Chester Springs Life Spring 2017 Edition

Page 1

Spring 2017

Chester Springs Life


A home for history and the arts Page Page Pa P ag ge e 12 1 12 2

Inside • St. Joseph Parish grows with the times • Photo Essay: In the heart of Eagleview • Downingtown’s revitalization

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Chester Springs Life Spring 2017

Table of Contents 12 A home for history and the arts


20 Photo Essay: Dr. Seuss, Turned Loose 24 Leading Downingtown’s revitalization efforts 28 St. Joseph Parish: From a humble start to largest in county

20 33 History comes full circle for head of Anselma Mill 41 Senior Living Special Section 28

46 The Chester Springs theater of dreams 52 Measuring progress in character and confidence


56 Home Show highlights area businesses 58 Photo Essay: In the heart of Eagleview 67 Education Guide

58 Cover design by Tricia Hoadley Cover photograph courtesy of Historic Yellow Springs 12

Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

A focus on what makes Chester Springs special Letter from the Editor: Welcome to the premiere issue of Chester Springs Life. We’re excited to add a magazine serving Chester Springs and its neighboring communities to our family of regional magazines. Our flagship publication, The Chester County Press, is the oldest and largest weekly newspaper in Chester County, tracing its roots back to 1866. We also publish seven other magazines that highlight life in the Kennett Square, Landenberg, West Chester and Chadds Ford communities in Pennsylvania; the Newark, Middletown, Greenville and Hockessin communities in Delaware, and Cecil County in Maryland. Over time, these magazines have become the full-color postcard and vibrant voice of the communities they serve, and this issue of Chester Springs Life already proves that it is on the same path. In this first issue, we meet Katherine Lovell, the new executive director of Anselma Mill, and share her vision for the national landmark’s future. We explore the history of the St. Joseph Parish, from its humble start to becoming the church with the largest parish in Chester County. We take you inside the Chester Springs Studio, a vibrant arts center at Historic Yellow Springs. We also talk to Steve Plaugher, the manager of the Downingtown Main Street Association, about the organization’s efforts to maintain a vibrant downtown in Downingtown. We visit the Villaris Self Defense Center in Chester Springs, where

children learn the basics of self-defense and also develop the essential life skills of character, confidence and self-respect. We talk to the talented individuals behind SALT Performing Arts, which has provided thousands of young people with a chance to learn about the craft of theater and experience the thrill of performing in a nurturing environment. We visit backstage at SALT, to where a 31-member cast of teens and pre-teens recently prepared to rock the stage with performances of the rollicking “Seussical, Jr.” Finally, we take you on a visual tour of the Eagleview Town Center in Exton, which welcomes thousands of visitors a year to a full schedule of events and activities. We hope that you enjoy this first issue of Chester Springs Life and the others that will follow. You can always find more stories about Chester Springs and the communities in our coverage area at www. We always welcome your comments and suggestions for future stories, and we look forward to presenting our second issue of Chester Springs Life in the fall. Sincerely, Randy Lieberman, Publisher, 610-869-5553 Steve Hoffman, Editor, 610-869-5553, ext. 13

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A home for history and the arts


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

Artists hone craft in scenic antiquity By Natalie Smith Staff Writer


etsy Kelly has her daughter to thank for her long relationship with and the Chester Springs Studio and Historic Yellow Springs. In 1990, her daughter Lisa was an engineering student at Villanova University and worked as a waitress at the Yellow Springs Inn in the village of Historic Yellow Springs. She told her mother how beautiful the area was, and that there was also something which would be of particular interest to Betsy. “My daughter said, ‘Hey Mom, did you know there was a studio down there?’” Kelly recalled. She didn’t know, but that was all she had to hear. As a working artist, Kelly had for nearly 40 years produced bleach batik, primarily on dark denim under, the name Colly Kelly. (Her maiden name, Collishaw, is so unusual, she said with a laugh, that if she meets someone who shares the name she knows they’re related.) Betsy’s items sold primarily along the East Coast, especially around Annapolis, Md., and up and down Florida, she said. Over the years, Kelly fit in a variety of classes at the studio, and especially enjoyed being in a class of like-minded folks. Because of the nature of her occupation, “I hadn’t had the experience of working with other people,” she said. After she finally decided to retire from her business, the West Goshen resident started taking more classes, but she was drawn to one type in particular: ceramics, for which Chester Springs Studio is known nationally. Betsy told the story of walking into a studio class for the first time, and finding out it was being taught by her ceramics teacher from Conestoga High School, Paul Bernhardt. “He was quite a gentleman and quite talented. He used to laugh because I still did the same [subjects] that I liked in high school,” Betsy Kelly and her daughter have enjoyed art classes at Chester Springs Studio since 1990.

Continued on Page 16 | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


Studio Continued from Page 15

Kelly said. “I was one of those kids who was enamored of horses.” Kelly has since changed her focus to making pottery, and has had success for about the last five years, selling her works through area galleries. She also finds that her more whimsical pieces – decorated with images of birds and frogs -- are her most popular. She said she continues to be impressed by the variety of instructors. “People can do the most amazingly different work and they’re still able to teach it to others,” she said. Much like her bleach batik denim, Kelly considers her works functional art. “Like bowls,” she said. “You can decorate them as much as you want and still put popcorn in them.” Originally formed in 1978, the Chester Springs Studio was the continuation of a strong arts background in the village, said Historic Yellow Springs Executive Director Eileen McMonagle. The village itself, which includes 11 buildings and 142 acres, was originally owned by The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and formed as a non-profit in 1974. It was purchased by neighbors concerned about its preservation, who formed the Historic Yellow Springs, Inc. “There was an active arts program here that they wanted to continue,”

Photo by Eileen McMonagle

The Chester Springs Studio front entrance.

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Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

Photo by Natalie Smith

Eileen McMonagle is the executive director at Historic Yellow Springs. Behind her on the shelves are students’ ceramic work for sale.

McMonagle said. The Chester Springs Studio, founded by Connie Fraley and Lindsay Brinton, was deeded by the association four years later. Its focus was on the arts, and Historic Yellow Springs, Inc., focused on the history of the village. But costs necessitated the studio merge with Historic Yellow Springs, Inc., at the end of 2007, McMonagle said. In addition to ceramics, the studio offers classes in

sculpture, drawing and painting. But its wood-fired kiln, that turns clay into ceramics, is a draw for artists and art students “basically from five hours around the studio,” McMonagle said. “We’ve had people from Philadelphia, up from Baltimore and Lancaster.” Students from St. Joseph’s University and Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, and other art centers, are also regulars. “This winter session, I would say we have the most students taking classes than we have had in the past 10 years,” she said. McMonagle attributes the continued popularity of the studio to the work of her staff, social media, and “wonderful students who love coming back.” She said the sense of community is very strong among students and instructors at the studio. “Everyone bounces ideas off of one another,” she said. “People feel safe to be creative.” Continued on Page 18 | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


Studio Continued from Page 17

For 2018, the studio’s 40th anniversary, McMonagle said they are in the midst of planning some special events, and are hoping people who were involved in the studio’s earlier days will come back to participate. Many of the studio’s instructors are involved in this year’s Yellow Springs Art Show, which is held April 29 through May 14. “In the spring, you see the thousands of daffodils planted throughout the village. It’s a wonderful reawakening,” McMonagle said. More than 3,500 pieces of original art by 206 predominantly local artists will be on display at this juried show, much of it in the Lincoln Building, where the administrative offices are. “There’s a lot of art here,” McMonagle said, laughing. “We have 5,000 square feet of gallery space in this building.” The show itself is run by more than 40 volunteers and chaired by Maureen Fendrick. McMonagle started her association with Chester Springs Studio as a student in the 1990s. She still takes classes and describes herself as a “fledgling potter.”


