borough of west chester, chester county, pennsylvania
historic preservation design and planning
Although The Sharples Farmstead’s remnant acre of land (originally part of a multi-hundred acre land grant from William Penn to Thomas Dean in 1742), Farmhouse (c.1802), and Carriage House (c.1884) was inhabited at the time of Cee Jay Frederick Associates’ introduction to it, it had long lapsed into a significant state of disrepair as an urban infill site in the heart of this southeast Pennsylvania borough. Cee Jay Frederick Associates’ relationship with it was extensive in embracing the task to develop the overall property while functioning as the singular entity responsible for the design, restoration, preservation and construction of all the improvements that would result to the existing and future buildings. In the process, the Farmstead was the subject of an historically accurate restoration and successful nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. The overall development project that accompanied the historic restoration of the Farmhouse and a companion extant late Victorian Carriage House produced ten new townhomes and two new carriage house residences, a detached vehicular garage for the Farmhouse, and received a significant local historic preservation award. Of particular importance is the relatively meticulous preservation of the extant Farmhouse and Carriage House structures and a site design that preserved, within its otherwise urban site and newly developed context, a relatively austere farm setting for the Farmhouse, per se, which had been in the ownership of the same Quaker family since 1747.
The landscape design of the Sharples Farmstead is first and foremost responsive to the historical nature of the property, being comprised of an historic pair of buildings listed on The National Register of Historic Places. The landscape design also addressed all of the hardscape design and site furnishings. To that end, in desiring to also provide for a contemporary lifestyle and use, the landscape and hardscape express a split personality in terms of the different treatment in terms of amount and character of the landscape design implemented at the front (public) versus the rear (private) of the Farmhouse environs. (This was all complicated by the fact that the rear of the house faces the street, as the farmhouse preceded it in time as the hub of the eighteenth century farmstead acreage it comprised.) Thus, the landscaping at the front is a more pure and austere expression of the historic farmstead character appropriate to its prominent Quaker inhabitants, while the rear, in expressing respect for the historic resource and the preservation/restoration of which it is, nonetheless, a part, required the execution of a landscape and hardscape capable of accommodating vehicular access and providing a private venue for entertaining and relaxation in solitude, while being located virtually on the street in a densely populated borough neighborhood. To that end, fencing and hedge screens became a significant component of the landscape/hardscape palette of materials and the definition of spaces.