Kennett Square Life Fall/Winter 2023

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Fall/Winter 2023

Kennett Square Life


Mary Fatimah Weening: Through the lens of landscape Page 48

Inside: • Anson B. Nixon Park: An oasis in a small town • Kennett Friends Home: Turning friends into family for 125 years • In goal: Local hockey sensation aiming for the big time

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Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

|Kennett Square Life| Kennett Square Life Fall/Winter 2023

Kennett Square Life Table of Contents 10 20 28 30 42 48 54 70 8

Anson B. Nixon Park—an oasis in a small town Longwood Reimagined: A new legacy, unfolding Winter Park at the Creamery returns Kennett Friends Home celebrates 125 years Kennett Square Area Newcomers Club Photo essay: Mary Fatimah Weening In goal: Local hockey sensation aiming for the big time Q & A with Megan and Brian Helmuth of Riverwards General

Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |


48 54


Kennett Square Life Fall/Winter 2023 Letter from the Editor:



Patrick Quinlan, a local hockey sensation, is aiming for the big time. In April of this year, Quinlan became one of only two Pennsylvanians to be selected for the 2023 U.S.A. National Under-17 Hockey Team. A two-year stint on the team started in July. Quinlan would like to make it to the NHL, and he was introduced to the ice through local hockey programs and at Upland Country Day School. Writer Richard L. Gaw profiles the young hockey standout in this edition of Kennett Square Life. The skating rink at the Creamery, which was greeted with such enthusiasm and joy last winter season, is retuning soon—a month earlier than last winter. Anthony Racaniello, director of marketing and programming at Square Roots Collective, said the skating rink, called “Winter Park,” will open at the beginning of December with the added attractions of warm drinks, bonfires and much more. In this edition, we also take a look at how the Kennett Friends Home has been turning friends into family—for 125 years! Writer JP Phillips takes a look at the history of the Friends Home in Kennett, and how it has come to be a safe and comfortable home for its residents. The Kennett Square Area Newcomers Club has been enriching the lives of area women for 45 years. On Nov. 15, they marked that milestone with an anniversary luncheon at the Greenville Country Club in Wilmington. We take a look at the various programs and activities that this club offers to its members. In this edition, Gene Pisasale, a local historian and writer, explores Kennett Square’s oasis in a small town—Anson B. Nixon Park. The park is a great place to enjoy nature, and it offers wonderful sights and sounds to refresh any visitor. The Q & A is with Megan and Brian Helmuth of Riverwards General. Based in Kennett Square, Riverwards General is a full-service interior design studio providing boutique, tailormade interiors for hospitality and residential clients. Recently, Kennett Square Life spoke with owner and principal designer Megan Helmuth and her husband, Brian about an early influence, a large project they are helping to create in the borough and what they love about living and working in Kennett Square. The subject of the Kennett Square Life photo essay is Unionville artist Mary Fatimah Weening. As another year comes to a close, we hope you enjoy the stories that Kennett Square Life has offered, and we look forward to bringing you more when the next edition arrives in the summer of 2024. Sincerely, Randy Lieberman, Publisher, 610-869-5553 Steve Hoffman, Editor, 610-869-5553, Ext. 13


Cover design: Tricia Hoadley Cover photo: Jie Deng | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


|Kennett Square History|

An town An oasis oasis in in aa small small tow tow

The simple beaut Anson B. Nixon P A branch of Red Clay Creek running through Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett Square.


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

own: wn: own:

uty of n Park By Gene Pisasale Contributing Writer “I love all the trees, the meadows and brooks and memories of Old Bloomfield.” -John T. Chambers in Bloomfield: Memories and Records (1920) If you’ve driven through Kennett Square and did not know there was a great place to enjoy the beauty of nature, there’s good news. A park which had its beginnings over 30 years ago is somewhat unknown to the general public, but offers wonderful sights and sounds to refresh any visitor. With hiking paths running alongside a beautiful creek and huge groves of old growth trees, Anson B. Nixon Park has a wonderful story to tell those who visit. Driving down State Street, you turn right onto North Walnut Street and wind around until you see the yellow metal gates near the green and white Park sign on the left to enter. This cozy paradise is subtle; many people go right by it without knowing they are passing a lovely place to relax and reconnect with nature. Begun in 1993, its heritage

The Anson B. Nixon Park sign.

includes as much human effort as it does natural beauty. The story starts with local supervisors who served the area for many years, including Anson B. Nixon. When Mr. Nixon passed away, they wanted to honor his service and dedication to the community. Land which had previously been utilized for landfill operations was purchased for a park. It was extensively rehabilitated by local authorities to make it suitable for public use. According to their website, the Kennett Area Park Authority (KAPA) was “entrusted with approximately 106 acres of land and a mission to preserve open space, strengthen environmental stewardship and provide free access for public recreation.” Celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the park this past June, KAPA and their volunteers have worked strenuously to showcase this hidden gem. The park includes protected open space which holds walking trails, a lovely pond, a branch of Red Clay Creek and wooded areas, as well as basketball, volleyball, tennis courts, athletic fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, a disc golf course and a bandstand which holds various events. Continued on Page 12 | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


Anson B. Nixon Park Continued from Page 11

As it is situated a few blocks off the downtown area, some visitors are not aware of the park’s beauty and welcoming environment. That is one thing that KAPA officials hope to change with a variety of programs and activities which will please the entire family. Take the easy-to-walk hiking trails, roughly 2.5 miles in length, which wind through the park. You can stroll past a scenic waterway and through groves of beech trees, some of which are estimated to date back 300 years or more to the time William Penn toured the region after founding his colony. A plaque identifies the Kennett Beech: “The large American Beech tree you see about forty feet beyond this sign is the largest and oldest tree in this woodland. It may have been a young tree at the time of William Penn 300 years ago.” History lovers have something to enjoy here. A portion of the park lies on property owned by the Chambers family, who lived there in the early 19th century. Lineage of the Chambers family was traced back to William Chambers, born around 1635 in England. Members of the family later emigrated to America and settled in Lancaster County, then subsequently


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

The pond and adjacent bandstand in Anson B. Nixon Park.

in Chester County. In Bloomfield: Memories and Records, John T. Chambers recalls his long family heritage and the history of the land, settlement of which dates to 1817. A plaque within the present-day park notes: “Nixon Park lies on the site of Bloomfield, the home of the Chambers family. In his reminiscences about Bloomfield, Chambers writes about visiting the “Beech Grove” when he was a child in the 1840s.” In his narrative, Chambers mentions several local citizens who became famous inventors, including Samuel Pennock, who started “a turning mill to make parts for spinning wheels, bobbins to wind yarn on

chair rounds and button molds” on the branch of Red Clay Creek which runs through the property. The first mill dates to around 1795. Pennock’s son Moses Pennock later used this mill to produce the revolving horse rake, of which he was the inventor, that “revolutionized the method of caring for the hay crop.” Several generations of the Chambers family occupied the property which now forms a portion of the park. Continued on Page 14

The pond with some visitors in Anson B. Nixon Park.

