Kennett Square Life Summer/Fall 2017

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Summer/Fall 2017

Kennett Square Life


For the love of dance Page 12

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Summer/Fall 2017

Kennett Square Life Table of Contents 12 - Two professional dancers share their love of ballet 24 - Equine massage helps keep horses fit and happy 34 - The power of dedication 42 - Spotlight on the Kennett Underground Railroad



52 - The Hadley Fund brings top lecturers and


performers to the area

60 - Striking a balance between nature and art 72 - Photo essay: Thomas Macaluso Rare and Fine Books, Maps and Prints

42 Cover design by Tricia Hoadley Cover photograph by Jie Deng


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

The stories and the people of the town you call home Letter from the Editor:



In this issue of Kennett Square Life, we find some dreams coming true for Anastasia Babayeva and her husband, fellow dancer Denis Gronostayskiy. The couple fell in love while studying ballet in Russia, and toured around the world. Today, they live near Longwood Gardens and teach students the art of ballet at their own school. We also meet sculptor Rob Sigafoos, whose lifelong love of animals led him to a career at the New Bolton Center, and a secondary path to a life as an artist. Now, with his horseshoeing days behind him, Sigafoos is creating truly distinctive art, and one of his sculptures has just become the first piece of public art in Kennett Square. Also in this issue, we write about the Hadley Fund, which has brought hundreds of lecturers, speakers, and performers to the Kennett Square area through the years to entertain and educate audiences. One night in 1962, Hal Holbrook stepped onto the stage at Kennett High School and performed “A Night with Mark Twain,” a one-man show portraying perhaps America’s greatest writer, as a result of the Hadley Fund. In the years since then, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gloria Steinem, performers like Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, politician Edmund Muskie, author Art Buchwald, paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson, and Civil rights leader James Farmer all engaged local audiences because of the Hadley Fund. We profile Jerry Dickerson, 77, a record-setting powerlifter. He set World Natural Powerlifting Federation records in the 75-to-79-year-old group. From the squat, bench and deadlift positions, he achieved totals of 300, 240 and 340 pounds, respectively, to set records in that age group. We talk to certified equine sports massage therapist Gretchen Davis Swenson of Kennett Square about how massages can keep horses fit and happy. Kennett Square was a hotbed of abolitionist activity in the years leading up to the Civil War. We feature a story about the Kennett Underground Railroad Center, which works to protect and promote that aspect of the community’s history. We also highlight two new restaurants that have recently brought their names and reputations from Delaware to Kennett Square. We profile Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen, which opened to great fanfare in Newark last year and now brings its unique and friendly atmosphere to State Street; and Hearth Kitchen, owned and operated under the direction of award-winning chef Bryan Sikora. We hope you enjoy your edition of Kennett Square Life -- filled with the stories and the people of the town you call home. Sincerely, Randy Lieberman, Publisher, 610-869-5553 Steven Hoffman, Editor, 610-869-5553, ext. 13

Cover design: Tricia Hoadley - Cover photo by Jie Deng On the cover: Anastasia Babayeva and Denis Gronostayskiy have danced on stages around the world, and now call Kennett Square home. | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


—————|Kennett Square Life|——————

From the world’s great stages to a home in Kennett Square Two professional dancers share their love of ballet


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

All photos courtesy

Dancers from the Academy of International Ballet performed at the Brandywine River Museum of Art, where Jamie Wyeth’s paintings of Rudolph Nureyev are displayed.

By John Chambless Staff Writer


hen Anastasia Babayeva was very young, her mother took her to see a graduation performance by dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. “I had been dancing since I was 6,” she said. “But I had never seen ballet live. There were some little kids dancing on stage as well. After the show, my mother asked me, ‘Would you like to be one of them?’ I said, ‘No, I want to be like her,’ and I pointed to the prima ballerina,” she said, laughing. In the years since, Anastasia has danced on stages around the world, and with her husband, fellow dancer Denis Gronostayskiy, she runs the Academy of International Ballet, based in Media. After seeing the world, they have settled in Kennett Square, where they

Anastasia Babayeva performs in ‘Coppelia.’

Continued on Page 14 | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Ballet Continued from Page 13

are raising their children – ages 23, 7 and 4 – and spend each day sharing what they’ve learned about the timeless art of ballet with students at the Academy. During an interview at the office of the school, located in an industrial park on Route 1, Denis and Anastasia looked back at the long road that brought them to Chester County, and ahead to the lessons they are imparting to a new generation of dancers who are dreaming of greatness. Denis and Anastasia were born in Moscow. Denis said his parents were both well-known dancers, and he grew up going to performances and copying the movements he saw in the studio and on stage. Both Denis and Anastasia were admitted to the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Conservatory in Moscow at the age of 8. They knew each other during school, and they both graduated at 18. At the time, the Bolshoi was supported – and under the strict control – of the Russian government. While Anastasia rose to be a principal soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet Company, and she and Denis toured the world, the

lure of America was always there. “I had seen the United States six times while I was on tour here,” Anastasia said. At that time, just over 20 years ago, Russia was gripped by economic paralysis, stores were empty and the future looked bleak. Young and in love, she and Denis saw a door opening to the United States, and they took the chance. “We were young and fearless,” Anastasia said, smiling. “We didn’t overthink. Sometimes overthinking drives you back. We just did it. My friend told me that this is the best country to raise a child. We already had Alex, and he was a baby then. That was a major point for me, as a mother.” The couple found a home in Philadelphia, then followed dance companies to jobs and homes in Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit and Richmond, Va., “which was home for a little bit,” Anastasia said. “But I had a couple of injuries and started to think about what was next after we stopped dancing.” They moved back to the Philadelphia area, opening a

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Dancers from the Academy frequently perform in places such as art museums, where dance is not expected.

school in a space they could afford in Upper Darby. But the problems of city life prompted three more moves for the school to three different locations in Media, until they found the brick office building on Route 1 three years ago. “It took a long time,” Denis said. “This building was all offices inside. The owners of the building are a father and son team of builders. Fortunately, the son convinced his dad to take out the walls and open it up.” “I remember they couldn’t understand why we had to take out the ceilings,” Anastasia said, laughing. “The dad said, ‘You mean you can’t dance under this?’” she said, pointing to the dropped ceiling that remains in the office area.

Continued on Page 16 | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Ballet Continued from Page 15

After three years at the current location, classes are consistently full, and the couple is opening a second location in Horsham, Pa., in June. At both locations, the emphasis is on ballet instruction – with all its disciplines, rules and joys. The Academy of International Ballet takes students from age 3 through adults. Students come to the school because of its reputation, and because Denis and Anastasia understand ballet so thoroughly. “I teach everyone the same,” Anastasia said. “Everything starts from discipline. Without discipline, nothing is possible.” Denis said that ballet is an excellent workout, strengthening muscles and toning the body in ways that no other exercise can accomplish. The grace and posture of a well-trained dancer is a lifelong benefit as well, whether on stage or in daily life. Their young dancers get chances to shine in an annual production of “The Nutcracker,” and both Denis and Anastasia manage to fit themselves into small roles each year. “Every year, we make small changes,” Denis said.


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

“Kids grow and change roles, and we use everybody.” There is also an annual Showcase performance, and opportunities to get out into the community. The young dancers performed last year at the Brandywine River Museum of Art, where they posed with Jamie Wyeth’s iconic paintings of Rudolph Nureyev. They have danced at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and they have turned up at the Delaware County Court House, everywhere catching the attention of passers-by and perhaps inspiring a few to find out what ballet is all about. The studio is a short drive from the couple’s home near Longwood Gardens. “We used to come to Longwood Gardens,” Anastasia said. “It’s my favorite place. Now I have it almost in my front yard,” she added, smiling. The couple moved from their home in Drexel Hill when they found a foreclosed home was available for a price they could afford. “The school district is good, and the area is amazing,” Anastasia said. “It’s like every day is a vacation,” Denis added. “We

love the beautiful fields with the horses.” They both love Kennett Square’s distinctive shops and restaurants, and they are proud to live in “the mushroom capital of the world,” Denis said. “It’s great.” All three of their children dance – “There was no way out of that,” Denis said with a smile. And his parents have moved from Russia and now live with the family in their new home. Both Denis and Anastasia are careful to work with Continued on Page 18

Performers interact with artworks as a way of bringing a new dimension to dance.


