutions.

There are obvious signs throughout the township that the countdown to Election Day has begun . . . political lawn signs appear to reproduce nightly, candidate mailers are arriving daily at our doors and in our mailboxes along with invitations to political fundraisers.

Local elections do matter. Voting matters. Voting is really about affecting the country around you. There’s a feeling that local elections don’t matter which sometimes translates into ‘why’ bother. From the federal government to the state governor’s mansion to our local school board. Top to bottom, friends, our family and ‘us’ make a difference with our votes. We saw in the recent special election for supervisor that the result came down to a few votes. Your vote could be the vote that makes a difference!

All registered voters in Tredyffrin Township have an opportunity to select township supervisors and school board directors as well as county commissioners, district attorney, district judge and township auditor. The League of Women Voters has planned a debate for the Tredyffrin supervisor candidates for Monday, October 24, 7 PM at the township building. The following night on Tuesday, October 25, a debate is planned for 7 PM at the township building for the school board candidates.

We have a responsibility to our community. Let’s keep making Tredyffrin better, by voting on November 8. Local elections do matter.

A Speakeasy, 2 Goats & a Haunted House . . . Find them all on the Annual Historic House Tour on Saturday!

Just a few days remaining until Saturday and this year’s over-the-top Historic House Tour. But it’s not too late to purchase your tickets; go online at for credit card purchase and further information. Not only are the historic houses on this year’s tour amazing but their owners are even more remarkable! Supportive of historic preservation in our community, the homeowners are generously opening their doors to visitors on Saturday and on behalf of the Trust, we thank them!

I want to thank all the media outlets for their advertising of the House Tour. Kathleen Brady Shea, staff reporter with the Philadelphia Inquirer included an article in yesterday’s paper with photos, following up with Facebook and tweets. Main Line Neighbors and AroundMainLine have advertised the tour with articles, notices and updates using their online presence and Facebook and Twitter. Bob Byrne at TE Patch has included articles on the House Tour in his daily online news information. Susan Greenspon, editor of the Main Line Media News has run articles both online and in print on the House Tour for the last couple of weeks in the Suburban and King of Prussia Courier. I thank each of these media outlets — they didn’t have to help advertise the House Tour but they did!

Alan Thomas wrote the following article for the Main Line Media News which appears today. Here’s hoping it inspires some more ticket sales!

Historic House Tour is Saturday

Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Main Line Media
By Alan Thomas

The question was “Why?”

“They’ve never repeated,” the voice on the phone said. “She’s asked me year after year after year.”

Michael and Corinne Ackerman’s home, Tivoli Farm, will be in the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s 7th Annual Historic House Tour this Saturday, Sept. 24. And, according to Corinne, this is it. You may never have the opportunity to visit Tivoli Farm again.

“She” is Pattye Benson, owner and proprietor of the Great Valley House of Valley Forge, the circa 1720 bed and breakfast that is older than the house that George Washington stayed in at Valley Forge, and “She” is also president of the Historic Trust.

The Trust is a nonprofit 501c3 organization established in 2002 in response to the threat to demolish the historic 18th-century Jones Log Barn, a Colonial Welsh-American architectural treasure. The Trust’s mission is to preserve and protect historic and cultural resources in Tredyffrin Township for the benefit of present and future generations and to educate the public about the preservation and protection of historic and cultural settings.

The tour’s historic homes and gardens will be open from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, rain or shine. Knowledgeable guides will be staffing each home on the tour and the tour admission includes an individual house history with a 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 using your credit card, or you may quickly download an order form and mail with your check to Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, P.O. Box 764, Devon, PA 19333-0764. At this late date, however, going online is advised.

Much of the story of Tivoli Farms, involves the efforts of the Gretz family, a Philadelphia beer-baron family, that today still makes its name in the beer business, being the Anhueser Busch distributor for the four counties surrounding Philadelphia.

“There are three buildings on the property,” Corinne Ackerman said. “The carriage house,” visible from windows in the main house, is special. “I love looking out at that.”

There are also “the high ceilings, the pocket doors and the pine floors.” Ackerman also described some of her home’s historic flaws. “It’s got some bumps in the walls, uneven ceilings, those sorts of things.” she admits she could never do a perfect house tour with “curtains and furnishings.”

Like so many of the other tour houses, Tivoli Farm has stories, like the tale of its “speakeasy” history, long before its eventual acquisition by the Ackermans.

During Prohibition the Gretz famly turned to managing the dairy farm at Tivoli. However, an outside entrance to the basement, on the east side of the house is said to have been the entrance to a speakeasy.

The Montessori Children’s House of Valley Forge will be the ticket pick-up point for this year’s tour. One of the sponsors for the tour, MCHVF is one of the only schools located in a U.S. National Park; it officially opened its doors last year after spending $3.8 million to renovate the 3.5-acre property known as Ivy Hollow Farm, circa 1750. The Ivy Hollow farmhouse has been converted into a meeting room and a residential apartment for a staff member. The barn was transformed into the school building. Both the farmhouse and the barn will be available for visitors during the house tour.

According to Benson, this year’s sponsors have already “contributed about three-fourths of the total for last year’s house tour.” The 28 sponsors, Benson said, include State Representative Warren Kampf and also Penn Medicine. She added quickly that the local political scene has actually produced “representatives from both sides of the aisle,” along with several architectural and business firms and others.

Last year, Benson said, there were 350 tickets sold. This year, she’s shooting for 500.

“Over five hours [of the tour], it’s doable,” she added.

That number just might set the record for visitors to a farm that at one time was also a speakeasy.


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