Letter Editor from the
There are several types of “fall” people. There are those who love the actual weather. There are those who embrace the hot chocolate/ flannel shirt/boots/bonfire aesthetic. There is the pumpkin spice latte + apple picking + big hat influencer set. And there are those who are all about spooky season. I am most of these people.
Although I’m not “grown adult going out in costume” kinda spooky, I do dress in (mostly) benevolent witch gear to dispense candy to the wee trick-or-treaters. And I don’t doubt the paranormal. I’ve never felt like humans can explain all of the things, and I’ve had a ghost encounter or two in my time. (I also believe David Bowie and Prince are watching over us, tisking) In this issue, Amanda Saleh takes us on some tours through town and discusses some of the local phantoms’ stories—and hangouts. Read it if you dare...
Have you ever met someone and been somewhat put off, then later established a deep and lasting connection with them? That was me and… libraries. Hi, my name is Katherine, and I’m addicted to @1000libraries on Instagram.
First introduced to the library, as many kids are, via nervous kindergarten teachers, all I heard leading up to that initial visit were incessant admonitions of “shhh” and the need for silence and hushed tones. As a chatty, ADHD, live wire of a child, this did not sound to me like an enticing place to visit at all. But oh, when I got there! Books from floor to ceiling, as far as my little eye could spy. Nirvana!
Kate Chadwick shares some personal insight into this month’s theme 7
Reading was one of the few things that calmed me as a kid, and it has a similar effect on me to this day. My orthodontist (back in the stone age) took one look at my protruding front teeth and said to my mom “Does she read a lot?” Yes, sprawled on my belly on the floor, chin in hands. She (the orthodontist) had a theory that young readers push their own teeth out with this habit. Who knows?
All I do know is that there is a sense of serenity and calm that comes over me in the quiet space of a library that is unmatched elsewhere. And the library here in West Chester is a shining example of what a library should be, from its architecture, to its staff, to its rich history. Kanan Gole takes us to visit the WCPL in this issue, and by the time I finished editing it I wanted to ditch everything and get a job there. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves when you read it.
Last but certainly never least, Jesse Piersol brings us along on a visit to several of the new businesses around town—this outing is good for a real head-to-toe style up.
Whether you pick up a print issue around the borough or check us out online or on social media, we thank you for reading The WC Press. Enjoy the glorious beauty that is autumn in West Chester!
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Our no-nonsense table of contents
Tag our instagram account with your best food pics
Your planetary predictions with a particularly local twist
WALKING WITH GHOSTS
Embrace spooky season with an eerie guided tour through town
Andrea Mason Design wants to help you upgrade your space
EVOLUTION OF AN INSTITUTION
The West Chester Public Library: Past, Present, Future
Becca Boyd shares tips on life and cooking
NEW IN TOWN
These new businesses are elevating our collective sense of style
TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD
We spotlight citizens for doing something swell
Spot the five differences and earn a Saloon 151 gift card
A list of the best tracks to blast from the bed of your truck
Like and follow us on social media, then tag us in your posts for a chance get your work published here. Our favorite image each month () will earn its photographer a gift card to @saloon151.
Resident astrologer Kate Chadwick provides your planetary predictions with a particularly local twist
Aries (3/21-4/19): There are some things heading your way that are out of your control, ram friends. So, focus on you. Check out the skincare services at Renew Laser & Medical Center so you’re refreshed and ready for anything.
Taurus (4/20-5/20): You need a nap, bullish one. You are the king/ queen of your domain and knock yourself out providing for others. Yes, you can buy yourself flowers, but let someone else hit Kati Mac to beautify your space for a change.
Gemini (5/21-6/20) Romance is on the agenda, twin stars. Whether you’re in a relationship or looking for love, you are the flame. Hold someone’s hand over a plate of pasta at Limoncello. And if you are dining alone, you won’t be for long.
Cancer (6/21-7/22) Relationships are hitting snags, crab friends. If it’s time for serious conversations, have them in public. It forces everyone to behave. Visit Mimi’s Tea Cottage. It’s hard to be angry over tea and tiny sandwiches.
Leo (7/23-8/22) Money will come your way easily this month, feline friends, but also…watch your spending! Try giving up just one of your many indulgences (or vices)—you’ll be shocked at how much money you save.
Virgo (8/23-9/22) You’ve got an economic bump heading your way, and you deserve it. Whether a raise or a whole new career, your hard work is about to pay off. Looking to invest? Call Moore Maguire for all things real estate.
Libra (9/23-10/22) You’ve been ignoring something that’s right in front of you, lovelies. While you figure out how to deal with it, the universe suggests you visit Pomp and beautify your surroundings. That always balances your scales.
Scorpio (10/23-11/22) It’s all good in the hood with you this month, scorpions—love, career, and family. Take advantage of the good vibes and feather that nest. A visit to Pine + Quill never fails to inspire.
Sagittarius (11/23-12/21) Life is on the upswing right now, archer friends, but there’s one big issue you need to deal with. The universe is suggesting that whatever it is, just rip that band aid off. Then treat yourself to a massage at La Difference.
Capricorn (12/22-1/19) Slow your roll, goats. You are the workhorse of the zodiac, but everybody needs a break now and then and a Capricorn on a roll is like a bull in a china shop. Bring a little ohm into your life with a yoga sesh right on Gay Street.
Aquarius (1/20-2/18) You’ve always marched to the beat of your own drum, water-bearers. That might feel tough now, as everyone else is headed in their own direction. Get a day pass to alignSpace and indulge your inner entrepreneur.
Pisces (2/19-3/20) Your head is often in the clouds, Pisceans, and that’s just part of your charm. But the change in season is asking you to focus on the practical. Start by doing something as earthbound as a tune-up at Lewis Automotive.
Embrace spooky season and embark on an eerie guided tour through town.story by AMANDA SALEH photos by PAUL SOOKIASIAN
true crime and ghost tours, there are many opportunities to learn about West Chester’s dark history. Both Chesco Tours and The Chester County History Center offer unique experiences to learn about the town’s more chilling and unusual stories.
