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Developers demolish local historic building

Courtesy Pattye Benson

By Faith Zantua, Co-Copy Editor

The historic Chase Road Barn was demolished in December 2023. Residents and local historical societies have discussed plans regarding the property for many years, with public requests to stop the demolition.

Constructed around 1890, the building’s past as a part of Green Valley Farm, a roughly 800-acre farm that eventually turned into modern-day Chesterbrook, made it eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, according to the 2003 Tredyffrin Township Historic Resource Survey. Chase Road Picket Post Swim & Tennis Club also owned the barn for years as part of the club’s 4.8-acre property. After the club’s 2016 closure, developer Finery LLC purchased the property in 2018.

Finery LLC applied for a demolition permit for the barn, and the township approved the permit in April 2023. Erin McPherson, township director of zoning and planning, said during the Nov. 13 board of supervisors meeting that the township could not stop the demolition despite some public backlash, as the developer followed the required demolition permit application process.

Pattye Benson, president of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, a local nonprofit 501(c)(3) dedicated to preserving historic buildings, spoke with the property developers in hopes of preserving the site.

“By itself, (the barn) was probably not so significant,” Benson said. “What was significant to me, was its demolition.”

In past years, the developers had plans to preserve the building but eventually were not able to pursue them due to zoning restraints.

After years of complaints about the developers’ handling of the property, residents asked for a hold on the barn’s demolition at the Nov. 13 board of supervisors meeting.

“There was a lot of neighbor concern about the condition of the barn, and the township did have repeated notices of (maintenance) violation,” McPherson said.  “It’s private property, so the property owner chose to (demolish it). I guess the repairs needed for that barn were not feasible.”

McPherson noted that Tredyffrin Township does not have any protected properties. Whenever she receives a demolition permit application for a historic property, she notifies Benson and Rob Williams, chair of the township Historical Commission. Benson often uses the notice to contact the owner and take photos of the property before its demolition.

At the Jan. 16 township board of supervisors meeting, the board approved the Historical Commission’s application for a $20,000 Certified Local Government Project Grant. The commission plans to use the funding to hire a consultant that would advise the township on how to update the Historic Overlay Resource District to better protect historic resources.

“Every building, regardless of its historic significance, is at risk to be demolished by either their owners or the heirs to the property,” Benson said. “People move to the Tredyffrin/Easttown area for a variety of reasons — school district being top of the list, I’m sure. But another significant reason is because (of) a sense of history here. And if we’re going to continuously destroy our history, we’re not going to be any different than some kind of suburban sprawl somewhere else.”

Faith Zantua can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Faith Zantua, Co-Copy Editor
Faith Zantua is a sophomore and the Co-Copy Editor of The Spoke. As Co-Copy Editor, she edits print and web articles, ensuring that they follow the Associated Press' guidelines. She covers local events in the community, with an emphasis on education and policy-related topics. Outside of the newsroom, she researches other topics as part of Conestoga's National History Day Club and serves as a committee chair of the Mini-THON Planning Committee 2024.