County Lines Magazine
Friday, 24 March 2017 04:41

Pine Creek Mills

A heavenly slice of history is the site of a family compound in Chester Springs.


Pine Creek Mills - Property InteriorWith a pedigree dating back to the 1764 sawmill and the prestige of a National Register of Historic Places designation, Pine Creek Mills is a more welcoming and homey property than you might think for such a landmark. Having a picture-perfect waterfall view—complete with soothing soundtrack—helps set the scene on the eight acres that the extended Richmond family has called home for 20 years.

You may have passed the collection of buildings—four separate residences, three-level stone barn, stone wagon shed, two-car garage, plus a pond, stone dam, waterfall and pasture—that looks like a small settlement across the charming arched stone bridge and cobblestone entrance along Lower Pine Creek Road.

With its converted sawmill and gristmill set among the majestic oaks and sycamores, the property was featured on a Chester County Day Tour years ago. Now it attracts curious drivers who pull over to ask the owners about its history. If you’re a local, you may know it as Clement’s Mill, named after the owner from the 1920s.

Having lovingly restored this second historic property (the family previously renovated an 1800s stone home nearby), the Richmonds are ready for their next adventure. And they are leaving a meticulously maintained estate for someone who appreciates Chester County history.


The Residences

A stone walkway to the main house (c. 1801) includes just one of the many millstones that dot the property. This fitting approach to a classic Chester County fieldstone farmhouse foreshadows the period wood details, wide-plank hardwood floors, deep windowsills and other charms of a well loved architectural style.

Yet little prepares you for the open space within. The overused phrase “the best of old and new” does not do justice to the transformation within—think dark wood and stone details in spacious, white-walled rooms.

Red oak beamed ceilings and massive timber mantels in the formal living and dining rooms mix with soaring vaulted ceilings in the single bedroom and large, light-filled modern kitchen (SubZero, Viking appliances). Period chandeliers combine with new skylights. An office and laundry room join the bedroom and en suite bath on the second floor.

Far enough away for ample privacy, the miller’s house (c.1890) features stucco and stone outside and an open floor plan inside. A large living and dining room, kitchen and studio/family room are on the main level, with a grand bedroom, bath, office and loft on the second floor. Special features include three skylights in the cathedral ceiling of the oversized master bedroom and a stone cold storage room with arched ceiling—perfect for a wine cellar and tasting room.

Next along the line of residences is the gristmill (c.1790). The mill’s works were sold to the Pennsylvania Museum Commission. This charming three-story stone building has been converted into two apartments—a two-bedroom unit on the main level and one-bedroom unit, with private entrance and wall-to-wall carpeting, above. A broad, covered porch is one of many spots on the property to take in the waterfall view.

The stone and cyress siding sawmill cottage (c. 1764) is the fourth and final residential building in the compound and nearest the mill pond and stone dam with waterfall, as well as the stream that powered the mill’s wheel. Many local homes and barns were built from timber cut here before the sawmill closed and the works were donated to the Smithsonian Institute.

Again an open floorplan with vaulted ceilings and skylights, accented by dark wood details, is nestled inside a quaint Colonial exterior to create a two-bedroom home. This structure was built on the stone foundation of the original sawmill.


Pine Creek Mills - Property Bridge and StreamThe Outbuildings

At the opposite end of the property from the waterfall and sawmill sits a massive, three-level stone bank barn (c. 1824) with several frame additions. Once used as a movie theater (the prior owner also owned West Chester’s Warner Theater), the barn still has a projection booth.

As well-maintained as the other structures, the barn could easily become a party barn, studio or whatever the new owner’s imagination can conjure. The insulation and structural integrity are there, as well as a lower level with ample space for stabling. All that’s needed are new plans.

A stone wagon shed has ample space for a workshop or vehicle storage. And the stall at the rear was for many years home to the Richmond’s miniature pony, often spotted grazing in the pastures. A two-car garage (c. 1960) also houses the property’s generator, with separate breakers for each building.


In Sum

As the National Register nomination aptly puts it: these venerable, solid and handsome structures that served their community for an extraordinarily long time are bounded by the beautiful and unspoiled Pine Run, shaded by huge sycamores and oaks, and “convey a serenity and sense of another era which is equaled by few other locations in the country.”

Pine Creek Mills, a turnkey 8-acre estate or family compound in Chester Springs and in the Downingtown East School District, is offered at $1,650,000. For more information about this historic property, contact Stewart Gross at the Holly Gross Group, 610-431-1100 (office), 970-306-9698 (cell);



Published in Home of the Month
Monday, 27 February 2017 05:23

Heartwood Farm

Named for a lucky draw that won the property, Heartwood Farm is the heart of Willistown Township and commands perhaps the most iconic view in Chester County.


Heartwood FarmImagine that you’ve banded together with like-minded people to save a special property from likely ruinous development. When you decide you want to make that gentleman’s farm your home, another member of the group has the same plan. Rather than a mutually destructive bidding war to determine the owner, you choose a civilized option—you draw cards. It’s your birthday and you’re feeling lucky, so you yield the first draw. The card is a king. You pause. Then you draw … an ace of hearts.

