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WEST CHESTER HISTORIC PRESERVATION AWARDS:

2018

Award Winners

featuring photos by Timlyn Vaughan Photography

www.timlynvaughanphotos.com

BRICK & MORTAR AWARD

Historic Dower House

& the adjacent

Chimney Hill Private Residence

 

Renovation & Restoration

100-102 Goshen Road

The term landmark can be overused, but in the case of the Dower House with Its prominent location at the northern entrance to the borough, it truly is a local landmark.  The home, perched on a sweeping hillside property overlooking the West Chester Country Club, forms a memorable northern gateway to the borough. This preservation award is given in acknowledgement of the combined efforts of, Christopher Lang, the owner of the Dower House, and Period Architecture, designers of a new residence on the south portion of the property. Together they were able to preserve the open visual integrity of the Dower House site, while adding a distinctive new home that is compatible with the neighboring group of distinguished historic homes.

Built in the early-to-mid eighteenth century, the Dower House is one of West Chester’s oldest continuously inhabited residences, and one of relatively few built with stone. For most of the first half of the 20th century, the house was owned by Joseph Hergesheimer, the top selling author of novels and short stories for Knopf Publishing in the 1920’s. Mr. Hergesheimer counted Sinclair Lewis among his friends and hosted Mr. Lewis during many visits to his West Chester home. The home was altered and enlarged numerous times, including renovations by Richardson Brognard Okie in 1923 for the Hergesheimer’s.

When Mr. Lang purchased the property it had been previously approved for subdivision into four lots, including two directly along High Street. This proposal would have concealed the Dower House and diminished the expansive lawn shared with its neighbors stretching south along the east side of High Street. This park-like green space surmounted by a row of distinguished residences is a distinctive visual feature as you enter West Chester. Mr. Lang resisted the temptation to maximize his financial return and instead revised the plan to include just two lots, preserving the open space along High Street. While the zoning permitted a 40-foot front yard setback, the Dower House two-lot plan went with a much deeper setback that matched those of the adjacent houses to maintain the historic integrity of the streetscape. Mr. Lang also carefully refurbished the historic Dower House prior to selling it to a new owner.

Period Architecture, working with a private client, designed the Chimney Hill Residence for the new lot adjacent to the Dower House. Chimney Hill is designed in a Dutch-Colonial Revival style that both blends with its neighbors and provides a distinctive new presence on High Street. The traditional formal frontage faces west toward High Street, while the family and guest frontage extends rearward to give the appearance of an existing home expanded over time. Like the Dower House, access to the Chimney Hill site is from Goshen Road. This planning approach preserves the unbroken lawn frontage along High Street. Chimney Hill’s formal and informal frontages are visually anchored to the site by porches, traditional style fencing, and sensitive landscaping.

This award recognizes the combined efforts of the original property owner, and the designers of a noteworthy new private residence on the site.  The property owner sacrificed a substantial financial gain in the interest of preserving West Chester’s character. This project makes an important contribution to the borough’s North High Street entrance gateway by preserving the open space surrounding one of the oldest homes in West Chester.

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BRICK & MORTAR AWARD

401 West Union Street

 

Restoration

401 West Union Street

Gary and Sun Ae Hewitt are recognized for the sensitive preservation of their historic home at 401 West Union Street. This house was originally constructed in the 1870’s and may be the oldest building on its block.  Originally owned by local grocer John C. Baldwin it passed into the family of East Goshen farmer William Hoopes. The Hewitt’s purchased the home in 2000 and proceeded to undertake numerous repairs and improvements to the property, enhancing the neighborhood.

This project is an excellent example of successful residential restoration undertaken by inspired owners. Using photos of the home from 1891 the owner worked for 3 years to restore their home, carriage house and grounds. The initial phase involved improving the property’s hardscape surfaces. The parking area was repaired with Belgium block. Internal walkways were constructed on the site with antique brick. The perimeter public sidewalks were rebuilt by the owner and his son, also using antique brick. In the second phase the front porch was rebuilt and the cast iron supports and decorative elements were carefully removed, sandblasted, repainted and reinstalled. A third phase involved rebuilding the driveway and carriage house floor using an antique-style modern paving brick. The owners also carefully repaired and painted the woodwork at the historic home and carriage house.

