A cozy “hunting box” in Radnor Hunt Country, perfect for lifelong riders and even those who aren’t riders … yet.
If location-location-location stills holds true, then Huntview Farm gets a blue ribbon. Set in Radnor Hunt Country and custom crafted by its only owner, a Master of Fox Hunting and teacher of Foxhunting 101, the farm is the perfect starting point for equestrian adventures. Take a short ride with your kids to Radnor Hunt Pony Club, have a staging area for foxhunting with friends, or use it as home base for trail riding on one of the best trail systems in Chester County.
And the property offers additional welcome amenities. The level four-plus-acre lot with fenced pastures provides ample space for building a jumping or dressage ring for future Devon stars. The charming house has hosted more than its share of hunt brunches for hungry returning riders—whether victorious from the hunt (or more accurately, the chase, since the fox is run to ground) or merely invigorated by the adventure. And the proximity to the 55-acre Ashbridge Preserve, just across the road, means endless entertainment on miles of trails there and on the many nearby conserved properties that allow riders to roam.
The main residence at Huntview Farm is a cozy, functional home for owners who are more likely outside riding the many trails in Willistown Township than spending time indoors—essentially a “hunting box” for shelter. And even if you’re not the sort to spend most waking hours with horses, that may just be because you’re not a rider … yet.
Not a Rider … Yet
Even if the equestrian life is not in your history or DNA, Huntview Farm may change that. The easy access to some of the most appealing riding trails and hunting clubs may tempt even the most reluctant tenderfoot. And the three-stall barn begs to have horses—your own or horses that board in exchange for riding lessons. Or choose fox following—to assist the riders—rather than fox hunting as your new country pastime.
Of course there’s always the option of transforming the three-stall barn—with tack room, hayloft, tractor space and center aisle—into a party barn, guest cottage or she shed (the feminine equivalent of a man cave). Or perhaps an art studio or home office?
Proximity to Ashbridge Preserve holds further opportunities to enjoy the lifestyle of Willistown Township—where you’ll see bumper stickers saying “Slow Down in Willistown.” Home to a branch of Ridley Creek, with miles of nature trails, plus woodlands, wetlands and wildflower meadows, the preserve is a birder’s paradise and nature lover’s nirvana. The peaceful splendor of Ashbridge Preserve is your other yard.
The Main House
Flanked by towering holly trees and marked with a brass horse-head knocker and kickplate, the 1970s Colonial-style stone and old school stucco home’s entrance leads to a grand two-story foyer with curved hardwood staircase and a Palladian window.
The formal living and dining rooms are to the left and right, both right-sized for carefree living. Large windows grace both rooms—a bay window in the dining room and windows on three sides in the living room, catching the sunrise and reflecting off the dentil molding. Throughout the day the sun fills the most-used rooms—great room, breakfast room and master bedroom—with their southern exposures.
Anchored by a stone fireplace with wood mantle and raised hearth, the inviting great room boasts several built-ins, currently displaying silver cups and horse show ribbons. Doors to the fenced pool and brick patio and a cozy wet bar at the far end of the great room invite two different forms of entertainment.
Another favorite space is the updated kitchen, with stainless steel appliances, cherry cabinets and granite countertops, plus center island. Truly the heart of the home, the kitchen runs from the front to the back of the house, with a sunny breakfast room overlooking the pool and pastures.
A laundry room, mechanical room and renovated powder room—with more cherry cabinets, granite counters, plus foxhunting motif wallpaper—round out the indoor space. An open-air breezeway porch, complete with swing, leads to the oversized two-car garage, with workbench.
Upstairs includes four bedrooms and two baths. The sunny master suite—with two closets and updated en suite bath—is enhanced by a private, south-facing balcony overlooking the property, perfect for morning coffee or sunset cocktails. The remaining bedrooms and a new bath line the hallway.
A comfortable second home during the foxhunting and equestrian seasons or the core residence prime for further expansion, Huntview Farm offers options to its next owners.
Warwick Furnace Farm. Historic, architectural and environmental treasure saved! But it took teamwork from local, regional and national groups.
In this one project you have a site of historic significance going all the way back to the Revolutionary War, the striking architecture of the buildings, the impact of restoring the forest to help improve the water quality of French Creek and the truly amazing and stunning scenic value of this landscape nestled in the narrow valley.
– Ole Amundsen, The Conservation Fund
Chester County is so chock-full of historic sites that you may be hard pressed to get excited about saving an old iron furnace and 553 acres of land. But the Warwick Furnace Farm property, situated at the 11 o’clock spot at the northern tip of Chester County, checks the architectural and environmental treasure boxes, too, making it a preservation trifecta.
When the Pew family, of Sun Oil and Pew Charitable Trusts, decided to sell this large tract of undeveloped land that had been theirs for three generations, we should be thankful the Pews chose French & Pickering Creek Conservation Trust to establish a perpetual conservation easement rather than cashing in on 80-some building lots.