Paul Sookiasian’s job is to expose those dark, supernatural tales. Most of us walk through the streets of town not knowing much about West Chester’s deep and haunting narrative. Historians go so far as to say that nearly every building in the borough is haunted. As the owner of ChescoTours, Paul has a lot to say on the matter.
Born and raised in West Chester, Sookiasian leads historic ghost tours around town. Paul has been a volunteer cemetery tour guide in the area for over ten years, which is where his passion began. This year, Chesco Tours celebrates its third season hosting haunted history tours.
He uses this experience as a vessel to teach others. While he wouldn’t call it scary, he says that some stories are definitely more disturbing than others. “It’s a backdoor to teaching people the history of West Chester to supplement organizations like the Chester County History Center. I don’t think your average person on the street knows what happened in the very buildings they are standing in front of, but they would be interested to find out.”
Jennifer Green, the Director of Education at The Chester County History Center, also hopes this will inspire others to do some deeper research.
“Learning about crimes and disasters might seem like an odd way to inspire a love of history, but often learning about the way someone died can tell you a
lot about the world in which they lived,” Jennifer told us. “We'd love for people to come into the History Center or the County Archives to dig deeper into something we tell them. The History Center is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and sharing the rich history of Chester County, so if we can inspire that interest in someone, then we have succeeded in our mission.”
The Chester County History Center previously offered a ghost tour by Malcolm Johnstone. It was after Malcolm retired that Paul started offering a ghost tour of his own. It is open to all ages and not intended to scare participants.
Born and raised in West Chester, Paul Sookiasian leads historic ghost tours around town, and he’s been a volunteer cemetery tour guide in the area for over ten years
“By making it fun, entertaining, and spooky, it will bring people out that ordinarily wouldn’t commit to a history tour,” Paul said.
Paul also prides himself on the authenticity of the tour. He cites his sources from many years of research, whether through books or walking around West Chester interviewing the locals. “Talking to people
around town has been absolutely fascinating,” Paul said. “Most of the time when borough residents come on the tour, they chime in about how their own places are haunted too. It’s amazing how many people have a story of their own.”
Megan Ferguson, an attendee from 2022, had nothing but great things to say about it. “Paul was great at entertaining kids from four years old to teenagers, as well as the adults,” she told us. “My 15-year-old daughter said she really enjoyed it, and she paid attention through most of it—which is extremely rare for anything involving history!”
While it's safe to say that nearly every building in the borough is haunted, we found a few spots to be especially spooky.
Exactly what buildings in West Chester are haunted? Paul was quick to say The Lincoln Building. Dating back to 1833, The Lincoln Building is known for being the site where the first biography of Abraham Lincoln was written. And it is also home to resident ghost, John Tully.
In 1788, Tully was convicted of being a horse thief. His punishment was a whop-
and she paid attention through most of it—which is extremely rare for anything involving history!”
ping 25 pound fine, 60 days of jail time and 29 lashings, well laid on, as specified by the judge. According to Malcolm Johnstone, Tully was tied to a pillory on a Saturday afternoon for everyone to watch his ears get sliced off and then pinned to the pillar.
The lashings left him in so much agony and pain that his screams disturbed the other inmates. It was then decided by the sheriff that he would be moved to a cottage on Wollerton Farm, right across Market Street, which is now the Lincoln Building. At that time, West Chester consisted of only two streets, and most of this area was just hundreds of acres of open farmland.
Tully’s screams and maniacal laughter continued for six hours and kept the
town up all night until dawn broke on that Sunday morning. The subsequent sudden silence concerned the sheriff, and he sent the deputy over to check on the prisoner. To his surprise, John Tully was dead. Not only that, but rigor mortis had already set in, indicating that he would have died early the previous evening. How was that possible when he kept the whole town up with his screams?
John Tully was buried immediately on the property and his screams are said to still haunt the building. To this day, his bones remain buried beneath the building. There’s a reason why The Lincoln Room was a tearoom and not a late-night bar—you might not want to venture in there after dark. Two hundred years later, there are still reports of his maniacal laughter and the screams from his cruel and unusual death.
Many refuse to step in there at night, including building employees, which is probably why it made for a successful daytime tearoom back in the day. The Lincoln Building is now the headquarters of the Chester County Community Foundation. Historian Malcolm Johnstone’s wife,
“My 15-year-old daughter said she really enjoyed it,
Susan Johnstone, owned The Lincoln Room until its closure in 2014.
Another area frequented by criminals was Prison Row, located in the present day New and Market Streets. The row homes still exist today, but back in its heyday the area was infamous for its unconventional entertainment. Living on Prison Row offered a free spectacle to homeowners as they watched public hangings. Homeowners would often sell tickets to those interested in watching from a thirdfloor window. It’s a stop on another popular tour in town, Chilling West Chester.
Chilling West Chester is a tour offered during the Halloween season by the Chester County History Center, previously known as The Chester County Historical Society. It is a 90-minute walking tour that sheds light on the dark side of history in the borough of West Chester from colonial times to the 20th century. Tours are just over one mile long.
The guides are educators from the History Center, and each story is absolutely true. They conduct research from their own collections and from county archives. While these aren’t ghost stories, you’ll hear stories of murder, mischief, mayhem, and disaster that will send shivers down your spine. West Chester was (and remains) the county seat, and therefore some of the worst criminals ended up being tried at the county courthouse and kept at the county prison, both of which are featured on the tour. They pull no punches. Because of some graphic content, this tour is definitely not kid friendly.
Jennifer Green, the Director of Education at The History Center, is very excited for a new element of the tour this season.
“This year we're changing things a little by not only adding some new stories to Chilling West Chester, but we're also running a new tour about plagues and pestilence at the same time, which will feature some of the truly horrifying epidemic and infectious diseases that every town—West Chester included—had to contend with in the 18th and 19th centu-
Some of the area’s worst criminals were tried at the county courthouse and kept at the county prison, both of which are featured on the tour.
ries,” Jennifer said. “These are a lot of diseases that aren't familiar to us today but struck terror into the hearts of people in the past—things like cholera, diphtheria, smallpox, and yellow fever. As a balance to all that gruesomeness, we talk about the revolutionary discoveries in medicine that also took place right here in West Chester.”