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Ballet Continued from Page 17

young students to avoid the injuries that often plague dancers. Pulling out one of her ballet shoes from her days with the Bolshoi Theatre, Anastasia showed the rockhard sole and unpadded toe that can wreak havoc on a dancer’s feet, particularly if a blister has formed. There is no relief in the traditional ballet shoe. “I used to use just a paper towel” in the shoe, she said. Today, there are pads that dancers can put over their toes, and the soles of the shoes have some flexibility. “You have to get the correct technique from an experienced teacher. But dancers always have some kind of small injuries” Anastasia said. “You have to know how to protect your feet properly.” The mental fortitude to press forward with exercises and practice is not only physically beneficial, but mentally beneficial. “There are times when you don’t want to go to class, but you go anyway. But a good class is similar to medicine,” Anastasia said. “You get over the discomfort and you feel proud that you did it.” Many of their former students have become professional dancers, but the couple said that the benefits of learning


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

ballet technique could lead students to take dance in college, or into the medical or rehabilitation fields. “As a dancer, you know your body very, very well, and how every single muscle works,” Denis said. As a side project, Anastasia helps create costumes for the young dancers, using the skill of a professional seamstress but avoiding the high cost of buying or renting costumes. “This started because we were performing as freelancers,” she said. “Buying costumes was expensive, and they were uncomfortable most of the time. Denis’ mom taught me a lot about making costumes. Now that his parents both live with us, she is making most of the costumes for us.” Showing off a tutu that was made for a professional dancer, she pointed out the layers of hand-sewn material and the craftsmanship that goes into a well-made garment that can cost $1,000. The rigid bones inserted into the waist of the dress keep a dancer’s posture erect, but if sewn incorrectly, can be an irritant. Denis also contributes his photography skills to the Continued on Page 22

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Front row (L to R) Dr. Ahmad Charkas, Dr. Jenny Chen, Dr. Michael Lemper. Second row (L to R) Dulce Villagomez, Vicky Zhu, Tracy Nino, Diana Fraticelli, Paula Williams, Andrea Mireles, Lindsey McCabe. Third row (L to R) Dalila Padron, Daniella Guzman, Edgar Beltran.

Ballet Continued from Page 18

business. “I’ve done photography all my life,” he said. “I decided to start taking pictures for our students. Maybe you could call it a little bit of an obsession,” he added. “It works because I can predict what the next step is going to be, and get that best image.” The school has recently taken on a resident composer, pianist Jennifer Nicole Campbell, who has performed on stages regionally and nationally. “It’s incredible to have someone create music just for you, and you can put steps on that music,” Denis said. “The first time you perform, it’s like a flower that nobody has ever seen.” He said one world premiere work has recently been performed. “Live music is a special treat for dancers to work with,” Anastasia said. “The CD is always the same. But live, the dancer must keep listening intently and learn to adapt.” The studio is working with Campbell on a second original work, to be performed next year. There is a summer intensive program now for students who are serious about their ballet careers, Anastasia said, adding that she and Denis are at the studio every day. “As teachers, we understand there are different abilities

and interests. Some people come here for fun or physical activity, and some people by 10 years old know they want to be dancers,” she said. “To me, it doesn’t matter. If you’re here, you work hard, you respect everybody. I teach everybody the same. They are all getting the same amount of information and attention.” Learning to dance has benefits including good health, discipline, learning to get over obstacles and continue to work, and “basically it teaches you how to fight for what you want in life,” Denis said. Denis said there’s a saying, “If ballet was a little bit easier, it would be football,” he said with a grin. Having taught for so long, Denis and Anastasia are now getting their second generation of students. “One of the girls that studied with us, she’s continued taking classes, and now we have her young daughter dancing with us,” Anastasia said. “It’s kind of like a circle,” Denis said. For more information, visit To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email



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—————|Around Kennett Square—————

Equine massage helps keep horses fit and happy By Nancy Johnson Correspondent


All photos by Madison Swenson

Fitz reacts during his massage. 24

Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

any busy horse farms, like busy households, keep track of upcoming appointments and events on a white board with wipe-off markers. But a horse farm might list that the van leaves for Saturday’s horse show at 5:30 a.m., and that the horses have massages scheduled on Friday. While massaging a horse might sound like an unnecessary luxury, in reality it’s very much accepted as an important part of an athlete’s fitness routine. If a horse’s “job” is racing, foxhunting, jumping or barrel racing, the animal is no less an athlete than a man or woman who swims, high jumps, plays basketball, or wrestles, according to certified equine sports massage therapist Gretchen Davis Swenson of Kennett Square. “I had been interested in learning equine massage for a while, but the only certification programs I could find were in Florida or the Carolinas,” said the lifelong horsewoman. “Then shortly after I got Marti [from a Thoroughbred racehorse rescue], I was thinking

that he could really benefit from massage therapy. He came to me with some soundness issues and I am not big on lots of meds and injections; I’d rather go the homeopathic route if I can.” Swenson renewed her search for programs and found Equine Kneads, LLC, in New Jersey. “As soon as I spoke to Colleen, who has been teaching equine massage since 2004, I had a good feeling,” she said. “I could tell she was all about the horse and not about making lots of money certifying people.” Swenson signed up for an equine sports massage certification program in March of 2016, which took place over three consecutive weekends. “We would do classwork in the morning and then spend the afternoons in the barn getting hands-on -- no pun intended – experience,” she said. “It was very personalized, especially since there were only two of us in that class.” It was very helpful for Swenson to have Marti and several other horses in her barn at home to practice on during the week. “It was great to immediately see the effect it had on them and really made me feel good about committing to the certification process,” she said. While all the horses quickly communicated that they liked the massage, the one who had real issues was Marti, and over the next few months, he

Marti shows a classic sign of release, stretching his neck and leaning into Swenson.

Gretchen Davis Swenson with her horse, Marti, at home in Kennett Square.

became much more comfortable. With a new client, Swenson begins by asking the owner or trainer of the horse about any issues they may be having. Sometimes, like in the case of an injury, the area that she needs to work on is very clear, but in other cases it is not. With her own horse, Swenson knew he had a problem in his neck, so she concentrated on that area. “Sometimes you don’t know where a horse’s pain is coming from. For example, they can be lame in one leg but are compensating, so you may find soreness elsewhere,” she said. “Horses can’t tell you what is bothering them in words, but you can pretty much be sure that if they are doing something out of the norm, it is because something hurts,” Swenson said. Typically, she begins a horse’s treatment by running her fingers over the horse’s entire body, watching for where the skin does not ripple, which indicates pain. She also watches the animal’s other reactions, like shifting weight on its feet, twitching ears, and lowering its head. Once she identifies a stiff or tight area, she applies more pressure and works that spot, always watching the horse for signs of what does and does not feel good to them. Horses show a “release” in various ways. Some of the most common are stretching out their Continued on Page 26 | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Equine Massage Continued from Page 25

front legs, lifting one leg, soft or sleepy eyes, drooling, sighing, yawning or licking. Several months ago, Leigh Berman, owner of Two Bit Farm, had Swenson start massaging a horse that didn’t exhibit a clear problem, but just seemed stiff through his neck and topline. “Gretchen has the gift of magic fingers,” Berman said. “She made this tense Thoroughbred absolutely come around. Since she has been working on him, he just canters down the lines so easily and jumps much better, using his whole topline.” Swenson has several farms she goes to on a regular basis to treat multiple horses. Typically, a treatment lasts about an hour, but she has gone as long as an hour and a half if warranted. If she is working on a specific issue with a horse, it might require treatment every week, but normally she recommends every two weeks for maintenance. She stresses that she is not a veterinarian and therefore does not diagnose. “Quite a few vets recommend equine massage therapy,” she said.. “The benefits are pretty clear. Massage helps muscles to perform better, relieves tension and muscle spasms, soothes sore muscles to prevent injury, lowers blood pressure, boosts the

Picasso, who performs on a drill team, looks relaxed as Swenson works out a sore spot.

Continued on Page 29

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Jump Massage Equine Continued from Page 26 29

immune system, removes toxins and helps with metabolism.” Another regular client, Shayne Mackey, expressed her confidence in Swenson’s massage technique. “She’s been working on my Amateur Owner hunter since last spring,” Mackey said. Fitz is a big, athletic horse. “He was always a great mover, but since Gretchen’s been working on him, he moves even better from the shoulder; his trot is bigger and his canter is freer. Plus, he is more relaxed and just happier. We’re working hard to get him fit and back into competition, and Gretchen is a great addition to the team.” “I’ll admit, I’m old school,” said Cindy Simmons, who has a horse farm in Cochranville. “I’ve never had a massage myself, but of course we do more for our horses than ourselves, so I decided to give

it a try. Now I’m totally a believer, as Cruise is a different horse.” Simmons said that that since they have had the big, gray horse which she foxhunts, he has always been a bit stiff in his hind end, Continued on Page 30 Continued on Page 29

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and she was aware that he had some arthritis in his back when she bought him. “I can tell when he’s uncomfortable because he will cross his back legs when he stands,” she said. “He was even doing it at the checks out hunting. Gretchen and I are friends, so shortly after she got her certification, I had her massage him.” The horse was markedly improved after the first session and Simmons’ horseshoer noticed the difference right away, as it was much easier for Cruise to hold up his hind legs to be shod. A treatment by Swenson usually lasts him about three or four weeks, but Simmons can tell if he starts crossing his hind legs, she needs to get an appointment sooner. While most of the horses Swenson works on are mature, Cheryll Francella, owner of one of the farms she works at regularly, The Windrush in Honey Brook, has her massage some of the young horses that are not yet being ridden. “We have a two-year-old who goes out in the paddock and runs and plays like crazy, then comes in sore. Gretchen started working on her when she was here doing the performance horses. It made a big difference which you can really see in her movement,” Francella said. “She has even done some of the yearlings, Continued on Page 32 This pony, Tori, is clearly enjoying her massage.