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

“Clay is kind of a discipline – like a lot of the visual arts -- that has a lot of technical things to learn in order to be a good potter,” she said. “I still learn something new every day. There are always new ideas. You can constantly challenge yourself.” For Betsy Kelly, the Chester Springs Studio at Historic Yellow Springs, where she now goes as often as three times a week, is a place where she feels comfortable and inspired. “Other art centers are wonderful, but there gives you the feeling of history. The beauty and architecture of the village … that’s kept me there. That, and the wonderful people,” she said. More information about the Chester Springs Studio and Historic Yellow Springs is available at www.yellowsprings. org. Natalie Smith may be contacted at DoubleSMedia@

A rich legacy of art By NATALIE SMITH Staff Writer


he Chester Springs Studio is part of the village of Historic Yellow Springs, which is comprised of 11 buildings and 142 acres and whose reputation started with the flowing waters there. The village in picturesque West Pikeland Township has a long history that includes a period in the mid-1700s as a medicinal spa, where people whose health needed a boost would partake of the iron-rich “yellow springs” talked about by the local Native Americans. According to “The History of Historic Yellow Springs” by Sandra S. Momyer, during the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington established temporary headquarters there, and later part of its property was loaned to build a hospital for the Continental soldiers injured at Valley Forge. Following the war, Yellow Springs reverted to a popular spa for about 80 years, when sulfur and magnesium springs were discovered on the property. After passing through many owners, in 1868, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania acquired the spa, and used the buildings in the village to house and educate the orphaned children of Civil War soldiers. But it was in 1916 that the village was established as a creative mainstay. John Frederick Lewis of The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts purchased then 37-acre property for a summer school. Many visual arts were taught there, and those classes often led to performing arts productions. Open-air painting classes were popular, and continue on

the grounds today. Painting and sculpture classes using live or animal models were taught. However, after World War II and into the 1950s, art became more abstract, so the realistic work done at the PAFA school was not as popular, and Yellow Springs again went up for sale. In 1952, the village was purchased by a 26-year-old film director, Irvin Shortess “Shorty” Yeaworth Jr., who established a studio there to make Christian films under the name Good News Productions. He also explored the realm of more secular films, most notably making the sci-fi classic, “The Blob,” starring Steve McQueen, in 1958. McQueen and other stars of the film lived there for a time during filming, according to Historic Yellow Springs Executive Director Eileen McMonagle. Neighbor Connie Fraley took a great interest in the historic site and the production company. Her attention and influence brought other artistic disciplines to Yellow Springs, and it was through Fraley’s efforts under the Yellow Springs Association that, in 1970, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When the property was available for sale in 1974, it was bought by the Yellow Springs Foundation, which had been formed for the purchase. Historic Yellow Springs, Inc. – established after the merging of the Association and Foundation -- deeded the Chester Springs Studio as a separate entity in 1978. The studio officially became part of Historic Yellow Springs in 2007. | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


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Dr. Seuss, turned loose For a series of sold-out performances in February, an incredibly talented, 31-member cast of teens and pre-teens rocked the SALT Performing Arts stage with the rollicking Seussical, Jr., a musical extravaganza from Tony Award winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. Transporting audiences from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus, the Cat in the Hat (played by Nick Spallone) narrated the story of Horton the Elephant (played by Jason Scansaroli), who discovers a speck of dust containing tiny people called the Whos. Horton must protect the Whos from a world of naysayers and dangers, and he must also guard an abandoned egg that’s been left in his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird (played by Danielle Kucera). Although Horton faces ridicule, danger and a trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz (played by Samantha Dobson) never loses faith in him. In the end, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and emerge. Chester Springs Life was on hand backstage moments before the show’s final dress rehearsal on Feb. 16, to capture the nerves and excitement of cast and crew.

Photos by Richard L. Gaw

Lulu Spinelli played Little Kangaroo in the SALT Performing Arts production of Seussical Jr. in February. 20

Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

A pin here, a pull there. The curtain call is moments away.

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Photos by Richard L. Gaw

Devon Mitchell was a member of the Jungle Creature Ensemble.

Hannah Elliot starred as Bird Girl.

Much of the credit for the colors and textures of the musical went to the creativity of the costume, make-up and hair design teams.

A young actress, about to shine on the stage. | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


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Photos by Richard L. Gaw

Above: Smiles, nerves and anticipation – a backstage mix of emotions. Left: Nick Spallone prepares for his role as the Cat in the Hat.


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

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Leading Downingtown’s revitalization efforts

The Downingtown Main Street Association works collaboratively with borough officials, businesses, and other organizations in the community to maintain a vibrant downtown By Steven Hoffman Staff Writer

redevelopment and beautification enhancements in 2017. Plaugher explained that a state grant for When the Station Taproom $108,000, and some matching fundopened on the west end of Downing will result in about $127,000 ingtown’s business district, it in improvements to Armor Alley marked an important next step Pocket Plaza. The plaza is located in the borough’s revitalization efin the 100 block of East Lancaster forts. The Station Taproom quickly Avenue and connects the business started attracting large crowds district with Milltown Square. The with its tasty menu offerings and redevelopment includes demolia large selection of craft beers. tion of existing concrete sidewalk The success of the Station Tapand brick planter boxes. They will room led the owners to consider be replaced by a walkway of new an expansion, and the The Bottle pavers, landscaping, painting, Room soon opened. The Station benches, lighting and fencing to Taproom and The Bottle Room ilgive the plaza a brand new look. lustrate the vibrancy of DowningThe Downingtown Main Street town Borough’s business district. Association is working with “The trend is that people want PennDOT for approval of a midto come to small towns such as Courtesy photo block crosswalk on Lancaster AvDowningtown to have dinner and Steve Plaugher is the manager of the Downingtown enue to connect the Armor Alley to shop,” explained Steve Plaugh- Main Street Association Pocket Plaza with the municipal er, the manager of the Downingparking on the south side of Lancaster Avenue. The town Main Street Association. “Our restaurants are crosswalk is designed to allow safer access to the doing well, and we are working to improve the sebusiness district. More community events, including lection of retail stores to draw more shoppers. Our summer concerts, will be held in the plaza. west end has really taken off, and that’s something According to Plaugher, one of the major strengths that we’re all proud of.” of Downingtown is the convenient access to major The Downingtown Main Street Association is at roads and public transit, and some significant imthe forefront of the community’s effort to revitalize provements could be looming on the horizon. A new Downingtown’s business district. One of its primary train station could rise up on the site of the former goals is to attract new businesses, like the soon-topaper mill at the gateway to Downingtown. A new be-opened Farmhouse Coffee and Espresso Bar. developer is currently in the process of acquiring the Another goal of the organization is to work with parcels, and PennDOT supports the construction of Downingtown Borough officials to help facilitate a new train station. There could also be a mixed-use improvements in the borough. One example is the development with both commercial and residential Armor Alley Pocket Plaza, which will undergo more spaces included. 24

Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

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Photo by Steven Hoffman

Downingtown’s commercial district is unique.

Carl Hamilton, the owner of Dane Decor on East Lancaster Ave., one of Downingtown’s more prominent businesses, said that the borough is already a hub of activity because of the train system and proximity to Route 202 corridor and other major roads. Downingtown has a diverse industry base, Hamilton said. “This has become a real suburbia of all this industry,” Hamilton explained. “Downingtown also has some interesting restaurants and unique shops. Victory Brewing brings in customers from far away.” Plaugher has lived in Downingtown for close to 40 years and knows the borough very well, thanks in part to his former career as an officer with the police department. After retiring as a lieutenant in the department in 2008, he decided that he wanted to continue to serve the community and accepted a job as the assistant borough manager. Plaugher became the manager of Downingtown’s Main Street Program in 2013. A few months after he took over that role, the executive director position of the DowningtownThorndale Regional Chamber of Commerce opened up and Plaugher took on those duties as well. He sees a great deal of value in the Main Street Program, which was first introduced in Downingtown in 1993. The organization continued its work to revitalize the downtown until 2005, when the Downingtown Main Street Association ceased operations until 2011, when a group of local business owners and residents brought it back. The organization’s absence was felt during those years. “Once the program was in limbo, it became clear that the borough does a great job of moving things

forward, but the borough only has so many employees and they can only do so much work,” Plaugher explained. “You need a Main Street Program trying to get the borough revitalized.” Every downtown is going to have its own unique set of challenges. One challenge that Downingtown faces—indeed that most small boroughs face—is encouraging property owners to invest in improvements for older buildings. Another challenge for Downingtown is that the borough doesn’t have a classic business district that allows pedestrians to easily walk from one end to the other. The east side of Downingtown’s business district is separated from its west side. Plaugher said that walkability is a key component of a vibrant downtown, and Downingtown officials work to maximize how pedestrian-friendly the borough is. Increased pedestrian traffic is an ongoing goal, and Plaugher explained that they want to attract more restaurants that will result in additional foot traffic in the evenings. One example is Amani’s, a popular restaurant in town that features the work of award-winning chef Jon Amani. As restaurants boost the pedestrian traffic in the evenings, some of the other businesses will likely stay open later. The Downingtown Main Street Association also helps organize community events to bring visitors to the downtown. A Fine Arts Festival takes place Memorial Day Weekend—this year on May 27 and 28. “We have artists from around the region with their work on display,” Plaugher explained. Continued on Page 26 | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