One of the most fascinating criminal trials she came across was the case of Winfield Gross in 1873, not because of the case itself, but because of the ruling. It was the first time that a photograph was used as evidence in a criminal trial. “The defense attorney protested its use on the basis that a photograph isn't scientific proof of a person's likeness,” Jennifer said. “His argument was overruled, which allowed photographs to be used forensically from then on.”
Chester County History Center’s tours have been offered since 2020 and were created as an unconventional way to educate others during the pandemic. It was so popular that now eight different tours are offered throughout the year, including tours on topics like women’s history, celebrities in West Chester, and The Underground Railroad. The very building that is now The History Center was actually a stop on The Underground Railroad.
West Chester University also has accounts of some paranormal activity.
Ramsey Hall, a student dormitory, stood on the grounds of what is now the Student Recreation Center. Named after renowned professor Dorothy Ramsey, this building was located on the corner of Sharpless and New Street. It was said to be haunted by its very namesake.
Miss Ramsey taught English at the university for 33 years. Given the high regard for her, the residence hall was named in her honor in 1967. In 1974, she died in her home, just one block away from the dormitory. After her death, a plaque was dedicated to her outside of the building. However, the date of her death was
recorded incorrectly as April 31, 1974, a date that does not exist. She is said to have haunted the residence hall until its demolition because the date was never corrected on the plaque.
Just outside the borough is Thornbury Farm, near the intersection of Route 926 and South New Street. The last events of the Battle of Brandywine occurred on the land there. So many soldiers died at this battle that the site is believed to be haunted by their ghosts. Additionally, there is the ghost of a little girl who can be heard crying from one of the bedrooms. Two mass burial sites are located
on the property, which can go a long way in explaining paranormal activity.
Paul Sookiasian talks about these stories and much more on his evening tours, hosted nightly through October and during select dates throughout the year. To book a tour with Paul, check out his website, chescotours.com.
To book a tour with The Chester County History Center, check Eventbrite. com for updates in September. Purchasing a ticket directly supports The History Center’s extensive preservation efforts, a cause even those who have gone before would surely get behind.
“By making it fun, entertaining, and spooky, it will bring people out that ordinarily wouldn’t commit to a history tour”
I have an appreciation for many different design styles. By taking specific elements that I love and putting them together, I create a space that really speaks to me and my unique personality and lifestyle. There are plenty of examples of designs in the media that show the latest decor trends, but asking yourself, “What truly makes me happy?” is the most important question of all. Is it showcasing your collection of Scandinavian ceramics? Is it painting the walls your favorite shade of yellow? Or is it the black marble countertops you can’t live without? It’s okay to go against the grain to make your home match your style. Strive for that imperfection, because if we walked into an HGTV home everywhere we went, we’d die of monotony. This month I want to offer up some simple solutions to add more of yourself to your space.
Layering with accessories is a game changer when decorating. Adding a texture, pattern, or color you love is a cost-effective way to make a big impression. Think patterned lampshade, some soft sofa accent pillows, a cozy blanket, decorative accessories from travels, or a few family heirlooms. These are special things that will bring that personal touch to your space. Larger decorative elements — plush rugs, dramatic drapery, high-end lighting — make and impressive impact. Neutrals always have a place in design, but don’t be afraid to work with your favorite colors.
Artwork is another place to showcase your personality. Instead of purchasing cookie-cutter pieces from big box stores, try antique shopping or even buying something in your travels. What a terrific way to commemorate a trip! Family photos are another smart way feel at home. A small wall collage is always fun, or place some framed photos along the mantel or buffet. Try different mediums like tapestries, watercolors, or drawings, and combine different frame colors or textures. This is where you should remind yourself that imperfection can look charming.
Furniture is another way to express your style in a room. Take the time to collect your favorite pieces in stages. It will pay off to make a room you thoughtfully curated to your liking rather than purchasing everything from the same store all at once. Sometimes living with a particular room over time will ignite new ideas of what would be a perfect solution for an empty spot.
There are plenty of places to find inspiration. Pinterest and Instagram are brilliant online resources to follow your favorite designers. Magazines are also an excellent place to look at beautiful spaces. I like to search for magazines that cater to my style. For example, if you are more traditional, I would look at Traditional Home or English Home, and if you lean towards modern then Elle Decor or Architectural Digest are good places to start.
Create the stylish and cozy home of your dreams by breaking from current trends and follow your own instincts. Let’s embrace the imperfect home because that’s what good design really is: living in a home that’s made for you.
West Chester Public Library: Past, Present, Future
STORY & PHOTOS BY KANAN GOLE
Iworked at the West Chester Public Library (WCPL) as a Circulation Assistant for about a year over 2019 and 2020, and it was easily my favorite of all the jobs I’ve had. Kids called me “the librarian” and they always said it when the librarians with real Library Sciences master’s degrees weren’t around, so I was perfectly fine with this unearned title.
I loved being a part of the Circulation Assistant team. Along with issuing library cards (true power) and the occasional “Please keep it down” to the chess club on Saturday mornings, our job was being friendly faces to the community. The library is a place to return to again and again after one finishes a book to pick up another, or just a warm, safe space to enjoy an afternoon. The staff is expected to ask questions with genuine neighborly care.
As a result, WCPL has become a consistent, open-to-all institution, a space of community gathering and “familiarity,” says Victoria Dow, who has been the Director for 30 years.
The library’s fascinating history shows that it has always served this purpose since it opened its doors in 1888. In 1939, West Chester resident Grace Brinton Moore published a pamphlet, History of the West Chester Library (available to read on the website), which tells its story from the earliest days, between 1815 to 1939. Though the current building opened in 1888, William Darlington, a physician, proposed the idea of a town library in 1815 when the population “could not have been more than a dozen over 500,” writes Moore. Townspeople paid subscription fees, which were used to purchase books that were then circulated only amongst the subscribers.