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Equine Massage Continued from Page 30

and they just love it. They close their eyes and go to sleep.” Francella recalls encouraging Swenson to get her certification in equine massage when she first mentioned an interest. “I’m glad she did it, because I like the way she does massage. I’ve had others who really get to pounding on the horse’s muscles, and you don’t have to do that. Gretchen is soft and takes her time; the horses love her.” “This is rewarding to me, it’s gotten me back to being around what I love – the horses,” Swenson said. “It’s kind of therapy. Plus, I love being able to help horses be more comfortable so they can perform better. Professional athletes get massages all the time. Why shouldn’t these four-legged athletes get the same treatment?”


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Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

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—————|Around Kennett Square|——————

The power of dedication


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

Jerry Dickerson, 77, is a record-setting powerlifter

By Natalie Smith Staff Writer


hen Jerry Dickerson decides to tackle a challenge, he’s all in. Whether it’s playing guitar, raising horses or shooting trick pool, if Dickerson takes on the task, he’s “an extremist, but not a perfectionist.” “I’m the kind of person that, if you tell me I can’t do something, I’ll have to prove you wrong,” Dickerson said. Despite this consuming determination, some might believe that at 77, feats of strength are beyond this Kennett man. They would be wrong. Dickerson is a World Natural Powerlifting Federation record-holder in the 75-to-79-year-old group in the sport of lifting weights from squat, bench and deadlift positions. Dickerson’s official 2016 world records were 300, 240 and 340 pounds. During the November 2016 WNPF competition in Bordentown, N.J., which included lifters from the U.S., Brazil, the Republic of Georgia, Canada and Chile, Dickerson weighed in at 181 pounds. And, as a member of the WNPF, he shuns any kind of performance-enhancing drugs. In 2015, when the organization named him “Lifter of the Year,” Dickerson’s impressive numbers were 295 for the squat lift, 230 for the bench press and 355 for the deadlift, for a total of 880 pounds. Continued on Page 36

All photos by Natalie Smith unless otherwise noted

Above: Jerry Dickerson of Kennett Square stands in his basement workout room. Dickerson, 77, is wearing the belt he received in 2016 for breaking the world powerlifting record in his age and weight class. Left: Some of the trophies in Jerry Dickerson’s home, many for weightlifting and showing classic sports cars. | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Powerlifter Continued from Page 35

What drew him to weightlifting? “I’ve always been impressed by strength -- always,” said Dickerson, whose soft drawl even today echoes his Virginia boyhood. “I was also the smallest guy in school. I doubt if I weighed 100 pounds back then.” After graduating from high school in Pocahontas, Va., he visited a sister in Wilmington, Del., and took a job at the Chrysler plant in Newark. He retired in 1988 after 30 years. “I did just about every job at Chrysler,” he said. “When I retired, I was a forklift driver. But I learned how to do everything.”


Courtesy photo

Jerry Dickerson, circa 1972. Dickerson started his lifting career doing Olympic-style lifts, which are over the head. He later switched to powerlifting.

Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

I’m the kind of person that, if you tell me I can’t do something, I’ll have to prove you wrong. When Dickerson decided to pursue lifting in his early 20s, he started off in the Olympic style, in which the lifter raises the barbell above his or her head. His strength had been noticed by his coworkers at Chrysler. “They would get a 50-pound box of screws and say, ‘Let’s see if you can hold them straight out.’ And I could,” Dickerson said. The fact he had no formal training or gym didn’t dissuade him from engaging in what would become a lifetime passion. “When I first started lifting weights I lived in a house trailer,” Dickerson said. “I didn’t have any place to lift, because I never knew anybody who lifted weights.” He would set himself up under the trailer awning, regardless of the weather. “I got me a bar and got me a few cinder blocks, then I’d stick the bar in the cinderblocks,” he said. “I was lifting outside in the bitter cold. My hands would almost freeze to the bar. It would be snowing, but I’d still be lifting my weights. That’s how much I wanted to be a weightlifter. It seems like it was almost born in me to be one.” Realizing he needed better equipment, Dickerson traveled to York, Pa., and purchased two barbell sets from the York Barbell Company. Founded by the “Father of World Weightlifting,” Bob Hoffman, York was the place to go for aspiring weightlifters. Hoffman coached the U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team from 1948 to 1964 and started the perennial champion York Barbell Club. Continued on Page 38

Some of the weights Dickerson uses in his lifting. Each is 45 pounds. | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Powerlifter Continued from Page 37

“I learned from Bob Hoffman. I bought his strength and health books and his magazines,” Dickerson said. “I learned how to do lifts from them, and then I would go and watch his lifters. I was doing a lot of things wrong when I started out.” But he did get a chance to show his stuff to Hoffman himself, who complimented Dickerson on his technique. “He was at a contest once, and he was sitting in a warmup room, and he saw me lift. He told me I had good style. I was a pretty good Olympic lifter. At the time I was only 148 pounds, and lifted 260 pounds over my head.” Although Dickerson toyed with the idea of pursing an Olympic career, injuries and “life’s complications” got in the way. “It just seemed like one thing after another,” he said. But he wasn’t through with lifting just yet. Powerlifting, with its emphasis on strength, appealed to Dickerson. But don’t call him a bodybuilder. “I’m the type of person [who doesn’t body build] for muscles. I lift for strength and to be competitive against better lifters,” he said. He powerlifted as founder and president of the First

I was lifting outside in the bitter cold. My hands would almost freeze to the bar. It would be snowing, but I’d still be lifting my weights. State Barbell Club, which won two Delaware championships in 1972 and 1973. Over the years, injuries might have slowed him down, but he’d always come back. He recalled a contest in Philadelphia. “I needed my last lift to win the competition. And I told my trainer I was going to either make it, or hurt myself. In my mind, I’d already made it. That’s where the lifting starts -- in your mind -- but my body wasn’t ready for it. I lifted and gave a hard pull and heard my back pop, that’s when I knew.” He had injured his L4 and L5 spinal discs. The pain, he said, “comes and goes, but I don’t let it stop me.” And although Dickerson was in and out of lifting over the years, he certainly wasn’t idle. While living on a farm in Landenberg, he and wife, Lucille, raised racing Thoroughbreds. The two would enter them in races up and down the East Coast and West Virginia. “We’d raise them on farm from babies. We’d break them and take


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them to the racetrack,” Dickerson said. “He never rode horses before that,” said Lucille Dickerson, an accomplished horsewoman. “He had to learn.” Another challenge accepted and mastered. Learning to shoot pool and becoming proficient at trick shots was another personal test for Dickerson -- one that has led to many trophies and a Las Vegas competition. However, about 10 years ago Dickerson was struck a real health blow. “I developed polymyalgia rheumatica, an inflammation of the joints and muscles,” he said. “I couldn’t move. I couldn’t sit down, couldn’t get up. I was all hunched over. [Lucille] had to help me with everything.” After wrestling with the condition for 18 months, he finally saw himself clear, but it took a toll. Continued on Page 40

Jerry Dickerson demonstrates a 225-pound bench press. | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Powerlifter Continued from Page 39

Meanwhile, his wife had joined the Kennett Area YMCA around 2011 and loved it. For about a year, she kept encouraging Dickerson to join her. He was reluctant. Then he had a dream that he was weightlifting again. “So, I was lying in bed. I had a dream and when I woke up, I raised my hands in the air, and I saw a whole lot of loose skin on my arm. It wasn’t like me to be like that,” he said. “I had deteriorated to almost nothing. I was laid up for three years.” Lucille would not be deterred. “She kept trying to get me to go,” Dickerson said. “Finally, she said, ‘Just come as a visitor. You don’t have to do [anything]. Just look around.’ “When we went to weight room and I saw all the weights and bars. I knew the love [for the sport] was there.” Dickerson began slowly. “When I started off I could barely lift the bar, which was 45 pounds,” he said. A good friend he made at the Y, Fred Orr, was also a lifter and encouraged him. “He saw my potential and started working with me. [He] talked me into going into


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

competition,” Dickerson said. Dickerson trains regularly at the Kennett Area Y, and gives high praise to its staff and fellow members. “I’ve met some great people there, good friends,” he said. “The Y has everything you need.” He also has profound respect for the branch’s executive director, Doug Nakashima. “He’s a wonderful guy. And he’s been a great friend,” Dickerson said. And the Y organization, in turn, seems to appreciate Dickerson. In 2014, he received its Healthy Living Award. At the Kennett Area branch, he acts as an ambassador to members who might need a helping hand or advice on using the weight equipment. Dickerson was also asked to address a meeting of executives of the eight branches of the YMCA of the Greater Brandywine Valley. They wanted him to speak about his life and YMCA experience. Dickerson was happy to do so, but it was something new for him. “I’m not used to getting up in front of a lot of people, especially important people,” he said. One more challenge accepted and surmounted.