Today that lucky ace of hearts hangs framed in the family room and inspired the name of Heartwood Farm, the Gansky family home for almost 20 years. That luck of the draw had them move virtually across the street from their prior home in this unique corner of Chester County.


The Options

This 72-acres crown jewel of Radnor Hunt Country sits at the historic White Horse Village crossroads of Goshen and Providence Roads with sweeping southern views of rolling hills and fenced pastures. And with many surrounding properties also under conservation easement, the sunsets will remain a part of each day on the farm.

With their next chapter set to unfold in Florida, the Ganskys are ready to turn over the entire property—all 72 acres with main house, historic Isaac Massey tenant house, barns, five-car garage plus other outbuildings—or divide the main property with its 30 acres from the more equestrian-oriented parcel to the west.

Though under conservation easement, the property rights for the main residence allow for building a barn, if desired, while the other parcel permits building another residence.

Many options exist for this property: family compound, equestrian estate, equestrian business or gentleman’s farm.


Heartwood FarmThe Main House

You may have visited this 1930s classic Chester County stone farmhouse designed by famed local architect R. Brognard Okie—during one of several Chester County Day tours or as the site of countless fundraisers. Or you may recall spotting the home with its striking, modern cylindrical glass additions—perhaps with the sunset reflecting off the expanses of glass—as you drove along one of the most scenic roads in the county.

This distinctive home—boasting additions in the 1960s and early 2000s—was profiled in House Beautiful in a feature showing how to “marry contemporary and colonial” architecture. The conclusion: like a person, a house can grow more interesting, its character and charm developed and amplified over time.

And so the stately original stone Colonial was expanded and made more livable with the addition of circular spaces, bringing inside the same fieldstone as the exterior. Plus a new solarium (currently home to a bounty of orchids and other tropic plants), fire-side game room and second-floor master suite (with round bedroom and bath, plus skylights)—all with curving walls of modern windows to capture the full sweep of the coveted country view. A stone patio flanks the length of the house under towering specimen trees and provides prime outdoor entertainment space for 200 guests.

A 21st-century addition by local architect Peter Zimmerman echoes the same circular design and includes even more informal spaces—a bar area, wine room and glass observation tower for surveying the landscape and perhaps smoking a cigar while watching horses graze in the pastures.

With the additions the main house now includes eight bedrooms, six full and three half baths, an extravagant gourmet kitchen (once a chef’s pantry), formal living and dining rooms complete with ornate moldings and doors to the stone patio. The residence also has an enviable solarium, library, family room, billiards room, bar, wine room, underground shooting range, multiple fireplaces, staff quarters and more.

In addition to the large flagstone patio, exterior features include a heated greenhouse, pool with expansive pool house, lighted Har-Tru tennis court. And, of course, the 30 acres.


Heartwood FarmThe Farm

The adjoining 42-acre parcel is the site of a turnkey equestrian property. You can live in the historic Isaac Massey stone farmhouse, with five bedrooms and two baths, or new owners can build a new residence. This parcel enjoys the same high elevation giving way to long sight lines taking in the rolling hills, open pastures and old-growth forests—the resting place of famous race horses.

The massive U-shaped barn and smaller adjacent barn offer 24 stalls, two tack rooms, feed room, office and an apartment. Other features include a five-car carriage garage, outdoor lighted riding ring, plus grass dressage and show jumping training areas and fenced pastures.

Everything is in place for a smooth-working equestrian enterprise in a most desirable location.

This legacy property is now available.


This property, offered by Country Properties, Berkshire Hathaway, Fox & Roach—$7,995,000 for the main house with 30 acres, $4,495,000 for the equestrian parcel;, or $10,995,000 for both—contact Rob Van Alen at 610.212.5470 (cell), 610.347.2065 (office);

Published in Home of the Month
Thursday, 25 August 2016 03:18

French Country-Style Home

Formal elegance and gracious country living in Chester Springs.


Living Room - Flowing Springs Road Property in Chester Springs, PAIn a secluded corner of northern Chester County, a short walk from famed Birchrunville Store Café, you’ll find seven meticulously landscaped acres that are home to, not yet another stone Colonial mansion, but instead a unique French Country-style farmhouse dating back to the 18th century and renovated to the highest standards.

A detached barn—with a sunny office above horse stalls plus space for a large studio, den or party space—a pool with spa and waterfall set among specimen plantings, an apple orchard and extensive gardens are all enclosed in a private pocket of space making this feel like a special piece of heaven.


The Details

The singular character of this home is revealed in the details—from priceless millwork added by a Winterthur curator, a wood railing designed and built by a protégé of Wharton Esherick, custom cabinets crafted by a woodworker on loan from the Smithsonian Museum, to a $12,000 Lacanche stove, a 300-year-old mantle from Provence, hand-painted floors in the laundry room and much more.

Surrounded on three sides by rebuilt stone walls, the landscape design displays the same attention to detail. See garden paths using original four-to-six-inch-thick flagstones, original millstones incorporated into the newer terraces, a stone courtyard with fountain, and rare cucumber magnolia and stunning copper beech trees. Over $400,000 was invested in enhancing the exterior since 2009.