In 1872, the townspeople came together again to attempt a second version of the library, which, at the time, lived on the second floor of the Brandywine Bank. It followed a similar subscriber model in the beginning and then moved to a shareholder system. WCPL became an official stock company—and an official institution—on January 30th, 1873, with $5,000 in capital and 500 shares available for the public to buy
at $10 a share. The first shareholder was Sarah W. Starkweather, who also became the first superintendent of the West Chester Area School District. As its popularity increased over the next 10 years, the library asked the public for donations to move to larger premises on South High Street.
In 1886, Hannah M. Darlington, believed to be from the same family as William Darlington, donated a plot of land on North Church Street to the library directors. They quickly raised the funds to hire T. Roney Williamson as the project architect. In her letter to the directors, Darlington wrote, “My idea would be a plain substantial house well lighted with windows in conformity with correct proportions of artistic taste. In short, a building that would add a pleasant picture to the street and accommodate a library, a reading room, and a scientific museum.”
And so, Williamson created a magical space, complete with a tower, wooden floors, and arched stained glass windows. It still feels very much like a storybook library.
The architect’s design was influenced by Queen Anne and/or Romanesque styles (it has been heard described both ways). This influence is primarily seen in the tower, arched windows, and the strong horizontal layers that form the entire structure. The foundation was cast in stone, which was topped with brick, then a belt of shingles, and finally what was thought to be some sort of metal, as suspected from the way the sun reflected off the top layer in earlier photos. The final touch was the intricate copper “Public Library Building'' lettering that was wrapped around the tower. During construction, Darlington donated the five signature-stained glass windows, dedicated to the poet and writer Bayard Taylor. Each window was painted with his quotes, still in excellent condition today.
The doors opened in 1888, and the library was immediately popular. The interiors were quite different from what they are today. The first floor held 4,000 books and had a seating area where people read in the evenings by the light of oil lamps. The lower level was primar-
ily a storage space, and the second floor served as a meeting area, complete with a stage, which brought versatility to the space.
“We do not wonder that the library was the scene of some confusion when it was also the scene of a musical, an operetta, a doll show, and a woman’s suffrage meeting in rapid succession,” writes Moore in her pamphlet, along with indicating that it was used for cooking classes, Shakespeare classes, fundraising space, and a venue for the Banjo and Mandolin Club of Swarthmore. It all brings a wonderful image to mind of an exciting place at the center of community activity, with no way to keep the noise levels down, though a displayed sign had the rule, “Loud conversation, eating, and rude or unseemly behavior, are prohibited.”
The stage was truly the library’s highlight, but the second floor was also a key setting in West Chester history. It became a birthplace for organizations still active today. The Chester County Historical Society and the Chester
WRITTEN IN GLASS: The library’s five stained glass windows were donated by Hannah M. Darlington when the library was first constructed, and they each feature a unique quote from Bayard Taylor.
County Hospital’s initial planning meetings were held there. The “women’s suffrage meeting” refers to the New Century Club, a women's organization with the goal of “self-improvement through intellectual pursuits.” They provided some of the funds required for the library’s operating costs in its initial years. Today, the Club is still active, and they donated the flower garden in the planter that sits in the courtyard space.
When the library officially became free to the public in 1903, use of the second floor greatly increased. During the First World War, the second floor became a space for community contribution. In an account from Helen John, a long-time patron, she wrote, “In 1917, the library held knitting classes for girls, and we knitted white washcloths to be used by World War I soldiers. On the second floor, the library staged a pro-
duction we called ‘tableau,’ a program to educate townspeople about the war and to solicit contributions for impoverished children in other countries.”
The library continued as a solid fixture in the borough through the decades, all because the governing Councils and Boards (the structure of its governance changed over the early years), patrons, and local government worked to keep it alive and well, as they always believed in the importance of this institution. It survived the economic panic of the late 1800s and the Great Depression. In the initial decades, when funds ran low, townspeople came to its rescue so it wouldn’t close. In all this time, it only closed because of a public emergency for a total of four months, one of which was in 1919 due to the Spanish influenza, and then 101 years later, for three months in 2020 because of Covid.
The library always reflected the Quaker values of West Chester’s earlier years, primarily the community’s focus on education for both men and women. It became a space where the books reflected what the townspeople wanted to read, and it still does. The collection spanned a wide array of topics: science, literature, travel, and fiction. But it had moral limitations. A 1929 Annual Report indicates that the librarian banished books that were deemed “improper” (read: risqué) to the furnace.
The educational programming that continues today, with a focus on literacy, began in the early 1900s. The surrounding schools partnered with the library over the years as a place where children could go for books and story times. In 1917, the library added a children’s wing, marked with a fireplace and an “ornamental relief over the mantel, suggest-
CHILDREN’S WING: In 1917 an area specifically for kids was added to the library, which was used for storytime and even an overflow space for a neighboring school. Today, children’s books are the most circulated.
ing children eager for books,” writes Moore. In the 1920s, the children’s wing became an overflow space for first graders from a school where the Washington Square Apartments in the Borough currently stand. Mary Lou Woodcock, who has been on the Circulation Assistant team for more than 17 years, shared that those elderly patrons who came to the library when she started the job often told her, “I went to first grade here!”
This year, WCPL celebrated 150 years since being declared an official institution. Perhaps Hannah Darlington would consider the premise a bit of a museum. On the staircase walls are photos and
sketches of the building from its earliest years, along with a stock certificate from the library’s first revenue model. In the children’s wing, bookshelves hold the early editions of Bayard Taylor’s works. A glass case displays London chinaware from the early 1900s which was donated to the library, eclectically displayed alongside colorful wooden gnomes, which were characters in an activity for teens in the early 2000s. As part of a travel trend, teens painted these gnomes, took them on their summer vacations, and photographed them against the scenery.
But perhaps the most fascinating item is the library’s first Accession Book. These record books were developed by Melvil Dewey for libraries to keep track of the books they were acquiring. Each
book was assigned an accession number, which was written on a card, tucked into a pocket in each book. I vaguely remember the cards from the books I borrowed as a kid, but they have been replaced by the barcode system.