—————|Chester Springs Business|————— Business Continued from Page 25

The Summer Jam Series of outdoor concerts take place in Kerr Park on the last Friday of the month in June, July, and August. In addition to the music, there is plenty of food and craft vendors at the event, along with the popular Station Taproom Beer Garden. In September, the Chamber of Commerce presents the Downingtown Fall Fest with music, food, and crafts, and the famous Victory Brewing Company Beer Garden. This is the biggest event of the year. Business owners are supportive of events, too. At Dane Decor, they organize and display entries in the Downingtown Art Gala. Art teachers from local schools will be selecting the artwork by students of all ages to be displayed in the Downingtown Art Gala. Business owner Kevin Matthews, who opened the Downingtown Running Company in 2008, is supportive of a variety of events. Some of his personal favorites involve outdoor activities, such as the Victory Run 5K or the Downingtown Good Neighbor Day, the latter which benefits the ambulance and rescue squads in the Downingtown Area School District. Matthews said that having Kerr Park right in the town is a great feature. He said that he’s very happy that he decided to locate his business in Downingtown. “There’s a real community atmosphere here,” Matthews explained. “A lot of people like to support the downtown. There has been some positive revitalization. We have a lot more shops and restaurants coming into town. We’re finding a younger generation and new families.” Plaugher said that Downingtown has many strengths that make it a great community in which to locate a business. He explained, “We have train service. We have excellent schools. We have a good park system, great police and fire services. It’s a safe community.” Plaugher lauded the members of the Downingtown Main Street Association’s board of directors for all the hard work in trying to make a difference in the community. “Our board is very engaged in the community,” he explained. “I like to see the impact of all our hard work. I like to see the projects get completed that make Downingtown a vibrant downtown.” To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email editor@ 26

Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

The DowningtownThorndale Regional Chamber of Commerce The Downingtown-Thorndale Regional Chamber of Commerce offers a variety of benefits to its approximately 150 members. “We’re a small chamber, but we’re very active in the community,” explained executive director Steve Plaugher. The Chamber of Commerce is a member-based organization that encourages the community to shop local and support Chamber members. A list of Chamber members is available to the public on the Chamber’s website “We also provide a lot of networking opportunities for our chamber members,” Plaugher explained. Each spring, the organization holds its annual dinner, and at that time the Citizen of the Year and the Business of the Year are recognized. This year’s event will take place on April 27 at the Downingtown Country Club. The chamber also offers three $1,000 book scholarships to graduating seniors from five area high schools—the three in Downingtown, Bishop Shanahan, and Coatesville. Members of the chamber also take care of the maintenance and repairs for the 120-foot flag pole in Kerr Park. They purchase flags—30-footby-60-foot flags for holidays and ceremonies and 15-foot-by-25-foot flags for all other days. The chamber also conducts fundraisers to help pay for the maintenance of the flag pole. They recently raised $12,000 to get the flag pole painted. The chamber also helps plan some events for the community. He said that the chamber’s board of directors are very active with and supportive of all the initiatives. “The events and programs that we have seem to be well-received in the community,” Plaugher explained. “That’s something that we’re all proud of.”

St. Joseph Parish: From a humble start to largest in Chester County

The Downingtown church is more than 160 years old



erhaps the Rev. Monsignor Joseph C. McLoone’s parents might have felt right at home at the first St. Joseph Roman-Catholic Church in Downingtown. They were Irish immigrants from County Donegal, although they raised four offspring in the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Olney, and their third child eventually become a priest and later head of the Chester County parish that now proudly counts itself as the second-largest in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. “This had been a sleepy, little parish, founded in 1851,”


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

Monsignor Joseph C. McLoone serves his parishoners.

McLoone said. “[Now] we’ve got 4,700 families. It’s the largest parish in Chester County.” According to the book accompanying the new church building dedication in 2013, it was in the decade before St. Joseph’s official founding when the Irish-Catholics who settled in the Downingtown area had no formal church to call their own. The faithful would meet in private homes, and missionary clergy from surrounding churches would celebrate Mass when they passed through town. Later, the pastor of St. Agnes Church in West Chester would regularly visit a Downingtown home as a designated “mission parish.” The pastor’s suggestion that a church be built in Downingtown was met with enthusiasm, and the mission parishioners collected $700 toward building the church that would eventually become St. Joseph’s, erected in the Johnsontown section of the borough. During the 19th century and into the 20th, the parishioners at St. Joseph’s saw their church go through many changes -- from the expansion of the building, to the addition of a rectory, to the taking on of other mission churches. As Italian-Catholics settled into the area, the church clan burgeoned, reaching 250 families by 1931. In the 1950s, a steeple was installed, an elementary school was built, and a convent was added for the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A later donation of 82 acres allowed for the construction of a new church on Manor Avenue to accommodate the ever-growing parish rolls, and Suzanne DiJiacamo Christmas Mass was celebrated there in 1971. More students enrolling in school necessitated the building of the Education Center in 1987. In 1999, more classrooms, a gym and the Parish Meeting Center were added. An Archdiocesan nursing home, St. Martha Manor, was opened next to the church in 1989. In 2000, more than 800 families from St. Joseph were among those from other area Catholic churches that the Archdiocese said would form a new church in Upper Uwchlan -- St. Elizabeth. Despite the loss of so many members, the St. Joseph Parish family continued to flourish, and it became more difficult to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend services. After committee meetings, surveys and studies, it was determined that another church building was needed and the idea was supported by the majority of parishioners. Following pledges of $5.3 million, ground was broken for the new building in March 2012. The church, which can seat 1,200, was dedicated June 15, 2013. Part of its design pays homage to the original Johnsontown church by using similar sections, including the entryway, and there are repurposed components from other churches, McLoone said. For example, the stained-glass windows are from Most Blessed SacPhoto courtesy Suzanne DiJiacamo rament Church in Southwest Philadelphia, which had closed in 2007. Lou and Suzanne DiJiacamo have been longtime members of

standing “onWe’re the shoulders of those who came before.”

St. Joseph Parish.

Continued on Page 30 | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


St. Joseph Continued from Page 29

Lou and Suzanne DiJiacamo are longtime Downingtown residents and have been members of St. Joseph parish for about 40 years. The couple has five children and eight grandchildren “We’ve been through a lot of different priests and five pastors,” Suzanne DiJiacamo said of their time at the church. “We’ve found that St. Joseph’s is like a family.” During the 1990s, St. Joseph’s embraced the tenet of stewardship. “It’s a large parish, and we try to get everyone involved,” McLoone said. “The basic concept is that stewardship tells people that everything we have is a gift from God and [asks us] how are we sharing our gifts with others. But it also lends a sense of ownership … we take ownership of what’s good, but also what needs to be changed … and how we can help people change. And not just in the church, but also reaching out into the community.” The monsignor referred to the more than 60 different ministries the church offers -- groups ranging from Good Works Partner Churches, which helps people in need repair their homes, to Hospice Casserole Makers, in which volunteers make casseroles for women and children in crisis, to Joseph’s People, a group that offers support, guidance and counseling for the underemployed and unemployed.

St. Joseph’s is the largest Catholic congregations in the county. 30

Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

Photo courtesy Becky Kopec

Becky and Steve Kopec with their children at daughter Gianna’s First Communion in May 2016. In front are daughters Maria (left) and Gianna; in back are Becky, holding Cecilia, and Steve.

Both DiJiacamos have been involved in several ministries. Lou DiJiacamo had been the grand knight of the church’s council of Knights of Columbus, active in the Boy Scout troop and was the head of the Finance Committee. His wife had participated in church study groups. “St. Joseph’s offers people the opportunity to utilize their talents, whether within or outside the parish,” Suzanne DiJiacamo said. One of their children, Becky, is married to Steve Kopec. The Kopecs are also members of St. Joseph Parish and are active in ministries there. The Downingtown couple have three daughters -- Gianna, 9, Maria, 7 and 2-year-old Cecilia -- and have been active with the church since before they were married. They met in 2003 while giving their time to the Youth Ministry. Steve Kopec is a Chicago-area transplant who

was looking for a church to join, and Becky had lived in Downingtown from about the age of 3. “We were volunteering there once a week as youth ministers,” Steve Kopec said. “We met and hit it off.” The couple is active in Pre-Cana – a course engaged couples take to prepare for marriage in the Catholic church – because their experience was such a positive one. “We said we wanted to be involved,” Becky said. “I’ve had all my sacraments there except baptism. We were married at the old church. Our kids were baptized at both the old and new churches.” Monsignor McLoone thinks there are a few reasons for the popularity and warmth of the parish that serves the community of Downingtown, and parts of East Brandywine, West Brandywine, West Bradford, Caln, East Caln, Valley and Thorndale. “I think what’s really helped us is that we’re in a borough. It’s a small town, not just a big suburban parish. It has rowhomes, a firehouse, a mayor and community traditions that go back hundreds of years. “They might live out in Romansville [West Brandywine] or up in Guthriesville [East Brandywine], but they still belong to the parish down in the town. I think it helps shape the picture of the parish family,” he said. The monsignor gave the example of Memorial Day, when after Mass, people travel to the parish cemetery, where they’re greeted by members of the Veterans of

Photo courtesy Eileen Amicone

Steve and Eileen Amicone have been active members of St. Joseph Parish since moving to the area in 2001.