The Kennett Beech, which is 300-plus years old, at Anson B Nixon Park. | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


Anson B. Nixon Park Continued from Page 13

A bold initiative to restore three historic buildings within the Park is now underway. The Kennett Square Water Works operated here for over a century beginning in 1876. The water works expanded in 1926, adding two buildings to the site. After 1984, the Borough began The Great Blue Heron purchasing water from the Chester in Anson B. Nixon County Water Authority instead of Park. Photo courtesy of Chester County Parks making repairs to the three build- and Recreation. ings. KAPA has plans to transform the aging facility and make the structures usable again for community activities. Lovers of wildlife will enjoy a trek through the park as numerous species have been sighted there. A Great Blue Heron regularly visits the property, looking for fish to feast upon. Brian Winslow, water conservation director at the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance, has conducted creek sta-


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

A Kennett Beech historical plaque.

bilization work and spotted egrets, bald eagles, hawks and even a green heron there inside the park. You may see some deer roaming the forest; mallard ducks often swim freely on the large pond there. The annual Trout Rodeo is a one-day event which allows people with licenses to fish there for freshly stocked rainbow trout. Continued on Page 16 | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


Anson B. Nixon Park Continued from Page 14

Music lovers will enjoy the concerts held at Anson B. Nixon Park. Shows have included performances by the Late Ambitions, the Blues Reincarnation Project and many others, which have pleased guests for years. Their concert series—with food, beer and other beverages available—has proven quite popular, bringing back a variety of new bands every season to create smiles on the faces of concertgoers. Whether you like taking a stroll in the fresh air, seeing your children enjoying the playground, watching wildlife along a scenic waterway or listening to live music, Anson B. Nixon Park has a lot to offer. The park is open from sunrise to sunset and free to the public. The Friends of Anson B. Nixon Park is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization created to support the goals of the Park Authority. Attorney Elizabeth Swain serves on the Board of KAPA and supplied useful commentary for this article. KAPA Administrator Sheila Tekavec eagerly provides helpful information for all who want to become involved, which you can do by contacting them at


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

The summer concert in Anson B. Nixon Park, courtesy of Kennett Area Park Authority.

Gene Pisasale is an historian, author and lecturer based in Kennett Square. His 11 books focus mostly on the history of the Chester County/mid-Atlantic region. Gene’s latest book is Heritage of the Brandywine Valley, a beautifully illustrated hardcover book with over 250 images showcasing the fascinating people, places and events of this region over more than 300 years. His books are available on his website at and also on www. Gene can be reached via e-mail at Gene@ | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


Beiler-Campbell at 50: R community, and for When Ben Beiler began his real estate career with Jim Arnold in the white building at the intersection of Route 1 and 41 in the early 1970’s, they had a handful of agents and an aspiration to grow the business one customer at a time, with a commitment to treat everyone with respect and loyalty. Today, Beiler-Campbell Realtors is led and owned by Anthony Beiler and Brian Campbell, and is celebrating its 50th anniversary as one of the leading real estate companies in southern Chester and Lancaster Counties. Ben purchased the company - then known as Arnoldmont Realty - in 1973. Brian Campbell joined the business in 1979 and later became partner with Ben. Ten years later, Ben’s son Anthony Beiler joined the company and later became a partner with Brian. Beiler-Campbell expanded to offer appraisals and opened additional offices in Kennett Square, Oxford and Quarryville. A Farm and Land Division and Auction Services were added that serves throughout western Pennsylvania and northern Maryland, as well as a Commercial Division. Recognizing the needs of clients to have access to all transaction services under one roof, Beiler-Campbell also founded a title company –



Anvil Land Transfer – and a mortgage company – Delaware Valley Financial Mortgage. Over half a century, Beiler-Campbell has helped thousands of families, individuals and businesses open the door to a new chapter of their lives and their livelihoods. Every transaction, every handshake, every late-night phone call with a client and every closing when keys are handed to a new homeowner, stems from the vision that Ben Beiler had to build a company that could serve the community with excellence. “My father already had a lot of connections in the community – particularly in the dairy business – and what he saw early on was the natural gravitation of people who wished to move from the eastern part of the Route 1 Corridor to the western part,” said Anthony Beiler, President of Beiler-Campbell. Anthony Beiler is quick to acknowledge that their years of growth wouldn’t be possible without their clients and their team of agents. “We never forget that we owe our growth to the efforts of each team member, our families, and our clients,” he said. “We are grateful for the trust our clients placed in us over the years. We have a responsibility to hold ourselves to high professional standards in conduct, speech and attitude.”


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

: Realtors for our or our future As in nearly every facet of modern life, the real estate industry has evolved to a streamlined world of communication and online transactions. Beiler-Campbell has mastered the art of utilizing forward edge technology while nurturing the face-to-face personal connection that clients desire. “We stay on the forward edge of technology,” said Board Chairman Brian Campbell. “We provide our agents with the current tools, resources, experience and knowledge for them to succeed, but so much more importantly, it begins by hiring the right individuals. We have been blessed along the way by these phenomenal people, some of whom have been with us for as long as 40 years.” “We treat everyone in our company like they are a member of our family. We help them to succeed, we bring continued education to them, and we want them to know their field. If you are able to build trust with your clients, develop authentic relationships and are excellent in your field, you will thrive.” There is an intangible linked to the growth Beiler-Campbell has experienced over the last six decades that may not be named in the sales projections or end-of-the year financial reports. Nonetheless, it has become the fabric of the company. “I give a lot of credit to my father, because his philosophy was always to maintain a high level of integrity, serve the people and place their needs above our own,” Beiler said. “The culture of service and support has been strengthened as likeminded individuals joined the team over the years. We have an outstanding management team that share in the vision that we are customer-based. We start by building a relationship with our client, understanding what they are looking for, and then serving their needs – all with a high level of service and integrity. It’s not about pushing transactions through, but rather building relationships in the community. Being a locally owned company gives us the heightened responsibility to do business in a way that benefits our entire community.” Soon after Campbell began at the company in 1979, he learned a lasting lesson from Ben Beiler. “He gave me great counsel and mentorship,” he said. “I remember one challenging transaction Ben told me, ‘Ask yourself, ‘What is right and what is wrong?’ I was a young guy just starting in the business and Ben demonstrated that it is about doing the right thing based on Christian principles. He always said that if we take care of people with exquisite service, the rest will take care of itself.” From management to the sales agents to the administrative staff, “we have a remarkable company culture, and we all sup-