“The librarians were buying books by Edith Wharton, Henry James, and Mark Twain when these people were still alive,” says Dow, as she showed me their names, handwritten in elegant cursive. Some of these earlier editions of the classics they acquired still sit on the shelves, and the handwriting in the book isn’t even slightly faded.
These items evoke a library from very long ago, but many things have remained the same. The exterior hasn’t significantly changed since the addi-
FIRST ACCESSION BOOK: WCPL’s accession book was used to track orders and purchases of new materials, and they have retained their own “first edition.” Some of the works ordered in that first book are still shelved at the library today.
tion of a children’s wing. Since then, the façade has been preserved to respect the historical significance of the building. The focus on education for children between the ages of just a few months up to 12 years continues, and children’s books are the most circulated. Story times are still held in the annexed children’s wing, as they were in the 1950s and 60s. The summer reading program that began in the 1920s is still popular, marked by the full tote bags that seem to weigh as much as the children who carry them to and from the library on
summer afternoons. I used to be one of those kids and it’s a tradition I remember fondly.
What has changed is the way the space has been organized in response to the evolving purpose of libraries and the needs of the community. In 2002, the library launched “Support the Story,” a Capital Campaign to make much-needed repairs and bring it into the 21st century. These renovations transformed the second-floor meeting space into a children’s section and added a mezzanine as a staff space. The Americans with Disabilities Act brought the need for an elevator. The lower level was converted from a storage space to a guest-friendly one, by excavating under the terrace area to add more room for bookshelves and seating. The campaign doubled the amount of usable space in the library while keeping the existing structure intact.
The library now has about 50,000 items in circulation and receives over 100,000 visits each year. The items in circulation not only include books, but also cake pans, internet hotspots, and museum passes.
People are now visiting the library to sit with their laptops and work remotely, for tutoring sessions after school, and to simply sit with a book. Children attend the story times but are also interested in STEM programming. Clara Kelly, the Youth Services Librarian, says, “We did have a lot more in-person STEM and art-focused programs this year than in previous summers. Our registration numbers are back to what they were pre-pandemic. We’re excited to grow that number.”
Along with programming within the building, there has been an effort to spread awareness about its resources around the borough and neighboring areas, and a plan to scale this effort. Outreach Coordinator, Meg Diskin, who has been with WCPL for 19 years, takes early-literacy programming to low-income preschools and daycares to ensure these children reach their literacy goals in preparation for kindergarten. She says, “The library isn’t just physically the building. My job is to bring library services to people in the community where they are. I visit children whose families might find it difficult to get to the library
in person. I take early literacy programming to them and get information to their families. We’ve been able to get these children into the library and see where it is and what resources it has.” The library is always looking for organizations to partner with, so please reach out if your organization is interested.
While 60% of the library’s funding comes from tax dollars, the rest is donations. This year, WCPL launched another capital campaign, The Next 150, to continue evolving the space as its use changes.
The press release states, “The campaign goals are threefold: To improve the use of space…to meet the contemporary needs of library users; to retire the remaining building mortgage to free up resources for books, music, movies, digital materials, STEM and craft kits, and programs of all kinds for children and adults; and to create a stewardship fund to attract quality staff with competitive wages, respond to unforeseen needs, and have the resources to remain relevant to the community in the future.”
“The goals we’ve set for The Next 150 campaign are ambitious, but we think the people of West Chester care a lot about the library and will make sure we achieve them,” says Lance Nelson, Esq., the library’s Board Chair. “In fact, during the quiet phase in the last quarter of 2022, the library received pledges and gifts of nearly $100,000.” To support the campaign, visit their website or contact the library.
According to Dow, regardless of how the space changes, the library will always be open to all, equally. On the second floor, above the children’s DVD shelves, hangs a framed photo of what the meeting room and stage looked like before the 2004 renovation. It’s not hard to imagine a group of women sitting there knitting washcloths, or someone standing on the stage doing a Shakespeare reading.
With plans that emphasize rearranging all the bookshelves so that there’s space for gatherings and meetings, perhaps the purpose of the space hasn’t changed much at all.
One intriguing question remains about the building, and perhaps it’s time we addressed it. WCPL has been around for over 150 years. Surely, it must be haunted. In the time that I worked there, the staff would share stories of hearing footsteps and the sound of children laughing when they stayed a bit later in the evenings or arrived a bit earlier to set up for the day. I didn’t really believe their accounts, and I didn’t have any experiences of my own, but a building like that deserves a good ghost story.
Dow has a standard response for the question. “Haunting’s are way too ostentatious for the Quakers! Being a ghost? That’s too much drama. If you’re looking for a ghost, go to the Phoenixville library!”
I do genuinely hope that the stage makes a comeback in the library’s future. Perhaps then, the ghosts will make a more noticeable appearance.
Becca Boyd shares tips on life and cooking on her blog at homebeccanomics.com
I am one seriously lazy cook in the summer months, which inevitably leaves me craving the structure of fall and all its cinnamon-scented, bone-warming cooking. These cookies beg to be served alongside warm cider, and I made the soup three Sundays in a row last fall.
Maple Pecan Cookies makes 3-4 dozen
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. dark brown sugar
2 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/3 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. maple flavoring
1 c. finely chopped pecans
2 Tbsp. melted, unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. 3. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in medium mixing bowl until combined. 4. Add egg, maple syrup, vanilla, and maple flavoring to creamed mixture and beat until smooth. 5. Add dry ingredients to bowl and beat until almost combined. Add pecans and beat until completely combined (don’t overmix). 6. Scoop with small cookie scoop (about 1 Tbsp. amounts) onto Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on wire rack. 7. Meanwhile, make icing. Add water or powdered sugar until mixture is thick enough to drizzle and hold its place. 8. Drizzle cooled cookies with icing. Let set and store, covered, at room temperature.
