Shortly after dinner on Sunday, April 30, T/E Middle School fifth grader Reagan Monast suddenly stopped dancing to Taylor Swift and ran up to her bedroom. A check of her Apple watch confirmed the worst: her heart rate was sky high – 144 beats per minute.
Panicked, she asked her parents: “Am I going to have another seizure? Can I make it stop?”
Yes, you are, they replied. And no, you can’t.
When Reagan’s leg started shaking and her eyes darted sideways, Erin and Travis Monast knew what to do. They laid their daughter on her side to keep her airway clear and reached for Valtoco, her emergency anti-seizure medication.
As spasms moved from her foot to her head, Reagan stopped talking and passed out. Six-and-a-half minutes later, it was over. Her tonic-clonic seizure had ended.
Reagan regained consciousness, complained about how tired she was, and vomited. Her mother slept on the floor next to her bed that night. Reagan stayed home from school the next day to rest.
“Have you ever watched someone seize for five minutes? Have you ever watched your child seize? It is traumatic and it never gets easier,” wrote an exhausted Erin Monast on social media the next morning.
Fully-convulsive seizures, once called “grand mal,” are a frightening fact of life for the Monasts. Reagan, 11, has had about 50 of them since she was diagnosed with epilepsy and cerebral palsy just before her second birthday. (The two are common co-morbidities. Epilepsy has proven far more challenging than CP, her mother says.)
A tonic-clonic seizure comes with little warning. Now that’s she’s older, Reagan will say she’s tired, something’s not right, please get my medication.
The nurses at T/E Middle School, her teachers, and her physical and occupational therapists all know about Reagan’s condition and the emergency nasal spray that shortens her seizures.
Her classmates know about it, too. On March 24, when the whole school was asked to wear purple for epilepsy awareness, she spoke about it in front of her fifth-grade classes.
“It makes me so proud that she advocates for herself,” says Erin Monast. “She let them know that she might have a seizure at school and here’s what you need to do to help.”
The Monasts say few people understand how pervasive, dangerous and underfunded epilepsy remains. According to the CURE Epilepsy foundation, it affects more people than Parkinson’s, MS, ALS and CP combined but receives fewer federal dollars per patient.
There is no cure – only medications that help abate seizures. People can be diagnosed at any age. Sometimes epilepsy arises from pregnancy complications; others get it from a head injury. Some, like Reagan, have a few severe tonic-clonic seizures each year. Others can have upwards of 200 seizures each day, although those tend to be milder. There are, in fact, 40 different kinds of seizures.
And people with epilepsy are always in danger of dying in their sleep – as Disney Channel actor Cameron Boyce famously did in 2019 at age 20.
“That’s what’s so scary because at any point Reagan could have a seizure at night and if you don’t catch it, that’s the end result,” explains Erin, who keeps a video baby monitor in her daughter’s room. “I often say I haven’t slept for 12 years because there’s a monitor right next to my face every night.” The hope is that Erin or Travis will catch an unusual sound or movement or Reagan will feel a pre-seizure aura coming on and alert her parents.
Reagan’s epilepsy is especially stubborn. Five different anti-seizure drugs and a medical ketogenic diet have all failed to prevent seizures. The next step is surgery – if Reagan’s a candidate. This summer, a weeklong series of EEGs will try to pinpoint the origin of the seizures in her brain to determine if a surgical fix is even an option.
In the meantime, the Monasts and extended family are busy planning the 3rd Annual Reagan’s Run, a 5K run or 1-mile walk in Tredyffrin’s Wilson Farm Park on Sept. 17 that will honor Reagan and the 3.4 million people living with epilepsy and raise funds for CURE Epilepsy.
“People just don’t know much about epilepsy – that’s what has fueled me to do this,” her mom says. “That doesn’t mean they don’t care. I just want people to understand what it’s like for us and for so many other families. Parenting a child with epilepsy can feel like a marathon. Every day we’re just fighting for a cure for our kids.”
Registration is open and sponsors are welcome for Reagan’s Run 2023, a family-friendly 5K Fun Run and one-mile walk on Sept. 17 in Wilson Farm Park in Chesterbrook. Enter individually – $25 fee includes t-shirt and bib – or as a team. 100% of proceeds benefit CURE Epilepsy’s work to fund patient-focused research. Contact [email protected]. Register here. Follow @rea_of_hope on Instagram and Facebook.
About 150 people – Jewish families, allies and community leaders – rallied against hate in Tredyffrin on Sunday.
The group gathered at the same Chesterbrook location where swastikas were discovered April 20, part of the second wave of antisemitic vandalism to hit Tredyffrin this spring.
Alarmed residents, T/E School District leaders, Main Line clergy, Tredyffrin supervisors, Chester County commissioners, ADL Philadelphia’s director, and other affinity group leaders turned out for the rally and launch of a new #StandUpToJewishHate yard sign campaign.
The rally’s organizers were second-generation Holocaust survivor Howard Griffel whose wife first spotted the swastika on the Forge Mountain sign near their Chesterbrook home and T/E mom Lisa Schreiber.
“Each member of my family has always felt proud to be Jewish and for most of the 13 years we have lived here, had always felt respected … accepted and safe in our community,” Schreiber told the crowd. “However, in the last few years, we have grown increasingly uncomfortable as the number of incidents where antisemitic words, phrases and tropes have been used or weaponized has increased.” The swastikas defacing local signs “remind us of the past that could very well become our future if we ignore its warning,” she said.
Speaker after speaker affirmed the need to fight Jewish hate now.
“I wish I could say [antisemitism] is going away. It’s not,” Tredyffrin Supervisor Mark Freed told the crowd. “It’s as old as time and as old as the Jewish people.”
Chester County Commissioner Marian Moskowitz, who lives in Tredyffrin, talked about experiencing hate in her own life because she’s Jewish, including when she was elected in 2020. “Chester County is not a county of hate. There are a few people who’ve decided to do crazy things like this. But we have got to put all this hate back in a box, lock it and throw away the key … Enough is enough.”