Foreign Wars and the Boy Scouts. The church choir sings and there is a ceremony for the veterans who have died. Then they go back and join the holiday parade that goes through Downingtown. “We’re a large part of Downingtown because we’ve been here [for so long],” he said. Most of the parish population is also young, McLoone said. Continued on Page 32

Congregants pass the peace at a Sunday service. | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


St. Joseph Continued from Page 31

“I know this for a fact … our largest group of parishioners are ages 0 to 12,” he said. “That’s the sign of a healthy parish.” According to the monsignor, St. Joseph’s clergy performed 247 baptisms in 2016. Steve and Eileen Amicone moved to West Bradford in 2001 from North Wales. Although Steve’s job transfer was to Lancaster, Eileen had been to a service at St. Joseph’s and liked the parish, so she wanted to live within its boundaries. The Amicones have six children, and Eileen spent time working at St. Joseph School, handling lunch duty and later as a kindergarten aide. She also worked in the church office. Both she and her husband have been Eucharistic Ministers, taught Pre-Cana and served on the Stewardship Committee. Eileen also sat on the Pastoral Council. “I think this is a great parish. We’re so happy to be here,” Eileen Amicone said. Their involvement in the ministries comes from a desire to share the good. “God has given us so much,” Eileen said. “It’s such a privilege. I feel so blessed.”


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

The DiJiacamos said the growth at St. Joseph is apparent during Mass. “We’ve had different rocky times,” said Suzanne DiJiacamo, who was a convert to Catholicism, “but I think the parish has really blossomed. We built a new church and [you can see] the vibrancy of young families. It’s part of the continuum.” “We’ve seen quite a few new babies throughout the years,” Lou said. “We’ve sat in the same place in church for nearly 40 years and you can see them. It’s just been grand.” The acknowledgment of the church’s beginnings in Johnsontown is also important to the present, they said. “When we built our new church, we incorporated [elements of the first church]. We were embracing the past – those Italians and Irish,” Suzanne said. “So many of us who did not grow up here are really standing on the shoulders of those who came before.” Natalie Smith may be contacted at

—————|Chester Springs History|—————

History comes full circle for new Anselma Mill head Courtesy of The Mill at Anselma

The Mill at Anselma, along Pickering Creek in Chester Springs, opened for the season on April 1. The operational grist mill traces its beginnings to the 18th century.

Katherine Lovell tapped as national landmark’s executive director By NATALIE SMITH Staff Writer


or Katherine Baker Lovell, you might say it started with an appreciation for the past. And that journey which began as a teenager in her hometown of Littleton, Mass., eventually brought her to her position today: Executive director of the Mill at Anselma, a National Historic Landmark in Chester Springs. “I felt it was a good fit, and thankfully they did, too,” Lovell said of the board members, staff and volunteers she met before being offered the leadership position. The 250-year-old mill and outbuildings sit on 22 acres along Pickering Creek in West Pikeland and are part Continued on Page 34 | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


Courtesy of The Mill at Anselma

The Anselma Mill and its Mill Pond

Anselma Continued from Page 33

of a private, non-profit preservation and educational trust. But the mill itself isn’t just an impressive piece of county history – it’s the nation’s oldest operational grist mill that still produces flour using 18th-century machinery, a function that in 2005 earned it historic landmark designation from the National Park Service. The mill is one of 11 such landmarks in Chester County and 2,500 in the United States. Lovell, who started her tenure at the mill in January, said she’s excited about being part of an organization that brings living history to the public. Her life in public service started as a tour guide at a historic mansion. “Growing up in Massachusetts, like here, you’re surrounded by history,” she said, “and the history that surrounds you [focuses] on 1775, the Battle[s] of Lexington and Concord.” April 19, the day of the battles which marked the start of the Revolutionary War, is celebrated as Patriot’s Day. “When I was in high school and college, I worked at an historic home called the Old Manse, which sits near the Old North Bridge in Concord [site of the battles]. It was the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne for a year. That dated back to 1770, so not quite as old as the mill.” Lovell’s identical twin sister also volunteered at a 34

Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

Photo by Natalie Smith

Katherine Lovell is the new executive director at the Mill at Anselma.

similar historic home about two miles away. Lovell noted with mild amusement that it sometimes made for some confused tourists who “recognized” her from the other house. She said she always cleared up the mix-up. A graduate of Bates College in Maine, the English/ business major worked in the marketing department of a Boston software company. A move with husband, Chris, to Chester County about two decades ago had her at first volunteering with the Friends of the

Downingtown Library, then working part-time in marketing and fundraising there. Lovell’s most recent position was as development director for five years at Bridge of Hope Lancaster and Chester Counties, a faith-based organization that aids low-income single mothers in becoming independent, under the guidance of mentors. The mother of sons Graham, 21, and Eric, 24, credits her public service inclinations to the standards her parents set. “It wasn’t drilled into us, but both my parents were active … whether it was church organizations, or the local League of Women Voters, the library. My dad was an excellent singer and he was in a local chorus,” Lovell said. Community involvement was encouraged, “not strongly by spoken word, but definitely by example,” she said. But what is it about the non-profit world that draws her? “It’s necessary,” Lowell said. “And wanting to help where help is needed. Whether it’s human services, as Bridge of Hope was, [or] whether it’s community education, [like] the library. And here, it is obviously historic preservation, but it’s also very much education, too, geared toward the young and the old. So, it’s taking my marketing background and hopefully putting it to good use.” As the new executive director, Lovell said she was looking forward to seeing the mill in action. Powered by its 16-foot Fitz Steel water wheel, a demonstration grinding is scheduled for at least one Saturday a month starting April 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. But grindings aren’t only for demonstrations. At least twice a year, wheat and corn are ground into flour that’s offered for sale. Each production grind produces 200 pounds each of bread flour and pastry flour; and 300 pounds of cornmeal flour. David Rollenhagen, the Anselma miller and a longtime volunteer, also combines the bread and pastry flours to make all-purpose flour. Rollenhagen said he gets the wheat and corn from purveyors in Berks and Lancaster counties. The corn he uses is roasted first, to give it a sweet smell. The well-liked products are sold for $4 for each 2-pound bag. “It’s very popular. There are people who only bake with our flour,” Lovell said. Even during the mill’s offseason – roughly mid-December to the end of March – people come to the mill property to purchase bags that have been kept in the freezer. The grist mill itself dates to 1747, when it was built

Courtesy of The Mill at Anselma

The mill’s 16-foot Fitz Steel water wheel, which was added by owner Allen Simmers in about 1906.

by Samuel Lightfoot. As time went by, later owners expanded on the mill’s operation. It passed down from Lightfoot family members to buyers and eventually ended up in the hands of Oliver E. Collins in 1919. His forerunners expanded the property’s function – such as the upgrading of the water wheel by Allen Simmers -- and added other buildings, including a store, railroad station and post office. While milling in the 20th century was falling out of favor as a way to earn a living, Collins maintained the mill but broadened his business using the water wheel to power other efforts, such as running a sawmill, a cider press and a lawnmower shop. He even cut hair. Though Collins stopped milling wheat in the 1930s, he kept the machinery, which was a mix of works from Continued on Page 36 | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


Anselma Continued from Page 35

the 1700s to the 1900s. After Collins died in 1982, the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust purchased the mill. The mill was dormant for a few years, but the buildings in the most need were tended to. An entry on the Mill at Anselma website states: “In 1998, the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust worked closely with West Pikeland Township and the Chester County Board of Commissioners to create a new organization, the Mill at Anselma Preservation and Educational Trust. On Oct. 11, 1999, stewardship of the mill was officially transferred to the Mill Trust, which was charged with completing the restoration and creating a new historical attraction for the Courtesy of The Mill at Anselma enjoyment of Chester County residents. A lengthy and careful process of detailed restoration followed, Some of the gears that operate the grist mill. It operates with equipment ranging from the 1700s to the 1900s. based on the decision to preserve all three centuries of the mill’s history, rather than to try to restore it to a namic cadre of about 40 volunteers, many of whom she specific time period. Other buildings on the property said have been with the mill since the trust formed. It’s received a similar level of care. In 2004, the historic largely due to them that the functions of the mill and millstones turned once again, and milled flour for the its grounds are taken care of, she said. first time since 1934.” “The volunteers are wonderful,” Lovell said that looking at back she said. “They give tours, they plan through records and photos, she events … they do handiwork, and was impressed by the enormous repairs. They do gardening. Whateffort behind the refurbishment ever is needed around the mill.” from the time the trust was formed She noted that the board of directo the opening of the mill. tors is also very active. “And they all “The most fascinating thing I’ve love the mill. They’re very, very paslearned since I’ve been here is just sionate about the mill.” the amount of work it took,” she The Mill at Anselma is at 1730 Consaid. “The restoration of mill, the estoga Road in Chester Springs. It’s – Lovell, about the mill and cleaning of the equipment, putting open Saturdays and Sundays from the grounds things back, sorting out everything April through Memorial Day, and that was in the mill, the landscaping Labor Day through December. Me… and obviously getting the water flowing the way it morial Day through Labor Day, it’s open Thursdays should be.” through Sundays. Tours may be booked any day of Lovell said the part of the building which houses her the week. In addition to milling demonstration days, office had once been the post office. Collins had re- activities coming up at Anselma Mill include Colonial moved that portion in the 1950s, and added an exten- Children’s Day on June 10 and Life in 1860s Day on July sion which had a kitchen, bedroom and bath. When 8. They also offer an evening monthly lecture series at it came time for the restoration, the restorers in turn nearby Montgomery School. A Farmer’s Market meets took down the former living quarters and returned on the grounds from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, May the post office to its original place. through November. More information is available at “You look at it now and it’s gorgeous,” she said of the and by calling 610-827-1906. mill and grounds, “but that was after all the hard work Natalie Smith may be contacted at DoubleSMedia@ of the many volunteers and staff.” Lovell was enthusiastic in her praise of the very dy-

You look at it now and it’s gorgeous, but that was after all the hard work of the many volunteers and staff.”