The Evolution

The original 1769 core of the home remains, expanded in the early 1800s, then enlarged again in the 1940s, and again by architect Helena van Vliet and totally updated in 2000. Each stage in its evolution added to the unique feel of this extraordinary home.

Brimming with charm and period details, the original parts of the home—housing the entry, formal living and dining rooms, library, and some bedrooms—boast such features as beamed ceilings made by incorporating wood from an 18th-century French ship, random-width wood floors, deep-set windows, antique hardware, rare tombstone built-in cabinets, and antique slate and marble slab floors.

Later additions to this stuccoed fieldstone home were designed to preserve the centrality of the original home, keeping it as the main event of the composition.

Not surprisingly, this distinctive home was once owned by one of Winterthur’s curators, Arthur Sussell, who added priceless millwork—moldings, wainscoting, paneling and other details. Sussell built a fitting stage for his priceless antiques collection, later auctioned by Sotheby’s. Hardwood floors—chestnut, oak, hardwood pine, walnut—plaster walls, antique hardware and more details integral to the home make it a kind of antique itself. And all on display as the home is currently unoccupied.


Bird's eye view of the Flowing Springs Road property in Chester Springs, PAThe Final Addition

Although adding significant space in 2000 to what is now a four-bedroom home with three full and two partial baths and six fireplaces, the final addition was designed to appear small so as not to outshine the original structure—matching the original  in height, width and roof pitch. The construction used local and green materials and techniques (recycled wood and stone, low VOC paints, high efficiency heating, etc.).

Following a design philosophy that buildings should reconnect with the natural world, architect van Vliet added a large, gourmet country kitchen (while retaining the original as a prep kitchen), sunny family room with eating area overlooking the property, lower-level media room with French doors to the grounds, gentleman’s study, and a second-floor master bedroom suite with dressing rooms and baths to provide modern amenities.

The existing interior space was also updated and reorganized, adding a wine cellar (expanded in 2012 to store 500 bottles), laundry room and pantry. Meanwhile the exterior got new terraces and balconies, added to take advantage of the private viewscapes and providing more areas for sitting, eating and entertaining.

Practical details were not overlooked. Electrical and heating systems, water treatment systems, central air, radiant heat, a security system, driveway alarm and sound system were added or updated. Exterior work included a cedar shake roof, copper gutters and downspouts, new doors and windows, and in 2012, repainting and stuccoing.

With its pristine setting and extraordinary collection of site-specific details, this is the kind of unique home that could well be a highlight of Chester County Day when the tour returns to this area. And a gracious home any day of the year.


This unique seven-acre Chester Springs property with barn, pool and residence (4 bedrooms, 3.2 baths, 6 fireplaces on four levels) is offered for $1.75 million. For details or to arrange a visit, contact Bill Cochrane, James A. Cochrane, Inc. 610-469-6100 or 610-476-4779;


Published in Home of the Month
Tuesday, 31 May 2016 02:30

1845 North Valley Road

Photo of yard with pool at North Valley Road propertyIn a location chosen centuries ago on North Valley Road, near Yellow Springs Road and Valley Forge Mountain, this property combines the best of historic charm and modern amenities. With southern exposure, this charming stone home offers light-filled space flowing seamlessly from room to room, a perfect setting for family memories created in its comfortable rooms. The current owners have nurtured the gardens for a quarter century and are ready to pass their home on to the next family.

Near six nature preserves and Diamond Rock Hill (named for the glittering mica), the natural beauty of this Tredyffrin location complements the three-story classic stone home, dating back to around 1780. Generations expanded the original residence, building a kitchen wing, laying down random-width wood floors, adding period moldings and more details. Major improvements were completed by Pohlig Builders, and the present owners completely updated kitchen and powder room, installed a new metal roof on the stone garage, and updated the pool and pumping system.

With a great sense of style and architectural consistency, the house grew to a comfortable size of six bedrooms and three-plus baths. Picturesque stone accessory buildings include a garden cottage and springhouse with brick floor—perfect for a wine cellar. The secluded pool has a stone-walled patio, with other flagstone terraces surrounding the home shaded by mature specimen trees.


Main House

Drive through stately chestnut trees lining North Valley Road to a curving driveway, past carriage-lamp-topped stone pillars. Walk down a brick path past a majestic sycamore set in perennial gardens, as you approach the bluestone patio and the sight and sounds of an outdoor fountain.

A spacious reception room, with warm random-width hardwood floors, greets you. This transitional space, with convenient powder room and ample closet, leads to the main ground floor rooms.

An elegant formal living room is enhanced by large windows on three sides, with deep sills found in homes with thick stone walls, and providing sunlight throughout the day. Period details—crown moldings, chair rails, antique hardware, built-in shelves and cabinets—accent the carved wood mantle and fireplace. This lovely room is both intimate enough for fireside entertaining and large enough for the grand piano.

The magnificence of a walk-in stone fireplace makes the dining room a perfect place for formal entertaining as well as family celebrations. Combining authentic details (wrought iron cooking arm, brick paver hearth) with an elegant crystal chandelier and always-useful built-in shelves, this room allows for a variety of decorating styles.