Representing the Upper Main Line Ministerium, United Church of Christ Valley Forge Pastor Rev. Nathaniel Mahlberg read the group’s statement of support, concluding with: “We must humbly examine the ways our religious traditions can teach bias against people of other religions, in this case, bias against Jewish people. We must do the good, necessary and at times difficult work of cultivating communities that honor our differences and celebrate our shared humanity. The need is urgent. The time is now. We invite you to join us.”
Rabbi Beth Kalisch of Beth David Reform Congregation in Gladwyne, the Schreibers’ rabbi, led supporters in a hopeful song, “I will build this world from love,” the gathering sang.
Alarmed at hate crimes happening 10 minutes from her Paoli home, Lisa Schreiber sprang into action six weeks ago.
She reached out to 25 other families to form T/E Jewish Connections and mobilized Tredyffrin supervisors to pass a resolution condemning antisemitism and all forms of hate.
Conceived by Schreiber and mostly drafted by Supervisor Freed, an attorney who’s Jewish, the strongly-worded resolution passed unanimously (and enthusiastically) at the May 22 supervisor’s meeting.
“It felt like an important line in the sand,” Schreiber tells SAVVY. “It seems silly that a township would actually have to state that they’re against antisemitism. But unfortunately, communities around the country have had to do that lately.”
Her group plans to push for similar resolutions in Easttown and Great Valley.
The Connections’ next move: launch a GoFundMe to pay for lawn signs and perhaps local billboards. At press time, “Raise Awareness about Antisemitism in T/E” had surpassed its $8,500 goal.
The group’s leaders also started meeting with stakeholders including Tredyffrin police, clergy in the Upper Main Line Ministerium, PA Rep. Melissa Shusterman and T/E Superintendent Rich Gusick.
“Everyone has been incredible,” Schreiber says.
Tredyffrin supervisors pledged their support for hate-crime legislation now pending in Harrisburg.
Shusterman talked about hosting a roundtable on antisemitism in the fall.
Gusick called his meeting with the group “the start of what I hope will be a very productive dialogue.”
The Upper Main Line Ministerium issued an interfaith statement signed by 15 pastors, chaplains and rectors.
If you missed news of the hate crimes: In late March, a 15-year-old Conestoga student was charged with criminal mischief and ethnic intimidation after spray-painted swastikas were found at Valley Forge Middle School. On April 20 (Hitler’s birthday), at least six more swastikas were found on signs in Chesterbrook, on a sign for Jenkins Arboretum, and in the neighborhood behind Gateway Shopping Center. That copycat perpetrator remains at large.
Schreiber tells us she formed T/E Jewish Connections in part because local Jewish families didn’t really know each other.
“T/E has a small Jewish population and we don’t really have many synagogues that convene the Jewish community here.” Many, like the Schreibers, join temples outside the township. “There’s a lot of disconnection in Jewish life out here.”
Schreiber was also upset by her daughter’s repeated reports of antisemitic micro-aggressions at Conestoga High School.
Ella Schreiber, a freshman, shared them publicly at the May 22 Tredyffrin Supervisors meeting: “As a Jewish girl at Conestoga … I experience and overhear countless messages of bias throughout my school day, whether these acts are online, in school group chats, or in the classroom, these perceived humorous comments need to stop. We can see from recent events that this subtle discrimination can bloom into something worse. I fear for the safety of my family and I feel for the safety of the generic Jewish community in Tredyffrin/Easttown.”
The statistics back up those fears. Jews are 2.4% of the national population but make up 55% of the victims of religious hate crimes, according to a national Stand Up To Jewish Hate campaign. Here in PA, the ADL reported a 65% rise in antisemitic incidents last year.
This spring’s swastikas were a “very real sign it was time to take action,” Schreiber told supporters on Sunday. “I’m so proud of this community for standing together and standing up to hate.”
Ah, to be young again. On second thought, perhaps not.
Main Line millennial couples are being stretched and squeezed financially like never before.
Arguably, their biggest headaches: the roller-coaster real estate market and the quest for childcare.
And guess what? They’re intertwined.
First, a look at local real estate.
The average sale price of a home on the Main Line jumped 37% last year and is now close to $1 million.
The chief culprit? Too few homes on the market. Inventory is down about 25% over last year, according to Bright MLS.
Folks who might otherwise trade up, downsize or “right size,” are staying on the sidelines, wary of climbing interest rates (and high prices).
Some are simply playing it safe.
“I don’t believe consumers trust our economy right now. It’s very volatile,” says Lynise Caruso, an agent with Keller Williams Main Line in Ardmore. “I’ve been a Realtor for 23 years and it’s one of the weirdest markets I’ve seen.”
New construction is also in short supply, reports Beth Mulholland, a lead agent at Mulholland-Peracchia Group at BHHS/Fox & Roach in Wayne-Devon. There’s less available land on the Main Line and developers face rising costs, ongoing labor shortages, lingering supply chain issues and township approval hurdles, she says.
The inventory squeeze means bidding wars are still with us, pushing prices ever higher, particularly on homes in the typical millennial price range of, say, $500,000 to just over $1 million.
Local Realtors tell us it’s not unusual for a home to go for $50K or $100K over asking.
If a two-income millennial couple can afford a $600,000 house, they should start looking in the $500,000 range, advises Sue McNamara, an agent with Long & Foster in Devon.
And buyers should be prepared to lose out – even if they agree to waive inspection and make generous offers.
“It’s heartbreaking,” McNamara says. “They fall in love with a house. They really want it. I had a client last year who put in 12 offers. Think about that emotional roller coaster.”
When buyers repeatedly lose out, their offers become more aggressive.
“We’re seeing buyers showing as much cash in place as possible – including their parents’ portfolios – to reassure sellers that they’re financially qualified,” says Mulholland. “In the past, buyers didn’t like to show their hand for fear it would affect their negotiating power.”
The real estate conundrum is forcing some would-be buyers – including millennials eager to leave the city – into the rental market, at least for a while. Believe it or not, all those new Main Line apartment buildings are leasing at a 90% clip, we’re told.
