Unclogging the liberal pipeline

Making sense Michael Reagan

A new Bed and Breakfast has been in Phoenixville since September 2003. Located at 610 Valley Forge Road, the owner is Rebekah Ray. Ray recently read her poetry at Steel City Coffee House, on Bridge Street, and the work depicted her satisfaction with Phoenixville. "Home'," her poem, was a testimony for the continuing renovation of Phoenixville also.

I was lucky to tour her Bed and Breakfast called Morning Star. It's a hidden jewel, occupied in the past by members of the Pennypacker family (70 years no less) and boasts a third floor with a double hallway. A broken wing staircase, leading from the center hall to the third, floor stands proud!

A walk-in hearth still stands in the basement.

The home is a candidate for the 2004 Home Tour.

The local area showcases six other B and B's. As the enthusiast that I am, my footsteps have lingered in all of them. They are Almost Like Home, Amsterdam, Manor House, Sarah P. Wilson, Shearer Elegance (Linfield), and Tara's.

Probably more b and bs would exist, but zoning isn't available yet. Five of the above listed places are in Phoenixville.

However, an exuberant enthusiasm for Phoenixville comes from neighboring Malvern. Pattye Bensons runs Great Valley House Bed and Breakfast, just 23 minutes away. The building clings to a curve of Swedesford Road. Benson loves the renovation of the Columbia Hotel and the Colonial Theatre.

Bob McClaskey, a Phoenixville resident, drove me to the Malvern showplace in his truck in 1991.

Bobby and I got lost and ended up at Chubby Checker's back yard across from Great Valley House, a Georgian Manor.

The B & B has been ongoing for 13 years although Benson stated, "The burnout rate for most Bed and Breakfast owners is two to three years."

Jeff, Benson's husband, did the major restoration of their home, while his wife, a one time interior decorator, stenciled rooms and created quilts.

The kitchen, the oldest section of the home, is built into a bank: 1690. The back door to the kitchen is a flagstone walk.

"We did a lot of research at the Chester County Historical Society about this home before we bought it," Benson said. "We lived in England at one time, and most of the antiques are English, but now I buy only American.

"The walls of this house are 27 inches thick throughout. No noise intrudes.

Down a narrow hall to the right is the living room, splendid with wide beam oak floors and replacement random boards, featuring hand-forged nails - 1700 style. Four wide-sill windows highlight the original Delft Blue and white figured fireplace near a wooden built-in cabinet and drawer.

"One of the most unique things in the house is the hardware: hinges, locks, brackets," Benson said. "The Victorians would have replaced the hardware with brass."

Benson added, "Our home is 75 years older than George Washington's headquarters in Valley Forge Park, and the British were a half mile from here. We have 300 years worth of names and all the transactions dating back to William Penn, 1681 The place used to be a 600 acre farm."

A glance through a window revealed the original smokehouse, and two doors jutting from a green bank lead into a tunnel which served as a hiding place for runaway slaves: an underground railroad.

The dining room on this level dates back to 1740 and features an Italian marble fireplace.

Yes, there's a third floor which holds a brass bed; a large, hooded bathroom off this room shows a clawfoot tub, marble basin and embroidered sentiment.

A sign on the house declares Frederick Houseman, 1791. Some of the former inhabitants were buried nearby in Great Valley Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

Some people feel, and I'm one, that B & B's indicate that our area is worth visiting, and it is!

I can't believe Valentine's Day is almost here. I hope you know why I sign up: With Valentine love, Keystone Connie, 610 933-0669.

comments powered by Disqus