Thursday, December 29, 2016

KENETT TOWNSHIP: Protecting an 18th-century cottage

The Kennett Township Historical Commission is trying to save from demolition an 18th-century cottage on McFarlan Road that is one of the oldest houses in the township. The owner, Chatham Financial, wants to tear it down and has applied to the township for a demolition permit.
The original part of the Isaac Allen House measures only 17 feet by 18 feet, with 18-inch-thick walls, and the Commission believes it is especially valuable just because of its modest size: "It was an ordinary house for an ordinary family who were the early settlers in Kennett Township."
It was constructed no later than 1751, which means it was here during the Battle of the Brandywine -- and on the very road that the British and Hessians marched along to the Battle.
The Commission is asking Chatham Financial to rethink its plans: "We can imagine this tiny house as a welcoming gateway structure for Chatham Financial, conveying the message of respect and commitment that this firm has for the Township, its residents and our history."
The Commission wants the financial services firm to put the demolition permit on hold for a year, during which time the two groups can develop a mutually agreeable plan to preserve and manage the building, possibly with a new owner or tenant. 
The two-story, ivy-covered structure, which has a modern addition, was last used in 2012 as an office but has since been vacant. A detailed November 2016 study by Cultural Resource Consultants, requested by Kennett Township and paid for by Chatham, traced the history of the structure, documented its condition, spelled out the pros and cons of preserving it and offered six possible scenarios for its future. 

Front and rear views of the Isaac Allen cottage. Photos were taken on Oct. 16, 2016, by Robert Wise, and are from the Historic Structures Report.

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