Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
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Source: April 2001 Volume 39 Number 2, Pages 63–68

A Brief Look at the History of Waynesborough and the Recent Reconstruction of its Barn

Stephen Dittmann

Page 63

The Wayne family was among the earliest settlers of Easttown Township. Anthony Wayne (1666 - 1739) arrived here in 1722 with his wife and most of his children from County Wicklow, Ireland, although he was an Englishman by birth. He took up residence in a primitive dwelling at what we know today as "Historic Waynesborough," on a tract of 386 acres purchased in 1724 from Thomas Edwards. In addition to cultivating the ground, he erected a large tannery.

When the elder Wayne died, the property descended to his son, Isaac (1699 - 1774), who had followed him from Ireland in 1724. He cultivated the land and kept the tannery. He had a bitter quarrel with Judge Moore of Moore Hall, an old-time aristocrat and pet of the governor. It was this Isaac who added the first major section to the stone manor house around 1742. There his son, General Anthony Wayne (1745 - 1796) of Revolutionary War fame, a farmer, surveyor, engineer and astronomer, was born. Gen. Wayne also added to the house, but the plantation and tannery experienced severe economic losses during his years away at war.

Gen. Wayne's son, another Isaac (1772 - 1852), trained in law, inherited the farm. He spent most of his life managing his father's debts. It was he who erected the large barn and adjacent farmer's house around 1830. The second Isaac tested the market for prime agricultural property during the Jacksonian era of economic depression when he offered the farm for sale. It was advertised in Poulson's American Daily Advertiser in 1831,

Page 64

and again four years later in the West Chester American Republican, leaving for us an interesting word picture of the farm:

Grain, Dairy and Grazing
Waynesborough Farm
For Private Sale

The undersigned offers for Private Sale, Waynesborough Farm, on which he resides. - This plantation is situated in Easttown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, and within one mile of Paoli Inn, which is located near the 18th mile stone, on the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, and Philadelphia and Columbia rail road, and flanked by the public road leading from the said internal improvements to Philadelphia, Darby and Chester. A public road from Doylestown through Norristown to West Chester, the county town, passes an agreeable distance from the front of the Mansion House. The farm contains upwards of 378 Acres, nearly one-third of which is covered with an unusual variety of first-rate timber, the principal part of which is within half a mile of the Turnpike and rail road aforesaid, and within the same distance of several lime kilns. The cleared land, which is in a high state of cultivation, is divided into 20 fields and meadows, with running water in each, or easily accessible. The whole is enclosed with good fences of chestnut rails. The buildings consist of an excellent stone Mansion House, 45 by 35 feet, exclusively of large and convenient stone wings, with all necessary outward appendages. A barn, being a new and substantial stone building, 80 by 48 feet, with extensive sheds of stone. A new, neat and convenient house, for a farmer, within an eligible distance of the Mansion House.

To any person really fond of rural and agricultural life, the above partially described property, will prove itself altogether worthy of notice, as it is particularly qualified for carrying on every branch of husbandry, on a large scale, very nearly the whole of this plantation is visible from the Mansion, as well as from almost every other position on it.

This estate can be handsomely, conveniently and profitably divided into two or more Farms.

Inquire of
ISAAC WAYNE, on the premises.
Gen'l JOSHUA EVANS, Paoli.
Walnut st. Philad'a.
Oct. 13, 1835. 42tf

Page 65

Providentially, the farm was not sold; perhaps needed financing was secured elsewhere. It is of interest that a tannery is not mentioned in the advertisement, There is evidence that a tannery was operated by the early Waynes, and the stream between the house and the barn was said to be known as Tannery Run.

When Isaac Wayne died, he was a widower who had outlived his four children, and the property descended to his grandnephew, William Wayne Evans (1828 - 1901). Evans legally changed his name to William Wayne in 1854, a requirement said to be in the deed. He was a company commander in the 37th Pennsylvania Volunteers during the Civil War and was known thereafter as "Captain Wayne." He willed the plantation to his two children, William Jr. and Mary (Mrs. John H. Wirgman).

They signed a deed of partition in 1902 whereby William Jr. (1855-1929) received the tract west of Leopard Road and became the next Squire of Waynesborough. (Mary took the part east of Leopard Road). At age 62, William Jr. was too old to fight in World War I but instead served as a storekeeper for a YMCA unit in France. In 1926, an account in the Daily Local News reported he had sold off"... a considerable portion of the large Wayne tract." The story continued, "This section is now suburban and rapidly being taken up by investors and building operators at large figures .... Captain Wayne retains [20 acres] of the old Wayne home­stead farm, and the fine old mansion of his ancestors."

The purchaser was Robert C. Ligget of Rosemont, husband of History Club "life" member Frances H. Ligget. That year the Liggets also moved into their new home at "Stirling's Quarters," Echo Valley Farms, Yellow Springs Road, Valley Forge. According to the Franklin Atlas of 1933, the Ligget farm at Waynesborough consisted of 300 acres in Easttown and Willistown townships. George Bovell has said a Guernsey herd was kept until World War II. The cows fed on the rich grass, and hay from the fields was stored in the Waynesborough Barn on the Ligget land.

