Archive for the ‘Brandywine Valley/West Chester’ Category

Andrew Wyeth’s Private World

May 31, 2019


“I am working so please do not disturb. I do not sign autographs.”

This sign greets visitors to Andrew Wyeth’s former home and studio just up the road from the Brandywine Valley Museum. It’s the first indication that much remains just as the artist left it after he died in 2009 at the age of 91: family photographs, his boyhood collection of toy soldiers, and old 16-millimeter prints of favorite movies such as “The Big Parade” and “Captain Blood.”


In his modest studio, naturally lit by a huge north-facing window, brushes and easels are arranged as if Wyeth had just set them down, and sketches of animals and his signature stark landscapes hang or lie on the floor in various states of completion.

The museum offers hour-long tours, April through November, of Andrews’s home/studio (separate from the admission fee) from April–November (there are also separate tours of N.C. Wyeth’s home and studio and nearby Kuerner Farm, inspiration for many of Andrew’s paintings). Take one or all of the tours, then check out the Wyeth paintings on display at the museum armed with new insights on the creative process of these great American artists. Follow this up with a bowl of local mushroom bisque in the museum’s window-walled cafe overlooking Brandywine Creek. It’s arguably the most welcoming spot in the world to settle in with a book and lose yourself in Wyeth’s somber, pastoral world.


Pennsylvania’s unique B&Bs

January 15, 2013


Pennsylvania has more than its share of interesting bed & breakfast inns. At the 1870 Wedgwood Inn (pictured above) in New Hope, the innkeepers proudly point out a trap door leading to a tunnel that was once part of the Philadelphia-Quaker Underground Railroad network before leading guests to their elegant, Victorian-era rooms. At Hamanassett in the Brandywine Valley, guests can play pool amid antique dolls and games and learn how to prepare Azerbaijani cuisine in the former home of the quartermaster general serving Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.


Landhaven (pictured above and below) in Barto may win the title of the state’s quirkiest B&B with Four Seasons-worthy bathrooms in the middle of nowhere. Once a general store and post office for tiny Huffs Church, Landhaven is now a five-room inn with pastoral views and rooms with luxury touches that you might expect at a five-star hotel but not necessarily in an unincorporated community in rural Berks County. While the inn has been open since the late 1990s, it is perhaps best known for hosting intimate live music performances in a large room filled with Windsor chairs, watchmaker’s cabinets, and 19th century U.S. postal guides. Donna Land, who has worked as a recipe tester and consultant for Campbell Soup and other companies, runs the place with her husband Ed, a former news film and videotape editor who may be the only B&B owner to have won two Emmy awards and claim custom decorative blacksmithing as a favorite hobby. They have fixed up the rooms with handmade quilts, period furnishings, and antique fixtures that Ed has salvaged and restored. The concerts, which include local and national acts, are the marquee attraction for many guests, who love the casual BYO environment and boxed dinners for under $10 (the Lands also serve iced tea and cookies gratis). John Jorgenson, guitarist for Elton John, is a regular performer, and upcoming acts in winter include folk singer Tracy Grammer and blues legend Chris Smither.


There’s not much do in Barto, though the hiking trails of Green Lane Reservoir are nearby, and Donna will direct you to a wonderful rock and mineral shop, Bey’s, down the road. Crystal Cave is about 20 miles away, and the inn sits pretty much smack in the middle of the antiques markets of Reading and Allentown. As Valentine’s Day approaches, I can’t think of a better way of celebrating than with a concert followed by a peaceful night’s stay at this unique B&B find.