Scrapple fans, fundraisers fueling restoration

A determined group of history aficionados is continuing its quest to preserve the northeast corner of a historic Chester County crossroads once frequented by Revolutionary War notables.

The former Strode's sausage plant in East Bradford Township is showing signs of disrepair.

The former Strode's sausage plant in East Bradford Township is on its way to becoming a community gathering spot.

On Saturday, Sept. 12, the Friends of Strode’s Mill will hold its third country casual fundraiser at Chesterdale Farm, a  property owned by Theresa and Richard Gallagher and located less than half a mile from the seven-acre site being rescued.

Through donations and a silent auction, the group is hoping to raise $20,000 to cover the next phase of demolition and repair, said Linda Kaat, an area preservationist who galvanized support to save the tract, which was purchased this past spring by East Bradford Township.

Among the items ready to entice  bidders will be a luxury all-expense-paid, eight day, seven-night vacation to Moon Palace in Cancun, a Trip Advisor’s 2015 Traveler's Choice valued at $5,000; a trestle table made of 225-year-old reclaimed barn timbers with a "live edge," valued at $1,500; a signed Jamie Wyeth print of Rudolf Nureyev valued at $700; a custom 16x20 oil portrait of your favorite dog, horse or other pet by Mamie Duff, valued at $2,000; and a signed print of Andrew Wyeth’s “Monday Morning,” valued at $4,500.

Although the property is probably best known to current area residents for the faded letters that proclaim “Home of Strode’s Country Fresh Sausage, Scrapple” along the building, it has much greater historic importance, said Kaat.

Revolutionary War troops purchased supplies from Strode’s Mill, Kaat said, and the British forces marched past the crossroads on their way to the Battle of the Brandywine. Over the years, in addition to the scrapple factory, the tiny village boasted a timber business, a farm, a pressed cider operation, and a blacksmith/wheelwright.

On each corner of the crossroads sits a building significant to the village history, including the Strode's Mill - longtime home of the Strode’s Mill Gallery – and the East Bradford Boarding Home for Boys, a 1800s educational institution, now the Powers’ residence and the site of the second Strode’s Mill gala, which was held in May.

A rendering by architect shows a view of the restored barn and the exposed foundation of the scrapple factory addition.

A rendering by architect Daniel T. Campbell shows a view of the restored barn and the exposed foundation of the scrapple factory addition.

The Strode’s Mill Historic District earned National Register distinction in 1989. The petition championed the area as a thriving “crossroads village, providing a variety of services for the surrounding community and for people traveling toward Kennett and Concord.

The corner that the township purchased – with the understanding that the Friends of Strode’s Mill would help raise funds for its renovations – includes a two-story English-style stone barn, which is structurally sound; and a linear barn addition used for the sausage operation, which has fallen into critical disrepair.

Kaat said the addition, with its collapsing roof, is not historically significant, and plans call for taking it down to its colonial-period foundation. The barn, which would be restored, could serve as a demonstration site for the early industry of Chester County.

Markers and signage are envisioned to create an interpretive educational venue, which should also include the area’s Indian history, Kaat said. A parking area would enable visitors to tour the grounds and enjoy the watershed area, anchored by the gurgling Plum Run, or take advantage of opportunities for additional meandering.

The site lies within the proposed Brandywine Trail Corridor, which would eventually allow bike and pedestrian pathways to the borough and possible linkups with other trail networks.

Kaat, whose passion for history has spearheaded numerous preservation projects in the region, including the Glen Mills Train Station, Martin’s Tavern in Marshallton, and the Stargazers’ Stone in Newlin Township, said she is excited about the upcoming event, which will have a pork theme in keeping with the Strode factory’s history.

Pork barbecue will be served, she said, adding that Gene Gagliardi, the inventor of Steak ‘Umms, is bringing some of his meat-lovers’ creations, which include scrapple sticks designed for dipping.

Kaat said it has been exceptionally gratifying to hear from people who once worked at the scrapple plant and are thrilled that its legacy is being protected. She said some descendants of the Strode family will attend the fundraiser.

“It’s really been exciting to talk to some of these folks,” she said, adding that it’s also energizing to see progress in transforming the corner from an eyesore to an asset.

She said a fence was erected for safety reasons as crews began removing debris in preparation for the “sensitive demolition” of the non-historic portions of the structure.

Numerous ways exist to help with the project, which is relying on volunteers, Kaat said. She said those who contribute $1,000 or more, either in cash or in services, will have their name – or the name of a loved one – added to a plaque that will be placed at the site when it is completed. She said the group is particularly looking for tradespeople who might want to donate their skills or offer a reduced rate.

RSVPs for the fundraiser are requested. For details, visit http://www.friendsofstrodesmill.com/#!gala/c1u25 or the group’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/friendsofstrodesmill.

 

 

 

 

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