Steps away is the renovated kitchen, with sunny eat-in dining space and windows on both ends of the room. Newly added tumbled stone backsplash, quiet/close wood cabinets, stainless steel appliances and granite counters make this an efficient work space. Snacks can be passed to the adjacent family room through an opening where an old window was removed.

The family room is graced by the original stone exterior wall, in all its rough-hewn glory and texture. Pella windows on three sides, plus French doors to the patio, provide ample light. (Most other windows have antique glass in divided-light style frames.) It’s possible to stand in the entrance of the family room and look through the kitchen and dining room, all the way to the living room!


The Grounds

But the main view from the family room is outside—to the patio, professionally designed gardens, and on to the walkway to the pool. The thoughtful design, using evergreens and boxwoods, provides privacy to the pool and camouflages it in winter.

Specimen plantings, lush perennial borders and raised garden beds abound. You’ll find a spectacular Southern Magnolia, huge hellebores, spring bulbs and a protected vegetable garden. Six watering hydrants and numerous electrical outlets simplify upkeep and make clear the value placed on the gardens.

Two major structures on the property offer limitless possibilities for new owners. A gigantic stone garage (53’ x 36’) fits seven cars! A full loft space above could be used for more storage, an in-law suite, studio, home office or personal getaway. Similarly, the stone springhouse provides more options. It’s a cool space (literally cool, a real springhouse, with two rooms and brick floor). with windows, multi-levels and several rooms.


Living RoomBack to the House

The highlight of the second floor is the master suite: bedroom, sitting room (with large windows and stone wall), walk-in closets and master bath. Like several other rooms, the master bath retains an original stone wall, this one by the jetted tub, skylight and windows overlooking the pool. A perfect place to soak away worries.

The remainder of this floor includes a convenient second-floor laundry, plus full bath and two bedrooms. More hardwood floors and deep windowsills mix with California closets for the best of old and new.

Offering privacy perfect for teens, au pairs, in-laws or an office, the third floor has three more bedrooms and another full bath. Space under the dormers, beaded board walls and more hardwood floors add character, while built-in closets, shelves and cubbies add function.

Three stone buildings, three patios, and a three-story home. The three words that come to mind are: “I want it!”

With award winning Tredyffrin/Easttown schools, this property is offered at $1,025,000. For more information, contact Missy Schwartz, Fox & Roach/BHHS/ Fine Home & Farm Collection, 610-651-2700; 610-888-3349;


Published in Home of the Month
Sunday, 28 February 2016 03:26

Fox Creek Farm

A grand country home, as quiet and wonderful as when it was built.


Photos by Sarah BonesAs if on cue, a red fox walks along the creek in the late winter sun—along Fox Creek. Making a perfect introduction to … Fox Creek Farm.

The view through the wall of south-facing windows in this solid stone Colonial manor house takes in the pond, with waterfall, and just some of the pastures that slope down toward the creek. Given the orientation of the house, every late afternoon promises a golden view of part of the 32-acre estate—even without the promise of a fox.


Storied Past, Protected Future

Home to just four families in its century-plus life, this stately Main Line mansion was originally built for George Wharton Pepper, U.S. Senator and famed Philadelphia lawyer (founder of the Pepper Hamilton law firm). Expanding an 18th-century farmhouse, the grand mansion was completed in 1909 and built over nine years—with the kind of craftsmanship and attention to detail unaffordable in modern construction. This all-stone, three-plus story home is as solid as the reputation of its first owner.

Surrounded by properties under conservation easement, this parcel near Radnor Hunt affords enviable privacy and is well protected from unwanted development. The bank barn, caretaker’s cottage, springhouse cottage, horse sheds and fenced paddocks can continue to inhabit their country setting, undisturbed. And the walled English gardens, with octagonal garden pergola, swimming pool and Chester County stonewalls add character to enhance the private, pastoral setting.


Main House

A winding private drive crosses Fox Creek and heads uphill, to the level hillside perch where the stone house stretches wide. The home is grand and gracious, with six bedrooms, even more bathrooms, four fireplaces (including one from the original farmhouse), home offices, family rooms and a separate in-law or live-in suite. Quirky details and markers of a different time—antique elevator, dumb waiter, attached greenhouse—provide character.

Everything about the home exudes solidity, yet understated grace. Although you’d hear nary a squeak from the century-old wood floors, you can easily imagine the sound of ice tinkling in a silver cocktail shaker. The solid feel of huge flagstones in the foyer—some measuring almost a yard across—is complemented by the elegant grand staircase. Similarly, the large, walk-in fireplace in the sitting room is made more inviting by a wall of windows in this cozy space.

The vast light-filled formal living room—with nine-foot, beamed ceilings, walls of built-ins, elegant moldings, and fireplace—easily accommodates two baby grand pianos. Banks of French doors let sun shine on original random-width, pegged oak floors and provide stunning views of the property as well as access to the brick patio and English garden. A separate room for the adjacent wet bar makes entertaining a dream.

Down the hall, a spacious formal dining room also boasts built-ins and fireplace, while the family room, in an octagonal bump-out, is graced by unique chapel windows. The large kitchen, with a dumb waiter that opens to the outside for easy transfer, is ready to be redesigned to meet the dreams of its next owner.