This highly visible corner property at West Union and South Wayne Streets makes a significant contribution to the borough’s historic fabric. The owners have demonstrated the importance of ongoing stewardship by consistently maintaining the house, carriage house and landscaping in excellent condition. Gary and Sun Ae Hewitt illustrate the significant contribution all residents can make to the West Chester community through careful preservation practices.

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BRICK & MORTAR AWARD

Biddle Guest House

 

Renovation

519 North High Street

The Biddle Guest House at 519 North High Street is one of a pair of adjacent ca. 1880 brick Queen Anne style residences built by Mary C. Biddle.  Mrs. Biddle had a country home in the Dilworthtown area as well as a home in West Chester. Known as Mrs. Biddle’s Guest Cottages, the two matching structures were built to accommodate her family and friends who frequently visited from Philadelphia. The guest houses were passed to Mrs. Biddle’s children and eventually purchased by two sisters who resided there side by side in the early twentieth century.

The present owners of the southernmost home at 519 North High Street, Jules and Katie Van Schaijik, have undertaken renovations to better adapt their home to their modern lifestyle. The work was undertaken in two phases. The initial phase focused on interior renovations at the second and third floors to enhance the existing bedrooms, create a master suite, and construct two new bathrooms.

The second phase reorganized the first floor for greater access to the rear garden and to maximize natural light from the limited windows on a tight urban lot. The solution involved removing a non-original addition and moving the kitchen into the heart of the house, where it is now an integral part of family life. The former kitchen space now functions as the family entrance accessed from the rear garden and parking area. A new garden room was built in place of the demolished addition. The new addition incorporates a sympathetic scale, materials and architectural details drawn from a careful study of the original house. Two windows were converted to glass doors to provide additional light and direct access to the garden. The original wood trim was restored or replaced in kind and painted. The windows were replaced with new units carefully matching the originals in size, detail, and muntin configuration. The exterior brick was cleaned and repointed with period correct mortar. Completed in 2017, the renovations will preserve the exterior for another 100 years while aligning the interior with a more contemporary lifestyle.

The renovation of the Biddle Guest House is an excellent example of preserving the integrity of a historic property while adapting the existing house to the needs of a modern lifestyle.  The public face of the original structure facing North High Street was carefully preserved and repaired, while the new one-storey rear addition was constructed to reflect the vintage character of the original structure. This project demonstrates it is possible to design a contemporary addition that actually enhances the historic structure to which it is attached, leaving the appearance of one harmonious unit.

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BRICK & MORTAR AWARD

Ruby Jones Hall

 

Renovation & Restoration

50 University Avenue

This award recognizes the careful rehabilitation of West Chester University’s Ruby Jones Hall. The building was originally known as the “Demonstration School” when it opened in the fall of 1899 on the campus of the West Chester Normal School. Its purpose was to provide a realistic classroom setting for the Normal School education students to develop their teaching skills. Therefore, the West Chester School District used it as an elementary school to educate children from the surrounding neighborhoods and faculty children. The two-story serpentine building (plus a two-story attic and observatory) was originally designed by Baker & Dallett and built by contractor Harry M. Burns for $41,283.71.

In 1987, the former Demonstration School was named after Ruby Jones, West Chester University’s first faculty member of color. Born in Evergreen Alabama in 1911, Ruby Jones grew up in Pittsburg, obtaining her teaching certificate from Cheyney University. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in the 1930’s from West Chester State Teacher’s College, and her Master’s degree from Temple University. She taught in the region for forty years before joining the West Chester State College faculty in 1961. Ms. Jones retired in 1972 and supervised student teachers until her death in 1974.

