Devon Horse Show has filed suit against its own township, accusing it, in effect, of price-gouging the equestrian nonprofit to benefit its own bottom line.
We just received Easttown’s response and let’s just say, the township sees things a bit differently.
The lawsuit is a reaction to the hefty bill Easttown Township presented to DHS for permitting and services for its 2022 show: $130,000, nearly double what it charged in 2019, the last year the Horse Show was held, and for the first time to be paid upfront, according to the court filing.
“It cannot be overstated that, for the first post-Covid year, 2022, the Township unilaterally and without explanation, seeks to almost double the “Special Event Permit” fee to Devon,” the lawsuit reads.
Most of the bill is for Easttown police who help maintain order and direct traffic outside the show. The suit alleges township officials are unfairly forcing DHS to use Easttown police officers to the tune of $54 to $136/hour, or a weighted average of $99/hour. DHS would rather use Berwyn Fire Police for traffic and crowd control because they’re trained for such work and would charge $25.50 an hour – a 75% savings to the horse show.
And the more money Devon saves, the suit argues, the more money it can donate to Bryn Mawr Hospital. In the past decade, Devon has paid $660,895 in Special Event Permit Fees to Easttown.
The lawsuit charges that DHS is being singled out “for the purpose of closing a negotiation gap between the Township and its police department and subsidizing a budget deficit.” Easttown and Easttown Police Department “continue to exploit the unique opportunity to generate income for the mutual benefit of the parties.”
The lawsuit makes free speech and constitutional arguments and says Easttown Special Events Ordinance gives its township manager “excessive unchecked discretion” and represents “government overreach.”
The suit asks the court to, among other things:
- Declare Easttown’s Special Events Ordinance illegal and unenforceable.
- Issue an order allowing Devon to hold its annual show without the “Special Event Permit” and without “Support Services Costs” because both are “unequally and illegally applied to Devon.”
- Order Easttown to award “compensatory damages” to DHS and reimburse DHS for legal fees.
Easttown, meanwhile, is hearing none of it.
Here is Easttown Township Manager Eugene Briggs’ complete, unabridged response to our request for comment:
The Devon Horse Show runs a six million dollar revenue operation, and brings tens of thousands of people to its site over the course of the annual show, and yet continues to demand that Easttown Township subsidize the cost of providing critical police safety services, at the expense of the Easttown taxpayers.
Easttown Township will continue to focus on preparing its safety planning, for events that on some days can actually double the size of Easttown’s population. The Devon Horse Show’s financial demands and self-imposed service limitations are not consistent with protecting the health and safety of the Horse Show’s own patrons and visitors, or the larger Easttown community. Easttown Township will serve and protect during these high impact events, as it always has. The Devon Horse Show should pay its fair share for that intensive and unique level of police service required.
Easttown Township is also preparing its legal responses to the Devon Horse Show’s lawsuit. The Devon Horse Show is a venerable and valued part of the Easttown Township community; however, the Horse Show’s claims lack factual foundation or legal merit, and will be vigorously defended against.
Stay tuned to SAVVY for the latest on this developing story.
In early May of what would have been his freshman year at Conestoga, Austin Beltrante is at Prosthetic Innovations in Eddystone.
It’s a big day for him.
Nearly a year after his foot hit a live wire at a local train trestle, Austin is getting fitted for two new forearms and hands. This time they’ll have fingers.
He’s quiet and cooperative as Certified Prosthetist Mike Rayer attaches electrodes to his right arm and tells him to try to move the hand that’s no longer there. Miraculously, the demo hand on the table responds.
Rayer explains that amputees’ severed limbs continue to send signals to extremities. (Hence, the phantom pain that Austin says he sometimes experiences.) The strength of those signals is captured and measured and Austin’s new myoelectric prostheses will be programmed accordingly. With his new prostheses, Austin’s brain, what’s left of his arms, and battery power will move his manufactured hands.
He’ll be bionic.
After more than 30 surgeries, 178 precarious days in the hospital, and prayers so thunderous, so ubiquitous, so insistent they could not be denied, Austin is adjusting, every day and hour, to his new life.
How’s it going? we ask him.
“I feel like I’ve come pretty far,” he says, his tone mature for a 14-year-old. “I remember when I could barely move my arms and could barely move in general.”
He doesn’t mention it but his stepmother tells us he “can feel flashbacks of the shock” that set him on fire, burned 83 percent of his body and took parts of three limbs. “He relives that. It’s a lot to process. He talks to a psychologist once a week.”
What are you most excited about these days?
“Being able to walk,” he replies. Against all odds, Austin walked out of Shriner’s Hospital on his new prosthetic foot when he was discharged November 9. Six months later, he can tolerate his new foot most of his waking hours. Longer distances still require a wheelchair.
Austin tells us he’s also excited to be back playing video games after seven months off, although his stepmom, Deanna Golden, worries that he “drowns himself in electronics so he’s not alone with his thoughts.”
When he finally gets hands with working fingers, one of the first things he plans to do is cook, he says: eggs, steak, whatever. “He loves to eat,” his nurse adds, smiling. Three nurses rotate weekday shifts with Austin.
He also tells us he can’t wait to rejoin his friends at Conestoga. He’s taking five subjects from home this year. School officials assure his parents Austin will be ready for sophomore year. And the high school will be ready to welcome him. “They said they’ll do anything to prepare the school,” Deanna says, adding a few of the things that will need to be considered: opening doors, using bathrooms, eating lunch.
So what’s been hardest for you so far?
“Forgetting that I don’t have hands. When I go to grab something and I say, ‘Wait. I can’t do that.’”
Our final question as his prosthetic fitting resumes: “What has surprised you most about your journey?”
“That I came out alive. I’m excited, happy and surprised. Sometimes I think I’m meant to do something. I just have to find out what that is. I can see myself doing something.”