Deed records show Waynesborough Country Club acquired use of the land (but not the barn) from Ligget in 1965 pursuant to assignment of a lease with option to purchase. In the 1990s, the Club became owner when it exercised its option. A Club document lists local signers of the incorporation papers in 1964 as: George R. Knight, Joseph N. Ewing Jr., Arthur W. Wood Jr., Lawrence T. Knier, Thomas W. L. Cameron, J. W. A. Buyers, William E. Sherrerd III, Allan A. Weir, Eric A. Corkhill Jr., C. F. Fretz, A. John May, R. Norwood, E. B. Leisenring Jr., and J. C. T. Alexander.

Page 66

The First Presbyterian Church of Paoli, organized in 1899, first used a chapel on Darby Road, and then for many years occupied an edifice on Lancaster Pike. It relocated to the corner of South Valley and Waynesborough Roads in 1962, nearby the Barn, thanks to a generous "bargain sale" of ten acres previously used as a hay field by Robert C. Ligget, owner of the adjacent Waynesborough farm.

According to church lore recorded in its recent Centennial History, Ligget "sold" the ten acres to the church in 1955 for $5000 and then donated the money at a later time. The church moved into the first building on the site in 1962. It changed its name to Paoli Presbyterian Church just before the new sanctuary was occupied in 1985. The pastor Rev. Richard R. Streeter (now "Dr. Streeter"), who arrived in 1972, recalls Sunday worship visits by Mr. Ligget, who died in 1976. The old chapel in Paoli, later a library, was relocated from where it stood near Lancaster Pike to the new church campus in 1986.

Over the years, history records the transfer of ownership of other Waynesborough parcels:

The Manor House, "Historic Waynesborough," on 10.3 acres, was purchased by Easttown Township in 1980 from members of the Wayne family after a successful fund raising program conducted by the Committee to Preserve Waynesborough. The township leases the property to Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, which maintains and operates the house as a public museum.

The Waynesborough Barn, on 6.2 acres, was acquired by Easttown Township in 1980, a gift from developer David Schusler, and is leased to Waynesborough Country Club. The bank barn was restored by the Club pursuant to its lease in 1999-2000, part of a project to upgrade facilities prior to hosting the prestigious PGA Tour golf event, the "Pennsylvania Classic," held in September of 2000. The barn restoration was done to provide space for a greenskeeper's office and mainten­ance facility. The restoration of the barn was carefully executed by contractor Warren Howe of Honey Brook. The architect was The Knabb Partnership of Exton. The Club's Course Superintendent is Mitchell E. Trent.

Page 67

Waynesborough Barn as it appeared in 1881 "History of Chester County" by Futhey & Cope

Franklin Survey Map of 1950 showing location of Waynesborough Barn and adjacent houses.

Page 68

Three buildings of interest, closely associated with the farm, still exist and are located nearby, just west of the Barn, on Waynesborough Road:

The Old Farm House (could be c. 1810), on the south side of road, occupied by George Bovell, still known as #17 Waynesborough Road. Mr. Bovell, now retired, actually worked on the farm for Mr. Ligget between the years 1926 and 1980.

The "New" Farm House (c. 1830), on the north side of road just west of the barn. Formerly owned by Bruce Woelke since 1980; now owned by Robert Stedman. It is known today as #2025 Waynesborough Road.

The Stable and Coach House (c. 1860), on the north side of road, burned in 1896 when struck by lightning. Rebuilt on the foundations, the structure was called the "Play­house" and was used for square dances, hay rides and barbecues during World War II and after. Restored as a residence by Charles H. Wight and family in 1970, it is now known as #2030 Waynesborough Road.

This review of development surrounding Waynesborough shows Robert C. Ligget; attorney, dedicated community servant, and active cattle farmer, played an important role in preserving the Waynesborough farm and open space in Easttown Township through his foresighted land transactions in the 1960s. His sale of ten acres to Paoli Presbyterian Church, and the lease of about 200 acres of open land to provide a home for Waynesborough Country Club, stabilized surrounding land use and facilitated the preservation of the Waynesborough Barn and the house at "Historic Waynesborough," both of which are now owned by Easttown Township.


Acknowledgments and Sources

The author thanks those who have assisted in the preparation of this article, including John May III of the Pepper Hamilton firm, and his associate Ted Watters, Esq.; the groundskeeper Mitchell Trent; the Club manager Ray Kondziela; Warren Howe, the contractor; and Pastor Dick Streeter.

Sources consulted include: Title search records and newspaper clipping files; Chester County Historical Society; Franklin Survey Atlas published in 1933; Glenn, Thomas Allen, "Some Colonial Mansions," (Phila.: H.T.Coates & Co. 1900); Paoli Presbyterian Church, "The Centennial History of...," 1999; Schiffer, M.B., "Survey of Chester County Architecture," (Exton: Schiffer 1976); Tucker, Glenn, "Mad Anthony Wayne," (Harrisburg: Stackpole Books 1973).


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