Spicy White Beans and Greens Soup serves 8
4 15-oz cans cannellini beans
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tsp. anchovy paste or 4 anchovy filets
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 c. diced onion
2 c. diced celery
1 sprig fresh rosemary
parmesan rind (optional)
8 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 (16 oz) container baby kale
1 (4 oz) container arugula
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. Pecorino Romano, grated, plus more for serving
1. Heat large pot over medium heat and add oil, anchovy paste, garlic, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and light golden brown. 2. Add onion and celery. Sstir to combine. Cook until softened, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. 3. Add rosemary, parmesan rind, and chicken broth. Increase heat to high and once boiling, reduce to low. Simmer 15 minutes. Add beans and, if desired, use a hand blender to blend a portion of the soup (making the soup slightly creamy). 4. Add greens and stir until wilted. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and cheese. Taste for salt then serve, topped with more cheese.
FIVE SPOTS TO ELEVATE YOUR STYLEstory by Jesse Piersol Ben Rowe, owner and curator behind Jawn Supply on South High Street. photos ERIK WEBER
Style is something each of us already has, all we need to do is find it,” proffers Belgian designer and pioneer of the wrap dress, Diane von Furstenberg. For this edition of “What’s New,” we scoured the streets to find five new businesses dedicated to helping everyone—from kids to seniors—look and feel their best. From new and vintage clothing to hair and lashes, downtown West Chester has it covered.
Bobbles and Lace 125 N. High St.
Any business taking over the vacated space of venerable women’s clothier Jane Chalfant on High Street has some big shoes to fill. What better occupant than a modern boutique that not only caters to women of all sizes and walks of life, but also organizes events that bring women together?
In early August, the first hints of fall were creeping into Bobbles and Lace’s offerings. Soft neutrals and bold textures adorn the hangers, sleeveless mock neck crops in fuzzy knits, and sturdy denim pieces in casual silhouettes. Store Director Madison Hrynkow shows me a popular seller—a cream loose-weave sweater perfect for all seasons, explaining that it’s the only one left because they go out as fast as they come in.
The most expensive items in the store are the proprietary Black Denim brand jeans at $110, and most everything else is cheaper. “We get feedback that our prices are trendy and affordable,” says Hrynkow. “It’s a good place to buy trendy for the season, even if you forget about it later.”
Bobbles and Lace West Chester owner Crystal Gambardella worked for several years at the corporate offices of the growing chain of 14 stores, dreaming of one day opening a store of her own. In May of this year, she did just that in partnership with her brother Hunter Gordon.
Inclusiveness is an essential part of the Bobbles and Lace identity. Hrynkow pulls down one of two remaining metallic pink, one-shoulder dresses. “On the same day a 14-year-old bought it for a Barbie party, a 65-year-old came in and bought one too.”
“It doesn’t matter your age, your height, or your weight. You can always find some-
thing that will work for you,” says Store Director Madison Harkness. “Our goal is to style people. We provide an experience . We like to help you fit into your own style with the pieces you have in the store.” Hrynkow adds, “We’re helping them pick out clothes that help them feel comfortable but also look their best.”
In-store, collaborative events are a signature feature that sets B&L apart. “Girls’ night out” is a popular offering, with participants enjoying champagne, light refreshments, and a full shopping experience with a dedicated stylist for two hours after the store closes. Anyone can set up a girls’
night out, for free, but it needs to be scheduled in advance.
Just this past weekend, they hosted a “yoga pop-up” in the shop. In collaboration with Triple Threat Fitness (the folks who put on Yoga in the Street in downtown West Chester), participants took part in a yoga session right in the store. Next up is a CBD information session with a local CBD purveyor, and a braid bar from a local hairdresser. “Jessica Merlie [of Green
Compass] Is doing the CBD pop up, says Harkness. “And I’m excited to learn about CBD, which I’ve never tried.”
Giving back to West Chester is just the beginning. “Even though we just started, we already have so many plans to collaborate,” says Hrynkow. “We love to hear feedback from students, from grandmas. And we tailor our offerings to that.”
Jawn Supply 40 S. High St.
The buzz from Jawn Supply’s grand opening on February 25 is still palpable on this day late in the summer. The corner store, located in West Chester Computer Doctors’ old spot across the street from Dia Doce, bustles with shoppers poring over the racks of clothing in the brightly lit space situated on High Street.
Although they officially opened in Feb-
ruary, owner Ben Rowe has been selling his signature collection of vintage wares since 2016. “It started as a side hustle while I was in high school,” he explains. “I started going to thrift stores, estate sales, and yard sales to buy clothes and other items to sell online.” Jawn Supply evolved from selling vintage clothing out of a college dorm room in 2018 to its first standalone store early this year. In addition to selling vintage clothing, they also buy them.
Rowe and his wife have lived in the borough for three years, but they also grew up in the area. “We’ve always loved West Chester. It’s been a dream of mine to own a shop in this town ever since we moved here,” he says. “I saw a need in West Chester for a clothing store geared towards the college and young adult demographic.”
Some of their most popular items are vintage Philadelphia sports apparel. When the Eagles were in the Super Bowl last year,
they assembled a collection of more than 50 1970s to 1990s sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats, and jackets, which sold out in five minutes. “We do our best to always keep a selection of Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and 76ers items available in store,” he says.
“Almost every item we sell is one of one,” Rowe muses. “It isn’t every day that you’re able to walk into a store and browse hundreds of pieces of history, then actually be able to purchase them.” Inventory changes every day. “We do our best to put out new items daily; whether it’s 10 items or 200 items, there is always something new to look at,” he says. They also plan to start carrying some local vendors, includ-
“ I SAW A NEED IN WEST CHESTER FOR A CLOTHING STORE GEARED TOWARDS THE COLLEGE AND YOUNG ADULT DEMOGRAPHIC.”
ing handmade pennants and banners by Wooly Pennants, and vintage film cameras from East Coast Films.
An exciting moment was when one of Rowe’s favorite musical artists, Quinn XCII, came to the shop with a few of his crew members. “They all stocked up on clothes to wear for the rest of their tour around the US and Europe,” Rowe exudes. “There are a few other bands and influencers that rock Jawn Supply, but we’re hoping to get a lot more people to come out to the shop in the future.”