While Austin ponders his purpose – why he survived raging fevers, systemic infections and endless skin grafts – friends, neighbors and strangers plan “A Night for Austin’s Army,” a fundraiser on June 3.
There are multiple surgeries in Austin’s future and, as a he grows, a succession of prostheses. The family’s health insurance and supplemental Medicaid are covering Austin’s healthcare-related bills for now – more than $2 million to date – but there are other crucial needs. Deanna calls them “household projects that will make his life better.” Topping that list: replacing a bathroom tub with a shower so Austin can use a shower chair; turning their detached garage into a weather-proof space for physical and occupational therapy; and installing central air. Deanna explains that Austin’s lack of body hair means he can’t sweat. Typical of burn victims, “he’s always hot,” she says.
The fundraiser’s celebrity host will be former Philadelphia Eagle Brent Celek, one of a slew of sports figures to send stay-strong videos to Austin.
Leading the charge behind the scenes is Newtown Square’s Mark Rubino, whose son is Austin’s age. “Austin is very witty, funny and smart – the toughest kid I’ve ever met,” says the older Rubino. “Getting to know him has brought my family a lot of perspective.”
Austin appreciates all the videos, gifts and cards and says he’s “excited” about the fundraiser. He was also pumped to be asked to throw the first pitch at a Newtown Edgmont Little League game a few weeks ago.
“It was pretty fun. I got it over the plate. It was a close ball,” he pronounces, grinning at the memory. Austin was a multi-sport athlete before his injury.
“People have fallen in love with Austin’s story because it’s a story of hope and believing,” Deanna says. “Right now, though, he just wants to be a kid. He wants to run; he wants to be able to feed himself. Everything else will fall in place when he’s ready.”
A Night for Austin’s Army will be held Friday, June 3, 6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. at Anthony’s at Paxon Hollow Country Club in Media, Dinner, dancing, auction and raffles to raise funds for Austin Beltrante’s at-home rehab and daily living needs. Celebrity host Brent Celek. Order $50 per person tickets here; cash bar. Adults only please. To donate auction/raffle prizes, contact Tina Fortebuono at [email protected]. To sponsor, contact Mark Rubin at [email protected].
Last month, Tamara Cornelius and her unborn baby were shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend at the King of Prussia Exxon station.
Three Aprils ago, Stephanie Miller was shot and killed by her ex-husband at the Wayne Wawa.
And in late April of 1981 – 41 Aprils ago – Bunny Hathaway, a performer whose operatic voice was a dazzling as her smile, was shot and killed by her husband outside a Wynnewood church.
T.S. Eliot was right. April is the cruelest month.
All three women – and we write their names intentionally – had been stalked, harassed and abused for months, some for many years.
All three were shot repeatedly at point-blank range.
All three died in or near our own neighborhoods.
Books about Tamara and Stephanie might still be written, but Bunny’s story has just arrived in print, breathtakingly brave, utterly devastating.
How could it not be?
The Courage I Learned was written by her daughter, Susan Hathaway-Saurman, 55, her father’s other victim and eyewitness to years of abuse in their Merion Station home that culminated in the brutal killing and murder trial that was above-the-fold, front-page news.
Susan says she’s sharing her story, in sometimes gruesome detail, to “help even one person recognize some of the characteristics of mental abuse, physical abuse, child abuse and maybe see they’re in a bad spot and where they could go for help.”
Half the book’s proceeds are going to Laurel House, the Montgomery County domestic violence agency that was in its infancy when Bunny Hathaway was killed. In those days, domestic abuse was “a family matter.” Arrests, shelters and protection-from-abuse orders barely existed. Victims covered their bruises with makeup and scarves. Neighbors averted their eyes.
Bunny Hathaway finally fled the family’s six-bedroom colonial on Merbrook Lane (below) and started a new life with her three children in a Plymouth Meeting apartment. But she didn’t stand a chance.
Six months later, Byron Hathaway hunted her down as she was dropping their 3-year-old off at the Montessori school at Church of the Holy Apostles on Remington Road in Wynnewood.
Shooting her as she ran.
Reloading his revolver and shooting her again with the muzzle pressed against her head – three more times – as she lay dying on the grass of the lawn next door, tear-gas spray and car keys dangling from her fingers.
That Susan’s memoir was published at all is remarkable.
In June of 2021, just as she’d finished a first draft, Susan learned she had stage IV ovarian cancer. Through surgery, sepsis, chemo and more, she powered through, determined to finish the book.
“So many things have knocked me down,” Susan tells SAVVY.
There was the father who mocked her, tormented her, beat her with a hockey stick, strangled her mother, terrorized her family. Today she calls him “pure evil.”
Susan was also, she says, “terrible at school” and relegated to special-ed classes in Lower Merion schools. When her book editor told her she was a “really, really good writer,” Susan assumed she was joking. “I really don’t know how to digest the accolades,” she says.
She was effectively orphaned at age 14, when her mother died and her father was put away for life. Uprooted from her neighborhood and Lower Merion, she was taken in by her grandparents and started living on her own as a teenager.
(Byron Hathaway died, unrepentant, in prison in 2020. In his dying breath, he claimed Bunny “brought this on herself.” Susan visited him a half dozen times in prison, hoping for an apology that never came.)
After two failed marriages, Susan’s third has been the charm. She has three children and four grandchildren, and unlike her late brooding, abusive father, she tries hard every day to spread kindness, she says.
Battle-tested, she’s in remission from the fight of her life but sees her cancer journey as “another challenge to get up from and walk through … I can’t give up. My kids are looking at me, my grandchildren are looking at me, I have to be the face of resistance, to show them you can make it through things in life.”
This Saturday, she’ll once again participate in Laurel House’s “Walk a Mile in her Shoes” fundraiser where men wear “red high heels of justice” and women wear sneakers. And this fall, she’ll speak at Laurel House’s annual “Breaking the Silence” event. It’s getting easier to share her story.
