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demolishing part of memory lane on the main line

Chester County Ramblings - 1 hour 32 min ago

Sometimes in those moments between waking and sleeping, memories of childhood come floating back.  This morning I awoke to memories of a pink stucco house with blueberry bushes beyond the pool, a pool where my little sister first learned to swim. The house was located at 134 Cheswold Lane in Haverford.

So, no this is not a post about Chester County. This post is about memories.

In the early 1970s, my parents were starting to think about moving from Society Hill to the Main Line. Somehow they were connected to lovely people named John and Jean Markel and they agreed to house sit for the entire summer. My sister and I were fairly little, and this was a strange idea for us because summer usually meant the beach, but this house was magical with a secret pool tucked into the back and lovely gardens to explore. Immediately adjacent to The Merion Cricket Club we could hear every day the pop pop sound of tennis balls when they hit the racquets-  and an added bonus when the tennis balls sailed over the pink stucco garden walls for us to collect.

I think the summer of ’73 because I remember it was the summer they tore down the Haverford Hotel and Mrs. Sharpe’s carriage house doors with the large heavy metal (iron?)  lion heads with rings in their mouths jutted out to the sidewalk on Haverford Station Road. I have distinct memories of walking along Haverford Station Road with my father and how large the lions heads and rings seemed, and the carriage house doors imposing.  I also remember before they demolished the Haverford Hotel they sold a lot of things off, like furniture and fixtures. At one point, the sweeping lawns of this old hotel had rows upon rows of mattresses lined up in the summer sun like corpses.

I have looked and looked for photos of the old hotel, and the only one I can find is from an old edition of the Main Line Times:

ML History: Recapping the summer of ’73 archives By Kathy O’Loughlin Aug 11, 2010

 

I also found reference to the hotel and Mrs. Sharpe on the Lower Merion Historical Society website:

Catherine H. Dixon Sharpe bequeathed her home and a 2 1/2-acre property at Montgomery Avenue and Haverford Station Road to the township for a bird sanctuary. In 1978 her house was razed, and fencing and trails for walking through the wooded area were added…..A Haverford landmark for sixty years was the Haverford Hotel, built of brick in 1913 at the corner of Grays Lane and Montgomery Avenue. Its stately white columns supported the roof over a wide and gracious porch entrance. Fifty rooms were decorated with Chippendale desks, Chinese screen paintings, mahogany china cabinets, brass sconces, and sparkling chandeliers. Many wedding receptions, including that of President Eisenhower’s granddaughter, balls, other parties, and meetings were held there, but in 1973 the hotel was demolished, and Gray’s Lane House, an apartment condominium designed by Vincent Kling, now occupies the site.

It was a lovely summer. My school friend Paula’s aunt I think it was, lived close by so I would see her and I remember visiting other people my parents knew on Elbow Lane, and other nearby roads and lanes in Haverford and Bryn Mawr.

My father’s job was in the city, so I remember a lot of the time he stayed in our house in Society Hill during the week, and took the Paoli Local to Haverford Station on the weekends.

The Markels house was a magical house, and there are details I remember to this day inside. A lovely wood paneled library with floor to ceiling books, a piano, a Butler’s Pantry loaded with the most beautiful and feminine sets of china and flatware.  I think it was that summer I fell in love with English and French porcelain. 

There were stools in the kitchen which was large and sunny. I remember watching television sitting on a stool – there was a tiny black and white television on one of the expansive kitchen counters.

Outside were what were to me at the time the best secret gardens ever. The gardens were so beautiful and there was also a  lovely pool. I remember the Markels had inside and outside staff who would come take care of things during the week.

Ironically this was the summer I also remember seeing Loch Aerie for the first time because I remember my parents exploring way past the borders of the Main Line.  I remember driving out Lancaster Avenue into Chester County for movies and antique stores.  I remember that there were also drive in movie theaters in Chester County at that time, but I digress.

The Markels house was old school Main Line beauty. The house was large and gracious, but just beautiful and subtle inside. It was also a very livable house.  I think it was because of this summer that a few years later my parents eventually settled in Haverford after a year in Gladwyne.

According to Montgomery County public property records, the people whom eventually bought this lovely house from the Markels sold it to Merion Cricket Club more than a few years ago for a little over $1.5 million:


Unless you lived back on those streets, you really weren’t paying attention to who was selling and who was buying.  I remember before I left the Main Line talks of Merion Cricket Club amassing neighboring properties so they could expand.  I just didn’t pay much attention to it. I was never a member, only ever a guest.