At the far end of the hall are a home office, with separate entrance, powder room, attached greenhouse, and covered back entrance through a courtyard. Back stairways lead up to the second floor and down to the laundry and basement.


Photos by Sarah BonesUpper Floors

The main staircase takes you up to the spacious landing, with a balcony overlooking the front of the home. A long hallway stretches the length of the house, with the master suite to the right. There you’ll find another sunny room, with windows on three sides, French doors leading to a private porch with garden views, fireplace and built-ins. His and her dressing rooms and baths, a sitting room and extensive closets complete the suite.

Three additional bedrooms—with baths, built-ins, a fireplace—another home office, and separate suite—with two bedrooms, bath and kitchenette—complete this floor.

Pass the walk-in cedar closet on the carpeted third floor and find yet another bedroom and bath, plus a large media/game room—perfect for pool tables, foosball and a large TV. There’s additional storage in an unfinished section of this floor.


Out Buildings

Several additional buildings are part of the estate. A caretaker’s cottage comes complete with two bedrooms. A large garage can store both cars and equipment. And the charming springhouse, with its eyebrow windows and loft bedroom, overlooking the waterfall on the pond, is perfect for a studio or another residence.

And finally, a six-stall bank barn stands ready for horses to enjoy the fenced pastures. Or ready to become a party barn.

So much for new owners to enjoy. 

This 32-acre Main Line property in Berwyn is offered for $3.95 milllion by Country Properties, Berkshire Hathaway, Fox & Roach. For more information, contact Rob Van Alen, 610-212-5470 (cell), 610-347-2065 (office);


Published in Home of the Month
Wednesday, 01 July 2015 03:43

White Oak Farm

A summer home in Glenmoore for the Main Line’s Montgomery family became a modern year-round retreat and family compound.

It was a case of love at first sight and it was not long before Father had bought some two hundred acres of Henderson’s land on Indiantown Hill, including the site of the old Indian burial ground. I have always thought it very uninspired of him to have named his land ‘White Oak Farm’ in honor of a big white oat tree on the very crest of the hill, instead of ‘Indiantown Hill Farm.’ … White Oak Farm was the great love of our young lives, and still is mine.
—Horace Binney Montgomery, from Return the Golden Years

White Oak Farm
Arriving on the long, winding driveway leading to White Oak Farm, it’s easy to see why this place was the source of so many fond childhood memories of Horace Montgomery, the second youngest of 11 children of Elizabeth Binney and Richard Roger Montgomery, co-founder of the Merion Cricket Club. During the early 20th century at this country retreat, young Horace and his siblings found berries to pick, woods to explore and streams to fish—a summer paradise.

The feelings of sanctuary and nature retreat remain on the lush 76-acre property set along the north branch of Indian Run, a tributary of the Brandywine River. The pleasures of berries, woods and fish are joined by modern amenities like a salt-water swimming pool, guesthouse and a thoroughly renovated manor home.

Saving the House

The good bones of the solid 1906 manor house attracted the current owners when they stumbled upon the ramshackled, abandoned property almost 20 years ago. Built of Pennsylvania granite and fieldstone collected by local farmers on stone-hauling day—in a ritual similar to an Amish barn raising when neighbors pitch in—the main structure withstood its interim uses as a rehabilitation facility and a home to forest animals.

Working with local architect Peter Batchelor and builder John Diament, the owners took the main house back to those good bones of stone walls and wood floors. The structure was transformed into a 21st-century, 5,000-square-foot, three-story home with four bedrooms, three-plus bathrooms for the owners and their three children. A new family retreat, but this one was used year round.

Making It Modern

White Oak Farm - Foyer

The conversion gave new life to this special family home, while preserving quality materials—such as the wood floors (there’s nary a squeak even today)—and details like the wrap-around porch, where the Montgomery family gathered to shell peas, sing songs and talk about books and where the current owners dine, relax and enjoy the koi pond. Modern windows brought in light to spaces graced with nine-foot ceilings, small rooms were opened up, archways and built-ins were added to make the space livable for a modern family.

The first floor has formal living and dining rooms, but it’s clear the family gathers in the large chef’s kitchen and family room with doors to outside decks and patios. A home office retains the cozy proportions of the original home, while a large mudroom and powder room add convenience.

Bedrooms with built-ins, modern bathrooms and a laundry room fill the second floor. The master suite has thoughtful details like a fireplace (one of four in the home), Juliet balcony, home office, walk-in closets and beautiful views of the property from its corner site. The large master bath has his-and-her sinks, cherry cabinetry, a pedestal tub, walk-in glass shower with bench, and separate water closet.

Third floor spaces under the eaves are at tree level, giving a cozy feel. An el-shaped room with built-in bench for enjoying the view is currently a sewing room, while a large bedroom with dormer windows fills the other end of the floor. A shared bath boasts big windows and another bench for gazing outside. Unfinished attic space could be converted or used for storage.

The Grounds

White Oak FarmThe home has been preserved and improved, as have the grounds. Outbuildings were reclaimed, repurposed and added. A two-car detached garage has a workshop, bathroom, loft space and indoor/outdoor kennel with fenced run. The 3,300-square-foot, single-story barn has ample room for farm equipment and storage of everyday items, boats or classic cars and could easily be converted to a working barn.