Susan lives in Eagleville but returns to the Main Line on occasion, visiting old haunts in Narberth and her favorite teacher from Bala Cynwyd Middle School. Sally Nelson appears in the book and lives, improbably, on Hathaway Lane in Wynnewood.
A few times, Susan has even returned to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Wynnewood “just to go back and stand, be in the physical presence of a place where my mother had passed away.” We met her there last weekend, Susan’s first visit in 20 years.
Writing the book – a two-year ordeal – has unleashed a torrent of memories.
“It was emotionally draining – there was a lot of crying, a lot of nightmares, a lot of ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ I refused to let my father make me miserable. I wasn’t going to let him win. I’d remember how my mother had the strength to leave him. My mom was there in my mind, this little angel on my shoulder, telling me not to give up, to keep writing, keep going.”
The Courage I Learned, by Susan Hathaway-Saurman is $15.95 on Amazon. Half of the sale proceeds will be donated to Montgomery County’s Laurel House, which provides shelter and services to women and children experiencing domestic abuse. Need help? Call 1-800-642-3150 or Text “HOPE” to 85511. Susan Hathaway Saurman can be reached at [email protected].
The drumbeat to save Oakwell –“sister to Stoneleigh” – grows ever louder.
Note to Lower Merion School District: these folks are fired up. They’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
Indeed, what some dismissed as a not-in-my-backyard tree huggers’ skirmish has morphed into a grassroots campaign involving civic groups, environmentalists, township commissioners, historic preservationists, naturalists, birders, climate-change activists, students, and yes, neighbors.
If you haven’t been following, more than four years ago LMSD used eminent domain and paid $10 million to seize a 10.6-acre wooded Villanova tract at 1835 County Line Rd. that was once part of Stoneleigh – it’s right next door to Natural Lands’ treasured public garden. It also took three adjacent acres at 1800 County Line, home to Acorn Cottage, also part of the original Stoneleigh.
The school district plans to flatten the land and fell the forest in order to install turf sports fields for its splashy new Black Rock Middle School, set to open nearby this fall.
Black Rock’s 7th and 8th graders would take a six-minute bus ride to Oakwell to play baseball, softball and perhaps another sport TBD on the fields depicted below.
The school’s other teams and all phys-ed classes would use Black Rock’s on-site fields, track, tennis courts and gym.
According to an early lawsuit filed by Oakwell’s then-owners who fought the seizure, Villanova U. had agreed to buy Oakwell but lost out at the 11th hour when the Lower Merion School Board voted to take the land for itself in late 2018. In PA, it’s illegal for a school district to use eminent domain to acquire property owned by another educational institution. Presumably, LMSD felt compelled to act first and fast.
In accordance with the sale terms, the previous owners have been staying in the Oakwell mansion reportedly rent- and tax-free. They get the run of the place until construction of the fields – another multimillion-dollar enterprise – starts in May of 2023.
Overcrowded in its lower grades of late, LMSD had been hunting for real estate, notably failing to strike deals for portions of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and Stoneleigh.
Twice burned, they succeeded at Oakwell, to the consternation of many.
Why are folks so upset?
First, the loss of old-growth forest and resulting stormwater issues.
Some 500 mature trees – and another 200 smaller shrubs and trees – would be clear cut. Many are towering oaks and majestic heritage trees hundreds of years old.
And these big ole boys aren’t just pretty. Their deep, interconnecting roots soak up stormwater and filter out contaminants, preventing flooded basements and preserving water quality – critical tasks because Oakwell sits at the head of three vital watersheds.
A quick science lesson: According to Save Oakwell’s experts, a single mature tree can absorb more than 40,000 gallons of water each year; a young replacement tree can’t come close. A noted eco-biologist from Villanova U., Professor Adam Langley, has estimated that removing Oakwell’s trees will release 15,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide – equal to the carbon emissions of 3,200 vehicles.
“That forest can cool a neighborhood,” says Shawn McMurtry of Merion Station. “It’s unthinkable! LMSD owns flat lawns and fields that sit idle at every school, fields that are dry and where no ecological destruction is required.”
Second, the disruption of the ecosystem and displacement/death of wildlife.
Countless species, some of them rare, stand to lose their habitats. Amid so much suburban development, wildlife can’t just pick up and move elsewhere.
“Any forest creature you name lives here: fox, coyote, deer, raccoons, turtles, frogs, hawks, Great Horned Owls,” says Deb Robbins, a leader of Save Oakwell. “Birding experts have visited and told us the bird value is even greater than Stoneleigh.”
Adds McMurtry: “All the fresh water for wildlife will be degraded. Wildlife will perish and be displaced. Subsequently, all the weary migratory travelers will perish when they return to find a barren wasteland.”
Moreover, the loss of Oakwell doesn’t square with the township’s stated commitment to address climate change, the plan’s critics charge. “Lower Merion just adopted new energy sustainability goals,” says Robbins. “This is antithetical to that … there are floods and fires and droughts and all these things happening and you’re going to take out this amazing resource?”
There’s also the sacrifice of another slice of Main Line history.
Like Stoneleigh, Oakwell is classified as a Class II Historic Resource. The mansion, greenhouse and outbuildings were designed by noted architect Frank Miles Day, who designed the UPenn Museum and Franklin Field. None other than the Olmsted Brothers, sons of “the father of landscape architecture,” and designer of Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted, laid out the grounds.
Lower Merion Conservancy calls Oakwell a true “secret garden” that only came to light when Stoneleigh became a public garden that somehow eluded the township’s historic property designations. It has asked LMSD to reconsider how it might use the property, calling it “environmentally sensitive and historically significant.”
Adds Robbins: “Commissioners have told us the only reason the township never identified Oakwell as a Class 1 Historic Resource was because it was never thought to be at risk.”
Save Oakwell activists stress that taking Oakwell is akin to taking Stoneleigh. They were one and the same until Stoneleigh’s then-owner Samuel Bodine deeded some of his land to his son, William Bodine, as a wedding gift.