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

Senior Living

Determine your fitness level Keeping active is a necessity for anyone. As your body ages, your muscles and bones begin to weaken. An important part of having a body that is efficient in repairing and maintaining itself is to keep up with physical activity and proper nutrition. Deciding that you are ready to begin a regimen to get your body in better shape is the first step in protecting your health and longevity. It is important to know your level of fitness before you begin a strenuous routine that may put unnecessary pressure on your heart and joints. This can be a collaborative process with your physician, so be sure to set up an appointment with him or her before taking on any new exercise activities. Analyze Your Current Habits •••••••••••••••••••• Before beginning your new fitness plan, consider your everyday behavior. Exercising beyond your limits may result in you becoming frustrated and discouraged, eventually causing you to give up on a life of fitness. Ask yourself how much time you spend sitting, how often you’re active and what you’re doing when you are active. Planning an exercise regimen that incorporates activities you are already participating in can lead to a successful workout. Test Your Fitness •••••••••••••••••••• If you haven’t lived an active lifestyle you will need to be careful while your body gets used to its new physically active workload. The National Institute on Aging has listed some ways you can test yourself and your

level physical capabilities. • Endurance test: An easy way to see how your body reacts to physical activity is to time yourself walking a certain distance. Keep track of how your times differ and your body feels over a period of a week. • Strength test: Test your upper- and lower-body strength by recording how many arm curls and chair stands you can do over a week. • Balance test: Time how long you can safely stand on one foot. Be sure to administer this test near something sturdy in case you lose your balance. Improving Fitness Weaknesses •••••••••••••••••••• These tests may expose a few weaknesses when it comes to your body. Start slow to improve these deficiencies. Your endurance and strength can easily be improved by pushing yourself a little more each day. Walk an extra block or do an extra set of curls than the day before. Correcting your balance is also possible but may take more time. Try walking backwards, sideways or standing from a sitting position. Try these tips gradually and within the strategy you and your physician come up with. | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


Senior Living Fitness Benefits Exercise assists in heart health, healthy bones and weight maintenance. You may be surprised to learn how exercise can protect seniors from dangerous diseases and decline in brain function. Aging may provide an excuse for a lack of physical activity, as you may blame your lack of exercise on sore muscles or weak bones. But your senior years are when you should be focused on improving your physical health. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that seniors have more to gain than younger people. Brain Function •••••••••••••••••••• It is a common rule that any exercise that benefits your heart is also promoting brain health. Increasing your heart rate allows oxygen to be pumped to your brain and creates hormones to aide in the growth


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

of brain cells. An active exercise regimen has been shown to aid in the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. There are non-physical activities you can perform on top of a physical lifestyle to promote brain health. Some of these include a healthy diet, learning a foreign language or learning a musical instrument. Learning something new is great way to keep an aging mind active. Fight Diseases •••••••••••••••••••• The National Institutes of Health state that staying active can prevent or slow down many diseases. The Mayo Clinic has listed a few ways exercise helps hinder symptoms of several common diseases among seniors: • Diabetes. Exercise assists in insulin more effectively

managing your blood sugar. It also will control your weight, which is a huge factor in your fight against diabetes. • Asthma. Exercise has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of asthma. • Arthritis. Exercise will help manage pain associated with this disease. It also will maintain muscle strength in certain joints. Control Stress •••••••••••••••••••• You may notice higher stress levels as you age. Physical activity can be a key component in managing stress by improving your ability to get a good night’s sleep and releasing stress-fighting endorphins. It has been shown that physical exercise will decrease tension and stabilize moods, and aerobic exercise can have anti-anxiety effects.

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Senior Living Senior Nutrition Nutrition is important to all age groups, especially to the elderly. Seniors need specific nutritional regimens to stay in optimal health.. As people age, their diets generally need to change. Physicians recommend balance in the diet of seniors that include a variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains to maintain and improve overall health. According to the American Dietetic Association, in addition to eating a healthful variety of foods, there are specific things a caregiver can incorporate into their loved one’s diet to boost health. Add the Right Nutrients •••••••••••••••••••• Some of the most important nutrients to incorporate into your diet are Omega 3 fatty acids. These inflammation-reducing nutrients have been proven to help prevent heart disease, cancer and arthritis. So where do you find them? They are in flaxseed and flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil and different types of fish. Physicians recommend eating foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids at least twice a week. There also are supplements on the market that may be beneficial. As always, check with your physician for the best plan of action. Boost Calcium •••••••••••••••••••• It’s no secret that as people age, calcium becomes a critical necessity of their diets. Calcium helps preserve bone health and lower blood pressure – two health benefits specifically important to senior citizens. The World Health Organization recommends that adults over the age of 50 get at least 1,200 milligrams per day of calcium. This amount is equal to about 4 cups of fortified orange juice, dairy milk, or fortified nondairy milks such as almond or soy, says the WHO. Limit Sodium •••••••••••••••••••• Many seniors suffer from hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. Overcoming this condition requires a reduction of sodium in the diet. This can’t be achieved solely by reducing the amount of table salt added to food. Processed and restaurant foods are typically extremely high in sodium, and should be only a small part of a senior’s diet. Instead, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, unsalted nuts and grains to help meet dietary needs without the risks of added salt. 44

Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 | | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


——————|Chester Springs Arts|——————

The Chester Springs theater of dreams Since 2013, SALT Performing Arts has provided thousands of young people with a chance to learn about theater and experience the thrill of performing By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer


y the time she was 5 years old, Lauren McComas had already committed herself to achieve her wildest dream. She wanted to be the director of her very own theater company. Raised in New Jersey, McComas began performing in local theater productions. Interspersed between rehearsals and performances, she spent several Saturdays in New York City with her family, watching Broadway musicals. When she was 5, her parents took her to see “The Secret Garden.” As she watched little Mary on the stage, something stirred inside of Lauren. She turned to her parents at the end and exclaimed, “I want to do this. I want to be her.” As McComas grew older, her acting career continued to rise. She received her B.A. in theater after studying at Messiah College, Temple University, and the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, Ireland. She


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

went on to perform in more than 100 productions in theaters up and down the East Coast, as well as in Indiana and California. In 2013, she founded SALT Performing Arts, where she is now artistic director and president, and oversees a year-long agenda of student education; full productions of musicals, plays, mystery dinner theater shows; and workshops on improvisation and auditioning. Over the past four years, the company, housed in a 100-seat theater inside the West Pikeland Township Building in Yellow Springs, has burst onto the local performing arts scene. When she was first pitching the idea of opening a performing arts community in Yellow Springs, McComas told township officials that she envisioned a level of excellence that would get positive responses from theater-goers, who would leave the theater with a feeling that they had just seen a great show, conveniently tucked into a historic village. “I told them that I wanted our audiences to say to each other, ‘This was just as good as seeing a show in Philadelphia, and we didn’t have to pay for parking or drive through the city, or spend $60 or more for a ticket,’” McComas said. Over its past four seasons, SALT has proven its excellence, and the new 2017 season, now in full swing, is no exception. In January, the year kicked off with

a SALT Cabaret; February saw a sold-out run of “Seussical, Jr.”; “Beauty and the Beast” be performed in March and April; “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” will hit the stage in May; catered dinner theater productions of “Lend Me a Tenor” will be staged in June and “A Doll’s House” in September; “Camp Rock” is to be performed in August, followed by “Sister Act” and a Christmas show to round out the year in December. While a portion of SALT’s season gives non-Equity adult actors the opportunity to perform in plays and musicals, the company has also provided both summer and year-round theater opportunities for more than 1,000 young people since it began. Its six-week Stagelight Summer Camps, for students from kindergarten through twelfth grade, give young people training in singing, acting and dancing, in classes taught by professional performers. A mini-musical or a showcase is performed for the public at the end of camp. This year, the Stagelight U four-week program, for students from the third grade to the twelfth grade, will immerse performers in a month-long production of the main stage musical “Camp Rock, Jr.,” which will include rehearsal and performance, as well as training in acting, singing and dancing.

Photos courtesy of SALT Performing Arts

Founder and artistic director Lauren McComas.

