Pattye Benson

Community Matters

DuPortail House

The Battle of Brandywine Meets Chester County Johnston Gang — Wednesday, April 12 with Bruce Mowday

As President of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, I am excited to announce our 2017 Spring Lecture Series kicks off with Chester County award-winning journalist Bruce Mowday on Wednesday, April 12. Bruce will speak about two of his books — “The Battle of Brandywine” and “The Johnston Gang”. The reception is at 7 PM with the lecture follows at 7:30 PM at historic Duportail House in Chesterbrook.

September 1777 was a pivotal time in the history of our nation and Chester County – the main engagement of the Philadelphia campaign during the American Revolution, the Battle of Brandywine fought on September 11, 1777 played a crucial role in shaping our country’s future.

Bruce will also talk about infamous Johnston Gang of Chester County. In the late 1970’s, the Johnston burglary ring had operated almost untouched in southern Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware for more than a decade, stealing heavy farm equipment and cars and launching operations such as the theft of more than $50,000 from Longwood Gardens.

An enthusiastic invitation is extended to all for a wonderful evening with Bruce Mowday! For further information and reservations, please call 610-647-1051 or visit our website,

Bruce will be around following the lecture for book purchases and signing — the perfect graduation, Father’s Day gift for your personal history buff!

We appreciate that Gene Donahue,TV studio/station manager at Tredyffrin Township, will be taping the Trust lecture. Tredyffrin Township Television is offering the Spring Basics of Production (free to township residents), the basics of video production and certification. Don’t just watch TV, make it! For details, click 2017 Basics of Production flyer. Class start next week, sign-up by Friday, April 15 by calling Gene at 610-408-3633 or email

“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 . 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

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


Community Matters Getting Off the Backburner

10th Annual Historic House Tour - Poster.pdf_page_1I have had a number of emails, phone calls and conversations with people – all asking me about Community Matters and expressing concerning that something may be wrong since there have been no recent blog posts. I appreciate the concern but I am OK, it’s just been a very busy couple of months — the House Tour Preview Party on Sunday, September 21 at Duportail House, the 10th Annual Historic House Tour on Saturday, September 27 and then the sixth annual Paoli Blues Fest last weekend. With all of the meetings and planning required for these community events, I had to relegate Community Matters to the backburner.

The 2014 House Tour was a wonderful success and broke last year’s attendance record with over 500 tickets sold. The tour featured five historic estate homes in Easttown and Tredyffrin Townships, the Great Valley Mill and St. Peter’s Church in the Great Valley. The tour celebrated the work of renowned Chester County architect Brognard Okie. For the tenth straight year, Mother Nature cooperated and provided a perfect, sunny 80 degree day, make the house tour even more special!

Since the first Trust house tour a decade ago, the tour has featured three centuries of structures, including 64 historic private homes of which seven served as Revolutionary War headquarters; eight barns, four churches, three schools, including two ‘one-room’ schoolhouses; a springhouse, a museum, a mill and a special historic playhouse.

Between ticket purchases and tour sponsorships, the house tour raised $30,000 for the Jones Log Barn rebuilding project. When the final phase of the project is completed, the barn will join two National Historic Register properties – Duportail House and the Federa2014 posterl Barn – and serve as the ‘Living History Center at Duportail’ in Chesterbrook.

There are many people to thank for this annual historic house tour, including the wonderful homeowners who opened their homes, the enthusiastic volunteers, the individual and corporate sponsors, the local police departments, other nonprofits groups (Chester County Open Land Conservancy and Duportail House) and most of all, we thank the many residents who supported the tour. (For a full list of sponsors, click here).