The school district has said it has no plans to destroy Oakwell’s sprawling, circa-1922 Tudor Revival mansion. But currently there are no plans to use it either. With outmoded plumbing and electrical systems, it will be costly to maintain. Some fear that mothballing the mansion will degrade it so badly, it will have to be torn down. LMSD does have plans to use Oakwell’s much-newer pool house, reportedly for restrooms and a snack bar.
But “every other square inch of Oakwell and the Acorn Cottage tract will be sacrificed for the fields,” according to Robbins, including the properties’ extensive greenhouses, Caretaker’s Cottage, stables, horticulture hall and Japanese Tea Pavilion shown below.
Two historical tidbits: In the early 1900s, the Bodines used the garden edifices for a residential agricultural/gardening school for women who were housed at nearby Squirrel Inne, the original carriage house for Stoneleigh. During World War I, the tract’s fruit and vegetable gardens helped feed the surrounding community.
And finally, some question the need for accessory playing fields at all.
In what many considered a bit of a shocker, a demographer hired by LMSD just told the school board that he predicts enrollment will decline by some 500 students in the next ten years.
The Save Oakwell folks say they aren’t aware of LMSD doing a “needs analysis” and emphasize that the fields would be used only “a few months a year” and only by a few teams of 7th and 8th graders.
And closer-in neighbors have voiced concerns about everything from losing sight and sound buffers to stormwater, bus traffic and safety.
Several activists have told us they’re hopeful that LMSD’s changing of the guard, including a new superintendent and new board leadership, might move the needle. LMSD did make multiple tweaks to its plans at the township’s direction after the Historic Commission and township planners weighed in.
Meanwhile, the coalition is gathering steam.
Within the month, the semi-organized Save Oakwell group should become official. It is applying for nonprofit 501(c)3 status to attract more donors. Neighbors have appealed to the township’s zoning board, challenging LMSD’s removal of trees on a residential property and the disturbance of a historic resource.
At least two township commissioners, Andy Gavrin and Scott Zelov, have been actively seeking alternative field locations, as has the Lower Merion Conservancy. There have been talks with private property owners and public facilities like the 17-acre Bryn Mawr Polo Field, which some private schools use for team sports.
Some 2,700 have signed a petition circulated by Climate Change Lower Merion, which calls this an “environmental tragedy unfolding.”
Less than two months old, a Save Oakwell Facebook page is nearing 500 followers and enlisting new converts every day, most of whom don’t live near the site, organizers say. The group leads regular tours from the Stoneleigh parking lot and pickets outside the LMSD offices most Friday afternoons, urging cars to honk in support. They tell us the cars are getting louder and sometimes start honking before protesters even arrive.
It’s a full-court press but so far, the district isn’t flinching.
We received a succinct statement from Amy Buckman, LMSD director of school and community relations, who noted the district’s “extensive search over the course of multiple years for a suitable site for its new middle school and fields” and mentioned that “land development plans have already been submitted to the Township.”
She is also on the record stating that ball fields support the township’s comprehensive plan which calls for more playing fields for the community. And she has talked about LMSD’s commitment to extra-curriculars to enhance “social emotional growth” and the “significant capital already invested.”
The Oakwell fields are a done deal, LMSD’s spokesperson seems to be saying.
We shall see.
For the first time in three years, the Main Line’s signature happening is indeed happening. The COVID-cratered Devon Horse Show and Country Fair returns in blue and white splendor at month’s end.
And wild horses (and cute ponies) couldn’t drag us away.
The 2022 Show and Country Fair promises treasured traditions with exciting new twists.
- Cocktails! The new Sips and Bits booth at the old hot dog stand will offer DHS specialty cocktails and lite bites. You can still get wine, beer and hard seltzer at the Wine Gazebo. And hot dogs will now be sold at the Hamburger Booth. Guess they’ll have to rename it.
- Carlino’s! The family-owned Italian food purveyors were such a hit at the Fall Classic, they were invited back for the main event. Mangia!
- Online food orders! You won’t have to wait in line for Carlino’s fare after 5 p.m. Download the app, order and prepay while you’re lined up with the kids at the Ferris wheel, then pick up 20 minutes later.
- Cold Brew! Reading Coffee Co. will keep you cool and caffeinated with cold (and hot) brews, specialty coffee drinks and cold draft lattes. Open from 7 a.m. daily.
- Daily Kiddie crafts! Kids can make $3 – $6 projects near the candy booth at the back of the picnic grove from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day but Ladies Day.
- Bigger and better Ladies Day hat contest prizes! It’s a lot easier to pony up $55 to join the hat parade and champagne reception when you know you’re in the running for breathtaking baubles. (Hint: Longines anyone?)
- New Ladies Day lunch spot! After a year at Terrain, the post-contest lunch reverts to Devon’s home turf: the Devon Club. (More Ladies Day details below.)
- A possible new ride on the Midway to join the Tea Cups, Ferris Wheel, Carousel, carnival games, cotton candy and fried Oreos.
- Lots of new places to shop! An assortment of new fashion, wellness & beauty, pet, equestrian and home décor vendors will join Devon perennials like The Engraver (a 40-year favorite), Hats by Katie (her 30th year) Devon), Tuyet Jewelry and Polka Dots.
- Devon Flower Box preordering! Buy a $20 planter by Main Line Gardens online and pick it up in June.
As for the horse show itself, the purses have never been higher. Elite riders are qualifying and sending in entries as we speak, among them McLain Ward, Rodrigo Pessoa, Erynn Ballard and Paul O’Shea.
Watch steeds built for speed in the $40K Devon International Speed Skate (June 1) and $37K Devon Speed Derby (June 3).