port each other,” said Marketing Director Kristine Pirrung. “We celebrate our individual milestones and are also there for each other when someone is going through a challenge. Beiler-Campbell has an atmosphere of Brian Campbell, Board Chair of Beilerpositivity – a feeling Campbell, left, with Beiler-Campbell of wanting the best President Anthony Beiler. for each other and the people we serve.” The commitment that Beiler-Campbell has for the community goes far beyond real estate. It’s a priority to Beiler-Campbell to give back to the community. It’s common to see them coaching youth sports, volunteering for local organizations, serving on local non-profit and civic boards and in places of faith. In addition to sponsoring a variety of local teams, community events and groups, the company holds two annual charity events: a Day of Service with Food Drive and a Charity Golf Tournament. The Day of Service’s goal is to serve local homeowners who need a helping hand and non-profits. They go into the local community to help with lawn care, painting, building, cleaning, repairing. The annual Charity Golf Tournament is generously sponsored by local businesses and private individuals and donates upwards of $40,000 to local nonprofits every year. “Years ago, Ben suggested that managers and owners get involved with one or two nonprofits, so the call from him was to give back to our community,” Campbell said. “While it sounds great that we are serving, whatever we give, we get back ten-fold. The joy and spirit of helping others becomes a feeling that we treasure.” “For the past 50 years, the staff and agents at Beiler-Campbell have been honored to be a part of what is often the most important transaction in a client’s life. “For the seller, their home has rewarded them and opens the next chapter of their lives, and on the buyer’s side, they are equally as excited to begin the next chapter of their own journey,” Campbell said. “To know that we have been the fabric that helped make that happen continues to bring us great joy.”

To connect with Beiler-Campbell visit | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


|Around Kennett Square|

$250 million project expected to ope

Longwood Reima A new legacy, un

Courtesy image

Progress continues on the construction of Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience, which is set to open at Longwood Gardens in the fall of 2024.


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

open in Fall 2024

magined: nfolding

Photos by Richard L. Gaw

The 32,000-square-foot West Conservatory will be set off by its asymmetrical peaks and islands of interior Mediterranean-inspired gardens.

By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer Completing a magnificent vision – as in the case of the Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience project now fully underway at the venerable institution – often takes time, but as a 200-plus workforce continues to work toward a Fall 2024 grand opening, the vision among the concrete and the dirt mounds is already being realized as a perfect harmony of art, functionality, nature, history and legacy. To the immediate west of Longwood founder Pierre S. du Pont’s masterpiece known as the Conservatory, the $250 million project is creating a new horticultural experience in the form of construction and restoration of six structures: • The 32,000-square-foot West Conservatory, set off by its asymmetrical peaks and islands of interior Mediterraneaninspired gardens that will be set amid pools, canals and fountains in an exquisite tapestry-like design; • The relocation of the historic, 3,800-square-foot Cascade Garden – designed by landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx; • A new outdoor Bonsai Courtyard, an outdoor gallery space that will showcase what will become one of North America’s most prominent bonsai collections; • The redevelopment of the Waterlily Court, an aquatic

Tony Ingram, Bancroft project manager of Longwood Reimagined, right, with Greg Sawka, Bancroft’s president and CEO.

garden that will be redefined as an outdoor room; • A new public restaurant and private event space that will offer priceless views of events at the Main Fountain Garden; and • The expansion of The Grove, a facility that will offer new state-of-the-art studios, virtual learning studios, a library, staff offices and serve as a communal hub of learning and growth. At a behind-the-scenes look at the project’s progress in late October, tours were conducted of all locations by representatives from all aspects of the project’s development: Longwood Gardens; Bancroft Construction Company in Wilmington, Del.; Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects of Cambridge, Mass. and Weiss/Manfredi, a New York Citybased architectural design firm. Continued on Page 22 | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


Longwood Reimagined Continued from Page 21

For Bancroft Construction, who renovated the garden’s fountain area a few years ago, Longwood Reimagined is the largest project ever undertaken by the company. “One of the biggest challenges is that we have 190,000 square feet of building in multiple different construction types – from steel and glass in the new conservatory to the steel that will be used in the construction for the Grove, so they’re all unique,” said Tony Ingram, Bancroft project manager of Longwood Reimagined. “It will be nearly six years that I will have worked on this project, so I look forward to seeing the accomplishment made from the planning and coordinating and designing done between our trade partners we have worked with and see it all come to life.” Continued on Page 24

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Longwood Reimagined Continued from Page 22

“The most important aspect of a job of this size is to have everyone on the same page with the same vision, so we rely heavily on everyone who has influence over the design process – both the client who has a vision as well as architects and engineers whose job is to put the vision into reality,” said Greg Sawka, Bancroft’s president and CEO. “The building plans have been straightforward. They tell us to build this rectangle or this pyramid and make it this tall and this wide and paint it white, and that’s easy, but when there are thousands of these plans all interconnecting with one another, it’s important to ask what the steps are and then how do they interact act with each other at the right time. Continued on Page 26

Westward views from The Grove will offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy beautiful vistas of Longwood’s extended property.

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Longwood Reimagined Continued from Page 24

“I think Longwood has done a great job of getting that right. We’ve had a construction manager here from Day One, so we’re really adding value to the project.” One of the most inspiring design aspects of the 17-acre project is that it is incorporating the rolling landscape of Longwood’s outer property into the overall vista of the gardens – as seen best from The Grove. “One of the things that is important is that we are making certain areas accessible to the public that hadn’t previously been made accessible,” said architectural designer Michael Manfredi. “The view to the valley (beyond Conservatory Road) is an homage to this beautiful part of the country. It will provide a new set of opportunities for people who will be inspired by its traditional beauty. It’s a beauty that’s unique to this part of the country.” Throughout the construction of Longwood Reimagined, Sawka has brought several members of his family and friends to view the progress being made on the massive project. “I love to tell them, ‘See that? See that over there?’” he said. “It’s the culmination of our relationship with Longwood and our journey through their entire Master Plan. To have a glimpse of this a decade ago as to what it would be, and then to continue the relationship and be a part of it has been inspirational for me. It has been transformational for our firm and in particular our team. They get the privilege of living this job for four years. “But it’s really for the next 50 years that people are going to enjoy the beauty, the art and the nature of this project.” To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email

A new public restaurant and private event space will provide great views of the Main Fountain Garden. 26

Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

|Kennett Square Recreation|

Winter Park at the Creamery returns with S’mores

Photo by Chris Barber

Skaters gather at the rink last winter at Winter Park for fun on the “Glice.” The Winter Park at The Creamery is returning a month earlier this year.