In 2009, a pool/guest house—complete with full kitchen, bath and bedroom/studio/exercise room—was added off the 20-by-40-foot salt-water pool.  A charming potting shed and old icehouse—perhaps a future sauna—plus emergency power generators add to the pleasures of the property.

You’ll also find a stocked koi pond with a waterfall, water lilies and irises; a large pond stocked with fish and perfect for paddle boating on an adjoining 13-acre parcel also for sale; an orchard with pear, apple and white cherry trees plus blueberry bushes; and acres of fields, streams, paths and woodlands.

The perfect spot for your year-round retreat.

This 76-acre property is available for $1,850,000. For information, contact Bill Cochrane, James A. Cochrane, Inc., 610-469-6100 or 610-476-4779;

Published in Home of the Month
Friday, 30 January 2015 06:39

Valley Park

Family-friendly living near Pickering Creek Reservoir

Waverly CircleNot far from the rolling hills of Valley Forge National Historic Park—with its nature trails, bike paths and horse trails—is a secluded enclave of 31 homes arranged along a looped road. That’s where you’ll find 102 Waverly Circle, set in the Valley Park neighborhood of gracious homes blending privacy and a sense of community on the edge of Pickering Creek Reservoir.

In this undeveloped section of Chester County—home to nesting bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, horse stables and golf courses—the Home of the Month is also close to King of Prussia, Great Valley and the Main Line, with easy access to the expressway to Philadelphia. And it offers timeless design from Bentley Builder’s 40 years of experience constructing premier estate-quality homes.

Looking for More Space

Happy in this convenient corner of Chester County, the current owners moved less than two miles eight years ago to Waverly Circle, in search of more space. And they certainly found it—over 5,000 square feet in this 5-bedroom, 3.2-bath, 3-car-garage home, with a full unfinished lower level. Plenty of space for just the two of them, their dog and an amazing orchid collection!

The couple also found more space on their large homesite that abuts the conserved green space of Pickering Creek Reservoir—land that’s free to enjoy without the responsibility of ownership and maintenance. Three outside patios of Pennsylvania bluestone and Techo-Bloc, accented by a pergola and lush landscaping, provide a perfect setting for months of cookouts and outdoor relaxation in the fenced yard with country views.

But now it’s time to downsize, as the couple needs less space and plans another short move.

A Classic Home

A classic center-hall Colonial design, this home mixes the best of traditional style and craftsmanship with modern amenities and conveniences. The layout is familiar, welcoming you into the gracious 11x30-foot foyer, with a stunning main staircase begging to be used for grand entrances and photo backdrops.

You immediately see custom details—arched doorways, crown moldings, chair rails, wainscoting up the stairs and in the dining room. Plus the gleam of red-oak, site-finished wood floors that run throughout most of the first floor.

Anchored by a wood-burning fireplace with custom mantel, the open, airy formal living room is through the archway to the right. To the left is the formal dining room, accented by custom wainscoting.

From the dining room, through the butler’s pantry—with sink, built-ins and wine refrigerator—you come to the 19x18-foot gourmet kitchen. Yes, it’s the heart of the home and an open and welcoming space where everyone at every party will congregate around the huge center island. Meeting every cook’s wish list—granite counter tops, stainless steel top-of-the-line appliances, custom designed cabinets, built-in desk—the kitchen tops the list with gorgeous views out back. Boasting a tray ceiling, the adjacent morning room, with sunset views, is the perfect spot any time of day.

But what makes this home so family-friendly is the two-story 20x17-foot great room. A wall of palladium windows frame the view, a fieldstone fireplace adds warmth, and plush wall-to-wall carpeting helps make this the place where quality time will be shared.

Also enjoying the view of the backyard, the private, in-home office is separated from family life by wood-stained French doors and accented with cherry moldings and details. A powder room is accessible from both the home office and living room.

Rounding out the first floor is a large mudroom with butler’s entry and individual storage cubbies as well as another powder room.

Upper and Lower Levels

Waverly Circle 2One wing of the second floor is reserved for the bright and private master suite. Entered through a 13x11-foot sitting room, the 19x16-foot master bedroom has a tray ceiling, adding a spacious feeling to the already large room. Pass his-and-her walk-in closets on either side on your way to the master bath.

Here, too, are his-and-her amenities on either side—this time vanities and dressing tables—as you head for the view of the reservoir green space. Another set of large windows frames this view over the luxurious, built-in jetted tub. A large glass-door shower and water closet flank the tub.

The remainder of the second floor has four spacious bedrooms, two with en suite baths, the others with hall access baths, plus ample storage and a convenient second-floor laundry room.

On the lower level, new owners can make their mark. Although unfinished, this space has 8-foot headroom, rough plumbing for a powder room, and large windows bringing in natural light. Perfect for a media room, home gym, in-laws or au pair suite—or all three—this space is a blank canvas for the next family to paint their own picture of home.