For world-class show jumping, snag a seat for the $50K Devon Welcome Stake (May 31), the $74K Idle Dice Open Jumper Stake (June 4) and, if you’re lucky, the $250,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon (Thursday, June 2). All grandstand seats on Grand Prix night must be reserved in advance.
Per usual, the Dixon Oval and Gold Ring will be hopping with special events like the free-admission Devon Dog Show/Lead Line Costume Parade (May 26), U.S. Pony Club Mounted Games (May 27), Radnor Hunt Fox Hounds (May 28), Shetland Pony Steeplechase, Carriage Pleasure Drive and Arena Eventing (all May 29), Tribute to Heroes (May 30), Saddlebred and Hackney competition (June 1-4).
Outside-the-ring festivities include:
First Night at Devon on May 25:
- Mingle with artists and Devon mucky-mucks at this annual preview cocktail party for Devon Art Gallery’s 2022 juried show featuring 500 works from regional and national artists. Tickets are $125.
Ladies Day on June 1. Tickets are on sale now:
- This year’s smashing new hat contest theme: Feathers and Frocks. Categories include: Best in Show, Best Hat to Toe, Best Group, Most Fascinating and Plume of the Day. Let the frivolity ensue.
- Free admission to the show grounds if you wear a hat. $55 ($65 at the door) for the champagne-toast reception with the celebrity judges, optional hat contest entry and goody bag. Thanks to Baldwin School, the favor bags are recyclable this year! And tucked inside each will be a $25 gift card to any Louella Boutique (w/ $25 purchase).
- $135 for hat contest and catered luncheon with signature cocktails and strolling jewelry fashion show from loyal vendor, Churchwell’s.
- This year’s Ladies Day judges: Yours truly (aka SAVVY Main Line’s Caroline O’Halloran); 6ABC’s Adam Joseph; Fashion at the Races’ milliner Zoya Egan; Main Line Fashionista Ashley Meyers; Celebrity stylist Nancy Amoroso; and “Stonehouse Revival” TV star Jeff Devlin. (Carson Kressley sends his regrets – he’ll be filming in LA.)
Children’s Day on June 5:
- Hat decorating and crafts followed by a hat parade. Visit with dearly loved Dale, a therapy mini-horse. Tickets are $12.
Itty Bitty Tea Party on May 29:
- Crafts, tea party sweets and treats for ages 4 and up in the Devon Club. $30 tickets for one of two seatings limited to 30 per seating.
Family Days on May 26 and May 31:
- Deals on food, midway and souvenirs. Free Back Barn Tours May 31 only.
Plant Sale on June 5:
- Perennials, annuals, shrubs and florals. Bring your wheelbarrow.
And if that’s not enough, stick around for Devon After Hours. When the action ends in the ring, head to the Hospitality Room under the South Grandstand for drinks, light bites and live music nightly May 30 – June 4. Enjoy Orpheus, Hake and Jerena, Drew Nugent & Midnight Society, Bill Handy, and Ken Klaus and Blow the House Down. But you have to reserve in advance. Six-night passport = $150 per person. Single-night tickets may be available. Email [email protected] or call 610-964-0550.
And lest we forget: Devon is much more than a Main Line mainstay since 1896 and one of nation’s premier equestrian events. It’s also the single largest contributor to Bryn Mawr Hospital. Devon Country Fair’s tireless volunteers have raised $16 million+ for Bryn Mawr Hospital initiatives including most recently, $2 million for its new eight-story Patient Pavilion.
Devon Horse Show & Country Fair, 23 Dorset Rd., Devon, (610) 688-2554, devonhorseshow.net. Follow @Devon1896 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 2022 Show and Fair runs Thursday, May 26 to Sunday, June 5.
Ardmore newcomer OSushi is rollin’ – and rockin’
Oh my, is OSushi something special!
After reading the raves, we finally made a reservation at this Ardmore newcomer.
So glad we did.
The place was packed and virtually everything looked and tasted rather ravishing. The menu was frighteningly long – making us wonder how they could possibly execute so many dishes.
But execute they did. With flair and flavor.
We started with beautifully blistered Shishito Peppers ($8.95) and Steamed Pork Dumplings ($6.95). Flawless. After that, we split two Signature Rolls: the Samurai ($14.95) and the Paradise ($16.95).
The owners did what they could décor-wise, considering OShushi is in the long, undistinguished strip center on Greenfield Ave. Think bamboo walls, wooden lantern pendants, striated tile floors and a sleek electric fireplace.
The sushi bar flanks the rear wall. An adjoining interior room handles private parties and overflow.
Ardmore is OSushi’s second location. A flagship Marlton, NJ, has been open for six years.
Ardmore’s new Char & Stave: where baristas become bartenders
Caffeine by day, cocktails by night – Char & Stave is a pretty darn efficient use of space, no?
Open since late March, it’s a new concept for Phoenixville favorite Bluebird Distilling. Three blackboards above the bar list coffees, “drips” and “drams” (aka cocktails).
For zero-proofers, there’s barrel-aged espresso, nitro cold brew and draft lattes, a Whiskey Smash latte, house-made syrups like Salted Whiskey Caramel, mocktails and locally baked pastries.
Drams ($13) include such classics as an Ardmore Old Fashioned, Char & Stave Martini, Rittenhouse Manhattan and Caffe Negroni.
You can also take home bags of coffee beans and bottles of Bluebird whiskey, rum, vodka and gin, plus merch.
If you come alone, you probably don’t have to worry about getting picked up. Without stools, the bar is strictly for placing orders. The night we visited two solo patrons were reading books as they sipped cocktails. Drink alone here and no one will bat a lash.
It turns out coffee and spirits are natural partners.
Bluebird sources its “green” (unroasted) coffee beans from five farm collectives around the globe, throws them in its own four-grain bourbon barrels and lets ’em sit for a month or more. Like whiskey, Bluebird believes the beans get better with age, exuding flavors like vanilla, toffee and cedar. They soak up the char, the tasty inside of the barrel. (The stave is another piece of the barrel.)