StagelightPLUS is a year-round training program that offers an intensive, ten-week session, where students from kindergarten through eighth grade receive 30-minute singing, acting and dancing lessons once a week. At the end of the session, the students get to perform in a showcase, and are often cast in a main stage production. The Stagelight program will also offer new, oneweek long afternoon programs for comedic improvisation and audition preparation, as well as a stage/ tech crew camp that will teach set design and construction, lighting design and audio technology for the production of “Camp Rock, Jr.” The instructors for all of the Stagelight programs Continued on Page 48 | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


SALT Continued from Page 47

have a vast array of experiences in the performing third graders to high-school seniors. There were proarts, a passion for teaching children, high levels of fessional photos of each performer, and their biogintegrity, and a commitment to excellence. Many of raphies were so chock full of previous productions the instructors are former professional performers -- that it took three pages to list all of them. McComas knows that for a select few some even from Broadway -- while othyoungsters who are either a part of ers have teaching degrees and years of the main stage productions or attend experience in the classroom. The goal Stagelight camps and workshops, their of each instructor is to help children dreams are big, but the world that they explore and become equipped in their aspire to is even larger. talents while uplifting their confidences “When there are certain young people and encouraging their spirits. The “SALT Bill” theater programs that who have dreams to become actors, I tell my own story, and point out that nothing accompany each production are fregreat comes easily, but it’s worth giving quently dotted with an impressive reit a go,” she said. “Our teachers are very sume of acting experiences, but they Lauren McComas realistic in the knowledge that for most almost always include a brief mention of the other side of the actor’s life – a profession, a of the children they teach, they will not grow up to family, a larger obligation. In contrast, a quick look become Broadway stars, and that’s OK. That doesn’t through the “Seussical, Jr.” program included the bi- mean that their dream has to die. That doesn’t mean ographies of its 31-member cast, who ranged from that they can’t be involved in theater for the rest of

Theater should be a source of light and love.”


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

their lives. “Our Stagelight program is not about teaching young people to be stars,” she added. “It’s about opening up doors that tell them that the art of theater can become, and remain, an outlet for their passion.” The hundreds of children, teenagers and adults who perform at SALT every year, or perform the backstage tasks to mount a production, have become the living personification of what McComas first dreamed about when she was 5 years old. In a society that has become more protective and insular, McComas looks at SALT Performing Arts as a living, breathing antithesis to insularity. “When I first dreamed about starting this performing arts community, I did so in order to create for myself something that would be bigger than me, and now everyone who is part of this is a part of something that is bigger than them,” she said. “I say to my casts that this experience is about the bigger picture, and they get to be a part of it. “We’re all under the same roof for a night, for a few hours, to experience this awesome thing that is alive, and tomorrow when it’s over, it will die, but the

At SALT Performing Arts, children have easy access to props and costumes, which help stimulate their imagination and creativity.

Continued on Page 50

A summer camp classroom. | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


SALT Continued from Page 49

magical part is that we all got to partake in it together, for this short time.” For McComas, the mission of the company is in its acronym. “’SALT’ stands for Salt and Light Theater, because salt preserves and enhances things you put it on, and we want to preserve the culture that’s in this village,” McComas said. “The light side of the name is in the belief that theater should be a source of light and love.” To learn more about SALT Performing Arts and its current season, visit To learn more about The Stagelight Program and its summer camps, visit The theater is at 1645 Art School Road in Chester Springs. Call 610-703-1734. To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

SALT Performing Arts offers a wide variety of theater camps, all of which place a strong emphasis on collaboration.

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——|Chester Springs Action & Adventure|——

‘It’s about the progress’

Photos by Richard L. Gaw

Villari’s Self Defense Center owner Paul Manili assists a young student with tying his belt.

Villari’s Self Defense Centers in Chester Springs teaches children the basics of self-defense. It also develops character, confidence and self-respect By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer


hen Paul Manili was a high-school student in Reading, he was picked on by bullies. Rather than just fold up and accept his fate, Manili spent his afternoons after school learning martial arts in a friend’s garage, which also doubled as a martial arts studio that his friend’s father worked out of. Slowly, the teenager’s confidence grew, and eventually, when the bullies would attempt to throw headlocks on him, Manili would use the moves he learned in the garage to get out of them, without hurting anyone. Revenge was not important. Respect was. Manili started to take classes in karate. Soon, the


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

bullies went away, and never returned. The life lessons he had begun to learn in class had begun to manifest themselves in Manili’s life. He was able to walk the hallways of the school with a renewed sense of confidence, a stronger sense of himself. The education he was receiving in self-defense intensified, and by the time he reached college, Manili was conducting lessons in dormitory television rooms. Years later, when Manili became a father, he taught his two children the essentials of martial arts, and then began training again at the Villani’s Self Defense Centers in Elverson, where he achieved black belt status. When the teacher became ill and could no longer teach, Manili took over the studio. Three years ago, he began Villari’s Self Defense Centers Studio in Chester Springs, housed on two floors of the Shoppes at Pickering Mill. As a certified black belt instructor in the art of Shaolin Kempo Karate, and a role model for younger students, Manili believes that his mission is clear. “When I first started at Villari’s, I was very eager to

learn how to fight,” he said, “but my mentors taught me very quickly the difference between self-defense and aggression: Martial arts is for self-protection, not for fighting. That distinction made a lasting impact on the way I teach. “In order to help shape our society for the better, we, as teachers, must help shape our children to become credible leaders and believers in a way of thinking and acting that promotes the general well-being of others.” Manili has devoted many years to working with children of all ages as a teacher, soccer coach, Scout leader, and now martial arts instructor. He aims to ensure that his passion and devotion is evident in his energetic teaching style. Villari’s offers more than just self-defense instruction.

Through classes, children develop confidence, discipline and focus, along with learning the principles of respect, self-discipline, and self-control in a fun, healthy atmosphere. “Our children’s program is designed to instill in your child the tools and skills he or she needs to grow up confident and capable -- the tools he or she needs to face life with courage and strength,” Manili said. “We accomplish this goal by focusing on bringing out your child’s potential.” While effective fighting techniques and defensive strategies are taught, there is no military-like instruction, no firm regimen, and students leave with an

Young students are encouraged to become more confident as they move through the program.

Classes teach self-discipline and develop self-confidence.

Continued on Page 54 | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


Karate Continued from Page 53

encouraging nod or a friendly hug. Each instructor at the center is registered as black belt and trained in the art of Shaolin Kempo Karate, and each knows the names of his or her students, their strengths and areas for improvement, and tailors each class to the needs of each child. Most importantly, Manili said, the classes are meant to be fun. “The Villari system is unique in that Grandmaster took that mysterious karate and kung fu tempo and taught it in a way that everyone can understand it, while putting a fun spin on it,” Manili said. “It’s not about getting from one belt level to another, but what they do to get from one level to another. It’s more about improvement than it is about belt color. It’s building confidence in the lower ranks, so that when they get to the harder ranks, they have

Leopard Cubs classes are taught for children ages 4 to 6. 54

Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

the discipline to persevere and not give up.” Youth classes at Villaris’ Chester Springs location are offered in three different age groups. Leopard Cubs, for children ages 4 to 6, are designed to instill vital life skills in a fun atmosphere. The Juniors program, for children 7 to 11, furthers the mission of the Leopard Cub program; and the Teen program, for students from 12 to 16, helps young adults rise above peer pressure, and excel socially as well as academically. Throughout the year, Manili and his staff also conduct several workshops and classes that complement the center’s regular curriculum. They include: The Colors of Character Program, created to balance a child’s physical development with the concepts of selfdiscipline, respect and self-control. Through the use of a workbook, participants are asked to document how they have demonstrated each of these three character traits, both at home and in school. The New Student Enrichment Program, a six-week program that focuses on developing balance, coordination and flexibility; as well as personal safety for bully prevention and conflict resolution. The Advanced Training Program for students who are currently at the blue belt stage and wish to pursue black belt status and beyond. These sessions allow the instructor to focus on the student and his/her needs, and offers more focused time in the areas that the student needs the most attention in. The Villari’s Leadership Program, designed to cultivate leadership skills by sharpening character development, boosting one’s ability to motivate others and improving one’s own ability to communicate. Students are taught public speaking, critical thinking, responsibility, conflict resolution, teaching others and being a good role model. The center also partners its students with the Lead2Feed Student Leadership Program, which gives students opportunities to learn outside the classroom while working to meet a community need through project management, decision-making and teamwork. Every October and November, Manili conducts “Done with Bullying,”a six-week program that helps children of all ages overcome the negative impact of bullying. It teaches students how they can identify predator behavior, how to avoid and stop bullying behavior, and ways to avoid being the target of bullying. “When I was younger, there was no suspension for bullying people,” Manili said. “Those who were picked on con-