This meticulously maintained home off Valley Park Road in Phoenixville is offered for $1,279,000. For more information, contact Kimberly Swanson, 484-614-1231; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Published in Home of the Month
Friday, 31 October 2014 04:28

The Crockett House in Olde Bulltown Village

‘Tis a gift to be simple …

Crockett HouseIf your dream home tends toward images of simplicity, serenity and ease, the homes of Olde Bulltown Village—nestled in a quiet corner of northern Chester County just outside Elverson—may just fulfill that dream. And a prime example of the charm of this community is the Crockett House, which captures the feel of indigenous 18th-century Pennsylvania architecture, yet offers a full range of 21st-century amenities, including views of the championship 18-hole French Creek golf course.

Both a step back in time and step forward in green design, this newly con­structed period home mixes traditional charm with modern conveniences. It actually delivers on the promise of the best of old and new. The Crockett House is the embodiment of simple, low-main­tenance living, in a small community that’s pastoral yet convenient to the Main Line, Philadelphia and Chester County.

For stress-free, turn-key living—where the homeowner’s association takes care of lawn-mowing, snow-plowing and other maintenance—the community of Olde Bulltown Village offers more than peace of mind and sweet dreams.

About Olde Bulltown

Yes, there really was a Bulltown—founded in 1780 by Thomas Bull after his retirement from nearby Warwick Furnace on land purchased from his employers, Samuel Potts and Thomas Rutter. Another part of the Bull fam­ily’s legacy was Thomas serving as Lieu­tenant Colonel under General George Washington and grandson Thomas also serving, much later, in the Civil War.

The early commercial center of Bull­town was an 18th-century village—with a blacksmith/carriage house, grist mill, country store and other buildings. Resi­dential adaptations of these buildings form the core and create the atmosphere of today’s Olde Bulltown community.

Bull Mansion, or Mount Pleasant, was the Bull family home for many genera­tions. The home boasted 18th-century appointments—paneled and wainscoted interior walls, window seats, built-in cup­boards—as well as features unique in the country at the time: a Dutch door and open beamed ceiling in the kitchen. Res­toration of the home and adjacent barn returned them to their former beauty, and the mansion serves as inspiration for the design of Olde Bulltown homes.

The Crockett House

Capturing the timeless 18th-century design of all the homes in Olde Bull­town, the Crockett House displays classic proportions and harmony with the landscape—its site-specific location maximizes both country views and pri­vacy. Constructed of brick and clapboard, consistent with other homes, this three-bedroom, three-plus bath, two-car-garage home is an accurate reproduction design, showing varied rooflines and what looks like additions that were typically added to a home over time.

The home’s centerpiece is the spacious great room, with exposed, rough-hewn hemlock beams and high, planked wood ceiling. The kitchen offers modern con­veniences yet hides them within custom-distressed cherry cabinets and includes accents like soapstone sink and counters and a centuries-old oak bar top radiating historic patina.

An adjacent dining area, with a Rums­ford fireplace, has French doors to the covered porch, where a complete outdoor kitchen with built-in grill awaits for cook­outs overlooking the golf course and views of French Creek State Park in the distance. The main level also includes a foyer with powder room, plus mudroom and conve­nient laundry room.

With the second of three fireplaces, a bright living room is right-sized, as are the other rooms of this energy efficient, com­fortable home where “smaller can be better” is evident. Quarter-sawn oak wood floors that run throughout the first floor seam­lessly connect the living room to the master suite, with its walk-in closet and built-ins, plus a gracious master bath with marble vanity and copper-tiled shower. One-floor living at its best.

Angles, chamfered corners, bead-board cabinets and similar details reflect the crafts­manship that gives the home’s interior its timeless, traditional feel, and come together to create a second-floor guest room that is as unique as it is inviting.

Crockett HouseA large family room, home office or third bedroom and third fireplace are just part of what the lower level, with its walk-out to a patio, can hold. Storage, the mechanicals and a substantial unfinished space—for a home gym, media room, au pair bed­room—are tucked into this level.

Sustainable by Design

For Olde Bulltown, green means more than the pastoral location, lush fairways and country views. For example, the geothermal heating and cooling systems are designed to be green, comfortable and efficient. Waste water is treated and used to irrigate French Creek Golf Club, also keeping it green and “green.” Building materials used to create the historical details of the homes are recy­cled from original 18th- and 19th-century buildings, along with authentic Chester County fieldstone from local farmlands gathered by farmers centuries ago.

This vision helps make life at Olde Bull­town Village naturally green, serene and as it should be.

The three-bedroom, three+-bathroom, brick and cedar siding Crockett House overlooking the 11th fairway of the French Creek Golf Club is offered at $1,190,000. Other models of single homes are available to be customized to the owners’ personal specifications. For more information, contact Merle Stoltzfus, Stoltzfus Enterprises, 610-656-6923, or learn more at

Published in Home of the Month
Friday, 01 November 2013 00:00

Waterford Farm

An Equestrian Eden in Upper Oxford Township

The southern tip of Chester County is a pastoral oasis of rolling hills dotted with both Amish and modern farms mixed with large equestrian properties—horse boarding and training facilities, polo fields (Brandywine Polo Club’s home is on Polo Road in Toughkenamon), and private equestrian homesteads. This is a fitting setting for Waterford Farm, a 70-acre sanctuary near Oxford along Muddy Run Creek and a comfortable home for a family to enjoy the best of an equestrian lifestyle.

