Tredyf­frin his­toric house tour marks its 12th year

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SOCIETY - Story and pho­tos by Joan Bang

One of the most im­por­tant priv­i­leges granted to those liv­ing in the Greater Philadel­phia area is that of his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. Along with that blessing has come the de­sire and re­solve to pre­serve, pro­tect and pro­mote its an­tiq­uity. As keep­ing chil­dren and adults aware of the past is im­por­tant for many rea­sons it’s why, for the last 12 years, the Tredyf­frin His­toric Preser­va­tion Trust (THPT) has been work­ing hard on mak­ing that hap­pen in the town­ship.

When one of Tredyf­frin’s trea­sured pieces of yes­ter­year was ru­mored to be on the chop­ping block for dis­man­tling — the Jones Log Barn (JLB) built in the 1700s on land ad­ja­cent to the Du­por­tail Home — a con­cerned coali­tion of con­ser­va­tion­ists got to­gether and started a grass­roots ef­fort to see that didn’t hap­pen. A dozen years later, THPT is still con­duct­ing his­toric house tours in the com­mu­nity and ad­ja­cent town­ships.

This year’s abodes in­cluded a for­mer sta­ble, built at the turn of the 19th cen­tury, which has been thought­fully re­fur­bished and up­dated into two 4,500 sq. ft., state-of-the-art homes with­out com­pro­mis­ing the build­ing’s in­tegrity.

Two mul­tiuse build­ings came un­der scru­tiny by at­ten­dees. The first was the Tredyf­frin Pub­lic Li­brary where ticket pickup for the event took place. Now 50 years old, it was built by one of the lead­ing ar­chi­tects of his time, Roma­ldo Gi­ur­gola. Po­si­tioned with its “back to the street,” the views from the build­ing’s rear bring the out­side veg­e­ta­tion and sun­light into the heart of the struc­ture, where pa­trons take ad­van­tage of the am­bi­ence.

The other venue was just a mile away at the junc­tion of Devon State and Ber­wyn Bap­tist roads. Jenk­ins Ar­bore­tum was a “love let­ter” of sorts from H. Lawrence Jenk­ins to his wife, Elis­a­beth Phillippe, a pas­sion­ate gar­dener. It was meant to be not only a place to sit and con­tem­plate its beauty, but also its bounty with many new breeds of flora, trees and shrubs prop­a­gated on its grounds.

In the winter of 1913, Philadel­phian Whar­ton Esh­er­ick came “west” pur­chas­ing a small farm­house circa 1893. While he took ad­van­tage of the light by a win­dow to paint, his wife took up hor­ti­cul­ture, grow­ing all the fam­ily’s pro­duce. Con­structed of field­stone and stucco, the struc­ture was lived in by var­i­ous fam­ily mem­bers — the cou­ple had three chil­dren — un­til about 20 year ago.

A “grand­fa­ther” of homes on the tour was built in 1750. Di­a­mond Rock Farm’s prop­erty came as a di­rect sale be­tween Wil­liam Penn and Wil­liam Mor­daint at the be­gin­ning of the 1680s. Now com­prised of 10 acres, the home has nooks, cran­nies and add-ons, some dat­ing back cen­turies. The six bed­rooms, and seven baths or pow­der rooms along with a gourmet, top-of-the-line kitchen, was im­pres­sive for a house this age. Gar­dens and lawns, all fac­ing east, gave a wide view of the val­ley.

Stony­hurst, a circa1887 Straf­ford home tucked away off of Old Ea­gle School Road on Fern­field Cir­cle, was once a farm. Now up for sale, the house boasts a wrap-around front porch, com­plete with swing and views of a rolling front lawn. In ad­di­tion, the prop­erty holds a car­riage house that’s been ren­o­vated into a pri­vate home.

Ber­wyn had two en­tries in the day’s jaunt. Charmed Gar­den, circa 1886, had sev­eral in­car­na­tions in­clud­ing one as a board­ing house dur­ing the sum­mer months. Now home to another fam­ily, the struc­ture houses six bed­rooms and four baths. As a bonus the mas­ter suite has its own sleep­ing porch for warm sum­mer nights.

Sun­ny­croft, lo­cated right off of Route 252, was named af­ter the first owner’s child­hood home. Homer Reed Jr. was a trans­plant from Kansas City who spared no ex­pense at build­ing his dream house and gar­dens. Still sit­ting on 13.5 acres, about half of its orig­i­nal size, there are for­mal gar­dens, walk­ways, pool and pa­tio at the rear of the manse.

Par­tic­i­pants were pleased to see the Old Cov­ered Wagon Inn, circa1780, take a bow for its years of ser­vice to the area. In true THPT form, the non­profit awarded John Za­harck and Sum­mit Realty Ad­vi­sors its high­est honor for help­ing make this hap­pen. Both took home 2016 His­toric Preser­va­tion Award, for their com­mit­ment in mak­ing sure this note­wor­thy es­tab­lish­ment re­mained in­tact. Well done.

Help pre­serve the past by sup­port­ing THPT’s 13th An­nual House Tour.

Wayne res­i­dent Mo­jdeh Keykhah (cen­ter, right) and her friends, Greg and Elise Haines and Peter Trenta­coste, ad­mire the wrap-around porch of a se­cluded home in Devon.

Craig Postle­wait gives guests Tr­ish Gutsche of Malvern, her hus­band, Stu­art, along with Melissa Vos­burgh of Straf­ford, di­rec­tions on which way to en­ter the circa 1915 du­plex.

Tobey Ross of St. Davids and his wife. Read Wick­ham, check out the west side of a re­pur­posed barn and sta­ble on Up­per Gulph Road.

Wayne res­i­dents Donna Lewis and Heather Yocum pe­ruse the for­mal liv­ing room of a Ber­wyn Man­sion built in the early 1930s.

Katie In­gelsby of Wayne, Diane Lucki of Phoenixville, Melissa Ci­chow­icz of King of Prus­sia and Jen­nie Sk­erl of Paoli are “flagged” down for a photo op be­fore en­ter­ing an 85-year-old homestead.

THPT board mem­ber Pearl Nudy and Sandy McAlaine of Villanova are on hand to guide pa­trons through a mod­ern­ized, sprawl­ing home off of Old Ea­gle School Road.

Laura Heemer, cu­ra­tor at the Whar­ton Esh­er­ick and Julie Gan­n­away, the home’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, point out the nu­mer­ous phases the land and build­ings have gone through.

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