Today’s millennials are spending so much on housing that rainy day savings have become a “some day” thing. Indeed, 66% of millennials have put away nothing for retirement, according to the National Institute of Retirement Security.
With everything costing more, both parents are working, almost always full-time. Stay-at-home moms – so common 30 years ago – have become an endangered species in many segments of the Main Line.
“I don’t have a single friend who’s not working,” Nicole Dressel, a millennial mom in Tredyffrin, tells SAVVY. “It’s just impossible, especially in our area. We all moved here because the schools are so great but you can’t get yourself into a good school district without having two incomes.”
And that brings us to the other millennial crisis: finding childcare – an issue that’s impacting multiple generations.
Forget searching for childcare after the baby’s born. Couples start looking as soon as they know they’re pregnant, many forking over nonrefundable fees of $25 to $200 just to get their names on multiple waiting lists.
The Goddard School in Wayne currently has a two-year waiting list, according to owner Fran Lubbs.
“We’re at capacity until the summer of 2024,” reports Angela Bruno, owner of Kids Clubhouse on the Main Line in Radnor.
Children’s Ark in Ardmore tells us it has 60 infants waiting for spots and another 140 waiting for toddler and Pre-K spots. “It’s insane out there,” says director Krista Killeen. “Parents are having a really hard time.”
Some centers have stopped giving tours to prospective families. Why bother when you know you’ll never have a spot for their children?
At Wonderspring Early Education in Narberth, infants are waiting so long, they’re aging out.
“I’ve basically moved 20 of them to our young toddler waitlist because there’s absolutely no way they’d be able to get into the infant room,” Wonderspring director Natalie Renn tells SAVVY.
Across PA, there are about 35,000 kids on waitlists, according to a recent survey.
Parents, meanwhile, are scrambling – resorting to pricey nannies or relying on relatives and friends.
Local grandparents are putting their retirement dreams on ice and pinch-hitting as babysitters and kiddie chauffeurs. Backyards and basements unused for years are suddenly coming in handy.
Sioalan and Matt Trucksess, who just recently moved to Berwyn from South Philly, have been depending on family to watch their four-month-old while they wait for a spot at a nearby Goddard School. “Grandparents, aunts, my sister-in-law, anyone who’s free basically,” Sioalan says. “It’s not perfect – we scramble when someone can’t watch him – but we do have a lot of help. Not everyone does. So we’re lucky in that sense.”
In some cases, parents of newborns are moving back home for a while – saving for homes of their own and solving their childcare issues at the same time.
Other couples are widening their searches.
Warren Scott and his wife, who live in Radnor, struck out at seven Main Line childcare centers before snagging a spot at Primrose Academy in Center City. “My wife does work downtown but it’s still inconvenient.”
Danielle Brady and her husband, who just moved to Paoli, have been schlepping their infant daughter to her old childcare center in Conshohocken, a one-hour roundtrip drive for drop-off, a second hour for pickup.
Haverford mom Tara Goode Runkle put her name on six to eight daycare lists in her first trimester. When her twins came early, she reached out again – no dice. Halfway through her maternity leave, she realized “we’re not getting off any list. So we went to the Babysitters Club of the Main Line Facebook page and found a nanny.”
It costs a bit more but is comparable to what she’d be paying for daycare for two children, Runkle tells us.
So what the heck is going on here?
For starters, spaces are generally offered to siblings of current enrollees and the children of faculty and staff first – they get to jump the line.
But the bigger issue, by far, is staffing.
Out of work for months during the COVID shutdown, many childcare employees and early childhood teachers left the field for higher-paying, more flexible jobs. Replacing them has been, well, a nightmare.
Some centers never reopened. Others have been forced to cut capacity – close whole rooms or take fewer children because the state mandates strict staff-to-child ratios.
Wonderspring in Narberth lost half its employees after the pandemic and had to close one of its two infant rooms. “We have been advertising for a lead infant teacher for two years and have yet to find a candidate,” says Renn, the director.
The Goddard School in Wayne hasn’t closed rooms but has been limiting enrollment since COVID. “We just don’t have the staff to cover more children,” says Lubbs, the owner.
Recruiting has never been tougher, she says. “We pay at or above what everybody else is paying. We offer paid time off and good benefits. The issue is: people apply for a job and never show up for the interview. If they do show up, they come in ripped jeans and sweatshirts with no experience and no educational qualifications and want $20/hour. That’s not going to happen.”
Every early childhood center we reached for this story pays well above the state average of $12.50 an hour. But that’s still not enough to attract qualified staff.
“Early childhood teachers don’t get the professional respect for the hard and important work they do,” explains Zakiyyah Boone, CEO of nine area Wonderspring centers. “Infant teachers are responsible for ensuring the full development of a child’s brain and they can’t even get a discount on their coffee during Teacher Appreciation week! So [they think]: Why would I want that job? I can’t get the pay that other teachers get. I can’t get the professional respect. I can’t find childcare for my own children.”
The average cost of childcare in the Philadelphia suburbs is more than $18,080 – tops in PA, according to a new, independent study from Penn State. Some Main Line centers charge significantly more.
Nicole Dressel, whose 1- and 3-year-old daughters are full time at the Goddard School in Wayne, sees both sides. “We think we’re spending a ton of money on daycare and at the same time, because of how great the school has been to us and our girls, we think we don’t pay these people enough.”
Lubbs, Goddard’s owner, tells us her school’s fees average out to $9 an hour – less than half of the $20 an hour parents routinely pay babysitters for a night out.
A longtime advocate for better pay and working conditions for early childhood teachers and staff, Wellspring’s Boone believes the industry is in crisis.
“We’re the workforce behind the workforce,” Boone says. “In the neighborhood of $6 billion is missing from our economy because people can’t find childcare,” she says, citing a report from the Early Learning Investment Commission.
Bruno at Kids Clubhouse in Radnor tells us she’s thought about opening a second location to give parents another option but has been scared off by onerous state regulations and the lack of public support and funding.
At Children’s Ark in Ardmore, Killeen also hopes for a legislative fix.
