Painters Folly and historic recognition

Painters Folly, the home Samuel Painter built in 1857 on Route 1 in Chadds Ford could wind up on the National Register of Historic Places. According to Supervisors’ Chairman Frank Murphy, the home on four acres is one step away.

Overseeing the application has been Township Secretary Maryann Furlong, who credits a couple of township interns with getting the application for recognition ready.

“We were fortunate to have two interns, Lowell Konyk and Sarah Sharp. They really did all the grunt work,” Furlong said.

That grunt work consisted of poring through 82 pages of instructions to fill out a seven-page application.

The township bought the 4-acre property early last year and the work to apply for a place on the register began in June. Furlong said the idea came from Beverlee Barnes of the Delaware County Planning Department.

Furlong explained that simply getting the property to qualify for the register makes the township eligible for grant money through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Those grants would be specific for preservation and restoration work.

Chadds Ford Township bought the property in March of 2018 from George and Helen Sipala for $640,000. One of the as yet unanswered questions is how the property could be used.

A reason the house can’t be used for public events right now is that it isn’t compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. One possible use of that grant money would be for a preservation and restoration study for physical work on the site, Furlong said. Some work would be to make the home ADA accessible.

Painters Folly was once the home of illustrator Howard Pyle, one of N.C. Wyeth’s teachers. Pyle taught across the street at Turner’s Mill, Chadds Ford Township’s current municipal building.

N.C. Wyeth’s son Andrew was known to frequent the property, which is adjacent to the Brandywine Battlefield Park. Andrew Wyeth visited the home often while the Sipalas lived there. He became so friendly with the Sipalas that he had the run of the house. Several of his paintings — Widow’s Walk and The Marriage Bed— were painted at and feature Painters Folly.

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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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