The Paoli Blues Fest celebrated its sixth annual music festival and street fair last Saturday, October 4. The day started out overcast with an occasional spritz of rain but as if on cue at noon, as the musicians warmed up, the clouds parted, the sun began to shine, the temperature soared and memories were created. Touted as the largest annual blues festival in the tri-state region, the party in Paoli didn’t disappoint. From the brass sounds of Big Bang Theory to Blue Jay Slim & the Tone Blasters, Russ Lambert, Blues Bizness, Deb Callahan and then the finale band, Blue Plate Special, it was a day of great music, food, drink and a lot of fun. A real community event, thanks goes to the musicians, vendors, sponsors, volunteers and all the hundreds of people who attended!

With the Annual House Tour and the Paoli Blues Fest completed, I look forward to getting Community Matters off the backburner.

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’ ( 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

The Revolution in Chester County. . . Technology Helps Shed New Light on Local History

History Buffs . . . Don’t miss this opportunity!

“A Fortnight in Chester County:
The American Revolution in our own Backyard”

~ with Sean Moir, Guest Lecturer

Thursday, February 23

Lecture: 7:00 PM

Tredyffrin Public Library
582 Upper Gulph Road
Strafford, PA 19087

Cost: Free
Info: 610.688.7092, ext. 206

What can technology tell us about the troop movement through Chester County during the Revolutionary War?

Follow the movements of the British and American Armies, hour by hour, through the Battles of 1777 – A unique electronic map brings the battles of Brandywine and Paoli to life!

Sean Moir, Chester County GIS analyst and historic researcher, will present an animated map of Revolutionary War troop movements in Chester County and Tredyffrin Township as part of the Fall Trust lecture series. The lecture will discuss the multi-award winning county project, sponsored by the National Park Service and the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP), which included the researching, mapping, and animating of the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign conflicts, specifically the Battle of Brandywine and the Paoli Massacre.

A Tredyffrin Township resident, Sean combined his software and GIS skills with his personal interest in history to create groundbreaking animated battle maps which he has presented to audiences across the region. In addition to the military element, the project included heavy emphasis on mapping the cultural landscape of the 18th century upon which the fighting and marching occurred. The research helped to produce an 18th century road map of the region. With the help of countless volunteers, the project is driving the completion of fourteen municipal historic resource surveys for the Chester County Historic Resource Atlas project.

Upcoming Special Events on Saturday: Barn Sale of Antiques in the Great Valley & Native Plant Sale at DuPortail House

Twice a year, in the Fall and Spring, my friend holds a special ‘Barn Sale’ at her beautiful historic home on Yellow Springs Road in Malvern. Tomorrow on Saturday, October 9, 9 AM – 4 PM is the Fall Barn Sale . . . You don’t want to miss this opportunity.

There’s nothing better on a beautiful autumn day than some good old-fashioned antiquing and this Barn Sale has something for everyone . . . antiques, quilts, benches, primitives, garden and patio items, including herbs, . . . even some ‘yard sale’ goodies.

This opportunity only comes twice a year, so don’t miss it! Everything from primitive to traditional – all with a country feel. For the best ‘pickins’ be there early in the day! And the prices are fantastic!

Location: 2205 Yellow Springs Road, Malvern, PA – located 1 mile west of N. Valley Road and 1 mile east of Route 29, adjacent to the PA Turnpike. Look for the ‘Barn Sale’ signs.


A Native Plant Sale is scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, October 9, 10 AM – 2 PM at the Duportail House at Chesterbrook. Yellow Springs Farm Native Plants Nursery, will be providing an array of local native plants for sale, including ferns, shrubs, trees, wildflowers, etc. Yellow Springs Farm will also have available its Artisanal Goat Cheese made from the exceptional milk of its goats.

The sale is sponsored by the township’s Environmental Advisory Council and the board of directors of DuPortail House. Yellow Springs Farm will contribute 10% of the proceeds to the EAC and DuPortail House.

Dr. Ana Negron, a Tredyffrin resident and family physician, will present a compost workshop during the plant sale at 12 Noon. Ana is a master composter who has been composting for over 20 years and teaching for 2 years.