Ruby Jones Hall is included in the university’s Quadrangle Historic District, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building is now used for classrooms and faculty offices. To sustain the historic structure as an active campus facility West Chester University has undertaken a long term rehabilitation campaign. Work completed since 1999 includes: general interior renovations; replacement flooring; repair of interior finishes; general façade repairs; foundation damp-proofing;  new porch roofing; upgraded HVAC systems to connect with the 2012 campus-wide geo-thermal system infrastructure; 2016-2018 Serpentine stone restoration; and 2017 restoration of architectural trim at frieze. The locally quarried Serpentine stone exterior finish is a distinctive feature of many historic buildings on the West Chester University campus. Serpentine stone has a beautiful green color but is prone to atmospheric deterioration. The university’s careful effort to retain and repair the Serpentine stone at Ruby Jones Hall is an important contribution to the university’s unique historic character.

West Chester University is recognized for their ongoing commitment to historic preservation by carefully restoring and maintaining this iconic campus structure. The university’s efforts insure Ruby Jones Hall will continue as both an active center for education, and an important historic resource for the West Chester community.

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BRICK & MORTAR AWARD

Ruby Jones Hall

 

Renovation & Restoration

50 University Avenue

This award recognizes the careful rehabilitation of West Chester University’s Ruby Jones Hall. The building was originally known as the “Demonstration School” when it opened in the fall of 1899 on the campus of the West Chester Normal School. Its purpose was to provide a realistic classroom setting for the Normal School education students to develop their teaching skills. Therefore, the West Chester School District used it as an elementary school to educate children from the surrounding neighborhoods and faculty children. The two-story serpentine building (plus a two-story attic and observatory) was originally designed by Baker & Dallett and built by contractor Harry M. Burns for $41,283.71.

In 1987, the former Demonstration School was named after Ruby Jones, West Chester University’s first faculty member of color. Born in Evergreen Alabama in 1911, Ruby Jones grew up in Pittsburg, obtaining her teaching certificate from Cheyney University. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in the 1930’s from West Chester State Teacher’s College, and her Master’s degree from Temple University. She taught in the region for forty years before joining the West Chester State College faculty in 1961. Ms. Jones retired in 1972 and supervised student teachers until her death in 1974.

Ruby Jones Hall is included in the university’s Quadrangle Historic District, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building is now used for classrooms and faculty offices. To sustain the historic structure as an active campus facility West Chester University has undertaken a long term rehabilitation campaign. Work completed since 1999 includes: general interior renovations; replacement flooring; repair of interior finishes; general façade repairs; foundation damp-proofing;  new porch roofing; upgraded HVAC systems to connect with the 2012 campus-wide geo-thermal system infrastructure; 2016-2018 Serpentine stone restoration; and 2017 restoration of architectural trim at frieze. The locally quarried Serpentine stone exterior finish is a distinctive feature of many historic buildings on the West Chester University campus. Serpentine stone has a beautiful green color but is prone to atmospheric deterioration. The university’s careful effort to retain and repair the Serpentine stone at Ruby Jones Hall is an important contribution to the university’s unique historic character.

West Chester University is recognized for their ongoing commitment to historic preservation by carefully restoring and maintaining this iconic campus structure. The university’s efforts insure Ruby Jones Hall will continue as both an active center for education, and an important historic resource for the West Chester community.

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Special Recognition Award

Kay “Kate” Eby Moore

1948 - 2017 (Posthumous Recipient)

Kay “Kate” Eby Moore believed passionately in the importance of preserving West Chester’s historic character.  Kate was an early advocate for the benefits of preserving the borough’s historic resources. In the 1970’s Kate worked with the “Concerned Citizens of Greater West Chester to” to preserve the High Street School, now the Burger King site. While that historic structure was lost, it helped alert the public that West Chester’s historic fabric was endangered. Kate’s knack for promotion and persuasion helped move the needle in the public’s appreciation of historic preservation. Kate was thoroughly dedicated to community service. She served on the Board of Historical Review (BHR) in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Kate was the first woman president of the Chamber of Commerce, and the first woman to run for Mayor of West Chester. The election was close, and she lost by less than 10 votes. Kate and her husband W. Gerald Moore also hosted house tours and fundraisers at their historic West Chester home, Mayfield. However, Kate’s most enduring contribution to historic West Chester was as the creator of Old Fashioned Christmas in 1980.