“It’s hard to overstate the value of this property and its preservation,” said Cary Leptuck, French and Pickering board president.
One Property, Many Parties
And for a year-long project this big and bold, we’re grateful the stars aligned to smooth the workings in this multi-party deal. Two townships—Warwick and East Nantmeal—the Chester County Commissioners, through the Department of Open Space Preservation, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Open Space Institute using funds from the William Penn Foundation under the Delaware River Watershed Initiative worked together to fund the $14.5-million purchase, with the help of a loan from The Conservation Fund in Arlington, VA.
“This is French & Pickering’s largest conservation project in its 48-year history,” said Executive Director Andy Pitz. Some participants admitted to a few sleepless nights waiting for the pieces to come together and the money to be in place.
If the run of good luck continues, by early 2017 the public will be exploring a 108-acre nature preserve along French Creek on trails highlighting the land’s historic and natural features. Plus an important source of drinking water will be preserved and a new family can make a stunning architectural showpiece its home, perhaps for another three generations.
A Little History
As Warwick Township Board of Supervisors’ Charles Jacob put it, “Three hundred years ago, the iron and steel industry started in Pennsylvania, right here.” No small claim to fame.
Established in 1737 by Anna Nutt, at her late husband’s request, Warwick Furnace has more than a few other claims to fame, including being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During 130 years of the furnace’s operation and 250 years of the property’s history, ownership rested primarily with the Nutt, Savage, Rutter and Potts families—names that run throughout Chester County’s past and present.
In 1742 the furnace made the first Franklin stove, an iconic product based on a design by Benjamin Franklin. George Taylor, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and member of the Second Continental Congress, operated the furnace in its early years. During the Revolutionary War, the furnace was an important source of supplies for the Continental Army—providing cannons, cannon balls and shot.
And it was at this property that General Washington rested his troops and repaired their weapons after the devastating loss at the Battle of Brandywine in September 1777.
The Potts family shut down the furnace shortly after the Civil War, in part because of the increased use of hard coal for domestic heating rather than the kind of stoves manufactured at Warwick. But before it closed, the furnace made a final contribution—it forged the iron used for The Monitor, the first iron-clad warship, used against The Merrimack in the most important naval battle of the Civil War.
Now in ruins, the remains of the once mighty furnace will be preserved—though not restored—as part of planned interpretive and educational exhibits.
And Some Architecture
Set in a narrow valley with viewscapes virtually unchanged since the early 1700s, the 1733 fieldstone ironmaster’s manor house is considered the crown jewel of the property. Larger and grander than other residences built at the time, it measures 36 by 76 feet and boasts high ceilings, two wings and gabled roofs.
The house, outbuildings and 50 acres of land are being offered for sale by French & Pickering Creek Trust for $3.45 million—the first time the property has become available since 1927 when Joseph N. Pew, Jr. purchased the larger parcel.
In the early 1920s famed Chester County architect R. Brognard Okie renovated the manor house and planned the surrounding buildings—where even some outbuildings include Okie’s distinctive touches. Having restored such landmarks as the Betsy Ross House and Pennsbury manor (William Penn’s home), Okie was the foremost proponent of the Colonial Revival Style, specializing in the restoration and reconstruction of Pennsylvania Colonial and vernacular residences.
With exquisite carved woodwork, the finest hand-wrought hardware, beautiful original wood floors, and elegant entertaining and living spaces—a cigar room, grand dining room, master suite with a “romance door”—the manor house is considered a rare architectural showcase for Okie’s finest work. His signature details grace every room.
This exemplar of American design and architecture had the good fortune to be lightly used as a weekend hunting lodge and lovingly preserved by the Pew family for nearly a hundred years.
Big Environmental Save
How can you find the Warwick Furnace Farm property? “You look for the dark spot on Google maps—where there’s no development,” said Warwick Township’s Charles Jacob. And remarkably, the borders of the protected property for this pristine valley in the Pennsylvania Highlands watershed correspond roughly with the original tract held by Samuel Nutt some 300 years ago.
“Some of the cleanest water in the entire French Creek watershed flows through the property and is now protected forever as a major source of drinking water,” said the F&P Trust’s Leptuck of this Exceptional Value creek—the highest quality designation for streams.
The conserved 108 acres of sensitive habitat that will be open to the public is within walking distance of a 675-acre parcel transferred to F&P Trust from The Nature Conservancy in December 2015—the Edward Woolman Preserve at Great Marsh. Add to that the 50 acres being sold and 381 acres recently purchased by a conservation-minded, long-time Chester County resident, and that’s over 1200 acres under conservation easement.
“In a region where increasing development threatens to impair water quality, this project makes a bold statement about the importance of land protection for watershed health,” said Peter Howell, of Open Space Institute.
And a bold statement to protect the historic, architectural and environmental treasures that contribute to our pride of place in Chester County.
For more information about the mission and plans of French & Pickering Creek Conservation Trust, visit FrenchAndPickering.org.
