On Thursday, October 19, 2019, Swedenborg Foundation Executive Director Morgan Beard accepted a Bricks and Mortar Preservation Award from The West Chester Downtown Foundation (WCDF) for a restoration project on Fountain Green, the historic building that houses our offices, in 2016.
The WCDF created the preservation awards program nine years ago to recognize construction projects that help highlight and maintain West Chester’s rich and unique character, and we’re proud to help our community and be honored for our efforts. The co-recipients of the award for the Fountain Green restoration project are the companies who were contracted to execute this important work: Patterhn Ives, LLC – formerly Frens & Frens Studio (architect); Paul’s Pointing (contractor); and R&B Restoration Carpentry (carpenter).
History of the Swedenborg Foundation Property
The building that now houses the Swedenborg Foundation offices was originally constructed as a farmhouse between 1760 and 1773 by Daniel Hoopes, Sr. After passing through a few owners, the Hoopes House was eventually purchased in 1843 by horticulturalist John Rutter, who named the farm property Fountain Green. The brick farmhouse was originally located in the middle of what is now Church Street, but in 1855 the house was moved 60 feet west to its present location.
In the 1890’s the Fountain Green became the home of architect T. Roney Williamson. It was remodeled as a late nineteenth century cottage, and that design survived almost a half-century. The building was later acquired by the West Chester School District in 1935 and underwent a series of construction updates that removed some of the Victorian flourishes and added Colonial Revival features.
In 2003, the Swedenborg Foundation purchased the Fountain Green building to serve as their regional offices; the Foundation had already been renting the space since 1993, following a move from New York City. In 2016, the Foundation engaged Frens and Frens Architects to repair and restore the damaged brick exterior. Paul Steiner of Paul’s Pointing was then engaged to develop a plan that would remove the cement-based mortar and deteriorated bricks, restore the stone foundation and brickwork, and preserve the masonry with a vapor-permeable protective coating. This work successfully preserved the visibility of the original Flemish bond brick pattern. The work concluded with repair and repainting of the wooden shutters and other hardware around the property, which was undertaken by James Breen, now of R & B Restoration.
The Swedenborg Foundation is proud to be part of a project that preserved one of West Chester’s oldest continuously-occupied structures.