“We’re constantly advocating for state funding so we can pay our teachers more without raising rates,” Killeen says. “If we could pay more, we’d have more teachers available and centers could stay fully open and even branch out elsewhere.”
A glimmer of hope: Politicians are finally paying attention to a crisis that’s affecting everyone and everything: millennials, grandparents, employers and economic productivity.
Governor Shapiro’s proposed budget includes $66 million to hire more childcare workers and make childcare more affordable for working families. Industry advocates will tell you that doesn’t go nearly far enough but for now, they’ll take what they can get.
Wellspring’s Boone was just in Harrisburg lobbying state senators a few weeks ago. She urges struggling families to remember their childcare issues on Election Day. “It really matters what candidate’s legislative priorities are and if childcare is on that list.”
Finding the holy grail – a place to play pickle – just got easier, Main Line.
Two enterprising locals just opened what they say is the largest pickleball facility in the northeast: Dink City Pickleball at Valley Forge Military Academy & College.
And unlike YMCAs, country clubs, and Malvern’s new Bounce Pickleball, you pay only for your reserved court time. No need for a membership.
EA alum Bryson Craft, 31, and Radnor H.S. grad Rob Norton, 32, have turned four underused tennis courts at VFMA into 16 state-of-the-art pickleball courts (shown above). Bounce has 14 indoor courts.
With the tagline “community at play,” Dink City is more than cushioned courts, painted lines and regulation nets.
“It’s all the social things around pickleball that we offer – that’s the differentiator,” Norton tells SAVVY.
Think food trucks, corn hole and music on weekends, plus lessons, clinics, leagues, tournaments, pro shop, private events and birthday parties.
“I love getting out on the court and getting a good sweat on,” says Norton who’s played pickle for nine years. “But just as much as that, I like hanging out with friends and family afterwards, maybe having a beverage or a taco or something from a food truck. That enhances the experience for everybody.”
The courts have lights for evening play and will be available year-round. “There are some hard core pickle-ballers out there who will play in the cold,” Norton says. “It’s like paddle – once you get moving, you warm up a bit.”
His partner, Craft, who works in global sports and entertainment marketing for SAP, is already planning an ugly sweater party in December and a Winter Warrior tournament in February. “We’re going to try to get creative in the off months,” Craft says.
Anyone can sign up for court time via the free Court Reserve app and prices are reasonable.
Four players can book a private court for $32/hour ($8 per person) in off-peak times or $40/hour ($10 pp) nights and weekends. Solo players can join in two hours of open play with people at the same skill level for $14.
“We want to make it completely accessible,” Craft explains. “We don’t want to price anyone out.”
Pals practically from birth, avid tennis and paddle players, and collegiate athletes, Norton and Craft started playing pickle in their parents’ driveways nearly a decade ago and watched it explode.
“Unlike tennis or golf, everyone and anyone can play well from the very beginning: a 7-year-old, a 25-year-old and a 60-year old can all be on the court and have fun,” Craft says. “That’s why it’s so popular and growing so fast.”
Adds Norton: “But in talking to people, we found there just weren’t a ton of courts and availability on the Main Line. People who wanted to play every day couldn’t.”
The two decided to cash in on the craze but make it community-oriented rather than an exclusive club. A real estate broker connected them to Valley Forge Military, which has been seeking new revenue streams to offset falling enrollment. (Since 2010, VFMAC has sold 20 acres to Eastern College, five acres to Bentley Homes, and most recently, 23 acres to developer Rockwell Custom for a new senior living complex.)
“The quickest win,” the partners say, was repurposing the lightly-used tennis courts on Radnor Road in the Tredyffrin section of campus. They loved the “heart of Wayne” location – a stone’s throw from St. David’s Golf Club and close to multiple schools, campuses and country clubs.
And if all goes well, outdoor courts in Wayne could just be the beginning for Dink City. VFMAC is in early talks to turn its equestrian center into a sports complex that might include Dink’s first indoor courts. Craft and Norton are also looking at properties in and around Philly and Maryland – although they haven’t yet quit their day jobs.
“To do this full-time would be a cool dream come true for both us because we’re both really sports-oriented,” says Norton. “This is a great bridge to that future for us.”
The Main Line has (yet) another casual Italian BYOB and the price is right.
After an eight-month renovation, Villa Artigiano Ristorante opened quietly two months ago in the old A la Maison space in downtown Ardmore. The tablecloths are gone and sound-softening banquettes now line some walls.
Villa Artigiano – Italian for artisan – is an all-hands-on-deck Albanian family affair. (No relation to the Albanian operators of Otto by Polpo or Dua Mediterranean Grill in Bryn Mawr.)
Backed by partner investors, Nuri Kupa, former chef at La Viola in Center City, is turning out classic Italian fare in the kitchen. His son, Redi, works under him, while another son, Tony, manages the front of the house. Their sister, Morava, helps out on weekends.
Tony tells us he and his father have yet to take a day off. Villa Artigiano is open for dinner seven days a week, six days for lunch.
“We like to say we serve Italian food with a little bit of love,” Tony says.
On the menu: Antipasti and Insalata $9 – $17; Pastas (some are homemade) $21 – $27 at dinner, $15 – $18 at lunch; Entrées $22 – $36 at dinner, $15 – $20 at lunch; Panini (lunch only) $11 – $15.
Service was attentive and everything we tried was tasty: the grilled artichoke starter, the steamed mussels; the Caesar salad, the chicken Artigiano, the housemade gnocchi and the veal Carciofi.
With familiar fare at fair prices, Villa Artigiano hopes to be the kind of neighborhood trattoria locals put in their regular rotation. Based on our visit, we’d say they’re off to a solid start.
Can’t decide between the privacy of a single-family home and the carefree lifestyle of a condo?
Now you don’t have to.
Introducing St. Honoré, a 14-home, walkable Wayne enclave that’s carving out a whole new category of single-family construction.
Homes are spacious: 3,800 sq. ft. with four bedrooms, 4.5 baths and an elevator accessible from your 2-car garage.
But instead of expanses of lawn to maintain, you’ll have outdoor space you actually use: a generously sized flagstone porch with natural beams – perfect for entertaining.
