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January 2011 Newsletter




January 2011


Dear Lincoln Table Member:


            We ended last year in super fashion; I counted over 50 members at our annual meeting and holiday luncheon. There was so much conviviality you would think some people were running for office.  It was a delight to see Jack Hankin and Charley Case in attendance.  It reminded me of how many years I have been a member.  Kyle Midkiff was elected table President and Jonathan Ziss joined the Management Committee replacing Greg Montanaro.  Outgoing President Brad Mills and committee member Greg deserve our thanks for their dedicated service to the table.


            On December 15th the table celebrated Christmas with a superb party organized and staged by Mike Trendler.  Cocktails and butlered hors d’ouvre in the Library with dinner following in the Lincoln Memorial Room delighted over 60 attendees.  A caroling concert followed, wrapped up with our traditional 12 Days of Christmas.  You can see by the enthusiasm and expertise put into the 12 Days that we have been doing that carol, bells and all, for about 20 years.



Lunch at the Table –

Come to lunch at the Lincoln Table any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday (except February 10th).  Lunches will be hosted by current Lincoln Management Committee members or former Management Committee Members.   Be sure to sign the book indicating attendance. 


Thursday, February 10, 2011Lincoln Day 2011

It is our day!   Wear your Lincoln hat or scarf and join other Lincoln Table members at the 15th Annual Lincoln Day Luncheon and Parade, featuring Chris Christie, Governor of The State of New Jersey on Thursday, February 10, 2011.  (Note: this is a revised date).  For reservations, call Activities at 215-587-5565 or email [email protected].  Be sure to ask to be seated with Lincoln Table members.  We want to see a sea of hats at, at least two tables this year.  If you haven’t before, join the parade you will be impressed.


Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. – Informal Happy Hour – Old Café

Join Lincoln Table members for Happy Hour.  Drinks by signature.  No reservation required.  Just show up to mingle and network with fellow table members.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011 – 4:00 – 7:00 – Rose Valley Farm Garden Tour and Party at Geoff & Saundra Shepard’s – Rose Valley, PA

Come see the magnificent gardens at Rose Valley Farm and tour what may be the finest English Arts & Craft Manor House in America.  Geoff and Saundra Shepard spent the past five years restoring the house and grounds and this May date should catch the very peak of the Shepards’ spectacular Peony collection.  Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be provided.  Mark your calendar for this event – more details including pricing will be provided.  This tour is not to be missed, stash the kids after school, leave work early and come see this fabulous farm.  Come early at 4:00 or later but don’t miss it.  Details on the history of the house below:





Downing’s seminal work, The Architecture of Country Hous­es, was first printed in 1850 and reissued many times, most recently by Dover Publications in 1969. It was, perhaps, the single, most influential nineteenth century book on American architecture

Antrim Osborne, for whom the first house was built in 1862, chose Downing’s Design VIII, A Suburban Cottage in the Ital­ian Style, for his stone farmhouse. He called his home “Sun­nyside” after Washington Irving’s cottage on the Hudson River in upstate New York.

Downing also was a prominent landscape designer and horti­culturalist. He wrote A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, Adapted to North America, which was published in 1841. Together with his partner, Calvert Vaux, he designed the grounds of the White House and the Smith­sonian Institution in Washington, DC. He is also credited by Fredrick Law Olmstead with having jointly developed the winning design for Central Park in New York—the Green­wald Plan—before Downing’s untimely death at age 37.




Price, who trained under Frank Furness, was the Quaker ar­chitect who founded the Rose Valley Association in 1901 as an Arts & Crafts community, modeled after the idealistic village described in William Morris’ 1890 socialist novel, News from Nowhere.

Charles and Lavinia Schoen, who had purchased Sunnyside from Osborne’s estate in 1904, retained Price to expand the farmhouse into something more suitable for a successful railroad industrialist. The result was “Schoenhaus”, certainly one of the grandest Arts & Crafts homes in the country.

Price went on to design the Marlborough Blenheim and Tray­more resort hotels in Atlantic City, as well as a number of train stations and the Chicago Freight Terminal for the Pennsylvania Railroad, before his early death at age 54. His innovative work is the subject of George Thomas’ 2000 book, William L Price, Arts and Crafts to Modern Design.

Howell Lewis Shay (1884-1975) began his architectural career in the offices of Horace Trumbauer, during which time he is credited with creating the design ultimately chosen for the Philadelphia Art Museum. His own firm, Ritter and Shay, was founded in 1920 and designed the Packard Building (1924) with its massive Samuel Yellin iron gates; the Drake Apartment Hotel (1929); the Market Street National Bank (1930) at 12th and Market Streets, with its ancient Mexican-inspired Art Deco terra cotta exterior by the O. W. Kecham Terra Cotta Works; and the United States Custom House (1934), whose interior is one of the most dramatic Art Deco spaces in Philadelphia.