Right now, Rowe is focused on the dayto-day shopping experience at Jawn Supply. In the works is a website for purchasing online, as well as plans to expand the amount of Jawn Supply-branded offerings. “One day I would love to throw a ‘vintage block party’ in town with lots of other vintage clothing vendors,” he says. “Shut down a few streets, have live music, food trucks, local vendors, and of course lots of vintage clothing.”
The Hair Collection
236 W. Market St.
Pete Nielsen was 13 years old, cutting his little brother’s hair in his mom’s basement. Soon, his brother’s friends started showing up for a cut, too. When his brother’s friends’ parents began knocking on the door for haircuts, he knew he was onto something.
Fast forward 20 years, and Nielsen has finally opened the doors of The Hair Collection, the salon and barbershop he’d been envisioning all those years ago.
As a teen during middle and high school, Nielsen’s time for hair cutting was understandably limited, but over the summer he would be really busy. When he graduated high school, his mother told him he should make it a profession of it. And so he headed west to Champs Barber School in Lancaster to hone his craft. “That really opened up my skill set to becoming much more diverse, and Lancaster City made me even more diverse,” he recalls. “Champs’ owner was damn near the mayor out there, so I idolized him. I was able to learn so much more than I already knew.” Nielsen is known for his tight fades and sharp, sculpted beard work.
The name “The Hair Collection” has
been in the back of Nielsen’s mind for years. He describes his vision as “a collection of creative professionals, each diverse in their own way, with a collection of clients that are each diverse in their own way.”
“I wanted to open a barber shop that’s not a typical barber shop,” he says. “It’s not geared toward any one category. I wanted to make something that welcomed all. My clientele is very diverse.” From a college kid getting a mullet, to a lawyer in a suit, to an police officer getting a high and tight, Nielsen makes a point to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable.
His first endeavor in West Chester, WC Barber Supply, opened in January 2020. Three months later, he had to close its doors due to the COVID shutdown. He credits the strong relationships with his clients as his lifeblood. “My clientele is so loyal and supportive,” he says. “When my doors closed, I had people reach out to contact me to work their warehouse or police. They still needed to look good. There was nonstop police work during that time. Warehouse workers still had to work. I never missed any of my bills.”
Pete Nielsen describes his vision for the business as, “A collection of creative professionals, each diverse in their own way, with a collection of clients that are each diverse in their own way.”
That first shop was 400 square feet. “In a little under three years, I’m able to expand and open up a space that has a break room, laundry, and a shop floor, along with 2 bathrooms,” he says. “My clientele is what helped me do everything.”
Nielsen is stoked about what he’s working on for the space next door to The Hair Collection at 234 Market Street. In the next month or so, WC Barber Supply will open as a retail space offering hair products and tools, as well as hair for extensions. He imagines the space as another way to support the community, with protein powders and supplements from a company his buddy owns.
They’ll also sell local artwork, along with lots of merchandise including t-shirts, socks, hoodies, and hats. Another friend is a sneakerhead, and will be displaying a
small collection of rare, high-end sneakers that will be rotated out monthly.
“Because we service so many different kinds of people, we get questions all the time,” Nielsen says. “If somebody is sitting in somebody’s chair, and they’re looking for a realtor or a plumber, or a good place to go for date night, I’m constantly facilitating phone numbers and contacts to people to help them. We’re like the epicenter of contacts to share amongst everybody.”
The Wink Lab 352 Hannum Avenue
The metamorphosis of 352 Hannum Avenue has been nothing short of magical, transforming an unremarkable corner into a space filled with light and style— and all things eyelashes and brows.
“We take immense pride in how this project came to life. It feels like a dream realized, a manifestation of boundless love and dedication poured into every detail,” says Alejandra Uribe, CEO of The Wink Lab. “Our location’s prominence at
one of West Chester’s main entrances adds to the town’s beauty. Our connection to the West Chester and Phoenixville communities drives us to consistently enhance the experience we offer.”
The Wink Lab opened on Gay Street in 2017 and moved into their new home in December 2022. They also opened a location in Phoenixville in 2021.
“My husband and I have dedicated the past seven years to nurturing our dream and brand,” explains Uribe. During that time, they have witnessed steady growth by introducing new beauty techniques to both their clients and their students. “My drive for beauty and entrepreneurship has been a guiding force behind our success in this field,” she says.
Uribe and her husband have a deep affection for the community. “Having worked as a server in several local restaurants,” she says, “I built meaningful relationships with the wonderful people here.”
Their inspiration is drawn from their love of travel and the exploration of diverse cultures. “We’ve always been captivated by the innate beauty of vari-
ous places, and our vision for the West Chester and Phoenixville salons was influenced by hidden gems such as those in Mexico, Greece, and Mediterranean cultures,” she says. “Our goal is to create an inviting and calming atmosphere with fragrant aromas, lush plants, and comfortable recliner chairs, ensuring a truly exceptional service.”
At The Wink Lab, rather than offering extremely long lashes, they focus on enhancing the natural beauty of the eye, reducing the time that clients need to spend behind the mirror. “We offer meticulous attention to detail, ensuring a professional and relaxing experience,” she describes. “Our custom-made leather chairs prioritize maximum comfort, and our salon is enveloped in organic fragrances reminiscent of a luxury hotel. Our unwavering commitment to using the finest products reflects our dedication to
“ MY HUSBAND AND I HAVE DEDICATED THE PAST SEVEN YEARS TO NURTURING OUR DREAM & BRAND.”
the health and quality of our eyelash and brow services. However, it’s our exceptional team that truly defines us. They are the heart and soul of our business, consistently delivering top-notch services that keep our clients coming back.”
Another aspect that brings Uribe joy is the opportunity to teach her techniques to aspiring students at The Lash & Brow Academy, where she is also CEO and Educator. “We’ve had the privilege of educating numerous cosmetology and aesthetician graduates who come to us to learn about eyelash and brow services,” she says. “We’ve supported many single mothers and fellow Latinas in pursuing their professional growth within the beauty industry.”
