We are delighted to sponsor and participate in the 82nd annual Chester County Day House Tour this year on Saturday, October 7th. In addition to being a Gold Sponsor, we are proud to have three properties featured along the tour, including our very own office in Malvern as well as two historic homes that were designed and renovated with the expertise of our team.
The nation’s oldest house tour, Chester County Day is organized by the Women’s Auxiliary to Chester County Hospital. Each year, the tour provides visitors with an opportunity to witness historic sites and scenes familiar to Revolutionary-Era figures like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. This tour embodies the core values of our firm in its dedication to preserving and celebrating history through the built environment. We are thrilled to play a role in Chester County Day’s continued efforts to showcase these timeless homes.
Continue reading below as we delve into the history and design process behind each of our featured properties on this year’s house tour and don’t forget to purchase your tickets by visiting: https://www.chestercountyday.com/tickets.
c.1745 EDWARD KENNISON HOUSE
PERIOD ARCHITECTURE CHESTER COUNTY OFFICE
Less than a week after the Battle of the Brandywine in September of 1777, George Washington and his men clashed again with British troops at the Battle of the Clouds. Washington’s men surrounded the farmhouse now occupied by Period Architecture as they prepared to battle British troops located to the south.
Edward Kennison was the constable of Whiteland Township in 1711 and the proprietor of Malvern’s White Horse Tavern from 1722 – 1735. His farm, located along Church Road, has stood as a silent spectator to historic moments and everyday lives of Pennsylvanians since revolutionary times. Historical records show this building has served many purposes since Kennison’s time, as a tavern, general store, hospital, private residence and now a professional office.
The central portion of the farmhouse is believed to have been built in the 1740s, with two additions created on either side in later years. The home is constructed of locally sourced fieldstone, with three doors marking three eras of additions. Inside, the central room features a bake oven, walk-in fireplace once used as the main source for cooking. A small drawer under the window facing Swedesford Road harkens back to the building’s time as a storefront.
The addition closest to Church Road features two fireplaces with federal style millwork on the main level. Today it is used as a library and conference room, filled with books that inspire the traditional vernacular architecture found in Period Architecture’s designs. The two-story addition to the East is differentiated by its shed roofline on the exterior with its first level utilized as a modern-day kitchen when occupied as a residence in the 20th and 21st centuries. The space, now used as a print room and kitchenette, features the original wood beams and random-width hardwood flooring.
When Period Architecture acquired the property in 2017, the firm made minor changes to the home including choosing a more historically appropriate color palette, allowing the original character and features to shine through. Custom wrought iron strap hinges were created for the main entry door and powder room to replicate colonial era hardware. The historical details throughout the building are often used as inspiration and models for the firm’s clients looking to add similar character to their homes. The Edward Kennison House has stood the test of time and continues to be a shining example of early American design.
C. 1814 SCHOOLHOUSE RESIDENCE
Nestled within 1.9 private acres of wooded land in Malvern, the c. 1814 Schoolhouse Residence honors its early history as a place for learning while fulfilling its new role as a place for family.
Soon after the first Welsh and English settlers homesteaded in Great Valley, they established schools to educate their children. The Presbyterian Congregation of Tredyffrin, established in 1714 and still serving the local community today, began one of the first schools in the area operating out of one of the church buildings. In 1814, the congregation constructed this schoolhouse across the street. After the end of the Civil War, the population in the community increased as the Pennsylvania Railroad developed small towns along the main line. As a result, more schools were required to accommodate the increasing number of students in the area. Reflected on the datestone on the exterior façade, in 1886, the schoolhouse joined the Tredyffrin public school system and was known as “Tredyffrin Public School No. 3” or simply “The Presbyterian School,” although it only contained one classroom and employed one teacher at a time.
The primary school operated for the next 40 years until the fall of 1927 when two new schools opened in the area and the Presbyterian School, one of the last one-room schools in Tredyffrin, was closed and sold. In the years since its closure, the schoolhouse has been converted into a residence, with its current owners purchasing the home in the summer of 2015.
In 2020, the now 4,800-square-foot home received a renovation and addition designed by Period Architecture and constructed by E.C. Trethewey Builders. Prior to the addition, the footprint of the home existed within the confines of the original schoolhouse. To create a more functional family home with centralized, cozy gathering spaces, the floorplan was reorganized and expanded. Notably, the kitchen and family room were relocated to the two-and-a-half story addition. These new living spaces feature abundant sunshine and scenic views of the property previously obstructed by a dense stucco façade.
An example of historic adaptive reuse, the c. 1814 Schoolhouse Residence renovation incorporates traditional architectural details into the new design, always placing its history at the forefront. From the front, the Pennsylvania schoolhouse silhouette is highlighted while the addition sits discreetly behind. The original vertical board porch gable siding, exposed rafters and column details were incorporated throughout the addition’s exterior. Inspired by the style of its 1886 counterpart, a new datestone on the family room stone chimney marks the additions moment in time.
On the interior, two 19th century school desk chairs are proudly displayed in the foyer as an homage to the home’s past life as a schoolhouse. While the building itself has undergone many changes in form throughout the decades, it remains a nurturing space for learning and growth.
C. 1802 THREE-THRONED MANOR
One mile from Valley Forge National Park stands Three-Throned Manor. Standing along old Nutts Road in Valley Forge, this property witnessed George Washington on his many trips to Bull Tavern during the Revolutionary War. The original road can still be seen on the property as the flat area of the lawn immediately in front of the stone wall. Originally constructed in 1802 by John Gwinn, the home is a wonderful representation of an 18th century Chester County farmhouse.
The home has seen many occupants in its 200+ years as well as different ways to utilize the space such as an inn and later a country store. With its two front doors, the main door enters the central hall and family living area, the other into what might have been the common rooms of the inn which are the current dining room and kitchen. In 1860, Joseph Valentine opened a country store in the home, probably using the current dining room as the store, with the current kitchen as the storeroom. There is a smoke house in the attic that was used during this time which features Mr. Valentine’s name written on the slide for the stove pie in the door to the smoke house.
A typical building technique of the era, the stones were quarried directly from the property, in an area just north of the house, currently occupied by an apple orchard. The best stones were reserved for use at the front of the home, next best placed on the sides, and the rear utilized the oddly sized or shaped stones. Additionally, the most expensive, time-consuming German pointing was used on the front and sides of the home, with plainer, less expensive pointing on the rear. The stones on the rear of the home were covered with horsehair plaster but has since been removed to expose the beauty of the stone.
A remarkable feature of this property, and its cheeky namesake, is the original stone privy. It is a “three-holer” and has been restored for modern use for firewood storage. The roof and seats have been reconstructed utilizing mature wood; however, the door is original to the structure.
In 2014, the current homeowners enlisted Period Architecture and Devon Construction to reimagine the home to better suit their everyday lives. The renovation and two-story addition were designed to create a safer and more private family entrance as well as provide the necessary space for a growing family. The new spaces include a sun-filled breakfast room, ample kitchen to prepare meals and hurry off the kids to school, a family room large enough for everyone to gather, along with a primary suite, mudroom, and garage. The new spaces respect the original character of the home by incorporating similar materials such as reclaimed wood beams, character grade random width hardwood floors, herringbone antique brick floors, restored fireplace mantels, beadboard wainscot and exposed interior stone walls. The home now tells the tale of an 18th century home expanded over time to suit modern-day lifestyles.