Kate developed Old Fashioned Christmas as a vehicle to engage the public, encouraging awareness and pride in West Chester, including its rich historic legacy. In 1980, as the only female member of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, she was asked to find a replacement for the chamber’s holiday ornaments that were mounted on the downtown street lights. She proposed hanging tiny white lights in the curbside trees along Gay and Market Streets. But Kate’s grandiose plan went much further; she proposed a Christmas parade, walking tours led by Victorian-dressed guides, pine garlands hung over shop windows, a staged Victorian-themed tableaux, performances of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury in the historic Courthouse, musical performances in the shops and banks, and other acts to transform West Chester’s then-beleaguered downtown. The business climate in West Chester’s downtown at that time was visibly depressed. Kate made her proposal in October of 1980, a mere two months before the event’s launch. The Board approved her plan but was skeptical of how much could be accomplished in that short time. Kate rallied her friends as well as friends of friends to the cause, and the first Old Fashioned Christmas was launched.

 Turning Kate’s idea into a reality was not only a feat of persistence and imagination, but she used her charm and enthusiasm to see that many small extras were included. Few, in any, people ever said no to Kate’s ideas. She wanted all the vacant store windows decorated to mask their bleak look. Dennis Haggerty agreed to have his art class paint a mural to cover the empty windows of the closed Kaufmann’s Furniture Store. Ralph Watson donated Christmas trees to be nailed to the boarded-up Harrison Theater. Tour guides and greeters were instructed to find and wear Victorian garb. Tour guides carried authentic lanterns to light their way. Kate insisted Santa Clause ride in the parade in a horse drawn wagon, which was provided by Ira Hicks and Marshall Jones.

 

Old -Fashioned Christmas was an absolute success, elevating the public’s appreciation of West Chester’s downtown and rich historic legacy. Kate’s lofty goals for the event’s Victorian authenticity and high production values helped turn the fortunes of a town that was in decline. Kate’s Old Fashioned Christmas event awakened the public to the town’s intrinsic charm, and fostered a sense of community that continues today. Old Fashioned Christmas can be considered one of the key elements that built public support for creation of the West Chester Historic District in 1988.  

 

Now in its 38th year, Old Fashioned Christmas has grown to become a highly anticipated annual West Chester event, attended by thousands.  Through her efforts to imagine and create Old Fashioned Christmas, Kay Eby Moore made a significant contribution to the appreciation and preservation of historic West Chester.

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BRICK & MORTAR AWARD

Iron Hill Brewery


Adaptive Reuse

3 West Gay Street

The Iron Hill Brewery is recognized for its role as one West Chester’s pioneering historic preservation projects. The Iron Hill project clearly demonstrates the viability and economic wisdom of preserving the borough’s historic downtown infrastructure. The Iron Hill Brewery is located at the historic crossroads that eventually became the nucleus for the Borough of West Chester.  During more than a century and a half, it was the site of a variety of residences, businesses and even a school. The present building was constructed in the 1920s to house the F. W.  Woolworth “five and dime” store, which moved from a smaller building at 27 N. Church Street. The Woolworth store was a vital element in West Chester’s twentieth century commercial downtown.  With its prominent corner location, Woolworth’s was a visible landmark for all visitors to the borough. Older residents fondly remember shopping at the Gay Street Woolworth’s or grabbing a bite at the lunch counter. In the 1970’s the growing popularity of nearby automobile friendly suburban shopping malls caused declining retail activity in small towns across America. West Chester’s commercial downtown hit bottom in the early 1990’s and the Woolworth store was closed in 1994.

In 1998 Iron Hill Brewery saw the value of the building’s central location and renovated the empty store as a modern brew pub. Iron Hill’s inspired renovation of the first floor retail space as a modern brewery and restaurant created a contemporary environment to meet their needs, while preserving the building’s overall historic character and commercial use. The renovated storefront design features an engaging modern industrial aesthetic, with large glass windows, a new main entrance, and modern signage. The glass storefront visually animates the adjacent Gay Street sidewalk with views into the bustling bar and restaurant. The colorful industrial brewing tanks, viewed through storefront windows from the Gay and High Streets intersection, have become a modern landmark. Since the original renovation, Iron Hill has consistently maintained their facility with a high level of care.  Iron Hill Brewery is the project that many believe was the lynchpin in the revival of West Chester’s downtown business district.

