It was a day of congratulations and appreciations as Chadds Ford Township dedicated Turner's Mill as the new township building Saturday. Honored during the ceremony was Karl Kuerner Jr., the recipient of the first Preservation Award of Chadds Ford Township.
Township residents joined with state and county officials to formally dedicate the old mill after its renovation from empty shell to modern town hall. Officials on hand included Delaware County Council President Andrew Reilly, County District Attorney G. Michael Green, state Sen. Dominic F. Pileggi, R-9 and state Rep. Stephen Barrar, R-160.
Each of the visiting dignitaries praised the township residents and supervisors who were instrumental in restoring the mill.
"It's a beautiful structure," said Green. "It looks like a Wyeth painting ... You're a fortunate group to have this place.
Pileggi and Barrar have both been instrumental in getting state grants for the township. One of the more recent is a $40,000 grant through Pileggi's office to improve the acoustics in the main meeting room of the mill.
Pileggi presented a state flag to township supervisors and Barrar gave them a POW MIA flag.
Reilly said that growth in the western part of Delaware County was inevitable but that uncontrolled growth was is not. He added that preservation was not inconsistent with growth and that the reuse of the mill made a great statement about preservation.
The current mill structure was built in 1868. It was a mill for several years before becoming the summer studio of artist Howard Pyle at the end of the 19th century. One of Pyle's students was N.C. Wyeth, the father of Andrew Wyeth.
The structure then became a two-part home, but fell into disuse after a fire in 1950. For years it was nothing more than an empty shell.
The township began setting aside money for the building in the 1990s and in 2004 the Board of Supervisors authorized its restoration and expansion for the site of a town hall and township office building.
Construction began in the spring of 2005. The township was able to move into the structure this past January.
Kuerner was awarded the Preservation Award for donating the family farm to the Brandywine Conservancy in 1999. The Kuerner family and farm served as inspiration for many of Andrew Wyeth's paintings. The conservancy currently conducts bus tours of he farm.
Karl J. Kuerner, Karl Jr.'s son said he was pleased that his father was acknowledged. "He deserved to have center stage," the son said. "People need to know they don't make land anymore."