Waterford Farm boasts the privacy that would make this a perfect weekend retreat as well as a peaceful family home. Set in Andrews Bridge Hunt Country, this property is an ideal location for anyone interested in the area’s long tradition of foxhunting and its growing popularity among equestrian fans of three-day eventing (a kind of triathlon for horses combining dressage, cross country and stadium jumping).

Proximity to Fair Hill, Maryland, with its October eventing competition, and Plantation Field in nearby Unionville, which hosted a major eventing weekend mid-September, helps explain why this area is becoming a hub for eventing enthusiasts. Waterford Farm offers the complete complement of facilities for eventing training, in addition to all the amenities needed for gracious country living.

Main House
    The main residence dates back to 1780, with the stucco-over-stone original building providing a sense of history. Original random-width oak floorboards and period details add charm to the interior, which has been expanded and updated, most recently at the turn of this century by James Palita builders. Modern amenities have created a comfortable five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath contemporary home. Yet the views from the front porch across the lush fields have changed little over the past centuries.

These views can also be enjoyed through floor-to-ceiling windows in the large, south-facing living room—a perfect place to sit by the fire and watch the change of seasons. Cherry paneling and warm wood floors blend the old and new in this part of the addition to the original home.

Perhaps the most popular gathering space is the newly added modern kitchen and great room on the back of the house. The timeless design by Waterbury Kitchen & Bath makes this space functional as well as inviting. Custom cabinets, soapstone counters and double sinks, plus top-of-the-line appliances are accented by exposed beams, a wagon-wheel pot rack, and hand-painted backsplash depicting the property—complete with images of the family dogs.

Flowing from the open kitchen is the large dining space, a natural magnet for family gatherings and the perfect spot for a welcoming farm table. Dinners for the immediate family, extended family or large groups could easily be accommodated in this inviting space, accented by a wood-burning stove.

More exposed beams cross the ceiling of the adjacent den, which boasts reclaimed wood paneling from a barn. Another fireplace makes this a cozy retreat. A mudroom— complete with dog-washing tub—pantry, first-floor laundry, foyer and powder room round out this level.

The kitchen-dining-den area overlooks and opens to the stunning pool area. Nestled into a hill topped with mature trees and surrounded by a magnificent wall of flat stones, the pool, hot tub and built-in gas grill make the most of this private backyard setting. Overlooking this tranquil space is a one-bedroom pool house, which could also function as a home office or studio.

Upper Floors
Above the living room, and sharing the same southern views, is the master bedroom and adjacent spacious sitting/dressing room with ample built-ins. The large master bath has a Jacuzzi tub and overlooks the pool.

At the opposite end of the second level is a lovely guest room, with private entrance through French doors, a deck and access to the pool area. Also on this floor are a sitting area, second-floor laundry, two additional bedrooms with two baths, and a large family/game room, currently home to a full-size pool table.

The third-floor attic area has two large rooms: a children’s bedroom beneath the eaves—full of angles and hiding places—and a light-filled office with views in three directions.

Horse Heaven
One of the most striking features on the property is the large bank barn, renovated in 2005, housing 12 spotless stalls, a wash stall and tack room. A large central area with rubber brick mats allows space for walking horses to cool them down. The huge space above, currently used for hay storage, could easily be converted into a party barn with limitless entertainment space.

As befits a property that was once home to racehorses and foxhunting—Cary Jackson was a prior owner—there are more equestrian amenities. For eventing training dear to the hearts of current owners Luke and Sarah Allen, you’ll find a covered automatic walking ring, outdoor sand ring, dressage ring, plus fences set for cross-country jumping, and fenced paddocks.

Even the large pond, suitable for boating and marked with a gazebo on a small island, has been designed to allow the horses to swim.

Waterford Farm offers unparalleled privacy in a distinctive property. ♦

This property is available in two tax parcels: 71+ acres with two tenant homes, or 56+ acres with one tenant home, for $2,450,000 or $1,950,000, respectively.  For more information, contact Bunny Meister, James A. Cochrane Inc. Realtor, 610-793-1219 or 610-469-6100;

Published in Home of the Month
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 00:00

Country Living

Country Living At its Best

With 18 acres, a pond and stream, this updated, historic farmhouse provides the perfect setting for a country lifestyle. 

     Little Washington Road, you’ll turn on to the long driveway winding uphill to the original 1780 farmhouse built by the owners of a large parcel of land in this northern corner of Chester County near Marsh Creek State Park. The approach provides a fitting transition to this bucolic setting, as you pass over Culbertson Run—which joins Brandywine Creek—past the pond big enough for swimming, beyond fruit trees, mature hardwoods and evergreens, an old root cellar and ruins of a grist mill, then up to the main house. It’s not surprising to learn that a covered bridge—Larkin Bridge—once stood nearby.


Originally a classic two-over-two stone farmhouse (two rooms on each of two floors), the home has grown through additions—in the 1940s, 2004 and 2006—that have preserved the feel of a charming farmhouse yet updated the home for the 21st century.

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Published in Home of the Month
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