Turnkey equestrian estate with 27-stall barn, indoor and outdoor arenas on 33 acres in Honey Brook
Horse lovers naturally gravitate to Chester County, long known for its equestrian heritage. From nationally recognized events—The Devon Horse Show, Plantation Field Three-Day Event—to community shows—Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show, Devon Fall Classic—our area is home to Olympic-caliber equestrian competitors, weekend fox hunters, polo players, pony club families and other members of the horsy set.
So it’s fitting that tucked in the northwest corner of Chester County, in Honey Brook, is a world-class equestrian estate, rivaling any in other horse-meccas such as Wellington, Florida.
Near Struble Lake, Brandywine Creek and historic Isabella Furnace is Whitewall Farm. Or for locavores, it’s two miles from Wyebrook Farm’s market and café, the place that most recently put Honey Brook on the map.
Encompassing 33 flat, fenced acres, Whitewall Farm has everything a trainer or serious rider could dream of—all in turnkey condition in a pastoral setting. Because the property is under conservation easement with Chadds Ford-based North American Land Trust, with neighboring properties similarly protected—over 25 percent of the township is protected in perpetuity—this corner of Chester County will retain the privacy and viewscape it enjoys today.
A Stable with 27 Stalls
Why build a stable with 27 stalls? Because you have 45 horses.
That was the situation when the current owners bought Whitewall Farm in 2007. They proceeded to create a premier equestrian estate around the historic stone farmhouse. While they updated the 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-plus-bathroom home (more on that later), these horse lovers transformed the equestrian facilities.
Now, there’s much more than just eight stalls in two shed rows and a two-level, antique stone bank barn on the farm. Currently used for storing hay and equipment, that gorgeous old bank barn can be converted into a party barn, indoor basketball court or put to other uses.
In 2007, the owners built—and continuously updated—a stunning, custom-designed, 8,800-square-foot barn with 27 additional stalls, each with water, electricity, grooming box and window for ventilation. There’d be pillow mints, if that were done for horses. The barn also houses a large tack room, office, feed room, two washing stalls and hay storage on the second level.
Outdoor and indoor areas were added, both with euro-felt footing, making the indoor ring virtually dust-free. The fenced, 100-by-240-foot outdoor area has jumps and is adjacent to a circular pen with screening and rubber flooring.
Describing the 100-by-200-foot Coverall indoor arena doesn’t do it justice—it’s a cathedral to riding with its peaked roof, though some may envision the perfect venue for a concert, wedding or indoor soccer game. Constructed of a translucent material and no internal supports, the arena enjoys natural light so no need for overhead lighting—a great cost savings—and it has no hard surfaces for sound to echo. It’s a quiet, dust-free oasis. A heated observation booth provides a perfect vantage point to watch the action.
The grounds also include 17 fenced pastures, 12 with run-in sheds.
As meticulously maintained as the new construction, the charming historic main house was built in several sections, two with date stones marked 1741 and 1809. The oldest section houses the living room, with master bedroom above, and retains distinctive period details—original oak floors, deep sills, exposed beams, walk-in fireplace with cooking crane—yet feels modern with high ceilings and gracious dimensions.
Enjoying a surprising open flow that’s perfect for entertaining, the living room opens to the spacious family room, with a convenient wet bar, highlighted by an exposed stone wall. The adjacent exercise/sunroom is brightened by walls of windows and French doors to the patio, hot tub and pool area.
In the 1809 section is the large dining room, with another of the four fireplaces, more original wood floors, built-in cupboard and south-facing windows. The efficient kitchen combines granite counters and modern appliances with period charm, like pegged oak floors.
Down the hall are a powder room, mudroom with access to the one-car garage, laundry room, and full bath, with separate shower, perfect when guests come in from the pool.
Four bedrooms and three baths fill the second level. The large master suite boasts oak floors, a fireplace and three closets in the bedroom, separate his-and-her bathrooms, a dressing/sitting room with more closets, and a covered balcony overlooking the pool and stables. Pull-down stairs lead to a finished space, perfect for a sewing room or private studio.
Other bedrooms include many closets and special details, like built-in bunk beds. The final bedroom with en suite bath—guest room or au pair’s room—has four closets, plus a storage closet, and stairs to the ground level.
On the Grounds
The grounds boast an apple orchard, grape vines and numerous mature specimen trees. Three outbuildings add more charm. A stone summer kitchen, with a beamed ceiling and walls of windows, is a perfect home office or studio. Once a pump house, the garden shed makes an ideal potting shed. And the original springhouse awaits the needs of its next owners.
A three-bedroom, brick tenant house provides a convenient home for an on-site caretaker or horse trainer.
Whitewall Farm, a turnkey 33-acre equestrian estate in Honey Brook is offered at $2,775,000. For more information, contact Stephen Gross at the Holly Gross Group, 610-431-1100 (office), 484-883-0681 (cell); HollyGross.com.