By Chris Barber Contributing Writer The skating rink at the Creamery, which was greeted with enthusiasm and joy last January, is retuning soon -- a month earlier than last winter. 28

Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

Anthony Racaniello, director of marketing and programming at Square Roots Collective, said the rink, called “Winter Park,” will open at the beginning of December with the added attractions of warm drinks, bonfires and a Girl-Scout-sponsored offering of S’mores kits. S’mores are dessert treats often prepared by Girl Scouts at

camp made of graham crackers, chocolate bars and roasted marshmallows. Traditionally, as the girls sit around a campfire, they roast a marshmallow on the end of a stick and then mash it between two graham crackers in the company of chocolate. This year, the local Girl Scouts are offering for sale kits that contain the makings of this dessert to the people who come to skate. With a continuing bonfire beside the rink, the customers can prepare their own S’mores. Racaniello said the profits of the project will go to the Girl Scouts. The Square Roots Collective is a collection of businesses dedicated to the wholesome growth of the borough. It is the parent organization of the Creamery. The Creamery is a restored historic milk plant at 401 Birch Street that hosts cultural, artistic and recreational activities throughout the year. Last year, the organizers constructed the rink on the Creamery parking lot that opened in January. It was made of “Glice,” a synthetic material that functions similar to ice but does not melt in the heat. The destination was open three days a week and became quite popular—fast. It ran from January through March.

The rink offered afternoon and nighttime hours and was able to accommodate 50 skaters at a time for one-hour shifts. Racaniello said it was so successful that there was no doubt the it would return this year with additional features. The popularity extended to families – parents and children – as well as folks out for a date. Young children were and will be required to be there with adults. The skating is purely recreational with no ice hockey or figure skating competitions allowed. “It’s good to be able to bring something wholesome to the borough,” Racaniello said. He added that there will be the availability of hot beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and the bonfire will be burning all the time for warming up and making S’mores. The cost is $10 an hour to skate, and $15 an hour if you rent skates. The rink will open on the first weekend of December and conclude with a huge festival at the end of February. They are calling it “Winterlude.” The hours will be publicly announced soon. Winter Park reservations will be available online soon at | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


|Around Kennett Square|

Kennett Friends Turning friends into family for 125 years

By JP Phillips Contributing Writer The Friends Home in Kennett, located just west of the tree-lined hub that is the heart of Kennett Square Borough, is hard to miss. It is built in the Second Empire (French) architectural style on a hill with a distinctive mansard roof, ornate third floor dormers, and wide wrap-around porch. Behind the porch, windows


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

and shutters run the length from the ceiling to the floor. This large, grand house is a gem among the older buildings that make up much of the Borough of Kennett Square, but to the residents who live there, it is simply home. The building at 147 West State Street was constructed in 1843, the second of three boarding schools constructed by teacher, builder, and Quaker Samuel Martin. It was first known as The Female Seminary,

s Home

The Friends Home today.

Courtesy photo

Taken in the early 1900s. Note the addition of the distinctive architectural features.

and then the Eaton Institute. Builder and landowner Evan T. Swayne turned it into a boarding house for a while before using it as his private residence. He sold it to local Quakers in 1898 and Friends Home was established. According to the Kennett Heritage Center (a museum located at 120 North Union St.), the population of Kennett Square Borough was 1,400 around the time of the purchase, compared to 6,100 today—a very different place.

Friends Home Admissions and Marketing Coordinator Jennifer Dischert explained that the Quakers determined the acquisition necessary to serve their community. “It was purchased as a boarding home for elderly local Friend members in need. Today we serve seniors of all religious backgrounds,” she said. “The mission of Friends Home has always been to help those of modest means.” Continued on Page 32 | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


Kennett Friends Home Continued from Page 31

Friends Home is not like a lot of other retirement communities. There is no long-term contract for residents, and monthly fees are kept affordable. “Friends Home is small community but that is what keeps it warm and welcoming.” The Friends Home in Kennett is a non-profit organization with a very clear mission. They are dedicated to providing a full range of high-quality care prioritizing residents’ independence in a homelike atmosphere for older men and women of modest means. Though they were initially established Map from the Kennett Heritage to care for the Quaker Center from around the time of the community, all denomiFriends purchase. The borough’s nations are welcomed population at the time was approximately 1,400. today.


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

Courtesy photos

A photo of Friends Home soon after it was built. Notice that the roof is very plain--the mansard with fancier dormers were added afterwards.

The main house currently has 49 independent and personal care studio-type apartments, where meals are provided in the cheerful dining hall. Main house staff includes an administrator, nurses as well as personal care assistants to ensure each resident gets the level of care they need. There is a social calendar that includes exercise, music, and various hobby classes to keep residents engaged and learning. Common rooms include a library, parlor, community room, sunroom, snack bar, dining room, a store run by residents, a salon (open once per week), and of course, the porch.

The famous wrap-around porch is a well-liked feature of Friends Home in Kennett.

“The wrap-around porch is a popular spot,” Dischert said. “Everybody loves it.” Linden Hall, a 20-bed skilled nursing facility, was added in 1980. Linden Hall has its own medical director along with a social worker, registered nurses and certified assistants. Continued on Page 34 | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


|Kennett Square Kennett Friends HomeLife| Continued from Page 33

There are also 6 apartments in the two older buildings just to the west of the main house for residents who can be fully independent. True to their mission, there is a place for every level of need. Friends Home’s values are influenced by their Quaker origins, and include Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship—forming the acronym SPICES. All employees and residents practice these values every day in how they interact with each other and how they care for the building. “The residents and the staff treat each other like family. All the time,” said Dischert. Dischert added that the Home tries to be an integral part of the Kennett Square community. They partner with local groups and offer sign-ups to residents who want to participate. Recently, residents helped the Rotary Club fill backpacks with school supplies for local children. They also read to kindergarteners at a local Montessori school. Additionally, local community groups come in and interact with the residents. For example, “After the Bell” is a Continued on Page 36


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Kennett Friends Home Continued from Page 34

program in which middle school students create crafts and play games after school. Stewardship of the building is a never-ending process. Imagine all the changes it had to go through since it was built in 1843—central heating, electricity, telephone, providing private bathrooms, and air conditioning in addition to general maintenance. Additions were made in 1912, 1914, 1952, and 1959 to serve the growing and varied needs of Kennett’s elderly community. “Grants, Local sponsors, and donations make it possible for us to continue updating our community” Dischert said. The latest addition is a project that will add a large elevator tower on one end of the building. Currently, the main building has a single elevator. “Our current elevator limits the amount of residents moving between floors.” The project is just beginning and will have an immediate positive impact once completed. “A larger elevator will accommodate more residents using walkers and wheelchairs in one trip,” Dischert said. “It’s going to be a big improvement.” Resident Karen Zilke has lived in the main building for a little over a year. Continued on Page 38