The heavy lifting – barreling, roasting and packaging – happens in Phoenixville. The good stuff then gets transported to Ardmore.
Char & Stave Coffee Roasters Café & Cocktail Bar, 21 Rittenhouse Place, is open daily, Mon. & Tues. 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Wed. to Fri. 7 a.m. – midnight, Sat. and Sun. from 8 a.m.
Lifestyle Changes by Dr. Darby: a new approach to personalized weight control and corporate wellness
For three years, Lifestyle Changes’ Dr. Janine Darby has helped patients slim down and shape up.
This isn’t a side specialty – it’s her entire practice. As word about her unique service has spread up and down the Main Line and well beyond, her list of happy patients has exploded exponentially.
Board certified in both Obesity Medicine and Family Medicine, the best-selling author of “Get Your Sexy Back,” and an inspiring weight-loss success story herself, Darby employs an approach that’s both highly medical and uniquely personal. Patients rave about her thorough health screenings, her compassion, her one-on-one, customized three-month programs. The pounds slide off – and stay off – and patients actually enjoy the process.
Now, Dr. Darby is bringing her unique expertise and empathy to corporations – thanks to a satisfied patient and CEO who asked her to start a wellness program for his employees.
Sedentary from working from home during the pandemic, his workforce had been struggling. They felt isolated and lethargic. Scales were inching up. He worried about their health, decreasing productivity and burnout. In a tight labor market, he feared The Great Resignation would spread to his software company.
With his firm’s new wellness partnership with Lifestyle Changes by Dr. Janine Darby, he’s stopped worrying. As he invests in his staff, they become more invested in the company.
Lifestyle Changes Corporate Wellness Program can be tailored to different workforces but generally works like this: Each employee gets an individualized health assessment and wellness action plan created by Dr. Darby. Each participates in regular virtual wellness events with Dr. Darby and hand-selected experts. Sessions begin and end with guided meditation to help keep everyone grounded. (Those who need extra help losing weight can enroll in Dr. Darby’s intensive three-month programs at a steeply reduced price.)
Over time, emotional and physical loads become lighter. High blood pressure and stress melt away. Restful sleep is restored.
Happier in themselves, they become happier and more productive at work.
“Most corporate wellness programs are run by the business; they’re not physician-led,” says Dr. Darby. “That’s what sets mine apart. I understand what humans need, what their bodies need, what the individual health issues are.”
In the coming months, she plans to add yoga, even more recipes and cooking tips, and a meal delivery service for busy clients and patients. “That’s a big issue. So many say, ‘I don’t have time to shop and cook. I barely have time to eat.’”
She’s also creating a library of healthy-tips videos and hopes to launch group weight-loss coaching at a lower price point.
And she’s out in the community, breaking barriers and lifting folks up. As Methacton Schools DEI Task Force President and newly elected Lower Providence Township Supervisor, she aims to bring “the empathy of a physician and the analytic skills of a scientist” to her roles.
“It’s not easy to juggle everything but it’s manageable,” says Dr. Darby, who also has four children. “I’m here to make the community better” – taxpayer and patient alike.
***Special 3rd Anniversary offer: 30% off Lifestyle Changes’ private label supplements, new Wellness Journal, proprietary merch, and Dr. Darby’s Get Your Sexy Back bestseller. ***
For a no-obligation “discovery” phone appointment with Dr. Darby, call 484-685-0033 or visit [email protected]. Meet Dr. Darby at Ladies Day at the Devon Horse Show June 1.
Dreaming about a shiny new door this spring but worry it will take too long? Not so, says Austin Hepburn, the Main Line’s premier door and window replacement specialist. Hepburn tells us he can get Pella Lifestyles sliding doors in eight weeks and Pella fiberglass entry doors in eight to 10 weeks. Hinged French doors will take a few weeks longer. (Some Pella products are taking up to 40 weeks!) But you better hurry. Hepburn expects lead times to increase after Memorial Day.
To sell to the Main Line, you have to know the Main Line. That’s why Jeanne Egan tells us she’s thrilled to join the Mulholland-Perrachia group, a tippy-top-performing team at Berkshire Hathaway/Fox & Roach Realtors in Devon. A Villanova resident, Jeanne has a background in sales, marketing and event planning which makes her an outstanding asset to an already superlative team. If Jeanne’s name is familiar, she was an Agnes Irwin class parent and has organized fundraisers for Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
It’s flower-giving season and guess what? They no longer have to wilt, fade and die. No, really. Now you can send flower arrangements that last a lifetime. Introducing Forever Flowers, one-of-a-kind floral arrangements handmade by a Main Line artist using real, preserved flowers. They stay as lifelike as the day they were picked, keeping their color and never drying out. A must-see at https://www.kremp.com/gift-shop/forever-flower-wall-art. What will they think of next?
May flowers are blooming but still not feeling in the pink? If you’re a woman struggling with fatigue, stress, insomnia, weight and headaches, your hormones might be out of whack. Naturopathic doctor Lynn Feinman will guide you along, well, a natural path to hormonal balance and wellness – no HRT pills, pellets or patches required. “These [symptoms] are all indicators of lifestyle, nutrient and diet issues that need to be addressed for better balance.” Feinman tailors plans to individual needs using proprietary cleanses, nutrients, herbs and homeopathies.
Is your child bored by traditional day camps? May we suggest camp at The Grayson School, a school for gifted students in Radnor? Grayson offers fun, enriching, one-week sessions geared to advanced learners in grades K through 12. Younger grades can explore everything from astronomy to machines, middle schoolers might make a film trailer or dabble in physics, and grades 9 to 12 can create cool college admissions videos or tinker around with electronics. Whatever floats their boats. Oh, to be young again.