tinued to be picked on, or they fought back. Now, you can’t go into school and fight back and expect not to get into trouble. What we teach is simple self defense. There is no aggression to it. I teach people how to get out of a bullying situation without hurting another individual, without striking back.” With every young person who climbs the steps to the second floor of the Villari’s Self Defense Center, takes off his or her shoes, enters the studio and begins to become engaged in learning, there is an individual story of growth, Manili said, seen in the transformation of faces, personalities, bodies and postures. Recently, the grandmother of a young girl came in and told him that her granddaughter will not socialize. She told Manili that she wanted to sign the girl up for karate. For weeks, the girl was a wallflower in a room of determined young wannabes, the smallest in the class. She was absorbing the lessons she was being taught, but there was no sign that she was enjoying the progress she was making. One night, however, everything changed. At the end of every class, Manili conducts a no-contact sparring lesson in the center of the studio. “All of a sudden, here she comes, into the center of the class,” Manili said. “She puts her guard up, and loses the first round. She comes in a second time, and she loses again, but earns a point. She comes in a third time, and all of her classmates are cheering her name. She got her second point, and the whole studio erupted in applause.” After the class, Manili saw a huge smile stretch across the young girl’s face as she approached him. She asked him if she could take the test to elevate her from a white belt to a yellow belt. That’s why I do this, Manili said to himself. “It’s never about the material here. It’s about the progress,” Manili said. “It’s life skills that we are able to teach them. It’s watching them grow as an individual. It’s seeing a young person who is so shy in the beginning that she will not even look at me, begin to stand in the front of the class and lead the warm-up exercises. “Through martial arts, these children will create the confidence that will enable them to achieve so much in their lives.” Villari’s Self Defense Centers is in the Shoppes at Pickering Mill (1600 Yellow Springs Road, Chester Springs). To learn more about classes and programs for children, visit, or call 484-985-9692. To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@ | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


Everything for the home Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce recently held their first annual Home Show. More than 200 attendees were able to connect with local contractors offering home improvements. “Of course, Philadelphia has one, but Chester County doesn’t have one right now and we wanted to offer something a little different,” said Mike Guyer, president of the chamber. More than 40 contractors set up displays for the evening event at the Downingtown Country Club. Vendors included representatives from the building/remodeling industries, energy providers, plumbing and HVAC companies, realtors and mortgage providers, insurance agents and home protection companies, appliance repair firms and custom furniture makers. “Business owners who may need work done to their facilities also found help at the show,” Guyer added. “Our Home Show gave our member contractors an event to get excited about. Chamber networking events help to grow businesses and organizations if you are able to take advantage of these opportunities. Contractors aren’t always able to take


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

advantage of what we offer because they’re self-employed. We know this event will grow. This is one of our missions as a chamber – enticing everyone to shop locally.” The Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1916 as the Coatesville Chamber of Commerce, and is one of the oldest chambers of commerce in Chester County. It became the Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce in 1975, and it currently serves 20 municipal areas in the county’s western region. The Wright Agency, Milanese Remodeling and Fulton Bank sponsored the Home Show.

Photos by Karol Collins Photography


3186 Strasburg Rd, Coatesville, PA | 610-383-6818 Premium Bark Mulch • Dyed Mulch: Black, Brown, Red • Certified Playground Mulch Screened Topsoil • Decorative Gravel | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


————|Chester Springs Photo Essay|————

In the heart of Eagleview

Eagleview in Exton is not only a mixeduse community where families live and businesses thrive, it’s also a vibrant destination that’s become one of Chester County’s most popular backyards. Every year, in the Town Center, thousands of visitors enjoy a full schedule of free public events in its picturesque park, dine along its Restaurant Row and browse through its shops. Take the following tour and see for yourself what awaits you and your family at Eagleview Town Center. (Photos courtesy of Hankin Group)


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

————|Chester Springs Photo Essay|————

For 16 years, the Eagleview Town Center summer concert series has showcased some of the most talented musicians in the region. It’s a perfect chance for a family to lay out a blanket or folding chairs, break out snacks and drinks, and enjoy the show. | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


————|Chester Springs Photo Essay|————

In the gardens, on the trail and at the square The Eagleview Town Center has a 10-mile trail system that meanders through open space, public parks and a mixed-use planned development.

The Community Garden opens the door to those with a passion to grow Town Center also hosts several art and craft festivals throughout the vegetables in conjunction with the Triskeles “Food For All” program. year.


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

————|Chester Springs Photo Essay|————

There’s always something on Town Center’s calendar for children.

No holiday season at the Eagleview Town Center is complete without a visit from Mr. Kringle. | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


————|Chester Springs Photo Essay|————

From May through November, the Eagleview Farmers Market is held outdoors in the tree grove. The market moves indoors to the Chester County Food Bank from December through April.

Children can get a cool treat or bike around the community. 62

Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

————|Chester Springs Photo Essay|———— The Wellington Square Bookshop is a community-oriented bookshop featuring new, used and rare finds as well as the chance to enjoy a latte from the coffee bar. A full schedule of children’s story times, monthly book clubs, and visits from popular authors keeps you busy year-round.

The Eagleview Town Center is also a perfect destination for shopping and services. | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


————|Chester Springs Photo Essay|————

Eat, dine, sip and enjoy at Restaurant Row

The Mexican restaurant and bar, Al Pastor, features mezcals, tequilas, Latin wines, and a menu filled with fresh ingredients and sharp flavors.

The restaurants at Eagleview are great places to enjoy a glass of wine.


Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

Bella Vista features an Italian-American twist with handmade pastas, pizza, sandwiches and tantalizing sweets.

————|Chester Springs Photo Essay|————

Suburban Restaurant and Beer Garden, Eagleview Town Center’s newest addition to Restaurant Row, serves a farm-focused menu and offers an outdoor beer garden.

Why not enjoy a Sunday brunch at Eagleview? | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


paintings | drawings | sculpture | jewelry | photography | mixed media art | fabric art

paintings | drawings | sculpture | jewelry | photography | mixed media art | fabric art

Saturday, May 27 • 10-6 | Sunday, May 28 • 10-5 Municipal Parking Lot • 100 Block of E. Lancaster Avenue Presented by David Oleski Events and the Downingtown Main Street Assn. in partnership with the Borough of Downingtown

Over 40 professional artists from 10 different states Numerous local, regional and nationally known artists 66

Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

Education School list for Chester Springs and surrounding areas Children’s House of Exton 125 S. Village Ave. Exton 610-363-1446

Goddard School 95 Crestline Rd. Strafford 610-688-5229

Malvern School of Frazer 383 Lancaster Ave. Frazer 610-296-9200

Christ Memorial Lutheran School 89 Line Rd. Malvern 610-296-0650

Good Samaritan Day School 212 W. Lancaster Ave. Paoli 610-644-6181

Malvern School of Lionville 101 Ruark Rd. Exton 610-524-7600

Baldwin School 701 W. Montgomery Ave. Bryn Mawr 610-525-2700

Copeland Run Academy 407 Lloyd Ave. Downingtown 610-269-4423

Malvern School of Downingtown 1001 Cornerstone Blvd. Downingtown 610-873-0700

Beth Israel Preschool and Kindergarten 385 Pottstown Pike Eagle 610-458-4300

Creative Kids of Downingtown 1424 Poorhouse Rd. Downingtown 610-518-2300

Great Beginnings Christian Kindergarten 181 Sharp Lane Exton 610-363-0981

Bishop Shanahan High School 220 Woodbine Rd. Downingtown 610-518-1300 Brandywine Children’s House 123 Great Valley Parkway Malvern 610-640-1202

PRIVATE SCHOOLS Agnes Irwin School Ithan Avenue and Conestoga Road Rosemont 610-525-8400

CFS the School at Church Farm 1001 E. Lincoln Highway Exton 610-363-5382 Charlestown Playhouse 2478 Charlestown Rd. Phoenixville 610-933-2762 Chesterbrook Academy Preschool 141 Arrandale Blvd. Exton 610-524-9424

Heritage School 651 N. Wayne Ave. Wayne 610-688-6342

Montessori Children’s House of Valley Forge 1630 Thomas Rd. Wayne 610-783-0110

Delaware Valley Friends School 19 E. Central Ave. Paoli 610-640-4150

Immaculata University 1145 W. King Rd. Immaculata 610-647-4400

Montgomery School 1141 Kimberton Rd. Chester Springs 610-827-7222

Devon Preparatory School 363 N. Valley Forge Rd. Devon 610-688-7337

Kimberton Waldorf School 410 W. Seven Stars Rd. Phoenixville 610-933-3635

Our Lady Assumption School 135 Fairfield Ln. Strafford 610-688-5277

Episcopal Academy 1785 Bishop White Dr. Newtown Square 484-424-1400

Kumon Math and Reading Center of Downingtown 150 E. Pennsylvania Ave., No. 420 Downingtown 610-873-6310