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 | | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


|Kennett Square Kennett Friends HomeLife| Continued from Page 36

“I give it an A-plus for cleanliness. Next is the staff and workers,” she said. “They are extremely friendly and helpful.” From Wisconsin, Zilke moved here to be near her daughter. “One thing I was concerned about when I moved here is that I’d have no kitchen,” she said, “But the food here is wonderful.” She liked that there is a bus that takes residents to the grocery store and special activities like trips to Longwood Gardens, concerts, and the Amish Market on Route 202. She praised the staff. “There’s a nurse’s station downstairs, and they’ll help you with medical, of course. But when I can’t get my TV to work right, they’ll come up and fix it.” The Home also has a car

Resident Karen Zilke and Admissions and Marketing Coordinator Jennifer Dischert.

to transport residents to doctor and dentist appointments. There is a washer and dryer down the hall, or she can use the laundry service. She’s very happy here. For more information about volunteer and donation opportunities, including the new elevator fundraising campaign (called ELEVATE), visit their website at www. Contributions to Friends Home in Kennett are fully tax-deductible (EIN #23-0604260).

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|Kennett Square People|

Kennett Square Area Newcomers Club enhances the lives of local women The club, which recently celebrated its 45th anniversary, attracts a large number of members with its fun programs and offerings By Chris Barber Contributing Writer The Kennett Square Area Newcomers Club has been enriching the lives of area women for 45 years. On Nov. 15, they marked that milestone with an anniversary luncheon at the Greenville Country Club in Wilmington. The local Newcomers Club is a non-profit organization that meets monthly to share information, support and activities with its 150 members. It is organized and communicates online, but holds numerous in-person meetings including lectures, luncheons, outings, hobbies and trips. The Newcomers have even evolved to the point where potential members need not be new to the community— just eager for interesting events to attract them. There is also a strong element of community support in this group, and the women routinely bring goods and financial support for other non-profits like Tick Tock Early Learning Center, Kennett Area Senior Center, Kennett Area Community Service and Free-To-Be Dog Haven. According to the group’s documented history, the women gathered at meetings of the national Welcome Wagon Club around 1975. They would hold socials, go to the Museum of Art and visit the Philadelphia Flower Show. However, in 1978, according to the historical account, the restrictions of the national Welcome Wagon Club 42

Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

regarding speakers and activities led the club to form the new organization – an independent one -- known as the Kennett Square Area Newcomers Club. According to 2023 President Diane Pazdalski, the roots and founding of the membership reflect the growth of industries in Wilmington like DuPont in the 1970s. Many employees were moved to the Wilmington headquarters, and they settled just over the line in the Kennett area for easy commuting to work. These social and industrial conditions resulted in many wives settled in new homes without connections and friends in the new community. They were seeking professional resources, recreation and new friends, even as they had some financial backing, kids at school and time on their hands. In the presence of this organization that welcomed new arrivals to the area, they made new friends and participated in activities like bingo, arts and crafts and couples’ socials. Pazdalski said women found their way to the Kennett Newcomers by “good old word of mouth.” “They would bump into neighbors or their husbands’ associates’ wives and strike up conversations with them,” Pazdalski said. From those conversations and connections came the growth and increasing offerings of the Newcomers as well as social get-togethers.

Courtesy photos

The board of director poses for a picture with frame.

At a “Mix and Mingle” lunch, members learn what programs are available.

By the 1979-80 season, the list of activities included a canoe trip, bridge, sketching, Mahjong, painting, sketching, tennis, antiques, book reviews, babysitting and other adventures. Luncheons were held at local restaurants. Pazdalski said there is no specific region people come from when they move to the Kennett area. However, she said, the attractions like Longwood Gardens, the Memorial Day Parade, the good schools, Midnight on the Square, the retirement communities and the Mushroom Festival are well known nationwide and make this area a popular destination. Of the 150 members in the club, many of those who have joined recently are 50-and-overs, and some are recently retired in the past year or two. The club has 24 members on its board of directors, and

Members join for lunch at a local restaurant monthly.

the leadership changes yearly. Pazdalski said that as the president, she is in the position of nominating next year’s president. Potential members are welcome to apply any time of year, but the best time, Pazdalski said, is September because the program year runs from September 30 through May. Membership is $25 a year. The list of activities is impressive, and the response by members is so large that many events must be held in venues as large as country clubs. The April luncheon is a fashion show that draws about 200 attendees. There are also raffles and vendors there with their crafts. Members pay for their own meals. During the monthly luncheons at different restaurants Continued on Page 44 | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


Newcomers Club Continued from Page 43

in the area, they have speakers on interesting topics such as local history, internet scams, local performing groups and Medicare fraud. Members also often bring food contributions to be given to KACS. “Munch and Mingle” is also a popular event held three times a year. The purpose is to introduce new members to the group and describe the other programs available. In January, the Munch and Mingle event will be a “Calendar Party.” Pazdalski is especially fond of the event because she is running it. She said it involves setting up 12 tables – one for each month – and committees are assigned to each table to display and describe certain activities. Continued on Page 46


Currently, the Newcomers Club has over 150 members, who participate in a wide offering of events and activities.

Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

Newcomers Club Continued from Page 44

An abbreviated list of other offerings includes bridge, movies, book club, dinner club, home and garden, Ladies Night Out, needles and thread, and pinochle. One of the newest activities is jewelry making. Suggestions from members guide the planning, and the leadership is eager to hear requests for new activities. During the dinner club events, they open the activity to spouses and significant others as well as single women in the group. They usually have between 20 and 24 attendees. Some of the restaurants whey have visited are The Stone Barn, Sovanna Bistro, Antica, Gables or anywhere they offer separate checks. Ladies Night Out is the same as Dinner Club, but without the men. Pazdalski said coming through the COVID-19 epidemic was hard on get-together activities, and she is happy that it has passed enough so people are free to see and be with each other. To obtain more information on the Kennett Area Newcomers Club, go to

Photo by Chris Barber

President Diane Pazdalski reviews activities available at the Newcomers Club.