Dickerson attributes his many successes to his Christian faith, the power of positive thinking and his wife of nearly 40 years, Lucille. “I met her shooting pool and she’s been my partner ever since,” he said. “I guess you could say it was love at first sight.” Although Dickerson said his “mind is young,” he’s realizing that time is placing some constraints on him. “I’m finding out that age does limit you. When I was young I could deadlift about 500 pounds,” he said. “Now I’m lucky to do 350. Your body is telling you to slow down.” Maybe slow down, but certainly not stop. On July 30, Dickerson and YMCA friend Orr will be competing in the WNPF nationals in Essington, Pa. Because his back has been giving him some pain, Dickerson will be limiting himself to the bench press competition. “But it should be better by 2018,” he said, already looking forward to powerlifting challenges … when he’s 78. To contact Natalie Smith, email DoubleSMedia@

Jerry and Lucille Dickerson in their home. Dickerson credits his wife, as a member of the Kennett YMCA, with getting him back into weightlifting after he was sidelined by an illness. | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


—————|Kennett Square History|——————

Spotlight on the Kennett Underground Railroad Center Kennett Square was a hotbed of abolitionist activity in the years leading up to the Civil War. Today, the Kennett Underground Railroad Center works to protect and promote that aspect of the community’s history

All photos by Steven Hoffman unless otherwise noted

The Eusebius Barnard House in Pocopson Township. 42

Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

By Steven Hoffman Staff Writer


ntebellum Kennett Square played an important role in the Underground Railroad, the network of meeting places, secret routes and safe houses that were used by slaves to escape into free states and Canada in the early- to mid-1800s. The slaves were often helped along their journey by abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause and would provide them with the shelter, food, and money that they would need until they could move on to the next stop. The Underground Railroad relied on both white and black abolitionists, religious communities, and other groups to help slaves on the path to freedom. Conductors guided fugitives to safe houses known as stations. Escaped slaves would move along the route from one station to the next, steadily making the way north. There were dozens of Underground Railroad stations within an eight-mile radius of Kennett Square—possibly one of the largest concentration of underground railroad stations in the nation—making Kennett Square a hotbed of abolitionist activity. The Kennett Underground Railroad Center (KURC) was formed in 1998. Their mission is to preserve that heritage and engage the public about historic abolitionists and freedom seekers of this area and beyond. Members of the Kennett Underground Railroad Center work to identify buildings recognized as stations on the Underground Railroad, and encourage and assist the owners to have these home recognized on a local, state, or national level. Members also organize tours, take part in public-speaking activities, and publish works

The Brandywine Valley Tourism Information building on Greenwood Road is the starting point for the self-guided tour of the Kennett Underground Railroad. At one time, this building was the Progressive Meeting House.

that aim to educate people about the unique local heritage. According to Michele Sullivan, a board member of the Kennett Underground Railroad Center (KURC) and committee member Loraine Lucas, the true extent of Kennett Square’s role in the larger Underground Railroad is not well known to most people, even among local residents and descendants of those who actively participated. That’s why educating the public, both local residents and visitors, is such an important part of the mission. Why was Kennett Square such a hotbed for abolitionist activity? There are a number of reasons, starting with its location. Pennsylvania was a free state, and many escaped slaves from Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia fled here on their way to the north. Some of the most important stations along the secretive Underground Railroad were strategically located in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Some of the farmhouses in the area had secret hideaways where slaves could be concealed during the day, and then moved on to the next station during the night. The border between Pennsylvania and Maryland has been described as the “fissure point” between free and slave states. Fugitive slaves reaching underground stations in Pennsylvania were in great peril, but they were also that much closer to freedom. In addition to its location, the Kennett area also had a relatively large free black population, so the escaped slaves were able to blend in more easily than they could in some other places. The 1860 census revealed there were about 6,000 free blacks living in Chester County, which was about 8 percent of the county’s total population. The largest Quaker population in Pennsylvania was also centered around Kennett Square, and Quakers were known to support the slaves’ efforts for freedom. Many Quakers helped directly, while Continued on Page 44 | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Underground Railroad Continued from Page 43

others could be trusted not to turn their neighbors in for helping the escaping slaves. Quakers were most definitely not going to turn escaping slaves in themselves. “It was well known that Quakers would be helpful,� Sullivan explained. Some of the more prominent families in the Kennett area were known to be supporters of the effort to help slaves escape. These families included the Coxes, the Mendenhalls, the Lamborns, the Taylors, the Pennocks, the Barnards, and the Merediths. One of the homes in the Kennett Square area that was used to hide slaves was the Oakdale House on East Hillendale Road in Chadds Ford. Owned by Isaac and Dinah Mendenhall, the house was built in 1840. It included several features, including a hidden squareshaped room in the carriage house, that were designed to hide escaping slaves. Lucas said that Thomas Garrett in nearby Wilmington, Del. sent many escaping slaves up Route 52 for safe passage. Garrett and others would have sent escapees to the Oakdale House because it was just six miles from Delaware. They knew that the

Courtesy photo

Information about the Longwood Progressive Meeting is available to people who do the self-guided tour, starting at the Brandywine Valley Tourism Information building.

Mendenhalls could be counted on to get the job done. Isaac Mendenhall was the secretary of the Chester County Anti-Slavery Society. Dinah Mendenhall was a delegate to many anti-slavery societies, and she was part of a

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small group from Longwood Progressive Friends who spoke to President Abraham Lincoln about ending slavery. According to Sullivan and Lucas, Garrett played an important role in making Kennett Square a hotbed of abolitionist activities. Garrett moved to Wilmington, Del. in 1822 and spent the next 40 years helping runaway slaves. He had a strong network of people that he could rely on, including relatives in the Kennett area who he knew could be trusted to keep the slaves safe. Fugitives from all over the south would travel to Garrett’s house, and he would help them travel north—by boat, by wagon, or on foot. On several occasions Garrett helped Harriet Tubman make return trips to plantations in lower Maryland to rescue slaves. Tubman, one of the enduring heroes in this chapter of American history, was born into slavery in Maryland. She successfully escaped at 29 years old. She was determined to help others gain their freedom, so she would guide escaped slaves to freedom time and time again. She had so much success at this that, in 1852, a bounty was placed on her head. Despite the bounty, she was never caught. During the Civil War, Tubman was a Union nurse and a cook. She later served as an armed guide and spy. At the end of the war, she settled in New York State. The Longwood Progressive Friends Meetinghouse and Cemetery, a National Park Service Network to Freedom site, is a designated stop on the Harriet Tubman Underground

Courtesy photo

Kennett Square was a hotbed of abolitionist activity, with numerous stops on the Underground Railroad in the vicinity.

Railroad Byway which extends from her birthplace in Maryland and goes through the places where she and other abolitionists assisted fugitive slaves on their way to freedom. Most of the work of the stationmasters in the Underground Railroad was accomplished in Continued on Page 46

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Underground Railroad Continued from Page 45

secret—it had to be. At the time, posses of slave catchers would ride up and capture any African Americans they could—whether they were slaves or not. “It really wasn’t safe to be here in a lot of ways,” Sullivan said. Despite the dangers, estimates suggest that, by 1850, over 100,000 slaves had escaped to freedom thanks to the work of people like Dr. Bartholomew Fussell, another prominent conductor on the Underground Railroad in the area. Fussell lived in a large home that was later owned by two other abolitionists that was called “The Pines.” It was situated about one mile east of Kennett Square. In his early life, while he lived in Maryland, Fussell taught slaves how to read and write. When he moved to Kennett Square, he opened his house to escaping slaves, and records indicate that throughout his life he helped as many as 2,000 people during their escapes. William Barnard was a devout Quaker and abolitionist who assisted many runaways. William’s brother Eusebius Barnard and many others in the extended family also helped out the slaves, sometimes even hiring them so that