And you won’t have to spend another Saturday on yard work. The HOA will trim your grass and mulch your beds – and maintain the community’s lavish landscaping.
“We believe there’s a hole in the market for people who want to stay in the area in a single-family home but want carefree, convenient living,” says Joan Holloway of Wayne-based C.F. Holloway, III & Co., the site’s developer. “The entire project is lifestyle-driven. People have been asking us to build smaller, single-family homes with private outdoor living like a resort home. You might get a terrace in a condo but you won’t get a big outdoor porch.”
St. Honoré team has already fielded inquiries from downsizing empty nesters, multi-generational families and area realtors, Holloway says. Potential buyers appreciate the elevator, the privacy and flexibility of four en suite bedrooms, and the convenient neighborhood and lifestyle.
Indeed, the location is stellar: the Lancaster County Farmer’s Market and DiBruno Bros. are just steps away, accessed via safe sidewalks. Eagle Village Shops and the Strafford train station are a short stroll. A slightly longer walk takes you to North Wayne Avenue’s Restaurant Row and downtown shopping corridor.
It’s new construction, but St. Honoré’s homes are designed to blend in, not stand out.
“When we go into established neighborhoods, we try to draw on architectural elements and the character of what’s already there,” Holloway explains. “We study the surrounding houses to make sure there’s nice flow and compatibility. We’re not alien to what’s already there.”
Led by architect Tom Weston from McIntyre-Capron in Paoli, exteriors were inspired by local rooflines and the stone, gables and roofs of Eagle Village. The goal: homes that “look like they’re going to be around a long time and aren’t dated,” says Holloway.
While exteriors are timeless, interiors are modern and airy with 10-ft. first-floor ceilings, custom plank floors, oversized Pella windows, chef-quality kitchens, spa bathrooms and upstairs laundries. Floor plans reflect today’s casual styles of living, dining and entertaining. An optional 1,200 sq. ft. lower level can be finished into separate exercise, craft and media rooms.
The project began with the builder’s purchase of a 3-acre parcel owned by the late heiress Dodo Hamilton near her Strafford home. The owners of the Wayne Bed & Breakfast Inn, which adjoined that parcel, reached out to offer their property. The Inn’s next-door neighbor then offered his home and the parcel swelled to more than five acres – enough space to build 14 “resort-style” homes on quarter-acre lots with parklike space behind them. (A different developer is seeking township approval to build townhomes at Dodo Hamilton’s personal estate behind Eagle Village.)
The project was inspired by Cas and Joan Holloway’s recent trip to Paris and named for its elegant Rue de Faubourg St. Honoré.
“Walkability and green space are very valued by the French,” says Joan Holloway. “People feel the same way in Wayne and Radnor.”
Prices start at $2.4 million.
Visit http://www.sthonorewayne.com/ for more information and to schedule a visit.
By Rebecca Adler
Bored with barre?
Burnt out on kettlebells?
Had your fill of HIIT?
Worry not. The Main Line’s boutique studio craze continues to churn out inventive iterations with the arrival of SPENGA, a shiny new workout space in Wayne’s Gateway Shopping Center.
Akin to a well-balanced meal, SPENGA (an acronym for SPin, strENgth, yoGA) aims to provide a perfectly portioned workout: 20 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of strength training and 20 minutes of flexibility.
“People will love SPENGA because we incorporate all three,” says veteran trainer and owner Mary Bulman. “People don’t have time anymore, their attention spans are short, [they] pass off things like flexibility as unimportant.”
After 20-plus years in the industry, Bulman knows fitness. She’s worked as an instructor, personal trainer and head of health and wellness at the Upper Perkiomen YMCA. Compared to the 60-minute classes she used to teach, SPENGA’s bite-sized workouts feel accessible to everyone – and perfect for newbies.
“I want people to be successful,” she says of SPENGA’s “you versus you” mantra. “That’s the whole point of exercise and being healthy. If we’re on the bike and you want to stay in the saddle, stay in the saddle. If you’re just here for the people and the music and the fun, let’s do it!”
Avid fans of any of these workouts won’t be disappointed. The open, airy, beautifully branded space in the old Carter’s store has three sections designed to feel familiar to riders (lights go down, music pumps up), lifters (well-stocked walls of weights, balls, bells and more) and yogis (a wood-paneled sea of mats and blocks so you won’t need to BYO).
Bulman says SPENGA’s tailored workouts and intimate studio setting give clients the personal trainer experience without the price tag. “I have the ability to connect to people quickly, see their faces, jump down into a pushup to correct someone’s form,” she says.
Another plus: Staff cleans up after you so you can transition seamlessly through each station, no wipe-downs necessary. The studio will also offer childcare, showers, lockers and body composition analysis with Inbody Scan technology.
Currently open for tours and accepting memberships, SPENGA should be up and running in July.
SPENGA Wayne, 249 E. Swedesford Rd, Gateway Shopping Center, Wayne, 610-572-7207.
*** Mention SAVVY for special introductory pricing, plus a swag bag and 20 percent off retail!**
Wayne’s historic Louella Court is now home to an au courante art gallery, Colonna Contemporary.
“My vision is to bridge the worlds of traditional and digital art – from pigment to pixel,” owner Michele Colonna tells SAVVY. He says he chose Wayne because “it has the intellectual heft and cultural foundation for a contemporary art gallery to thrive.”
Colonna believes digital art is the most consequential art movement of our time – on the order of the pop art revolution ignited by Andy Warhol in the 1960s.
A global roster of painters and fine art photographers will be represented on the gallery’s whitewashed walls; many more are available online. In addition to sales and consultations, he envisions his 700 sq. ft. gallery as a hub for fellow art enthusiasts with artists’ talks, exhibitions and workshops.
“There’s a great deal of creative innovation happening,” Colonna says. “The gallery can play a crucial educational and advisory role in helping collectors understand and navigate the space.”
A former marketing executive with luxury and outdoor brands, Colonna now works exclusively in contemporary art, where he’s cultivated relationships with artists and collectors worldwide. His personal collection includes 300 digital works “from some of the most prominent artists in the world,” he says. “It’s an exciting time for collectors and I want to bring that excitement to the place I call home.”