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Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

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| Kennett Square Life Photo Essay |


Through the lens of landscape Photos by Jie Deng Text by Richard L. Gaw

The miracle of color is a testament to the diverse, precise, and ever surprising beauty of the primal imagination. The intense precision of the first artist glows forth in the rich colors of creation. —John O’Donohue, Irish philosopher and poet | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life 49

|Mary Fatimah Weening|

To explore the creative origins of Mary Fatimah Weening’s abstract and representational art is to begin at a moment of freedom – a gift of mysterious origin but one that is nonetheless hers, with no linear constraints, in an open space that is free of encumbrance. Once in this sacred place, the landscapes begin to burst forth on the canvas: from radiant expanses at a shoreline to ^OLYL H [OPJR MVYLZ[ Z\KKLUS` ILJVTLZ H ÄLSK VM swaying wheat grass. For Weening, who lives with her husband Noah Ginty and her dog Percy in Unionville,

the role of her work as an oil and watercolor artist is to create an unspoken language meant to capture the spirit of place through color, form and texture. Many of her paintings have their initial start when working plein air style outdoors and are completed in her Unionville art studio. “Working from both memory and direct observation, I focus on points of transformation in nature,” she said. “These points are visual representations of inner transformation. Continued on Page 53 | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life 51

|Mary Fatimah Weening|

Bright Night

Continued from Page 51

“Working from both memory and direct observation, I focus on points of transformation in nature. These points are visual representations of inner transformation. Whenever possible, I work directly outside in plein air style for both my abstract and representational works. This allows me to see subtle changes in light and form throughout the day and observe directly from the landscape. “I seek to convey the simultaneous emotions of peace and elation that I experience as the undercurrent of nature.” Weening, who is also a licensed acupuncturist at her company, The Present Sage Acupuncture in Unionville, often sees the purpose of her occupation dovetail with her art. “I am primarily a colorist, and I love the emotional response we get from color, and whatever emotions come out from being in nature, they are both expansive and healing,” she said. “Healing has always been imprinted in me as part of my journey and my path, and in my artistic work, much of it is meant to heal – whether its expressing joy or grief. It comes from a depth within me, and my hope is to elicit an emotion in those who see each painting – to convey the simultaneous emotions of peace and elation that I experience as the undercurrent of nature. “I am looking to convey possibility and reverence through the lens of landscape and the abstraction of form.” To learn more about the artistic work of Mary Fatimah Weening and view her abstract oil, plein air and watercolor paintings, visit | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life 53

Constellation Flight

|Kennett Square People|

Introduced to the ice through local hockey pro Kennett Square’s Patrick Quinlan is now comp

In goal: Local hockey sensation aiming for the big time By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer At the conclusion of the last game of every National Hockey League season, the goalie for every Stanley Cup champion eventually wrestles control of the exceptionally large trophy from his fellow teammates and cradles it like a baby to his chest, and then hoists it high above him in celebration, as his teammates follow him around the ice. It is the pinnacle moment of a hockey player’s dream, for kids from the Back Bay in Boston to those skating on frozen lakes in Minnesota and Winnipeg and Manitoba. It is also the dream for a 16-year-old goalie from Kennett Square, and even at this early stage of Patrick Quinlan’s journey to eventually play in the NHL, it is already well within the realm of possibility. Continued on Page 56 54

Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

programs and at Upland Country Day School, mpeting with the U.S.A. under-17 national team Photo by Richard L. Gaw

Patrick Quinlan with his parents Kevin and Tobi. | Summer 2023 | Kennett Square Life


Patrick Quinlan Continued from Page 54

In April, Quinlan became one of only two Pennsylvanians to be selected for this year’s U.S.A. National Under-17 Hockey Team, and along with his parents Kevin and Tobi, he departed for Plymouth, Mich. in late July for a two-year stint on the team. ‘Patrick had an early instinct for being in the net’ Unlike youngsters in New England and in the cold weather states of middle America, Patrick was not born with a hockey stick in his hand, but the wait wasn’t that long. Raised in Kennett Square, Patrick’s hockey life began at the age of five when he first began to skate at the Upland Country Day School rink, under the tutelage of Kevin, who also started playing hockey there. While Patrick also played youth baseball as a catcher, hockey became an early and immediate love; he learned the mechanics of the game from age 5 through 11 as a member of The Chester County


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

Skating Club before joining Team Philadelphia for one season and then Philadelphia Jr. Flyers for the next two seasons. In his final season with the Jr. Flyers he turned back 95 percent of the shots fired at him for a goals against average (GAA) of 1.08 per game. “At the mite level we would give all the kids who wanted to try goalie a chance and Patrick just really seemed to like it,” Kevin said. For Patrick, learning hockey was far more than swatting away pucks; it was learning every aspect of the game, which meant frequently being asked by his father to move to forward or be inserted as a defenseman. “Dr. Jack Cleveland, my coach at Upland, always said, ‘I want my goalie to be the best skater on the team,’” Kevin said. “It’s an old-school mentality, but it stuck with me, so I knew if Patrick was going to play goalie that playing other positions were going to help him.” Continued on Page 58 | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


Patrick Quinlan Continued from Page 56

After two successful seasons as the goalie for Upland in his 8th and 9th grade years, Patrick transferred to Bishop Kearny in Rochester, N.Y., where he excelled in the net for the BK Selects, leading the 15 pure team to a quarterfinal finish at the USA Hockey National Championships. A season highlight came at the prestigious Wendy Dufton Tournament in London, Ontario where he registered five shutouts and helped earn the team the tournament win. In 48 games with the Selects 15 pure squad in the 2022-23 season, he complied a 1.63 GAA mark that helped lead the team to a 54-14-7 record. Patrick’s stock continued to rise, not only on the ice but in the eyes of the Continued on Page 60

Courtesy photo

Sixteen year-old Patrick Quinlan of Kennett Square was recently selected to play for the U.S.A. National Under-17 Hockey Team.

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Patrick Quinlan Continued from Page 58

scouts who were witnessing his talent. In March, Patrick made it to the final tryouts for the U.S. National Team Development Program’s under-17 team. He was far from alone; Patrick was competing with 20,000 other young hockey players from around the country in the hopes of earning one of 23 coveted spots on the team. When the final roster was posted, Patrick found that he was chosen as one of the team’s three goalies. Pressure cooker of fight or flight Now in its 26th season, USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program’ (NTDP) Under-17 Team plays in the United States Hockey League, the only Tier I junior hockey league in the U.S., as well as against select competition in the North American Hockey League and Minnesota Elite League. Each season, the U-17 Team – which plays its

home games at the USA Hockey Arena -- also competes in three international tournaments. It’s not only a hotbed of competition, but also an incubator program for college hockey programs, and several former players dot the rosters of Division I teams. In short, it’s a pressure-cooker of fight or flight, an atmosphere that is familiar for those who grew up in major hockey regions, but a slightly foreign one for Patrick, who will be competing in a 60-game schedule against players as much as four years older than him. “We knew that Patrick was talented, but Kevin and I always asked what it will be like when he plays at the next level,” Tobi said. “He played well for Team Philadelphia, then the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers, and at Upland. Then he attended Bishop Kearney and he played well there, but at each stage there was added pressure. Continued on Page 62

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Patrick Quinlan Continued from Page 60

“At tryouts for the National team, Patrick was competing against the best 22 goalies in the country in his age range, and it was clear that there was interest but there was a lot of pressure as well. Many of the other players have been followed for many years, but who was this kid from Kennett Square?” While Kevin was responsible for first introducing his son to the fundamentals of the sport, Patrick has continued to Continued on Page 64

Over his two years in the program, Quinlan will be playing a yearly 60game schedule for the U.S. National Team.