We can’t get enough of this Main Line classic estate in Villanova, and now it can be yours. Designed by the esteemed Walter Durham in 1937, “Braemere” has been meticulously refurbished, blending original details with the styles and comforts of today. From the magnificent slate roof, copper gutters and original stone walls to the crystal chandelier, gracious banister and must-see kitchen, primary suite and waterfall pool and spa, this 8,500 sq. ft., 5 BR, 5 BA, 5-garage English country estate on 6.7 secluded areas is offered at $5,895,000. Open house May 7. Cocktails on the terrace 5/19, 5 to 8 p.m. Full listing/video tour here. We dare you not to drool.
***SAVVY Picks are shoutouts & promos on behalf of our sponsors. To learn more about becoming a SAVVY Pick, email [email protected].
Update on probe of T/E custodian, charged with sexual misconduct with students
Tredyffrin police continue to investigate the Valley Forge Middle School custodian arrested for sexual abuse involving two students two weeks ago.
“Our detectives are still collecting data from various sources to support the current charges and to complete the investigation,” said Tredyffrin Police Chief Mike Beaty on Wednesday. Paoli resident Rushon “Shawn” Drayton, 23, (above) reportedly waived his right to a hearing last week and remains out on $50K cash bail. He turned himself in April 19.
A five-year TESD employee, he is now barred from school district property.
“The District removed Mr. Drayton from its schools immediately upon learning of the allegations from the police,” TESD solicitor Ken Roos tells SAVVY.
Drayton has been charged with 39 counts, including multiple felonies, relating to sexually inappropriate contact with two 8th grade girls.
In an email to T/E families and staff – notably sent 58 minutes after Tredyffrin Police circulated a news release about the arrest – Superintendent Rich Gusick assured the community that Drayton had passed mandatory background checks and received required child abuse prevention training.
A detailed media statement from Chesco DA Deb Ryan asserted the following: One of the two alleged victims told authorities that the custodian had become increasingly friendly with students for months, handing out treats to curry favor. The girl said she gave Drayton her phone number when he asked for it and he started sending sexually explicit texts. On April 10, her mother found screenshots of the texts on her daughter’s phone and contacted Tredyffrin Police.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Drayton gave sex toys and marijuana to a second student and sent her hundreds of photos of his penis and videos of him masturbating. He admitted to meeting one of the students outside school and kissing her ten times, according to published reports. DA Ryan’s statement noted that Drayton had deleted texts to the second victim from his phone but police were able to recover them.
“Rushon Drayton preyed upon vulnerable middle schoolers who he groomed over a period of time while working in his job as a janitor at Valley Forge Middle School,” said DA Ryan. “We are aware of two victims at this stage in the investigation but believe that there may be others. We urge parents to contact Tredyffrin Police Detectives at 610-644-3221 with any information about this case.”
After 20 years of historic house tours, cocktail parties and fundraisers, the barn, blessedly, is ours.
The Jones Log Barn Living History Center debuted next to Chesterbrook’s historic event venue, Duportail House, last month – a testament to one woman’s determination and the generous community that shared her vision.
A mini-museum, the Center offers a peek into Tredyffrin’s agrarian past including rare, 18-century farm equipment from Little Place Farm, c.1740, on nearby Walker Rd. As a thank you, the farm’s owners, Fred and Lura Wampler (in the front row above), were invited to be first to enter the barn at the April 3 ribbon-cutting.
Just as intriguing is the edifice itself, wherein three bygone barns were melded to make living history in the 21st century.
Built on the foundation of a Chesterbrook barn lost to fire in 1985, the new structure uses logs salvaged from two dismantled Berwyn barns: the long-neglected, c. 1722 “Jones” barn near Teegarden Park that played a role in the Revolutionary War and the big Civil-War era red barn at the old Fritz Lumber Yard. Both were slated for demolition.
Berwyn-based Eadah Enterprises also plays a role in this restoration saga. When Eadeh bought the Fritz property, it donated the barn’s timber to the cause. The Fritz site has since sold again and has been razed for apartments.
The salvage was stored for years in Valley Forge Park and at a Tredyffrin composting site off Cassatt Rd., then painstakingly re-assembled – with newer timber mixed in – by Scott Walker (Axe Handle Timber), who’s bullish on barns, the older, the better.
In the 20 years since its conception, the project took many twists and dips. But steady at the stern was Pattye Benson and her merry band of believers. Benson helms the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, the nonprofit formed to raise funds – about $500,000 plus in-kind donations – for this project.
A crusader for community preservations, she also owns the nearby Great Valley House bed-and-breakfast, c. 1690. A gift from the past to future generations, the Jones Log Barrn Living History Center will be her enduring legacy.
Now if we could just get her to tackle the old Anthony Wayne movie theater.
The Jones Log Barn Living History Center, 297 Adams Drive, Chesterbrook, adjacent to the 18th-century Duportail House and c. 1792 Federal Barn. Free, open to the public, and staffed by docents Sundays 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. through October. Entry fee for personal and group guided tours and school field trips by appointment year round. For more info, email [email protected] or call Pattye Benson at 610-644-6759.
This and That
The new Marc Vetri Italian steakhouse in Bryn Mawr we’re all aflutter over won’t open until summer. Shucks. Celebrated chef Vetri is dropping an intriguing breadcrumb trail on Instagram, however. Here’s what we know: 1) The new place won’t look anything like Enoteca Tredici, which has been largely gutted. 2) The new restaurant will be named Fiore Rosso (red flower), not to be confused with Fiorella (little flower), Vetri’s tiny pasta gem in Philly. 3) Fiore Rosso will serve dry-aged cuts and plenty of non-meat dishes. 4) Chef de cuisine will be Jesse Grossman, who helmed Vetri’s Osteria in North Philly. And 5) They’re hiring.
Calories and clubs are coming to Wayne’s Gateway Shopping Center. Custom club-fitter Club Champion will debut soon. And cult-fave Crumble Cookies is firing up its ovens near First Watch.