Colonna Contemporary, 4 Louella Ct., Wayne, 484-793-5114, is open Wed. to Sat. 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
For 20 years Main Line Sound & Video has been ground zero for your home entertainment and smart technology needs. Centrally located in Eagle Village Shops in Wayne, MLSV offers the area’s best selection of LED, OLED and outdoor TVs, projectors, receivers, speakers, amps, home automation devices, AV furniture, you name it. Better yet, their expert craftsmen will install everything. Working hand-in-hand with homeowners, interior designers and builders, MLSV has designed and installed thousands of home entertainment systems – from basic TVs to custom home theaters. They’ll also wire your whole house for state-of-the-art sound and automation. No project is too ambitious (or too small) for the pros at Main Line Sound & Video.
Waking up stiff and achey? Not as flexible as you once were? Want to sharpen your golf or tennis game? Restore Movement in downtown Wayne is celebrating two years helping the Main Line feel and move better. Independently owned and operated by Navy veteran Jennifer Knoll, Restore Movement will assess your posture and movement patterns to diagnose issues, then use muscle stimulation, assisted stretching and short one-on-one functional workouts to unlock your body’s full potential. Her customized sessions for all ages and fitness levels can bridge the gap between PT and independent exercise and prevent re-injury.
*** Special deal for SAVVY READERS. Use promo code SavvyML when you book online or mention SAVVY Main Line when you call 484-372-3633 to get 25% off your first appointment at Restore Movement.
Love older homes but dread renovations? Have we got a new listing for you! 401 Windsor Ave. is an all-stone, Cotswald-style manor home on a lovely, one-acre lot at the end of a private lane that’s an easy walk to downtown Wayne. Designed and built in the early 1900s, this three-story, 5-bedroom, 4.5 bathroom beauty been meticulously restored and renovated inside and out by its current owners, combining the stateliness of and grace of yesteryear with the style and function of today. All you’ll need to do is unpack the moving van. Entertain in generously sized rooms amid gorgeous millwork, deep-silled windows and mature gardens while you enjoy a chef-worthy kitchen, 4 gas fireplaces, a whole house generator, extensive outdoor lighting and sprinkler systems, sunny family room addition, second-floor laundry, the spacious wine cellar and more. Offered at $2,475,000 by the Deb Dorsey Team. Virtual tour here. Full listing here.
Another banner year for The Baldwin School, a Pre-K to Grade 12 school for girls in Bryn Mawr. Check out these impressive stats for the Class of 2023:
- 90% were admitted to one of their top three schools.
- Two-thirds were admitted to their top choice school.
- More than a third of the class gained admission to highly selective colleges and universities, i.e. those with admit rates of 15% or less.
- 27% of the class was recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program.
How does Baldwin do it? Its college counseling process is personalized and reflective. Counselors focus on self-awareness, self-advocacy, confidence and achieving a healthy balance in life. Rigorous academics and enriching extra-curriculars culminate in a college search process that’s supportive, inspirational and has the future of each student at its core. Visit baldwinschool.org.
Looking to get shipshape this summer in a more intimate environment? Check out Halo Academy, a new, state-of-the art health and fitness facility near Handel’s in the heart of Berwyn. Owned and operated by master trainer Hayley London, Halo Academy offers private and small-group training sessions, nutrition coaching and outdoor Sunrise Boot Camp classes. It’s a one-stop shop for personalized exercise and sound nutrition advice. The goal: build a healthy lifestyle that lasts a lifetime. London is certified in functional fitness, corrective exercise, nutrition, pre/post natal fitness, strength & conditioning, women’s fitness, performance enhancement, nutrition and more. Schedule a no-sweat free intro session here.
***SAVVY Picks are shoutouts & promos on behalf of our sponsors. To learn more about becoming a SAVVY Pick, email [email protected].
If anyone can find the funny in mental illness, former Main Liner and Emmy-nominated comedy writer Mike Jann can.
The jokes fly in Bug Therapy, his new animated short about a swarm of mentally-impaired insects, but there’s a weighty message beneath their wings: It’s OK to not be OK and to seek help. Indeed, Jann’s own 27-year-old son suffered a severe mental breakdown and was hospitalized during the filming, prompting him to add a new character with his son’s diagnosis.
Co-written and co-produced with his wife, Michele Jourdan, the 9-minute family-friendly film has received stellar reviews and festival awards, was viewed by multiple thousands throughout May, Mental Health Awareness Month, and is currently available via the film’s website, bugtherapy.film.
SAVVY chatted with Jann and Jourdan, who now live in Austin, about their hopes for the new film, its message, and Jann’s memories of the Main Line. Here’s our abridged and edited convo:
What inspired Bug Therapy?
Jann: We’re comedy writers so it all started with a funny line. It’s a story about a mosquito named Citronella who faints at the sight of blood. We wrote a feature-length script which turned out really funny and got us meetings all over Hollywood – DreamWorks, Sony, Fox. Every meeting went the same way: It’s hilarious. What else you got? Because nobody wanted to make an animated movie about a mosquito.
Jourdan: We knew the idea was good so we decided we’ll make a short film – a proof of concept.
Jann: We hope it gets enough views to attract attention. It will be a no-brainer to extend this into a movie or TV series. Our feature-length film script is ready to go – it’s a big action comedy like The Incredibles.
Jourdan: There are way more bugs with issues in the feature-length script.
How did you get so many big stars in the cast of what was a low-budget, self-funded venture?
It was unbelievable – the number of people who jumped on, basically for nothing. I was friends enough with Jay Leno – I wrote for his show for 20 years – that when he heard the topic of the film, he jumped on board to play Fly, an OCD germaphobe. When we approached Dr. Phil to be Dr. Pill, a pillbug therapist, he loved the subject matter and said yes. And Meghan Trainor [the phobic mosquito Citronella] loves Dr. Phil so she was really excited. Sterling K. Brown [the depressed Stick Bug] is an ambassador for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I think he was home dusting off his 17 Emmys when we called – he said yes. The Screen Actors Guild required us to pay the minimum – like $1,000 to $2,000. These are people getting a million dollars for the things they do and they did this for next to nothing. [Other cast members: Tom Green, a grasshopper addicted to caffeine, Jason Reisig, an arachnophobic spider, and Emily Goglia, a delusional Praying Mantis.}
You used to live on the Main Line, Mike. What brought you here?