As their expertise lies in eyelash and brow services, she notes that their most sought-after offerings are eyelash extensions, lash lifts, brow waxing, and lamination, along with permanent makeup.
Uribe is grateful for the support they’ve received from the community. “The love we’ve received and the role everyone plays in our journey are truly
cherished,” she says. “We’re dedicated to continuing to provide exceptional beauty experiences and to being a positive presence in the lives of those we serve.”
135 E. Gay Street
When the children’s store that previously occupied 135 E. Gay Street closed last year, Tish Boutique co-owner Ashley Darlington saw the perfect opening. “We realized this could be an opportunity for us to grow Tish in a fun way,” she recalls. “We wanted to bring distinctive brands and offerings to babies, toddlers, and kids, and make it a welcoming atmosphere for both adults and children.”
Since they opened in October of 2022, they’ve seen an overflow of traffic from Tish Boutique to Tish Kids. “It is wonderful being right across the street from each other,” says Darlington, who also co-owns Tish Kids. “We find customers shopping at both stores daily!”
Tish Kids offers toys, gifts, and apparel for newborns through 10 years old, along
“ WE REALIZED THIS COULD BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO GROW TISH IN A FUN WAY. WE WANTED TO BRING DISTINCTIVE BRANDS AND OFFERINGS TO BABIES, TODDLERS, AND KIDS, AND MAKE IT A WELCOMING ATMOSPHERE FOR BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN.”
with gift wrapping on every purchase. “We make it convenient for customers to be able to run in and grab a gift for birthday parties, showers, or other gifts that can be wrapped and ready to go within minutes,” she says. “Some are even pre-bundled to make it that much easier to shop.”
In addition to unique merchandise and brands, Tish Kids offers “storytime” on the first and third Thursday of every month at 10am. “After the story, we have activities on our play table and snacks for little ones,” Darlington says. The schedule, along with new events and promotions, is featured on Tish Kids Instagram account, @tish.kids.
Danielle Davies spotlights citizens for doing something swell. This month, meet Gail Coppola
Who she is: Gail Coppola
What she does: Gail is a volunteer chairperson with Meals on Wheels, where she’s been donating her time for 20 years. In addition to coordinating drivers and clients for the West Chester, West Bradford, and Newlin Township chapters, Gail also delivers. “We have the nicest recipients. Sometimes we are the only people they see in a day and need to chat. I love talking to them,” she says. At 82, Gail is committed to volunteering as long as she can. “I’m glad I started. I’ll continue as long as my head is straight.” Why she’s on this page: Gail isn’t the first in her family to volunteer for Meals on Wheels. Her mother used to drive for them in Bryn Mawr, and her youngest sister in North Carolina. “My sister Peggy and I wanted to continue the family tradition,” says Gail. Peggy can’t volunteer like she used to, so Gail’s been doing it on her own for a few years. “I feel I’ve lived a very charmed life, a lucky good life, and I love doing for others, some of whom have had really tough times. It can be very humbling, but very satisfying.”
What we admire about her: Despite her years with Meals on Wheels, Gail’s biggest regret is that she didn’t start volunteering sooner. “I wish I did it when my boys were younger. It’s a good thing for the seniors, and a good thing for children to see how other people live,” she says. “It’s just so rewarding. I feel like I’m giving back to an area that has given me so much.”
About the progam: Meals on Wheels is a nationwide organization with more than 5,000 independently run local programs providing meal delivery to homebound seniors or adults with disabilities. Meals on Wheels of Chester County was incorporated as a non-profit in 1991 and now has 21 chapters. Chester County Hospital provides the fare that Meals on Wheels drivers to deliver to clients. Gail contacts drivers weekly with information about meal recipients: their likes, dislikes, and home situations like where drivers should knock.
What she likes about West Chester: “I was born and raised in Rosemont, a Main Line girl. I moved to Chester County over 30 years ago and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s much more laid-back than the hustle and bustle of the Main Line. It’s beautiful too—horse country, open fields, a slower pace. I live right outside the borough, so I’m constantly driving through the university. Lots of kids out there are not paying attention so it’s a challenge, but I love the college life. Then I love it in the summer when they’re gone! I just love everything about West Chester.”
Moral of the Story: Stay involved. When Gail retired in the mid90s, volunteering filled a void. Besides giving back, it’s been good for her. “It keeps me on my toes and gives me something to do,” she says. “I know the back roads like the back of my hand, and I never would have known where things are if I hadn’t driven with Meals on Wheels. I’ve seen a lot of places that I never knew existed, I’ve met a lot of wonderful people that I never knew existed.” –Danielle@thewcpress.com
If you’d like more information about Chester County Meals on Wheels, visit MOWCC.org
DJ Romeo curates a list of the best tracks to blast from the bed of your truck this football season
The following is a list of songs that will up the energy at your pre-game parties. You’ll be singing along, and partying down. And, you can now stream the list in its entirey at: www.thewcpress.com/playlist
@DJRomeo24 | www.DJRomeo.fm
Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down
Meek Mill – Dreams and Nightmares
The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
Blur – Song 2, 2012 Remaster
Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back In Town
Horman Greenbaum – Spirit in the Sky
One Republic – I Ain’t Worried
Young Money, Drake – Trophies
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Can’t Hold Us
The Black Keys – Howlin’ for You
Warren G, Nate Dogg – Regulate
Rage Against the Machine – Bulls On Parade
Lit – My Own Worst Enemy
JAY–Z, Linkin Park – Numb / Encore
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Fortunate Son
Good Charlotte – The Anthem
Sum 41 – Fat Lip
J. Cole – No Role Modelz
Drake – Started From the Bottom
Twenty One Pilots – Ride
Avicii – Levels
Steppenwolf – Born To Be Wild
Jet – Are You Gonna Be My Girl
Metallica – Fuel
Van Halen – Panama
Foo Fighters – Monkey Wrench
Farruko – Pepas
Imagine Dragons – Thunder
Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A.
Eminem – Lose Yourself