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

they would have money to help them get to their next stop. Another important local figure was John Cox, who served as the president of the Kennett Anti-Slavery Society. Both he and his wife, Hannah, were frequent delegates to state and national abolitionist conventions. The Coxes were close friends and contemporaries with William Lloyd Garrison and hosted him at their home. They sold a portion of their land on which the Longwood Progressive Meeting House was built in 1855. The Pennsylvania Yearly Meeting of Progressive Friends had liberal ideals, including the idea that slavery was unacceptable. It was founded on May 22, 1853 by abolitionist Quakers who had broken away or who had been disowned by their meetings because of their deep involvement in the Underground Railroad. Sullivan explained that some Quakers opposed abolitionist efforts because this activity was deemed “too worldly,” and this led to some Quakers being disowned. They felt Quakers should restrict themselves to spiritual matters, rather than breaking the law. The Longwood Progressive Meeting included many of

the major people involved with the Underground Railroad in the Kennett Square area, including Isaac and Dinah Mendenhall, the William and Eusebius Barnard families, and John and Hannah Cox. Harriet Beecher Stowe, an abolitionist and author, may have based some of the characters of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” on local residents. The Longwood Progressive Meeting was responsible for bringing in many of the famous national leaders of various reform issues —people like Thomas Garrett, John Greenleaf Whittier, William Lloyd Garrison, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, William Henry Channing, and Frederick Douglass. These speakers would draw large crowds that filled the Meeting House, which is said to have had a seating capacity of approximately 300 with overflow crowds noted to have gathered on the lawn. After the Civil War, members of Longwood Progressive Meeting concentrated their efforts on other humanitarian concerns, such as women’s rights and temperance. The Progressive Quakers continued to meet at Longwood Meeting until 1940, when the meeting was discontinued. Pierre du Pont purchased the Meeting House and

later it was leased to the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau to serve as the Brandywine Valley Tourism Information Center. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, a National Park Service Network to Freedom site and a designated stop on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. Today, the Kennett Underground Railroad Center’s guided tours start at the Longwood Progressive Meeting building. Lucas said that they are fortunate that some of the homes of people who offered shelter to escaping slaves are still around and owned by private citizens. Some of the homeowners who do research about the houses’ histories discover new pieces of local history, which is always exciting. Sullivan has been doing research on the Underground Railroad in the Kennett Square area. One aspect that the research has been focusing on is the African American abolitionists who played an often overlooked role in the Underground Railroad. “They never get the credit they deserve,” Sullivan Continued on Page 48

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Underground Railroad Continued from Page 47

explained. There is no way to know exactly how many African American abolitionists were at work in the area, in part because they had to keep the work a secret or risk being discovered. Sullivan was assisted on some of her research by Megan Del Mar, a graduate student in history at a university in Washington D.C. “One of the things that we’ve discovered,” Sullivan said, “is that there are entire networks that we don’t know about.” As new information is discovered, the Kennett Underground Railroad Center’s volunteers will do everything they can to share the information through a variety The Harriet Tubman mural at 120 South Willow Street in Kennett Square came about when business owner Darryl Hall commissioned artists Dave Mass and Joey Gothelf to paint the mural in 2010. It depicts Harriet Tubman leading a group of freedom seekers


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

of programs and educational initiatives. The Kennett Underground Railroad Center offers bus tours on the third Sunday of the month in May, June, July, August, and September. Private bus tours can also be arranged. Packets for self-guided tours are available at the Brandywine Valley Tourism Information Center. The Kennett Underground Railroad Center (KURC) is a 501(c)(3) and relies on donations for its operations. For more information, call 484-544-5070, mail PO Box 202, Kennett Square, PA 19348 or email Information is also available at and on the organization’s Facebook page. toward the North Star. Those names in the corner relate to the Johnson Walker Hayes story. One night in 1850, Dr. Johnson was called to the home of James H. Walker, a free black man who lived just a few blocks away on South Union Street. There, he found a fugitive slave

who had badly injured his foot when he jumped from a train to avoid capture in the Wilmington station. The slave was hidden for several weeks in the Walker home and cared for by the Walker family, Esther Hayes, and Dr. Johnson until word came that someone was on the fugitive’s trail. The fugitive was spirited out of the Kennett area and eventually settled in Boston. Several years after the Civil War, a welldressed black man walked into Dr. Johnson’s office and identified himself as the slave that Dr. Johnson had attended to years earlier. He was now going by the name of Johnson Walker Hayes, in honor of his three benefactors in Kennett Square.

Courtesy photos

Continued on Page 50 | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Underground Railroad Continued from Page 49

The contributions of Mary Dugan Mary Dugan was a dedicated local historian and a founding member of the Kennett Underground Railroad Center. She spent much of her life researching the Underground Railroad in the Kennett Square area, and compiled a large number of files about local and national abolitionists and proponents of the Underground Railroad. Shortly before she passed away, she requested that her files be scanned and made available to the public. Her contributions to the Kennett Underground Railroad Center are substantial. “None of this would be possible without Mary Dugan,” Kennett Underground Railroad Center board member Loraine Lucas explained. A quote from your interview with Lynne Sinclair about Mary is more apprpriate here. A plaque in Dugan’s memory has been set up at Sinclair’s Cafe. A plaque on the back of a wooden bench reads, “In memory of local historian and founder of the Kennett Underground Railroad Center Mary Larkin Dugan 1935-2013.”


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

Courtesy photo

Friends and people interested in the history of Kennett Square turned out when the bench was dedicated in memory of Mary Dugan. Dugan was a founding member of the Kennett Underground Railroad Center.


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——————|Kennett Square Arts|

The Hadley Fund presents….

Through the years, the Hadley Fund has brought musicians, lecturers, and performers to the area for free events that are educational and entertaining...


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

By Steven Hoffman Staff Writer


n October 23, 1962, Hal Holbrook stepped onto the stage at Kennett High School and performed a one-man show portraying perhaps America’s greatest writer. “A Night with Mark Twain” was the first program that was brought to the Kennett Square community by the Hadley Fund. In the years since then, the Hadley Fund has been responsible for bringing hundreds of lecturers, speakers, and performers to the area to educate and entertain audiences. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gloria Steinem once spoke here because of the Hadley Fund. Performers like Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn entertained local audiences. Lectures by politician Edmund Muskie, author Art Buchwald, paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson, and Civil rights leader James Farmer engaged audiences. John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil shared stories about playing baseball in the Negro League. One year, Alex Haley talked about a book he was trying to write about his family history. A few years later, he published the book, “Roots.” “We’ve had some truly amazing events over the years,” said Sheila Tekavec, the program coordinator for Hadley Presents. “We want to entertain people, but we also strive for an educational aspect.” Tekavec explained that the fund was established in 1916 by Charles C. Hadley. It was later augmented by his sister, Irene Hadley Baird to honor their parents, Theodore and Elizabeth Hadley. The mission of the Hadley Fund is to bring programs to the community that are for the civic betterment, social welfare, and education of the people of Kennett Square and the surrounding areas. All the programs are to be free. That was very important to Hadley. Continued on Page 54

All photos courtesy

Above: Ken and Brad Kolodner during a 2016 performance at Anson B. Nixon Park.

For the 2017-2018 year, Hadley Presents has tentatively scheduled a return performance by singer-songwriter Jake Armerding. | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Hadley Fund Continued from Page 53

“The Hadley Fund is a gift to the community,” Tekavec said. “It’s one of the best-kept secrets in Chester County.” Hadley Presents wrapped up the 2016-2017 season—its 54th annual season—with a performance by Eric Ambel & Friends as part of the Anson B. Nixon Park Summer Concert Series. Tekavec explained that in recent years Hadley has started partnering with other established organizations in the area on different activities, the Anson B. Nixon Park Summer Concert Series being one of them. “We’re so happy about that partnership,” Tekavec explained. Tekavec has been the program coordinator for the last two and a half years. In Charles Hadley’s will, it was established that the Hadley Fund would be overseen by a board of directors comprised of members of the Kennett Friends Meeting and the Ethical Society of Philadelphia. Tekavec is a member of the Kennett Friends Meeting. Almost four years ago, she was asked by Jessie Cocks, the chairperson on the Hadley Fund’s advisory board, to be a volunteer and be a greeter for one of the Hadley Presents lectures. She was immediately impressed with the kind of programming that the Hadley Fund was offering. “I left that night thinking, ‘what a wonderful lecture, and it was free...’” Tekavec explained. In the ensuing years, Hadley leaders have worked hard to maintain the quality of programming. Tekavec said that she’s never been disappointed by one of the lectures or performances. “I have not ever been to a Hadley event and thought, ‘this is a waste of time.’ Every event has been a rich experience. I walk away from each one reflecting on the wonderful gift that is Hadley.” Jessie Cocks said that she thinks it’s a brilliant concept that Hadley had to provide cultural and educational programming that promotes critical thinking. Cocks noted that people are very busy today, and there are many community events taking place that are competing for their attention. Hadley Presents must evolve to continue to meet its objective to bring cultural and educational events to the Kennett Square area. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, it was possible to bring in people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Alex Haley, Julius Erving, or Hal Holbrook, but that’s just not the case now—the appearance fees that speakers can charge are now too


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Eric Ambel & Friends was part of the Anson B. Nixon Park Summer Concert Series during the 54th season.