Recently, someone sent me a Zoning notice from Lower Merion Township:

Wow, so now we know why Merion was buying all the properties over the past years, right? They want to become a land locked Main Line Country Club? Forget that the history of the club, and the traditions of the club do not lend themselves to this, that there already are swim clubs and country clubs on the Main Line.  

But given the nouveau Main Line, I completely expect all of these lovely houses Merion Cricket has amassed in these still lovely neighborhoods will fall to the wrecking ball with hardly a whimper.

These are beautiful homes. They are also part of an increasing history of the Main Line no one cares about, or they find it is acceptable to just sacrifice these established and lovely neighborhoods.  This is a change that will impact this area.  For those of us with childhood memories it is sad and / or bittersweet.  I am guessing my own personal memories of a magical childhood summer have surfaced because of this news.

Here is a recent article on the topic:

LM Zoning: Merion Cricket Club seeks demo of club-owned historic homes Viability of club’s future addressed in plan
By Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com @rpilgenfritz on Twitter Apr 21, 2017 Updated Apr 21, 2017

Citing the need to attract additional members, officials from the Merion Cricket Club are seeking Lower Merion Township zoning approval of a plan to demolish seven historic homes in Haverford, including those built by famed architect Walter Durham, and repurpose others.

“The club has seen its membership levels drop over a significant period. In order to address the long-term, continued viability of the club, the club has, over the years, acquired the adjoining parcels and has embarked on a master planning process to develop a vision for proposed improvements to the club’s facilities. By providing for improved facilities, the club’s objective is to allow the club to stabilize membership levels, and thereafter return to and sustain its previous membership levels,” according to the application submitted to the Lower Merion Zoning Hearing Board…..The Cricket Club has owned many of the properties for more than a decade and under the plans will demolish houses on Elbow Lane near Cheswold Lane and ones near Grays Lane to the rear of its historic property. Four homes in the center of the Elbow Lane to the rear of the club will be retained and repurposed for other uses.

The Lower Merion Conservancy placed the Durham homes that date back to the early and mid-1900s on its Historic Preservation Watch List last year due to concerns that they would be demolished.


Sometimes things done in the name of “progress” are painful. But I no longer live there, so I write about this as an observer memorializing memories of a summer long ago.

Enjoy the lovely day.


Categories: Pennsylvania

Donald Trump Announces Plans For 'Big' Pennsylvania Rally

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - 4 hours 7 min ago
​Donald Trump has announced plans for a "big" rally in Pennsylvania next week to mark 100 days in office.
Categories: Lower Merion

Philly's Best Suburbs / 'Most Beautiful' Restaurants / Crime Ring Busted / Murderer Hangs Himself In Prison

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Sat, 2017-04-22 09:00
Check out the top news that made headlines across the Patch network this week in Eastern Pennsylvania.
Categories: Lower Merion

Just Listed: Homes for Sale in and around Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Sat, 2017-04-22 08:51
Looking for a new home? Or do you just like looking at what homes are on the market? Either way, here are the latest homes for sale in and around Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood...
Categories: Lower Merion

where the wild things are

Chester County Ramblings - Fri, 2017-04-21 20:55

Chester County Coyote. Reader submitted photo. April 21, 2017


Categories: Pennsylvania

Woman Hit By Her Own Car In Plymouth Township Parking Lot: Cops

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-04-21 15:33
A woman was hit by her own car as she exited it in a Plymouth Township parking lot Thursday.
Categories: Lower Merion

Woman Groped By Group Of Teens On Schuylkill River Trail: Cops

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-04-21 14:20
A woman was surrounded and groped by a group of teens while roller blading on the Schuylkill River Trail, police said.
Categories: Lower Merion

Lower Providence K9's Brutus And Kane Get Body Armor

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-04-21 13:44
Thanks to a generous donation, K9's Brutus and Kane will be protected when serving in the field.
Categories: Lower Merion

Lancaster Ave. Being Paved Overnight Next Week

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-04-21 13:30
Find out how you can avoid a traffic headache here with Patch.
Categories: Lower Merion

Win Free Tickets To The NFL Draft By Playing Madden At King Of Prussia Mall

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-04-21 13:19
Play Madden NFL 2017 at the Microsoft store in the King of Prussia Mall this weekend, and you could win tickets to the NFL Draft.
Categories: Lower Merion

SEPTA Schedule Changes Go Into Effect Sunday

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-04-21 11:27
If you ride SEPTA regularly, take note there are some schedule changes going into place on Sunday, April 23.
Categories: Lower Merion

