Tredyffrin historic house tour marks its 12th year
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.