high. So Hadley’s leaders must be creative in the effort to present programs that will attract an audience and benefit the community. Tekavec said that Hadley Presents wants to have programs that appeal to a broad audience. Collaboration with other organizations opens up new possibilities for Hadley Presents. Jessie Cocks said that there’s even an effort underway to align the Hadley Fund under the umbrella of the Chester County Community Foundation, which currently manages more than 375 different charitable funds in the form of family foundations, nonprofit endowments, field of interest funds, and scholarships. This could open up many different networking opportunities for the Hadley Fund, Cocks noted. Both Tekavec and Cocks are excited about the future prospects of Hadley Presents. There are challenges, but opportunities as well. And it helps that Hadley’s original

vision is still serving as a guide. “We work to honor Charles Hadley’s wishes,” Tekavec said. “He had a specific goal in mind. He wanted to provide cultural events that were educational and entertaining. Our goal is to fulfill that mission with a wide array of high quality offerings that provide unique experiences for the community.” Continued on Page 56 | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Hadley Fund Continued from Page 55

One recent example is Magpie Music, who performed traditional songs and original compositions during their performance. The music that was performed was also connected to Earth Day, and the performance was peppered throughout with facts and figures about many environmental issues. According to Tekavec, the organization has been fortunate to have access to a number of different venues for the programs. “The Kennett Friends Meeting has been very generous with space,” she explained, adding that the West Grove Friends Meeting is also a partner. That venue has great acoustics. Kennett High School has a nice auditorium, and the Unionville High School auditorium is state-of-the-art after a very recent upgrade. Tekavec explained that the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia, a puppet theater troupe, had very specific tech requirements that were met locally in the performing arts center at Unionville High School. “It was really just a delightful event,” she said. For the 2017-2018 year, Hadley Presents has tentatively scheduled a return performance by singer-songwriter Jake Armerding. The Hadley Fund is also looking to partner with different groups

The Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia, a theater troupe, has performed as part of the Hadley Presents series.

Continued on Page 58

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Hadley Fund Continued from Page 56

on a variety of popular events or activities. For example, the Hadley Fund can buy blocks of tickets to such an event and offer them for free. Tekavec said that they are also looking at the possibility of organizing a bus trip to Philadelphia that will include a private tour of a museum—or a trip to a live performance at the People’s Light & Theatre in Malvern during the 2017-2018 year. They could provide tickets to an organization like La Comunidad Hispana so that they can be distributed to clients or work in conjunction with art and music teachers at local schools so that the tickets could be handed out to students that would really benefit from such an opportunity. All the changes under consideration reflect the Hadley Fund’s continuing effort to remain relevant, and its desire to work in collaboration or in support of current local events that offer education and entertainment. “We’re being somewhat experimental at this point,” Tekavec said. “We’re trying new things to see what has greater appeal while still being true to our mission. Charles Hadley was a wonderful, generous man who gave this gift of entertainment and education to the community.” To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

The Hadley Fund brings a wide variety of programs and lectures to the Kennett Square area.

For more information about Hadley Fund programs and activities, visit the organization’s Facebook page or

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—————|Kennett Square Arts|——————

Striking a balance between nature and art Rob Sigafoos creates sculptures that seem to move and grow Continued on Page 62 60

Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

Photo by Entropic Remnants Photography

Sigafoos at work in his studio. | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Rob Sigafoos Continued from Page 60

All photos by Entropic Remnants Photography unless otherwise noted

By John Chambless Staff Writer


he gentle, inexorable climb of a vine. The elegant curve of a root as it wraps around a stone. The balance between gnarled wood and metal that has been worked so expertly that both seem to be living. Sculptures by Rob Sigafoos are immediately identifiable, and they reflect his lifetime love of animals and the natural world. His home, nestled in the woods on the property of the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, is filled with his artwork – lighting fixtures seem to grow out of the ceiling, a sinuous dragon grips a lamp base, and a spiral staircase wrapped in vines seems to have sprouted in the basement and taken over the kitchen. It’s been a long road from his childhood in northern Virginia, but Sigafoos seems grounded and satisfied, and he’s just as busy as ever. His parents were college professors who taught botany, but Sigafoos said he grew up “with a hysterical indifference to plant life.” He left home at 16 and has supported himself ever since, initially studying art at a Virginia community college before being drawn to a job at a polo club, where he worked as an apprentice farrier. Drawn to the gentle grace of horses, he was a regular rider and

One of the whimsical dragons created by Sigafoos as accents for his works.

Photo by John Chambless

Artist Rob Sigafoos with the two-story metal sculpture/stairway in his Kennett Square home. 62

Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

Photo by John Chambless

The sign marking the Vinewoods Forge.

horse owner, and enjoyed making horseshoes at his own business before deciding to take an advanced farrier course at the New Bolton Center. In 1983, he was offered a job at the renowned facility, and he worked there for 25 years as a chief farrier, eventually making his mark with a glue-on horseshoe made of polyurethane that is still used to treat horses with injured hooves or legs. The shoes offer gentle support, and have been used successfully on million-dollar horses and beloved family pets alike. The last horse he worked with was the legendary Barbaro. “I’ve always loved horses. Movement is a fascination to me,” Sigafoos said during an interview. “The way things move, whether it’s people or dogs or horses – locomotion is fascinating. One of the things that attracted me to the farrier business was dealing with how you could affect locomotion in horses.” Sigafoos pursued his artwork while working with horses, dogs other animals at New Bolton, but his schedule there restricted his personal time significantly. In 2006, plagued by the injuries associated with the hard work of making and Continued on Page 64 Photo by Adrian Gibbs

Sigafoos with ‘Kennett Squared,’ recently installed on the Genesis Walkway in Kennett Square. | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Rob Sigafoos Continued from Page 63

applying horseshoes for so many years, he retired from New Bolton, but still lives within sight of the facility. The Sigafoos Shoe is still sold worldwide. “There are three partners in the business and I’m sort of a silent partner,” he said. “I know nothing about running a business. I come in and do some technical consultation occasionally. But that’s my former life.” In the last couple of years, Sigafoos has cut back on making functional objects such as hinges to pursue work he truly enjoys. “I will occasionally do railings that kind of turn into garden sculptures,” A gate by Sigafoos goes beyond he said. “I do things that have a strong sculptural pure functionality. component.” In his lamps, which are metal vines entwined over gnarled wood, “I try to hide the technical parts of it,” he said. “The bittersweet vine is a really fascinating vine. You can walk through the woods around here and find bittersweet and grape, which are both invasive,” Sigafoos said. “The property adjacent to New Bolton Center is a wildlife refuge,

This chandelier seems to be growing from the ceiling.

Continued on Page 66




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Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

Rob Sigafoos Continued from Page 64

and the guy who owns it is thrilled to have me take the vines because they kill the trees. It’s great to walk through the woods and see this very slow-motion life and death struggle between the vines and the trees. They’re both competing for the canopy. “The vines don’t invest anything in their own structure. Basically, they depend on the tree,” he continued. “So if the tree dies, there’s nothing left for the vine to hold on to, and it eventually dies. As I walk through the woods over the years, I can watch these vines get bigger. I can sort of try to predict who’s going to win.” Continued on Page 68


Photos by Entropic Remnants Photography

The spiral staircase in the middle of the house took crews several days to install, Sigafoos said.

Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

‘Pathway to Freedom’ commemorates the lives of two elephants who were chained together for years before being rescued. The chain used in the piece is the one that once held the animals in bondage.

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Rob Sigafoos Continued from Page 66

Still a confessed workaholic, Sigafoos is in his downstairs studio every day. “Fortunately, I’m married to a woman who’s tolerant of that,” he said, smiling. His wife, Susan, is a law professor at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, where she specializes in aspects of animal law. The couple’s love of animals extends to the two dogs they now own, which curiously inspect visitors to the home. Aside from embellishing homes with his commissioned work, Sigafoos creates artistic statements in metal and wood that emphasize how plants interact with seemingly impenetrable materials. A plant twined around a boulder moves to place a tiny version of itself in “Planting Time,” and a stone seems to hover in mid-air, supended by a chain, in “Balance.”


The sign for the Philter coffee shop in Kennett Square has some Sigafoos trademarks.

Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

‘Planting Time’

In downtown Kennett Square, the sign for the Philter coffee shop is a creation by Sigafoos and local artist Katee Boyle. The sign, which is equal parts artwork and advertising, is now joined on State Street by a new sculpture by Sigafoos that was recently installed on the Genesis Walkway. “It will be the first public art piece in Kennett,” Sigafoos said of the striking metal sculpture, titled “Kennett Squared.” “I didn’t want to do something so radical that people wouldn’t get it. I worked with the borough and the people there. “Now, there’s a big move to do more public art in Kennett. What I want to do is copyright the image of this new sculpture and lease it to Kennett for $1 a year, with the provision that any money that comes from it – if it ends up on T-shirts and coffee mugs, that kind of thing – that money goes to support public art in Kennett by Chester County artists. There’s a tremendous amount of incredibly talented artists in this county. We don’t need to import people from New York. We have so many artists here that it’s well worth promoting their work.” Sigafoos worked with Boyle in his own home studio before she opened her work space at nearby Scarlett Thicket Farm. “I love to Continued on Page 70



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Rob Sigafoos Continued from Page 69

teach,” he said. “Katee was the apprentice I worked with the longest. I’m really particular about who I take on. What I look for is enthusiasm and talent, and Katee had both. She was an excellent student and she does beautiful work.” On July 16, Sigafoos plans to begin opening his studio to local artists each month for “A what-can-you-make-in-a-day challenge,” he said. “It’s going to be everybody from very experienced metal workers to people who have never done any metal work at all. The only consistent thing is that everybody will be an artist. They will start at eight o’clock. I’ll start with a demonstration of blacksmithing, and then turn everybody loose to use whatever equipment they want. At six o’clock, we’ll sit down and talk about what we made. That should be really fun.” One theme in the work created by Sigafoos is a clear message that can be grasped by the viewer who spends a few moments. “I go for the ‘wow’ factor,” he said. “I want people to be stopped by it, but not offended by it. I want people to be awed by it, but also give them a positive feeling as they’re walking away from it.” Sigafoos is tied into the local arts scene as a board member at the Oxford Arts Alliance, and he is a champion for the informal community of artists across the county. He will have a co-exhibition with local sculptor and painter Lele Galer at the Palette and the Page in Elkton, Md., in November, and he will also be part of the upcoming Members Show at the Oxford Arts Alliance. For more information, visit To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

‘Scrapyard Life’ is made from a car axle.

Photos by Jie Deng Text by Richard L. Gaw


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

Tom Macaluso has owned and operated Macaluso’s Rare and Fine Books, Maps and Prints since 1973.

For those who have visited Thomas Macaluso Rare and Fine Books, Maps and Prints in Kennett Square, it is a literary and magical journey back to a time when the world was seen, felt and heard one page at a time ince Tom Macaluso first opened Thomas Macaluso Rare and Fine Books, Maps and Prints in 1973, his store has become one of Kennett Square’s most prized possessions, nearly as priceless as some of the many historical documents, books and maps in his shop that can still be touched by those who can’t get enough of holding history in their hands. Whether it for escapism or a search for explanation, thousands of readers, collectors and scholars have

enjoyed the sanctuary of Macaluso Books’s six rooms, to where 25,000 rare, scarce and unusual books await them, as well as 3,500 lithographed or engraved maps and prints from the 16th century to the present. As part of her project The People of Kennett Square, photographer Jie Deng captured the beauty of one of Kennett Square’s most cherished and honored heirlooms. | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life



Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

Thomas Macaluso Rare & Fine Books was included in the New York Times article, “36 Hours in the Brandywine Valley,� published in 2013. | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Richard Russell, author of “Antique Trader’s Book Collector’s Guide” called Tom Macaluso one of “the best booksellers I have come into contact with.”

Macaluso’s features both the great works of literature, modern classics as well as first editions, maps and manuscripts. 76

Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

Among the most prized books at Macaluso’s are first editions signed by the Wyeths, T..S. Eliot, Carl Sandburg, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. www chestercounty com | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


————|Kennett Square Business|—————

Fresh on the heels of their success with La Fia, Merchant Bar and Cocino Loco in Wilmington, Bryan and Andrea Sikora are bringing their talents to Kennett Square, with Hearth Kitchen, set to open on June 24 By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer


Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli

Bryan and Andrea Sikora will open Hearth Kitchen in Kennett Square on June 24.


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

n the weeks before he and his wife Andrea were about to open Hearth Kitchen, their latest restaurant concept, Bryan Sikora -- the James Beard Foundation finalist, restaurateur extraordinaire and rock star chef with the golden touch – sat in the temporary dust of his newest dream, and any resemblances to what promises to soon be one of the hottest culinary destinations in southern Chester County were only skeletal ones. Contractors’ tools rested on the bar. Design blueprints were curled and dog-earred in a booth. Shrinkwrapped furniture lay stacked and waiting, and yet, for anyone who has seen what the Sikoras have done to turn dust into magic -- at La Fia and Merchant Bar and Cocino Loco in downtown Wilmington, and what Sikora accomplished earlier, at Django’s in Philadelphia and later, Talula’s Table in Kennett Square -- there is little worry here. Everything will soon find its place, and beginning on June 24, the doors to Hearth Kitchen will open, the lights will shine, the wine will pour, and the meld of their vision will unveil itself like a brilliant painting at a gallery opening.

Andrea defines Hearth Kitchen, located in the Shoppes at Longwood, as “approachable but sophisticated.” The restaurant will feature an 85-seat dining area, accented by handcrafted tables made of repurposed wood from North Carolina and quiet, overhead lighting from artisan-style chandeliers, and a spacious back room that will play host to large group gatherings, as well as wine-and-food-themed dinners. The ambiance of the restaurant, Bryan said, will be “clean and contemporary, “ and yet avoid the rustic design trap that many Italian-themed restaurants have fallen into, he said. “I don’t want it to feel that we’ve purposely slapped barn wood around just to give our customers the illusion that they’re eating in someone’s Italian farmhouse,” he said. “Andrea and I want Hearth Kitchen to be a once-a-week, twice-a-month destination -- a place to come with friends and family to enjoy some bites and a glass of wine at the bar.” “We’re shooting for something adventurous -- to create a very chef-driven experience,” Andrea said. “One of our hallmarks has been to make everything fresh and in-house, and that’s a big differential between us and a lot of other restaurants. Because we have the advantage of having a skillful, seasoned chef, it allows us to deviate from the normal formulas of restaurants that are operated by business owners, rather than chefs.” Sparked by Bryan’s creativity, Hearth Kitchen will celebrate seasonal, Italian-influenced flavors, seen in an ever-evolving choice of wood-fired pizzas and hand-rolled pasta dishes. Guests will also get to sample a constantly-changing array of cocktails, as well as a wine menu crafted by Somelier Rich Hover, that will feature varietals from as near as New York and New Jersey to

Malbecs from Argentina, Cabs from California, and labels from the top wine regions in Europe. “Italian food has always been the coolest combination of cuisines, simply because of the craft involved in how it is made,” Bryan said. “It is hand crafted and regionally specific within the boundaries of Italy, whether it’s wine making, pasta making, cheese making. “By nature, Italians are tinkerers, and the food that comes out of that tinkering is ultimately fun and simple and rich in texture and integrity. And that’s who I’ve always been -- a tinkerer with food.” From the time he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., Bryan’s career has been an upward trajectory rocket on a circuitous route. After devoting much his early career to traveling and working in kitchens in Cape Cod; Portland, Ore.; Colorado and Washington, D.C., he and former wife Aimee Olexy opened Django in Philadelphia in 2001. It was a runaway BYOB success, and Sikora soon became the media darling of such food critics as Craig LaBan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He earned a StarChefs. com Rising Star Award in 2004, and in 2007, he and Olexy opened Talula’s Table on State Street, which The New York Times “handsome, deceptively complex and masterfully executed,” likening the experience to a “spiritual retreat.” In 2013, the Sikoras began to take downtown Wilmington by culinary storm. They created La Fia -- a bistro, bakery and gourmet shop, and eventually followed it up by opening Merchant Bar, an upscale gastro pub, and Cocino Loco, a Latin and Mexican-infused restaurant. And with it, a visit to La Fia, Merchant Bar and Cocino Loco became more than just a momentary stopover for Continued on Page 80 | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Hearth Kitchen Continued from Page 79

food and drink and replenishment. It became a heightened and sometimes heady moment that is similar to falling into the world of a painting. Asking a customer to take that journey is intentional, Bryan believes, and may in fact derive from the fact that painting was the first love of his life. He attended art school, and still manages to steal away for a few hours a week at his home in Downingtown to work on new canvases. In fact, a few of his paintings are placed above the bar at La Fia. “Whether it’s food, art or cooking, I am addicted to the process of creating,” he said. “I have always been one of those people who sees something, and absorbs it. When I’m at my best, its when I’m driving to work in the countryside. I see a pasture or a tree or a farm, and I want to take a picture of everything and use it as subject matter for a painting. I want to stop along the side of a road and cut some greens that I can take to the restaurant and use as a design accent.” When Bryan was a student at the Culinary Institute of America, his teachers would tell him that a chef can learn

something not only every day in the kitchen, but by looking at the same thing from a different perspective. He looked around the unmade bed of what will, in just three short weeks, become Hearth Kitchen. His eyes seemed to leapfrog over the current mess into what will soon become a reality: A packed bar of patrons discovering new wines; family after family in booth after booth enjoying the taste of wood-fired pizzas and hand-rolled pastas; and the casual, “Going over to Andrea’s and Bryan’s for dinner” ambiance of a restaurant at work. “My whole vibe here will be, ‘Come into my world. Let me get your attention,’” Bryan said. “’I am going to turn you on to some food you haven’t had yet, and some wine you haven’t tried yet. Sit back and relax. You’re going to have an enjoyable experience here with us.’ “That’s the different perspective.” Hearth Kitchen is located at The Shoppes of Longwood Village. To learn more, visit www.hearthkennettquare. com. To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email rgaw@



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|Kennett Square Food & Entertainment|

When Lee Mikles and Jim O’Donoghue opened their Grain restaurant in Newark in 2015, they created a culinary phenomenon. They have now brought that same recipe for success to State Street 84

Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer


t isn’t easy replacing a legend. It is even more difficult to make a name for yourself while living in the shadows of the success that came before you. You can either turn your back from it, or you can honor it, and that’s what Lee Mikles and Jim O’Donoghue did. When they opened the doors to their Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen on State Street in Kennett Square in May, Mikles and O’Donoghue chose not to ignore what the Half Moon Restaurant & Saloon had meant to the customers who frequented the establishment at the same location since 1997. Continued on Page 86

All photos by Richard L. Gaw unless otherwise noted

Co-owner Lee Mikles and general manager Alison Gutsche, at the newly-opened Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen in Kennett Square.