Iron Hill Brewery serves as a signature example of melding good preservation practices with commercial success. This project is an excellent demonstration of preservation’s ability to engage the public through daily interaction with a historic resource. While the original building is not significant as an architectural landmark, its history as a center of public commerce since the 1920’s resonates deeply with the community. The Iron Hill Brewery clearly illustrates the economic and community benefits that are possible through the thoughtful adaptive reuse of West Chester’s historic resources.  

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Preservation Legacy Award

Thomas M. Walsh

 

Historic Preservation in West Chester is now generally valued as a key component to the civic and economic success of the borough. This was not always the case. In the 1960’s a number of West Chester’s visible historic structures were demolished. In 1967 the borough acquired the Chestnut Street Meeting House, and after much debate, demolished the 1844 serpentine stone building to construct a surface parking lot. This helped awaken the public to the intrinsic historical character of their long cherished town. A core of local activists came together to advocate for the appreciation and preservation of West Chester’s historic fabric. 

A key player in this early movement was Thomas M. Walsh. In 1972, Tom Walsh discovered a chapter in the Borough Code of 1966 that enabled the borough to establish a Board of Historical Review (BHR). The board had never been created, so Tom lobbied Borough Council to enact the BHR. Tom secured approval and became the BHR’s first chairman. Tom invited members of a more informal committee that had formed previously to be its members, eventually expanding the BHR to seven members. They held their first meeting in April 1973.

Under Tom’s guidance the BHR was active in educating the public about West Chester’s rich and diverse history. This helped create an appreciation of the town’s most significant public structures, its commercial downtown, and its historic residential neighborhoods. The BHR’s accomplishments included active involvement in a number of major projects in the borough.  The first project was the Historic Sites Survey of West Chester; the second was consultation on the Gay Street Mall Project. In addition, the BHR was able to persuade Borough Council to designate the Lincoln Building over the objections of the owner. A new owner would purchase and save the historic building. Tom remained Chairman of the BHR until it’s dissolution in 1989, after the formation of the Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB). The BHR’s advocacy led directly to the creation of the West Chester Historic District and the HARB, which were enacted by the West Chester Borough Council in 1988. 

In 1980 Tom became the first tour guide for the Old Fashioned Christmas Walking Tour, a role he continued for 30 years. In 1995, he became one of the founding members of the West Chester Town Tours which typically hosts 200 participants each June. The West Chester Town Tours now kicks off the Chester County Annual Town Tours and Village Walks Summer Program, which provides weekly historic tours in communities throughout the county. Tom continues as a tour guide and the coordinator of the West Chester Town Tours to this day. In addition, he gives lectures on history and walking tours of West Chester for the West Chester Adult Night School Program. Finally, in 2015 Tom advocated for a Borough Historic Commission (BHC) to encourage a better understanding of West Chester’s history. The BHC was created by ordinance in 2017 and Tom began as its first chairman.

Tom Walsh has dedicated his life to service to West Chester. In addition to his historic preservation related activities, Tom has served almost continuously on numerous public and private West Chester boards and commissions. Some of his activities include the Planning Commission, Recreation Commission, Business Improvement District, Regional Planning Commission, Tricentenial Celebration committee, and the Democratic Committee. In 2005 Tom was inducted into the West Chester Adult Baseball League’s Hall of Fame for his activities as a player, manager, league official, and finally as a member of the board of directors from 2010 to 2016. Tom wholly embodies the role of community volunteer.

Tom Walsh has tirelessly promoted the better understanding of West Chester’s history and the preservation of its historic resources. His efforts to engage and educate the public have been critical to the community’s support for preserving the borough’s historic character. As a result, West Chester has demonstrated that historic preservation and an economically thriving community truly go hand in hand. Tom Walsh is thereby recognized for his outstanding and enduring contributions to historic preservation in West Chester.  

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