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 | | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


Patrick Quinlan Continued from Page 62

learn under the guidance of his coaches at every level, including Matt Tendler. Known as “The Goalie Doctor,” Tendler accumulated 20 years as an amateur and professional goalie and brings decades of teaching to some of the best up-and-coming goalies in the youth, high school and college ranks. “In the simplest of terms, Patrick is a competitor,” Tendler said. “He brings a level of commitment and dedication that is few and far between compared with many of his peers. He is a student of the game and loves the technical aspect of the position, but there is a competitive edge that allows him to establish a focus and manage his emotions. “You put him in any situation and he just wants to be the best. It has helped him stand apart from everyone else. He expects nothing less than his greatest effort, and that has allowed him to get noticed and recognized at the level he is at now.”


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

Preparing for Michigan As he prepares for the next two years with the national team – where he will average about four to five hours of practice a day -- Patrick is involved with a strenuous office training regimen that keeps him in the gym four to five days a week for weight-lifting and cardio work. In an effort to perfect his hand-eye coordination, he practices juggling and dons a sensory reality goaltending mask. “Instead of driving to a rink, I can literally put on a VR headset and stop pucks in my basement,” he said. “I have two hand controllers that represent my glove and my blocker and I can catch pucks. It’s a tool that has been great for me.” Patrick won’t be the only Quinlan needing to make the adjustment from Kennett Square to Michigan. Kevin, who Continued on Page 66



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Patrick Quinlan Continued from Page 64

recently sold his Logical Living home-delivery produce company, joined with Tobi, a program manager for SoFi Bank who works remotely, at nearby Canton, Mich., close to the arena. “Tobi told me that if Patrick is chosen for the U.S. National team, that we should move out there, and I agreed almost instantly,” Kevin said. “It was an easy and natural decision for us to make. Our son has this great opportunity, and we felt it was important for us to be a part of the journey and to support him.” “Patrick is on the path to reach levels that we all dream about,” Tendler said. “The only person that is going to control his destiny is going to be him, but he has all of the attributes to be a high-level athlete.” After he completes his two years with the U.S. National team, Patrick hopes to play at the collegiate level for a major hockey program, and then be drafted by an NHL

team. Each of his goals is set one season at a time, but by the time he reaches his early twenties, his ultimate goal is to be wearing the uniform of an NHL team. “To get to the NHL will take an incredible amount of work, but I have always said that I will do whatever it takes to play in the NHL, and to achieve my goals,” he said. “ All I can focus on is doing what I can control, and what I can control is putting in 110 percent every single day in order to get better. If I keep doing what I have been doing, I will achieve that goal. “A lot of what will be get me there will be poise, to stay calm and not let anything negative affect me. It’s something that has helped me get to new levels of hockey.” To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email

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Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 | | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


|Around Kennett Square|

The Bookhouse Hotel opens with cozy charm and good reads By HaLeigh Abbott Contributing Writer The Bookhouse Hotel celebrated its Grand Opening on Oct. 22 with a crowd of over 100 people eager to welcome the boutique hotel to the community. Owners Stephanie and Matt Olenik have spent the last year renovating the former book store, located at 130 S. Union Street, into a chic-niche hotel for bookworms and cozy-cravers alike. Although The Bookhouse Hotel is their first hotel, Stephanie and Matt have made a career out of real estate flipping and AirBNB management. Together with their business partners, Stephen Tallon and Bill Rookstool, the couple has completely renovated the building to welcome guests with four rooms. “Matt did all the work,” explained Stephanie. “We had to fix the foundation, level the floors, design and furnish each room.” “And I just do what she says,” said Matt chiming in. Stephanie laughed when asked how their relationship handles new projects, saying “It’s always stressful at the end of the project, but we always make it through.” The inspiration for The Bookhouse was an easy choice. The former bookstore left behind 5,000 books in the basement, many of which are now used to decorate the rooms. Guests can cozy up in their rooms


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

and read their weekends away with most necessities easily at hand. If you’re not able to finish your book, don’t worry - you can scan a QR code to purchase a copy from for home delivery. Each room has a private bathroom and kitchenette, and guests are supplied with teas from Mrs. Robinson’s Tea Shop and coffee from Horn & Hardart Coffee. Guests booking the entire hotel can also opt for a special Alice in Wonderland themed tea party, in partnership with Mrs. Robinson’s Tea Shop. A gift basket full of snacks and treats from Taste Local Eats, another Kennett Square business, can be purchased and ready on check in. Longwood Gardens has also partnered with The Bookhouse to offer discounted tickets for guests. The rooms can house two, three or four people depending on the suites, and two of those have a bilevel nook on the third floor looking out into town. The rooms are not currently themed by book or genre, but each room has its own charm thanks to a mix of antique and handmade pieces. Community support has been positive, and Stephanie feels like Kennett Square has been welcoming to her new venture. Rooms can be booked online or by calling 610-444-1063. Visit their website at or their FaceBook page facebook. com/thebookhousehotel for more information.

|Kennett Square Q & A|

Megan and Bria Helmuth of Riverwards General Based in Kennett Square, Riverwards General is a full-service interior design studio providing boutique, tailor-made interiors for hospitality and residential clients. Recently, Kennett Square Life spoke with owner and principal designer Megan Helmuth and her husband, Brian about an influential teacher, a large project they are helping to create in the Borough and what they love about living and working in Kennett Square. Kennett Square Life: Megan, you are a graduate of Unionville High School, and in a previous interview, you said that your pursuit of a career in interior design was influenced by a teacher you had at Unionville. Talk about that teacher and how he influenced you. Megan: Michael Berkeihiser was my drafting and architecture teacher at Unionville, and as I came into high school, I was already interested in interior design and architecture, but it wasn’t until Mr. Berk’s class that I had someone to teach me skills in that regard, and a real-world application to try it out in. By nature, I am a planner and not a risk-taker, and in school I sort of had a “heads-down” mentality, keeping my focus on grades and my future career trajectory, but Mr. Berk had a way of bringing joy and fun to the class and brought me out of my shell. He cared about who we were as people, and I felt like he really saw me for who I was. I was very serious, and a bit of an introvert, but he sort of egged on the humorous side of me in a way that few teachers could. Continued on Page 72 70

Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |


Photos by Richard L. Gaw

Megan and Brian Helmuth of Riverwards General. | Fall/Winter 2023 | Kennett Square Life


Kennett Square Q & A Continued from Page 70

Mr. Berk helped me design a course for my senior year that combined architecture and interior design with a class of one – just me. I designed a hospital in that class, and he helped me through that process. Most importantly, he was always reminding me to slow down and enjoy what I was doing and to look sideways in life, not just keep my head down. After graduating from Thomas Jefferson University with a degree in Interior Design, you became a project coordinator and lead designer at a large architectural firm, and then moved to a smaller, woman-owned firm. What led you to start your own business? Riverwards General is currently converting the former Kennett Square Borough Building to become a boutique hotel, complete with a speakeasy wine and cocktail bar. Megan: Brian and I were living in the East Kensington section of Philadelphia, and at the time, I had a full-time interior found a new church and we loved that we could walk design career, and on the side I had my own line of candles, to places like we did in Philadelphia. It was a “coming I repurposed vintage furniture and I would show up at home” for me, but it was also a new discovery. Operating pop-up markets, so I think a part of me always knew that I Riverwards General in Kennett Square has allowed me to wanted to do my own thing. There are many entrepreneurs bring the knowledge and all of what I have learned over the in my family, but it took life circumstances to make me do it. last 15 years, home. In February of 2020, we had our daughter. In March of 2020, the pandemic began and in April of 2020, I was laid Brian, talk about your role at Riverwards General. off while still on maternity leave. After helping friends of Brian: The standard tasks I do for the company are adminours restore their Philadelphia home due to a major fire, I istrative and financial work, but Megan is the heartbeat of decided that I was going to take every project I could get. Riverwards General – her design, her vision and her passion Friends and family started hiring me and referring me, and is what makes the company run, so the other part of my job then one day I had a past client call me and ask me what I is to free her to do all of that – from answering the e-mails was doing with my life, and I said, ‘I think I just started my to transporting the various elements of her designs, such as own business.’ furniture. Why did you choose to start your business in Kennett Square? Megan: When Brian and I were starting the business, we were in Philadelphia, and he was working for a non-profit organization while I was building my business; finances were tight. We sold our house, moved in with my parents in Kennett Square, and our original plan to stay with them for three or four months turned into 18 months, and slowly, we became taken with Kennett Square. We found a tight-knit community, we found friends, we


Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

When Riverwards General first walks into a space – be it commercial or residential – what do you look for in terms of how you will begin to recreate that space? Megan: I look for the stories; my job is to be a storyteller. My approach is to meet my client, get to know them, their wants and needs, understand the story of the architecture and the history of it, and to listen, observe and feel. If it’s a commercial project, we incorporate the brand goals, too. My job is to find those stories, draw them out, and use them to inspire, influence and intertwine a design narrative and

aesthetic. Residentially, we want to leave our clients with a space that feels like a refuge to them, whatever that might mean for them personally. In commercial projects, my goal is to intertwine the company’s goal, its mission and the reach of its brand. When I walk into a space, I am taking a lot of photographs, I am doing a lot of sketching and I am doing a lot of listening. There is the remaking of a well-known historical building going on in Kennett Square right now that has Riverwards General’s name on it, in partnership with 120 Marshall LLC. Talk about The George on Marshall and how you first came upon the former borough hall building on Marshall Street. Megan: Last spring, the Borough put out an RFP for three properties in town, asking for ideas on how to utilize them. I saw the 120 Marshall property, and it was love at first sight. The architecture and the method and means of construction of a building from that era are things you don’t see today.

Today’s construction doesn’t have the same soul that a building of this kind offers. I met with [former Kennett Collaborative Director] Bo Wright as a new business owner, and in the conversation, I mentioned the 120 Marshall Street building, and he encouraged me to submit my idea. Bo became my cheerleader, and he helped Brian and I walk through the process and what we needed to be planning for. I submitted a proposal, and Borough Council accepted our offer. Bo was integral in the whole process and though he originally offered to be a consultant for the project, we wanted him to be our business partner, and now he is. We reached an agreement of sale with the Borough in February of this year, and we closed in May. What are your plans for the building, and when can Kennett Square expect a grand opening? Megan: The building is four stories, and the top floor will become a long-term apartment rental. The first and second Continued on Page 74



Kennett Square Q & A Continued from Page 73

stories will become a boutique hotel, and in the basement, we are planning on converting it into a speakeasy wine and cocktail bar. The renovations are underway, and the opening date is scheduled for the Spring of 2024. Brian: We’re excited about it becoming a great space, not just for visitors coming to the heart of Kennett Square, but we really want the local community to feel welcome here. It’s about inviting them to experience the space and be a part of this process with us. What is your favorite spot in Kennett Square? Brian: I get into these grooves from time to time and right now I am really enjoying the breakfast sandwiches at Mary Pat’s at the Marketplace. I love to support businesses who are engaged in their community, and Mary Pat’s is very involved. Continued on Page 76

Megan has compiled several design elements for what will become The George on Marshall.

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147 West State Street, Kennett Square, PA 19348 Phone: (610) 444-2577 | Fax: (610) 444-2856 | 74

Kennett Square Life | Fall/Winter 2023 |

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Kennett Square Q & A Continued from Page 74

Megan: We asked our three-year-old daughter this question, and she said the playground at Anson B. Nixon Par. She also loves the “pizza truck” aka Mezzaluna that comes to town on Third Thursdays. Every morning, I walk to Talula’s for an oat milk chai latte. I love making small talk with their baristas; at this point they all know what I order. It’s how I start every day and it clears my mind for the day ahead. I love seeing people in town and hearing the town bells ring on my way back to the office. Brian and Megan throw a dinner party and can invite anyone they wish – famous or not, living or not. Who do you wish to see around that table? Brian: We landed on inviting our eight grandparents: Edna and George, Doris and George, Kay and Delbert and Betty and Frank. Unfortunately, they are no longer with us, but each individually molded us into who we are today by prioritizing family. They were never in the same room at the

same time, so Megan and I were thinking how amazing it would be to have them all together and hear their stories as the evening unfolds. We would also invite a third George – George Barber – who was the original architect of the building that will soon become The George. What item can always be found in the Helmuth refrigerator? Brian: Real pure maple syrup. There is currently a onegallon jug of it in our refrigerator. Before I met Megan, I didn’t realize how great it was. I love making pancakes on Sunday morning before church, and our daughter is a pure maple syrup connoisseur. To learn more about Riverwards General, visit Richard L. Gaw


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Kennett Square Life Magazine Fall/Winter 2023 A Chester County Press Publication P.O. Box 150, Kelton PA 19346 address corrections not required

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