Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
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Source: Winter/Spring 2007 Volume 44 Numbers 1&2, Page 73


Priscilla Kelling

Page 73

In 1707 John Havard purchased 800 acres of land in the Great Valley. On his death the land was split into farms for his three sons. At the end of the 19th century A.J. Cassatt purchased and combined parcels to make the 550 acre Chesterbrook Farm.

Illustration from page 73

Chesterbrook Farmhouse

In 1969 developer Richard Fox purchased the Cassatt property. He also acquired two adjacent parcels to make a contiguous area of 865 acres. He in essence reconstituted the original Havard farm. Fox's plan for the area was very different from John Havard's. He wanted to create the new town of Chesterbrook with areas designated for different uses. The original plan called for a population of over 11,000 with single family homes, townhouses, apartments, a motel, and a 140-acre office campus. Later versions of the plan reduced the total population to 9,000 and included two sites for schools.

The 1970s saw a prolonged battle over the proposed development. Numerous civic organizations came out against the development. A public opinion poll showed 90% of respondents against the new town.

It is interesting to note that the big population increase in the township was actually in the 1950s and 1960s. However, Chesterbrook was unique in the size of the development.

Township meetings on the development attracted large numbers of residents, including one where over 700 attended. An initiative was started to have the Chesterbrook area incorporated in the Valley Forge Park. In 1972 the township's supervisors approved the rezoning necessary for the development by a 3 to 2 vote. This decision was then appealed up to the Commonwealth Court. The Court in 1975 found in the developer's favor. At the end of 1976 the Court ordered the township to stop blocking the development.

At the same time as these arguments were taking place, the bill to make Valley Forge a National Historical Park was progressing through Congress. The bill establishing the Park was signed by President Ford at Valley Forge on the 4th July 1976. The final bill did not include Chesterbrook within the Park boundaries.

The reverses did not daunt some residents who were opposed to the development. In 1977 they submitted a petition for a ballot question on an ordinance that would have blocked the development, but the submission failed. At the same time the clearing and grading of land for the first single family homes was taking place. The end of 1977 saw the end of six years of continuous legal fighting. In 1978 the township supervisors approved the construction of townhouses and the full development of Chesterbrook was underway.

Illustration from page 73

View to west south west towards Duportail's Quarters, 1937


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