Fair Meadow Farm in Birmingham Township
A witness to history
Nothing in this bucolic region of eastern Chester County hints at its connection to the largest and longest single-day battle of the Revolutionary War. Yet on September 11, 1777, the opening shot of the fateful Battle of Brandywine was fired on what’s now Fair Meadow Farm, as General Washington suffered a crushing defeat by General Howe.
Tracing its roots back to a 1683 purchase of 500 acres from William Penn and serving as home for 150 years of Davis family members, in addition to some Mathers and Strouds, Fair Meadow Farm was fittingly listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1959.
But it was the farm that attracted the current owners to these 28.5 acres on Birmingham Road. “My wife always wanted to live on a farm,” says the husband, “although we’re not farmers.” So the couple abandoned their search for a Lancaster County farm, choosing instead to settle in an area that’s rural, yet close to towns and their former life in Swarthmore.
Reflecting on what inspired them to take on this project 24 years ago—the 1740 serpentine house and bank barn were sorely in need of work—the couple agreed that “if you buy an old home it’s a romantic purchase.” You have to love the patina that comes only with age and the dreams that are part of owning a historic property—like cooking a meal in an authentic walk-in fireplace.
“We admit we looked at the place through rose-colored glasses,” the husband continues, “seeing its fabulous potential.” And there was also the quality of the workmanship in a home now well over 250 years old.
“Our plan was to fix, but not replace, to make improvements but in the correct style,” adds the wife. “We did things like use rag painting finishes on the walls—things authentic to the period.” They chose historically accurate paint colors, buried power lines to preserve the look of the property, and shored up the massive bank barn that was seriously sagging in its center, with the help of Wesley Sessa of 18th Century Restorations.
Today the farm features a seven-bedroom, four-full-two-half-bath serpentine home, stone bank barn, four-car garage, greenhouse, several outbuildings, pool, pond, magnificent mature trees along with lovingly designed and cared-for gardens.
The main farmhouse—with the oldest section marked by a 1740 datestone, plus 1802 and 1937 additions—has been reconfigured over the years. It’s evolved into a bright, functional home with many windows and higher-than-expected ceilings, making it a comfortable home.
Once two rooms in the 1802 section, the spacious living room boasts two fireplaces, one a deep, cooking fireplace with the original cooking crane. The adjacent paneled library in the 1937 addition, with exposed beams and built-ins, is a cozy space with corner fireplace, convenient wet bar and staircase to the master bedroom. A paneled office, with powder room, has many built-ins and a lovely pond view.
On the other side of the elegant foyer with original staircase (check out the newel post’s mortgage button and secret passage to the kitchen and basement with root cellar) is the formal dining room. The adjacent butler’s pantry has two walls of custom cherry storage cabinets by Waterbury Designs (now Waterbury Kitchen and Bath). More cherry cabinets by Waterbury encircle the well-designed chef’s kitchen with gas fireplace.
A sunny breakfast room with a deck, well-equipped laundry room with abundant storage, second powder room, and convenient mudroom with stone floors, skylight and wall of windows, round out the L-shaped first floor, accented with beautiful hardwood floors.
The second floor is anchored by a large master suite with sitting room (easily convertible to a bedroom or nursery), dressing area with four closets, and master bedroom and bath, another Waterbury design.
Three additional bedrooms (one with en-suite bath, another with a fireplace) plus a hall bath are on the second level. Three more bedrooms—with unique eyebrow windows and wide-board floors—a play area (or future yoga room), full bath, plus storage room and cedar closet, add more living space on the third level.
A local landmark visible from the road, the iconic 1803 serpentine bank barn (60’x40’) houses numerous stalls, a huge heated/air-conditioned workshop (20’x40’) and bath. Other amenities include a greenhouse with automatic venting and cooling, multipurpose playhouse/poolhouse with seasonal bathroom and kitchenette, four-car garage in the original carriage house, plus corncrib and smokehouse used for storage.
A lovely heated swimming pool flanked by fountains and picturesque half-acre spring-fed pond provide space for recreation and reflection.
The property is also home to magnificent specimen trees, including a 300-year-old sycamore and regal London planetree near the pond. An orchard and well-established garden (including asparagus patch) protected by deer fencing are evidence of a serious gardener.
Fair Meadow Farm offers so many restful places to sit and relax while soaking in the beauty and history of this peaceful oasis.
For more on this conveniently located, historic 28.5-acre property in the Unionville school district, with 7+ bedroom, 4.2-bath farmhouse, bank barn, 4-car garage, pool, playhouse, greenhouse, pond and impressive garden, contact The Holly Gross Group, Berkshire Hathaway, Fox & Roach, 610-430-3030; HollyGrossGroup.com.
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