Going with the

Grain | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Grain Continued from Page 85

Rather, they honored what Half Moon owners Scott Hammond and Kristin Hess did for the community by hanging a colorful tribute painting to the long-time establishment on one of the walls of the stunning new restaurant, which opened on May 15 to great anticipation and praise. They retained a few of Half Moon’s wait staff, and Ashley Steele and Jamie Bailey are still behind the bar to greet the new regulars who have known them for years. Just like before, guests still walk into the restaurant on the same black and white tile floors that go back to the site’s original occupants -- a candy store. While Grain has retained some of the familiarities of its predecessor, its revamped street-level bar and dining area has received an aesthetic overhaul. The signature wooden booths of the Half Moon have been replaced by an openair feel of a country store, lined with well-placed eating areas that leave a little room for a constantly-changing roster of local musicians that play throughout the week. Everything downstairs leads upstairs to 410@Grain, the restaurant’s rooftop deck that offers a refurbished bar, TVs and retractable windows that offer panoramic views of Kennett Square and beyond. “Lee and Jim have such an eye for the details of the restaurant,” said general manager Alison Gutsche. “Part of their design development centers on creating conversation starters, such as the view-finder kids’ menu and the Question of the Day that’s posted on our black

In this painting, the restaurant pays homage to its predecessor, the Half Moon Saloon & Restaurant.

Courtesy photo

Just a small sampling of Grain’s eclectic lunch, brunch and dinner menus.

Continued on Page 88 The newly-designed bar offers a full menu of craft beers. 86

Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

GO GREEN, GO GOATS 1-484-643-8122 The versatility of goats as a sustainable agricultural asset has been well documented for centuries. Goats are important and valued in most cultures all over the world for their meat, as a source of milk and milk products and for their wool and hides used for clothing. In an age when people everywhere are becoming more environmentally conscience, goats have found a new role. They are being used as green, eco-friendly, all natural, land clearing machines. Considering that goats can go places heavy equipment can’t, are more economical than human labor, are safer for the environment, leave no traces of cancerous chemicals behind, and leave a smaller carbon foot print on the land, make goats an ideal choice for noxious weed and vegetation control. Using goats as an eco-friendly, green, and sustainable approach to noxious vegetation management is an ideal solution for hillsides, rough terrain, open areas, pastures, ditches, and embankments. They eat Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Hemlock, Sumac, Kudzu, English Ivy, Wild Rose, and much more, like it was their job! This form of noxious weed removal is being used by homeowners, ranchers/farmers, municipalities, public land management companies, golf courses, and school systems all across the United States. Goats are a win-win proposition!



ABOUT BLOOMING BRANCH FARMS GREEN GRAZERS: We are a small farming operation based in Lincoln University, PA. Our ever growing herd consist of 22 healthy goats of mixed sizes. This allows for a better clearing outcome. We love our goats. They are our number one priority and when our goats are happy they like to EAT! HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RENT GOATS: Every property is different and every client’s needs are different. Our rates are based on several factors that we would be glad to discuss with you in person after visiting the area needing to be cleared. We have daily rates and weekly rates as well as a small setup fee. We are happy to work with you on payment terms and bartering is always an option. THE FIRST STEP: Contact us to set up a free meeting to tour the area to be cleared, discuss your needs and a time line and decide on the number of Green Grazers you will need to complete the job to your satisfaction. WHAT’S NEXT: After the initial meeting our staff will draft a proposal and present it to you. Once the proposal is accepted a contract will be sent. After all the legalities are done and the agreed upon deposit is paid, it’s GO TIME! The Green Grazers are delivered to the job site at the agreed upon time and put to work annihilating weeds. WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO: Nothing, we do it all. Our staff will come to the site and do the preliminary set up. That involves putting up temporary electric fencing to keep the Grazers corralled and focused on one area at a time and setting up trail cams for their protection. We also provide them with shelter, water and minerals to keep them healthy and happy, so they can do what goats do best EAT! We visit daily to monitor the Grazers progress and attend to their needs. We provide our clients with an e-mail update weekly and at the end of the Green Grazers contracted time, we will meet with the client and discuss options and provide feedback on the area that was recently cleared. It is IMPORTANT to us that we leave our customers satisfied with a JOB WELL DONE! If you would like to schedule an appointment to see how our services could be right for you, call us at 484-643-8122 or 484-643-6939 or visit us and Like us on Facebook at Green Grazers.


Photo courtesy of | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Grain Continued from Page 86

board. It’s been nice seeing first-time customers talk about what we’ve changed and what we’ve decided to keep.” For Mikles, the connection to Kennett Square was immediate. “Even before we announced that we were coming, I went into State & Union on Black Friday, and received a hug from the owner Doug Harris, and we had just met,” he said. “The Kennett vibe is really strong. We really had to find a way to make that happen for us. “The issue on finding that location so often comes down to the question, ‘Is it in a neighborhood?’” Mikles added. “This site checked that box off in a big way.” While the demographics at the Kennett Square Grain differ slightly from the college town atmosphere in Newark, both fit comfortably within the definition of “a neighborhood place.” “The niche that both the Newark and Kennett Square locations have is that they have a superb

410@Grain, the restaurant’s rooftop deck, offers panoramic views of Kennett Square.

‘Main Street’ kind of feel,” Gutsche said. “The foot traffic has been incredible here on State Street, because it plays directly into the concept of developing a partnership with the other businesses along the street – to be a place where people can come after shopping, for happy hour or an early dinner.” One thing is for certain: Mikles and O’Donoghue brought not Continued on Page 90

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Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |


MEDIA ROOM | Summer/Fall 2017 | Kennett Square Life


Grain Continued from Page 88

only the atmosphere of their Newark location with them, but also its menu -- a tantalizing array of pub grub, lunch items and entrees, such as thai salmon, flatbread pizzas, and its soonto-become-famous brunch that includes Capn’ Crunch French Toast, Scrapple Cheeseteak, Crabby Pretzels and Sunrise Nachos. The eclectic menu, Mikles said, was inspired by he and O’Donoghue studying the menus of more than 100 gastro pubs across the United States, and taking a highlighter pen to the menu items they thought would work well at their restaurants. “Someone once told me that you should never build a restaurant around you as the target customer, but Jim and I and our wives wanted to create a restaurant concept that was good for our families, to give folks like us a place to go,” he said. In a town that already boasts a craft beer and gastro pub lineup of the Two Stones Pub, the Kennett Brewing Company, the Victory Brewing Company and the newly-opened Hearth Kitchen, Gutsche believes that the addition of Grain to Kennett Square is not a thorn in their competitors’ sides, but merely the Continued on Page 92 The kids’ menu can be seen from a view-finder.



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Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

Grain Continued from Page 90

arrival of yet another welcome layer, meant to further solidify Kennett Square’s place in the social fabric of southern Chester County. “We discovered a very cool thing about Kennett Square during our first week of training here,” she said. “After we got to done with our work, we went to KBC and Victory, and since we’ve been open, there are frequent visitors from other establishments who stop by here and do the same. While there is that competitive nature and everyone has remained loyal to their employers, they’re also experimenting with new places. “That’s the beauty about the food and craft beer industry -- that more people are willing to support each other, and the support has been huge for us in this town. It’s great seeing people who had a familiar thing here for


Kennett Square Life | Summer/Fall 2017 |

many years making the adjustment and taking that step into the future with us.” By Mikles’ count, there are about 120 sketches on the walls of the Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen in Newark that capture the likeness of the restaurant’s most loyal and regular customers. He and O’Donoghue are continuing the tradition in Kennett Square; the sketches have already begun in the top left-hand corner of a wall on the restaurant’s main floor -- ironically, near the painting honoring the Half Moon Saloon & Restaurant. It is the perfect intersection of acknowledgment and aspiration. To learn more about Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen in Kennett Square, visit To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email rgaw@ .

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Kennett Square Life Magazine Summer/Fall 2017 A Chester County Press Publication P.O. Box 150, Kelton, PA 19346

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