Phelps School 583 Sugartown Rd. Malvern 610-644-1754

Friends Central School 1101 City Ave. Wynnewood 610-649-7440 Goddard School 300 Carlisle Ct. Exton 610-363-6698

Malvern Preparatory School 418 S. Warren Ave. Malvern 484-595-1100

St. Elizabeth Parish School 120 St. Elizabeth Dr. Chester Springs 610-646-6540

Continued on Page 68 | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


Education Continued from Page 67 St. Joseph School 340 Manor Ave. Downingtown 610-269-8999 St. Matthew’s Preschool and Kindergarten 2440 Conestoga Rd. Chester Springs 610-458-3381 St. Norbert Elementary School 6 Green Lawn Rd. Paoli 610-644-1670 St. Patrick School 115 Channing Ave. Malvern 610-644-5797


Ss. Philip and James School 721 Lincoln Highway Exton 610-363-6530

Vanguard School 1777 N. Valley Rd. Malvern 610-296-6700

Whiteland Montessori School 1103 Lincoln Highway Exton 610-594-4727

Tarleton School 327 Waterloo Ave. Berwyn 610-644-5623

Villa Maria Academy High School 370 Old Lincoln Highway Malvern 610-644-2551

Willistown Country Day School 365 Paoli Pike Malvern 610-647-4001

Timothy School 973 Old Lancaster Rd. Berwyn 610-725-0755 Trinity Preschool of Berwyn 50 Main Ave. Berwyn 610-644-9370

Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

Villa Maria Academy Lower School 1140 W. King Rd. Immaculata 610-644-4864 Westtown School 975 Westtown Rd. West Chester 610-399-0123

CHARTER SCHOOLS 21st Century Cyber Charter School Downingtown Achievement House Charter School Exton

Collegium Charter School Exton Education Plus Academy Cyber Charter School Wayne

COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES Cheyney University of Pennsylvania 1837 University Circle Cheyney 610-399-2275

Delaware County Community College – Downingtown 100 Bond Drive Downingtown 484-237-6200 Delaware County Community College – Chester County Intermediate Unit 535 James Hance Court Exton Delaware County Community College – Exton Center Whiteland Technology Center 912 Springdale Drive Exton 610-450-6500

Immaculata University 1145 King Road Immaculata 610-647-4400 Neumann University 1 Neumann Drive Aston 610-459-0905 Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies 30 East Swedesford Road Malvern 610-648-3200

University of Valley Forge (formerly Valley Forge Christian College) 1401 Charlestown Road Phoenixville

PUBLIC SCHOOLS Barkley Elementary School 320 Second Ave. Phoenixville 484-927-5300 Beaumont Elementary School 575 Beaumont Rd. Berwyn 610-240-1400 Continued on Page 71 | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life


Education Continued from Page 69 Beaver Creek Elementary School 601 W. Pennsylvania Ave. Downingtown 610-269-2790 Bradford Heights Elementary School 1330 Romig Rd. Downingtown 610-269-6021 Brandywine Wallace Elementary School 435 Dilworth Rd. Downingtown 610-269-2083 Caln Elementary School 3609 Lincoln Highway Thorndale 610-383-3760 Charlestown Elementary School 2060 Charlestown Rd. Malvern 610-935-1555 Chester County Intermediate Unit 455 Boot Rd. Downingtown 484-237-5000 Collegium Charter School 535 James Hance Ct. Exton 610-903-1300 Conestoga Senior High School 200 Irish Rd. Berwyn 610-240-1000 Devon Elementary School 400 S. Fairfield Rd. Devon 610-240-1450 Downingtown High School East 50 Devon Dr. Exton 610-363-6400

Downingtown High School West 445 Manor Ave. Downingtown 610-269-4400

Lionville Elementary School 526 W. Uwchlan Ave. Downingtown 610-363-6580

Pickering Valley Elementary School Chester Springs 610-458-5324

Downingtown Middle School 115 Rock Raymond Rd. Downingtown 610-518-0685

Lionville Middle School 550 W. Uwchlan Ave. Exton 610-524-6300

Downingtown STEM Academy 335 Manor Ave. Downingtown 610-269-8460

Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center 489 Dorlan Mill Rd. Downingtown 610-646-0080

Schuylkill Valley Elementary School 290 S. Whitehorse Rd. Phoenixville 484-927-5400

East Coventry Elementary School 932 Sanatoga Rd. Pottstown 610-469-5103

New Eagle Elementary School 507 Pugh Rd. Wayne 610-240-1550

East Pikeland Elementary School 1191 Hares Hill Rd. Phoenixville 484-927-5350

North Coventry Elementary School 475 Kemp Rd. Pottstown 610-469-5105

Exton Elementary School 301 Hendricks Ave. Exton 484-266-1400

Owen J. Roberts High School Pottstown 610-469-5101

Gen. Wayne Elementary School 20 Devon Rd. Malvern 610-647-6651

Owen J. Roberts Middle School 981 Ridge Rd. Pottstown 610-469-5101

Great Valley High School 225 Phoenixville Pike Malvern 610-889-1900

Phoenixville Area High School 1200 Gay St. Phoenixville 484-927-5100

Great Valley Middle School 255 Phoenixville Pike Malvern 610-644-6440

Phoenixville Area Kindergarten Center 100 School Ln. Phoenixville 484-927-5450

Kathryn D. Markley Elementary School 354 W. Swedesford Rd. Malvern 610-644-1790

Phoenixville Area Middle School 1330 Main St. Phoenixville 484-927-5200

Shamona Creek Elementary School 501 Dorlan Mill Rd. Downingtown 610-458-0819 Sugartown Elementary School 611 Sugartown Rd. Malvern 610-699-1500 Uwchlan Hills Elementary School 50 Peck Rd. Downingtown 610-269-5656 Valley Forge Elementary School 99 Walker Rd. Wayne 610-240-1600 Valley Forge Middle School 105 Walker Rd. Wayne 610-240-1300 West Bradford Elementary School 1475 Broad Run Rd. Downingtown 610-384-9030 www West Vincent Elementary School 2750 Conestoga Rd. Chester Springs 610-469-5108 | Spring 2017 | Chester Springs Life



No Limits to Your Success At Neumann University, there are no limits to your success. Our high-quality majors, expert faculty and professional internships give you every opportunity to succeed. We’re known for exceptional programs in Nursing, Biology and Clinical Laboratory Science. We just built a $5 million radio and television studio. And our Business, Criminal Justice, Education and Sport Management faculty bring unparalleled experience to the classroom. Neumann also combines classroom theory with practical experience. Your internships will let you discover your talents, and build a professional network. Neumann is affordable, too. Our merit aid awards (based on SAT scores and GPA) can be as high as $16,000. Our 68-acre campus is just a 25-minute drive from Philadelphia. Every suite in our residence halls is cable-TV ready and includes a private bathroom, air conditioning, and Wi-Fi. Visit or call 610-558-5616 to arrange a tour and discover why, at Neumann University, there are no limits to your success.

Westtown School, is a Quaker Pre-K -12th grade co-ed, private, college preparatory day school with a boarding option in grades 9 - 12. We offer a challenging and diverse curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking, collaboration, service, and social action. Since 1799, Westtown has been committed to character education and innovation. As a Quaker school, we believe in the values of empathy and action—two factors which are key to design thinking. Westtown School is in its third year of using design thinking in all classrooms. Students have created solutions to a wide range of problems, from finding ways to redesign the migration experience of a refugee to working with a local homeless shelter to work through some of their challenges and many more. As we continue to use design thinking with students, we are confident that students who have had this experience will be future innovators, equipped to solve the problems of tomorrow. They will move beyond “out of the box” thinking, and instead discover, there is no box.


New Programs, New Pickering


One word that sums up Technical College High School (TCHS) Pickering Campus is New: new facilities, four new programs and a chance to start a new chapter in your education. Precision CNC Machining Precision CNC Machining, also known as Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) Technology, provides an opportunity for students to set themselves apart when looking to pursue computer science, mechanical engineering or technical research and development in college. Engineering & Automated Manufacturing Technology Engineering & Automated Manufacturing Technology helps students develop both the technical aptitude and problemsolving skills necessary to set themselves apart when looking to pursue mechanical engineering, CAD design and drafting or industrial engineering in college.

Chester Springs Life | Spring 2017 |

Digital Media & Sound Communications The Digital Media and Sound Communications program helps to give technically-oriented and creative students an opportunity to set themselves apart when looking to pursue digital media, sound production, cinematography or multimedia design in college. Robotics & Avionics Robotics & Avionics prepares students with the technical skills and knowledge necessary to set themselves apart when looking to pursue electrical engineering, robotics, avionics or telecommunications in college. The community is invited to learn more about TCHS Pickering’s new programs and renovations at the upcoming Bridging High School to Future Forum being held April 20, 2017 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at 1580 Charlestown Road, Phoenixville.

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Chester Springs Life Magazine Spring 2017 A Chester County Press Publication P.O. Box 150, Kelton, PA 19346

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