NFL Draft In Philadelphia: What To Know

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-04-21 10:26
The NFL Draft is just days away in Philadelphia. Here's what to know about the schedule, traffic, top picks, the Parkway village, and more.
Categories: Lower Merion

NFL Draft To Shut Down I-676 Ramp In Philadelphia

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-04-21 09:36
A ramp on I-676 will be shut down for the upcoming NFL Draft in Philadelphia.
Categories: Lower Merion

New Open House Listings This Weekend in and around Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-04-21 08:43
Take a look at the open houses in and near Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood...
Categories: Lower Merion

Lower Merion School District loses appeal … Must pay back millions to taxpayers

Yesterday was a big win for taxpayers in the Lower Merion School District. You may recall that last year Lower Merion School District was ordered to revoke its latest tax hike, saying that the school district mislead taxpayers by projecting large budget deficits as justification for raising taxes. The class-action lawsuit was filed by Arthur […]
Categories: Pennsylvania

The trouble with kids today

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2017-04-21 06:02
OK, you can call me a Grumpy Old Man.

I happen to agree with Springfield Police Chief Joe Daly.

He's issuing a stern warning to kids - and their parents - about some of the hijinks that kids in the township are engaging in. It is not a unanimous opinion.

I have heard from readers who are coming to the kids' defense, asking why the township does not provide more for them to do. And yes, I am among those who are always whining that kids never seem to lift their faces up from their phones.

Now they go out, and everyone comes down on them for it.

I am lucky, as I freely admit to anyone who asks.

I grew up before the Internet age. I have total deniability as to the myriad of knuckle-headed things I did as a kid. There is - to the best of my knowledge - no video evidence. There are no Google links, no proof that sticks out on Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat. It's one of the things I thank God for every night when my head hits the pillow.

Believe me, I did plenty, and caused my parents no shortage of grief.

But I still stand with Daly, and his warning to kids about some of the things they are doing.

We take up the chief's cause on our editorial page today as well.
Categories: Pennsylvania

NFL thinks Eagles are ready for prime time

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2017-04-21 05:48
The NFL thinks Carson Went and the Eagles are ready for prime time.

The Birds have no less than five prime time matchups this season. The NFL released the 2017 schedule Thursday night and the Eagles kick things off Sunday, Sept. 10 against the Redskins and wrap up the season on New Year's Eve against the hated Cowboys.

In between they will be in the spotlight, with a bunch of prime time appearances, including a home game on Christmas night, a Monday night contest vs. the Raiders.

They don't play their first home game until Sept. 24 vs. the Giants, another 1 p.m. Sunday game.

They hit prime time Thursday, Oct. 12 vs. the Panthers.

Here is the complete schedule.

So grab your pencils and do the wins & losses.

Don't look now, but Doug Pederson's ears may be ringing as the Eagles drop their first three games, against the Skins, Chiefs and Giants. They should rebound from there, but I still see this as a fairly challenging schedule.

Me? I would love to spit out what I spit out every year. That would be 10-6 and a playoff spot. I don't see that happening with this schedule. The Eagles will have their hands full just trying to play .500.

Feel free to disagree.

That's part of the fun of being a fan.

Here's the full schedule:

Sun., Sept. 10: at Redskins, 1 p.m., FOX

Sun., Sept. 17: at Chiefs, 1 p.m., FOX

Sun., Sept. 24: vs. Giants, 1 p.m., FOX

Sun., Oct. 1: at LA Chargers, 4:05 p.m., FOX

Sun., Oct. 8: vs. Cardinals, 1 p.m., FOX

Thurs., Oct. 12: at Panthers, 8:25 p.m., CBS/NFLN/Amazon

Mon., Oct. 23: vs. Redskins, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Sun., Oct. 29: vs. 49ers, 1 p.m., FOX

Sun., Nov. 5: vs. Broncos, 1 p.m., CBS

Sun., Nov. 12: BYE

Sun., Nov. 19: at Cowboys, 8:30 p.m., NBC

Sun., Nov. 26: vs. Bears, TBA, FOX

Sun., Dec. 3: at Seahawks, 8:30 p.m., NBC

Sun., Dec. 10: at LA Rams, 4:25 p.m., FOX

Sun., Dec. 17: at Giants, 1 p.m., FOX

Mon., Dec. 25: vs. Raiders, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Sun., Dec. 31: vs. Cowboys, 1 p.m., FOX
Categories: Pennsylvania

spring

Chester County Ramblings - Thu, 2017-04-20 14:28


Categories: Pennsylvania