It was in 1996 that my previous business partner, Gary Sharp, and I bought 455 Old Baltimore Pike in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania to be our new home for Dimensional Dynamics, Architects and Planners, Inc. The firm had been located since its founding in 1971 by Rev. L. Gordon Bucy, in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania with the exception of the three years we spent in the lower level of Gary’s home in Chadds Ford after the death of Gordon in 1993.
The commercial property we purchased along historic Route One, (which runs along the East Coast from the top of Maine down to bottom of Florida), was an old Victorian farmstead on a lot that was just under 2 acres. Previous to our ownership, the Victorian house had been turn into an office building for Brandywine River Properties, a premier realtor in Southern Chester County, and before that it was fondly known as “the Pink House”, an antique store that had been around for many years. The property had on it three buildings, all which dated back to the 1800s. The Victorian house, a small stone workshop that had been converted into a “cozy” office space, and an old barn which was covered with a bright blue tarp over the leaking roof. The barn had seen better days.
Upon our purchase my wife, Lora, and I immediately started the modifications necessary for the Victorian house to meet the needs of a growing Architectural firm. We looked at the overall property as an investment since we had the ability to rent out floors of the house and the little stone building to subsidize our purchase. As with all my clients I prepared a master plan laying out the immediate needs of the property and at the same time the future desires. Base on that initial plan, for the past eighteen years I have overseen, maintained, improved and loved this property. The property has seen its share of renters: from a title company, a cleaning company, a hair salon, a law office, a gift shop, and a psychologist. It has also seen the buying out of my business partner in 1998, the complete renovation of the Victorian house and the small stone building in 2003, and the start of renovations and stabilization of the barn structure after a brutal winter in 2010.
With all the changes that have happened over the years of my ownership, it has been within this past year that it has seen the most change. This year has offered me the opportunity to finally see the vision I had for the property since the first time I saw it come to fruition. Just like the master plans I provide my clients, some times it takes years for them to finally be fulfilled, and like them, sometimes the functions of the spaces change from what you initially intend. This year has seen the passing of the torch to a new owner and the start and completion of the renovations of the old barn to hold his new start up company, Ten Gallon Hat Winery. When I met Chris Dion I realized that I had finally found someone who would care, maintain and improve this property as I and a long line of owners before me had done for many, many years. The work, sweat, tears and investments that all of us had given to this property to keep it as a prime example of adaptive reuse at its best would not be forgotten.
The plans and design I had prepared so many years ago as I sat at my desk staring out at the old barn were easily modified to meet the new owners needs and the result is a finished conversion of a once derelict structure into a wonderful, usable example to the community of how the reuse of historic structures can easily enhance the world around them. I am so pleased to see this property saved, to see it loved and cared for to the point of preserving it for generations to come. Being a good steward of what God gives us sometime mean knowing when to let it go. I praise The Lord for allowing me the opportunity to be a small part of the history of this property, but I praise him more for allowing me the opportunity to see the vision for this property become a reality.