People’s Light in Malvern honored Abigail Adams at its annual gala last weekend. No, not that Abigail Adams, silly. This one is the Main Line’s First Lady of Theater. Adams was recognized for her 40-year starring role guiding our treasured theater company. In addition to artistic director, she’s directed more than 60 plays at People’s Light and started its New Voices Ensemble for underserved youth. She’s continuing at the theater in a supporting role.
Got a spare $250 mill? Uptown Worthington is for sale and in your price range. The 100-acre Malvern complex includes Wegmans, Target, Rothman Institute, the 253-unit Royal Worthington apartments that are reportedly 95% occupied, eateries and retail, a soon-to-open Nemours Children’s Health facility and oodles of still-undeveloped space. Worthington developer Brian O’Neill of MLP Ventures told the Philadelphia Business Journal that his “life sciences businesses are booming and it’s time.”
Marghi Adzick, the founder of Addison Bay workout wear, tells us she’s taking space at Suburban Square. The upscale women’s outfitter has been a solid hit in Avalon since it opened its first outpost there last summer.
Stick a fork in them: large-scale apartment buildings in “downtown” Berwyn – like Berwyn Square and the Fritz project near the Berwyn Tavern – are done. Easttown has amended its zoning code to limit the density of multi-family housing in the Village and nearby streets. From now on, new multifamily buildings on Lancaster Ave., the “Village Business” district, can have no more than 16 units per acre. The surrounding “Village Transition District” can have no more than 12 units (or townhomes)/acre. The lone dissenting vote on the Board of Supervisors was Betsy Fadem who voiced concerns about the amendment’s review process and its long-term effects on the “vibrancy” of the downtown business district.
Boozy news in Malvern borough. Stalwart Italian BYOB Anthony’s will reportedly close for a week or so this summer to install a full-service bar.
Speaking of Malvern, the town is planning Fab Four event on King Street next Saturday afternoon, May 14. The “Here Comes the Sun” Spring Festival will feature a concert by a Beatles tribute band, food trucks, beer garden, shopping and kiddie entertainment. Perfect chaser for our long, cold lonely winter.
Vroom Vroom.Wheels of Wayne car show rolls into town next Sunday, May 15.
An early spring gift to open-space advocates in Willistown. According to Willistown Conservation Trust, Kirkwood Farm – a treasured, 216-acre parcel between Providence and Plumsock Roads listed for sale a few months ago, is now under agreement with a “conservation-minded buyer.” The buyer and family are excited to preserve the property and will be “good stewards of the land,” the Trust notes.
A big get for the socially inclusive, neurodiverse GETCafe in Narberth. Someone just donated $10K to its $50K fundraising campaign for a bigger community center/coffee shop. GETCafe (Great Expectations Together) has employed more than 40 people with disabilities or ASD since it opened on Valentine’s Day of 2019. Love that.
CBD Kratom appears to be going down swinging. Just one day after Radnor commissioners regulated the sale of Kratom and Delta 8, effectively outlawing a CBD Kratom store at the old Wayne Starbucks, the company filed suit against the township.
Yikes – the 20-year-old wooden tower where officials watch the Radnor Hunt races may be teetering. The Races have started a Twenty ($20) for the Tower campaign to repair and restore the Steward’s Tower. Online donors get a limited-edition pin that can be picked up on Race Day, May 21.
A monster win for the ongoing “Save Our Sewer” campaign in Willistown. In a major slapdown of Bryn Mawr-based Aqua PA, a PA Administrative Law Judge recommended that the state PUC deny Aqua’s proposed purchase of Wilistown’s wastewater system. The sale would end up doing more harm than good, the judge said, and would result in much higher bills for Willistown’s public sewer users. Public sewer users – about half the township – have railed against the proposed sale, arguing that the financial windfall would benefit all residents but would be unfairly borne on the backs of public users in the form of higher rates. The PUC is expected to rule on Aqua’s bid next month.
Meanwhile, Tredyffrin’s sewer system is NSF – Not For Sale. After a parade of residents spoke their piece about the township’s flooding woes and potential fixes at recent public hearings, township supervisors voted to impose a stormwater fee rather than sell off its system for $75 million, a move that experts say would have cost taxpayers more in the long run.
Van Cleve Collection … it’s for guys, too. The Paoli bridal emporium now sells menswear: tuxes, suits, sportcoats and accessories including those fab Bungee Oblečení sneakers by Philly’s own Darrell Alston. Anticipating the post-pandemic wedding boom, Van Cleve just added another 3,000 sq. ft. to its already expansive Paoli showroom. At 10,000 sq. ft., it’s now the Main Line’s biggest bridal boutique.
Borscht Belt in Bryn Mawr? The Ukrainian-born owners of the Euro-fusion BYOB, The Choice, are selling pints of the ruby-red soup to raise money for their homeland’s refugees. Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan has given The Choice’s borscht two thumbs up, calling it “perfectly balanced” with “earthy sweetness.” The Choice even shared its recipe with LaBan’s readers, inviting those who can’t get to Bryn Mawr to prepare and peddle the soup to friends and donate proceeds to Ukraine relief.
Don’t you wonder what happens to the kids who graduate first in high school? Did they, perhaps, peak too soon? Well, Joyelle McSweeney, Stoga ’94 valedictorian, sure didn’t. She was just getting started. McSweeney went on to Harvard, Iowa Writer’s Workshop and Oxford on a Marshall Scholarship. She’s now a much decorated playwright, novelist, translator, critic and English professor at the University of Notre Dame. And she was just awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, which puts her in rather fine company – hello, Margaret Atwood, Ken Burns, James Baldwin. Professor McSweeney called the honor “a spectacular show of confidence from the universe.” Her proud parents live in Chesterbrook.
And finally, a most Happy Mother’s Day to you hardworking, big-hearted, young and not-so-young moms out there in SAVVYland. Watch trashy TV. Phone an old friend. Paint your toenails purple. You are loved.