I chased a Paoli girl to Paoli and lived on the Main Line for most of the 80s – what I call the skinny-tie era. I worked in advertising in the IVB building downtown. I lived in so many places, it sounds like I was running from the law: Paoli, Devon, Wayne, Ardmore, even Havertown. I think I had a beer in every bar on Route 30 – I played on four softball teams at once and there was always a place to go on the Main Line. It was so fun.
How did you become a writer for The Tonight Show?
I read an article in The Inquirer about another writer in Philadelphia who was faxing jokes to Jay Leno. So I started sending him jokes and Jay started using them for $25 a pop. Then he started paying me $50 a pop. When I had a chance to be hired, I walked into Jay’s office and the head writer was the guy from Philadelphia who inspired me. I worked for Jay for his entire run. Then I wrote for Fallon for a while.
Did you always know comedy was your thing?
Yes, but no one else did. That was the problem. I did stand-up comedy once and people asked, how did it go? I’d tell them: I did stand-up … once.
Michele, are you a comedy writer?
No, I left high tech to become a personal trainer but I’ve always loved writing. We have other screenplays written – mostly romantic comedies – but we haven’t sold any yet.
Did you set out to make a “message” film because of what happened with Mike’s son?
Jann: If your movie has an agenda, you’re in trouble. Ours is entertaining and funny but it has this added benefit of hitting a nerve.
Jourdan: The message is: everyone struggles with something and there’s no shame in asking for help. When Mike’s son, Max, had a severe mental breakdown that landed him in psych wards and inpatient facilities at age 27, we were suddenly throw into this world of having to navigate the stigma.
Jann: We wondered if we should stop making the film because how can you joke about something so personal? That’s when we rewrote it to focus on Citronella’s fear of therapy. And we created a new bug – a praying mantis who doesn’t pray because she thinks she’s God – because that’s what Max did in the psych ward. First thing he said when I went through three, double-locked doors to see him: “I’m God. What do you want to know?” He wasn’t joking.
Jourdan: Max was diagnosed with THC-induced psychosis and bipolar 1.
Jann: Thanks to therapy and meds, we’ve got him all the way down to St. Peter. He’s a year sober and is working – so, fingers crossed. With bipolar, it can come at any time.
Jourdan: Max’s illness infused the film with so much more meaning. We don’t have solutions to the mental health issues in the film but we offer a way to break the ice and get people to relax enough to talk about them. Getting therapy doesn’t mean people will laugh at you or think you’re weak. It means you’re human.
The 9-minute film is currently available for viewing at bugtherapy.film. Follow @bugtherapymovie on social media.
The Tehrani brothers reclaim their family name in Bryn Mawr
When anti-immigrant, anti-Iranian hate reached their doorstep in the form of vandalism and nasty phone calls in late 2019, the Tehrani brothers took their name off their Bryn Mawr rug shop, opting for the more anodyne “Bryn Mawr Oriental Rug Company.”
This spring, they took their name back.
The Main Line has long associated Reuben, Yehuda and Benjamin Tehrani with the sale, repair, cleaning and appraisal of antique Persian and handmade rugs – first at their Wayne store, then in Bryn Mawr. It was time to remind collectors that the brothers are still in the business, still importing from small vendors, still offering unmatched variety and, oh yeah, a friendly cup of tea.
Tehrani Brothers Rugs, 650 Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr is open Mon. to Thurs. 9:30 a.m. to 5 a.m., Fridays 9:30 to 4, and Sundays 11 to 5. Closed Saturdays to honor the Sabbath.
A key Montgomery Avenue corner – longtime home of Albrecht’s garden center – is going to look mighty different next year.
Developers have just broken ground on what they’re calling The Metropolitan Narberth Square – a ground-up, mixed use complex with 25,000 sq. ft. of first-floor retail and 25 luxury, market-rate apartments above.
Taking retail space so far: a KinderCare Child Care Center that’s relocating from Bala Cynwyd and a national bank, name TBA.
“We are taking great care to curate the remaining 7,500 sq. ft. with unique food and beverage offerings with concepts and brands that do not yet exist on the Main Line,” Adam Rosenzweig, President and CEO of site developer Axiom Realty, tells SAVVY.
Axiom is in talks with a handful of restaurants and is targeting a “service user,” perhaps a medspa or high-end salon, to round out the retail.
“We offer what almost no one else on Montgomery Ave. in Lower Merion is offering: on-site parking – 130 spots in all,” Rosenzweig tells SAVVY. Residents will get reserved and covered spots; retail tenants will use the rest.
The apartments will be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units with high-end finishes. All but a few will have expansive walkout balconies and patios. A selling point: Narberth’s shops and train station are less than a mile away.
Developed by Axiom in partnership with Metropolitan Management, Metropolitan Narberth Square is slated to open in the fall of 2024.
This and That
An open-space win in Willistown: a new 90-acre nature preserve. Willistown Conservation Trust just inked a $9 million deal to buy 90 acres of the 218-acre Kirkwood Farm property at Plumsock and Providence Roads. The tract was owned by the Rockefellers and recently purchased by filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan. The Trust plans to establish new hiking and walking trails, create stream buffers, and plant wildflower meadows for wildlife. Funding to save the land came from private donors and a $500,000 county grant.
Downtown Wayne is getting a new ice cream shop. The old Pie in the Sky Pizza at 102 E. Lancaster is sporting a new sign: Vanilla Bean Custom Ice Cream and Coffee. Details and opening date TBA but it should be within weeks.
