Chadds Ford buying Painters Folly

Painters Folly is a former home of artist Howard Pyle. Chadds Ford Township has an agreement of sale to buy the property from its current owners.

Chadds Ford Township supervisors are looking to spend some of the money in the open space fund and have entered into an agreement of sale with George and Helen Sipala to buy Painters Folly on Route 1 for $625,000. Exactly how the township would use Painters Folly — adjacent to the Brandywine Battlefield Park— is undetermined.

Supervisors’ Chairman Frank Murphy said during the last township meeting that the idea is to preserve the property as open space and to keep it from being developed.

Supervisor Noelle Barbone said during a recent interview the township would likely make settlement for the 200-year-old, 4-acre property by the end of March. The house was once the home of Howard Pyle, the illustrator who taught N.C. Wyeth across the street at Turner’s Mill, the current township building. Because of the historic nature of the home, the Sipala’s agreed to leave some of the furnishings, Barbone said.

Barbone said there’s nothing firm on how Painters Folly would be used, but said one idea is to possibly partner with the Brandywine Conservancy, Sanderson Museum or Chadds Ford Historical Society to memorialize some of the lesser known township residents who had a hand in creating Chadds Ford history.

“I want to preface my ideas by saying nothing has been written in stone. We haven’t made a final decision yet, but here is my vision. Because I’m in real estate, residents have asked me to look at their homes. In doing so, I discovered that, while Chadds Ford was put on the map by the Wyeths and the Kuerners and Frolic Weymouth, there is so much more to this township and its history.”

She didn’t mention names but went on to say there are many people who interacted with the Wyeths and Kuerners who had an impact on Chadds Ford history, and they remember it when it was a sleepy rural village just coming of age.

“It’s sort of like this other side of Chadds Ford…like a network or web of relationships, like a well-kept secret of the township,” she said. Her idea is “to preserve the history of the township residents who helped to shape Chadds Ford… The people who weren’t on the cover of Time magazine.”

When asked if the home would be a museum, Barbone said she didn’t know, that so far, it’s just an idea that hasn’t been fleshed out. She said it might be possible to dedicate rooms in the house to these, as yet, undisclosed families.

There are other questions that still need to be answered, such as who would maintain the property and how would that maintenance be paid for. Barbone is uncertain at this point, saying that the board still needs to address those issues.

According to Barbone, there’s more than $1 million in the Open Space Fund, and the current board felt it was time to start using that money for its intended purpose. One day while she was driving along Route 1, she noticed the For-Sale sign at the home. She had seen it before, but this time it registered as something the township could use.

“I fell in love with this house,” Barbone said. “It’s beautiful. To Mr. and Mrs. Sipala’s credit, they’ve maintained it very well.”

The home had been for sale for a while, and the asking price was dropping, she said. After discussing the situation with the owners and other supervisors, the board put in the bid and entered into the agreement of sale.

While Barbone is a realtor, state law prevents her or her company from profiting from the sale, she said, so Chadds Ford resident and lawyer Don Weiss is handling the deal.

(UPDATE: According to Township Manager Matt DiFilippo, the township has more than $1.7 million in the Open space Fund.)


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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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