Location: DuPortail House, 297 Adams Drive, Wayne, PA 19087.

Woodcrest Estate Mansion on Cabrini College Campus . . . is it haunted? Come to the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust Lecture and find out!

The Woodcrest Estate Mansion on the campus of Cabrini College routinely makes the top ten list for the most haunted colleges in America. It makes sense for some to be able to disregard these stories completely. For many, it isn’t until they find themselves alone at night walking behind the Woodcrest mansion or in their room that they begin to question the possibility of ghosts on campus. From the first night of orientation students are told the tales of happenings of long ago in the very buildings where they live, learn and visit every day. Some people choose not to believe the legends, passing it off as only that, a legend. Others know from experience that unexplainable things are known to take place every so often right here on campus. Are there footsteps from beyond at Cabrini’s Woodcrest Mansion?

Wayne resident Martha Dale will be at the historic Duportail House in Chesterbrook on Wednesday, May 26 as guest speaker of Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s Spring Lecture Series. Speaking on the history of the Woodcrest Estate, Mrs. Dale’s background includes serving as alumni director at Cabrini College for over 25 years and as coordinator of historical projects during the College’s 50th Anniversary celebration, 2007-08. Mrs. Dale spearheaded an alumni effort to learn more about the history of the former Woodcrest Estate Mansion, the centerpiece of the Cabrini College campus and a landmark on the Philadelphia Main Line. Mrs. Dale was instrumental in having the Mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. A reception will begin at 7 PM followed by lecture at 7:30 PM. Lecture admission is $15 and all proceeds go toward Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s rebuilding effort of the Jones Log Barn at the DuPortail House location.

Mrs. Dale will lecture on the history of the Woodcrest Estate, which was built in 1901 by James W. Paul, a son-in-law of financier and philanthropist Anthony J. Drexel, and designed by architect Horace Trumbauer. Mr. Paul’s heirs owned Woodcrest until 1925. In 1925, members of the Paul family sold the Mansion and 120 acres of the Woodcrest Estate to Dr. John T. Dorrance, of the Campbell’s Soup Company. Designed by Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer and constructed more than 100 years ago, much of the 51-room mansion remains virtually unchanged. Much of the interior was restored to its original elegance for the College’s 50th anniversary. The architecture includes elements of 15th, 16th and 17th century English design and is primarily modeled after the Elizabethan (Tudor) style.

For more information or to make a reservation the lecture, contact Polly Hagan, 610. 647.1051 or

Community Matters . . . No longer missing in action

For the last 3 days, Community Matters has taken a backseat to a family event. Our only child, Lyndsey was married this weekend. Graduating from the Cleveland Clinic Medical School in 2 weeks in Cleveland, she married a young attorney from Seattle, Washington on Saturday at the DuPortail House. By the first of June, Lyndsey and James will be moving to Chicago for the start of her residency at U of Chicago Medical Center. (BTW, if anyone has contacts for a young attorney in Chicago, please pass them on to me — it would be much appreciated. James is taking the Illinois Bar at the end of July and will then be looking for a job.)

Between the Friday afternoon Bridal Garden Party, Rehearsal Dinner, evening wedding on Saturday night and a Wedding Brunch on Sunday at our house, it was a whirlwind of activity this weekend. With an out-of-state bride and groom, all wedding events and details, including making truffles fell to me! With the stress of the wedding beginning to subside, I’m starting to pick-up the pieces on other things, including Community Matters.

There is a Board of Supervisors Meeting tonight at 7:30 PM; here is the agenda. Although the agenda appears to be brief, we know from past experience that the discussion during ‘New Matters’ can often be the most noteworthy and compelling. Recalling the last supervisors meeting, I would suggest that certain Board members might want to try a different, more conciliatory approach towards citizens and their questions. I heard through the grapevine that the chairman would not be attending tonight’s meeting. If that is the case, vice chairman Paul Olson will preside over the meeting. This in itself could prove very interesting . . . !

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