Let’s see. There’s Capital Grille, Eddie V’s, Morton’s, Davio’s and Fogo de Chão. Does King of Prussia really need another steakhouse? Restauranteur Anderson Winck certainly thinks so. He’s spent two years and $1.6 million turning the old Ruth’s Chris near the Mall into Gaucho’s Prime, a fixed-price Brazilian steakhouse ($64 pp) like Fogo di Chao. It’s due to open any day now. A COVID casualty, Ruth’s Chris closed in 2020 after a 19-year run.
This one blew us out of the water: a giant swimming pool is under construction in Paoli Shopping Center. The area’s first Big Blue Swim School, a fast-growing learn-to-swim franchise, is coming to the old Pier One space next to Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union. Aspiring water bugs as young as three months and as old as 12 should be able to enroll by late summer or fall.
Elegance Cafés in Paoli and Wayne are under new ownership. After 33 years, Zia and Maryam Vafa have retired and found new operators. “We wanted to sell at the height of our business but it’s bittersweet,” Maryam Vafa tells SAVVY. “Wayne was like my second home. I had a special bond with my customers.” The new owners are following the same recipes so you can still enjoy those scratch-made quiches, salads, cakes and cookies. “We hope our legacy continues,” Vafa says.
Lululemon is decamping to new digs in Suburban Square in the fall, effectively doubling its footprint to nearly 5,300 sq. ft. Look for an expanded men’s section, footwear and exercise gear.
Speaking of Lulu, a Meridian Bank branch opens next week in the old Wayne Lululemon. Thrilling, right?
Spread Bagelry is spreading like late-spring weeds. The Montreal-style bagel chain already has outposts in Bryn Mawr, Wayne and King of Prussia and just announced plans to expand to Wynnewood and Newtown Square later this year.
A second outpost of the festive, family-friendly Mexican restaurant, Al Pastor, will open this summer at the former Town Tap/Conshohocken Brewing Co. in Havertown. The area’s first Al Pastor is in Exton.
Wayne Music Festival returns, rain or shine, for its 7th encore Saturday, June 10, 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fourteen national and regional acts on four stages represent a range of musical genres and the price is oh-so-right: FREE. More than 75 restaurants and vendors will set up shop along North Wayne Ave. Word to the wise: walk, Uber or take the train.
Passionate about presenting truly beautiful (and tasty) food? May we suggest next week’s fabulous luncheon/tutorial at design maven Eddie Ross’ Maximalist Studios with special guest Susan Spungen? The Hollywood food stylist (Julie & Julia, Eat Pray Love), founding food editor of Martha Stewart Living, and New York Times contributor will demonstrate her food artistry, share insider secrets, dish up a gorgeous lunch, and sign her latest book, Veg Forward, Thursday, June 15, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. in Norristown.*** Tickets are $125 ($100 for SAVVY readers (!) with code MAXSAVVYML) and include lunch, wine, styling demos and a signed copy of Veg Forward. Space is limited. Snag your spot today!***
After a spike in home burglaries (including one on Fishers Rd, in Bryn Mawr last week), Lower Merion Police are beefing up patrols and warning folks to be extra-vigilant this summer. Police say the burglaries may be connected to a transient group operating on the East Coast that targets secluded homes in daylight. Seems the group enters through glass patio doors and second floor windows, ransacks for jewelry, and leaves in a flash. Police safety tips: Keep garage doors closed and locked, install motion-sensitive lights, clear landscaping from windows, have your lawn mowed when you’re out of town, and don’t post vacation plans on social media.
In case you haven’t heard, MAGA Montco Commissioner Joe Gale’s days are numbered in Norristown. The ultraconservative lost his primary bid for a third term as minority-party commissioner. His two opponents were endorsed by the GOP. Gale was not.
Earning a spot on the Democratic ballot for Montco Commissioner: Lower Merion attorney and Penn law professor Neil Makhija, 36, who was backed by U.S. Sen. John Fetterman and former Gov. Ed Rendell. If Makhija wins, he’ll be the state’s first Asian-American county commissioner.
Conestoga ’09 alum Lindsay Earley Gordon just helped christen the region’s first Bobbles and Lace franchise on High Street in West Chester. The fun and affordable high-fashion boutique – tailor-made for a college town – is owned by her husband, Hunter Gordon, and sister-in-law Crystal Gambardella.
Hope to see SAVVY gals and guys at Surrey’s first-ever English Garden Party at Meadowbrook Estate in Villanova Wednesday, June 14 at 5:30 p.m. Yours truly will be judging the “Best of Blooms” competition – a face-off among Valley Forge Flowers, Studio Flora, Flowers by Priscilla, Cottage Flowers, Blue Moon Florist and Amaranth Florist. Co-judges are interior design guru Eddie Ross and lifestyle maven Pat Nogar. Tickets are $150 and support Surrey’s outstanding service to seniors in our community.
It’s not a hole in one but, hey, he’ll take it. Aronimink’s Jeff Kiddie was named PGA Golf Professional of the Year. The club’s pro for 15 years, he’s gearing up for the May 2026 PEG Championship which Aronimink will host for the first time in 61 years.
Kudos to the The Renfrew Center in Radnor. The Radnor facility has treated 100,000 eating disorder patients since its founding in 1985.
Happy belated 10th birthday to the Bretz twins, “miracle” fourth-graders at Valley Forge Elementary School. Micropreemies Kyle and Zachary Bretz were born at 25 weeks with a combined weight under 3 pounds. Today, they’re star athletes anbd thriving socially and academically, reports proud grandmom Barbara Vanett.
Lace up your sneakers for Home of the Sparrow’s first-ever Walk for Women one-miler on June 24 at the Great Valley Corporate Center. Food trucks, face painting, lawn games, balloon animals and more. The event raises funds for Chester County women and children facing homelessness and replaces the nonprofit’s annual gala. Sign up here.
And finally, a sweet ending: eye candy from the Main Line’s signature event, the Devon Horse Show & Country Fair, courtesy of Brenda Carpenter Photography. First, a peek at petals on parade at the Ladies Day Hat Contest, then a potpourri of fun pics. Enjoy!
PS. Have a cool story idea? We’d love to hear it. Drop a line to [email protected].