Maurice and Adele Saul had purchased Rose Valley Farm from the Schoen estate in 1921. Saul is the founding part­ner of the Saul Ewing law firm in Philadelphia and was the developer of the Packard Building, the then-tallest office building in Philadelphia, which had been designed by Shay.

In 1927, when Saul decided to expand his dining room and add an outside porch, he retained Shay for the design—and Yellin for the iron work. The result is an Art Deco delight, featuring floors of Enfield decorative tile, extensive Yellin ironwork, and a 16th century door from a Spanish monastery.

Shay’s offices not only were in the Packard Building, as were those of the Saul law firm, but Shay lived virtually next door to Saul, at Possum Hollow and Rose Valley Roads, in a house of his own design. He also designed the immense 1923 Gothic Mansion on Rose Valley Road and three homes on Hilltop Lane.




Old Mill Lane. Rose Valley. PA


Downing, Price,

Shay and Batchelor

While the Manor House at Rose Valley Farm has the look and feel of a Mediterranean villa, there have been four architects,

working for its four owners, each of whom have contributed to the final result.



Batchelor, the renowned Main Line architect, holds dual degrees in architecture and engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a Masters of Engineering from MIT. He began his career as an engineer, taught drawing at MIT and then at Temple University. He came under the influence of Charles Okie, son of R. Brognard Okie (1875—1945)--who also held dual degrees in architecture and engineering from Penn and studied under William Price. Okie is best known for his unique interpretation of the Colonial Revival style, especially in the design of country houses. Okie’s work was admired by both his clients and fellow architects for the creative and artistic expression that preserved elements of 18th century design while introducing 20th century amenities.

Geoff and Saundra Shepard had purchased Rose Valley Farm from the Saul Estate in 2007 and retained Batchelor to design a plan to restore the Manor House to its former glory--but replacing all its mechanical systems, modernizing the kitchens and bathrooms, and adding a family room, an enclosed porch and an attached garage. His was perhaps the most challeng­ing assignment, since he had to accommodate the architectural work that had been done before hand.

Bachelor’s proposal, completed in 2009, was what he imagined Will Price would have designed had he still been alive. What is said of Okie (“Because of his skill in blending old and new, it is often difficult to separate refinished original features from his own design when they are combined in one building”), is certainly true of Bachelor’s work: there is a straight-forward, honesty of design in the additions which assimilates the prior craftsmanship and emphasizes the skills of local artisans.

Four different architects, working with four different owners, over the course of 150 years. Yet, the result is a cohesive blend of old and new--and perhaps one of the most unique homes in America.







            Shirley Laird’s picture appears in the Main Line Suburban Life November 17th taken at the gathering to prepare for the silent auction at the 105th Jewel Noel Luncheon for the Philadelphia Orchestra. In the January 5th issue of the same paper chapter Regent Chappy Graf and husband By are pictured at the “Patriots Ball” of the Jepha Abbott Chapter of the NSDAR.  Jimmy Midkiff, son of President Kyle and husband Roger, earned his Eagle Scout rank, a significant achievement, congratulations Jimmy.





            Lanny Patten is proposing his son David for membership.  Dave is a Lehigh Chem. Engineering graduate, with an MBA from Chicago. He is married with 3 children, all living in Havertown.  He is founder and principal of Everchem Specialty Chemicals of Media.  Unless we hear to the contrary in 30 days David will be admitted.




            While we are waiting for action on a Directory, it is suggested you use the table web page for member information.  Enter thelincolntable.org. In your search engine, then log in by entering your first initial and last name then enter oldabe as your password.  You will then be able to use the member directory.


            When you are making a foundation gift make sure to indicate the Lincoln Table so we get credit.  This is especially important with gifts to the Lincoln Foundation because we direct those proceeds to restoring the Art work of the League.  This year we are aiming for funds to restore one of the ladies outside the Library so make your generous gifts to the foundation.


            A tale of two sittings, it was the worst of times and the best of times. I am talking about two visits to the table for lunch.  On a Monday in December I got to the table at about 12:20 and sat alone. Later I ran into Diane Semingson in the hall, she had passed by about 12:10 and saw no one there and proceeded to the Meredith Room for lunch.  Keep in mind that a number of frequent lunchers at the table don’t arrive until 12:30.  A second visit on the following Wednesday found 6 of us at the table for a very enjoyable visit. You win some and lose some, but keep trying.  The new system of Management Committee members being present on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays should encourage all of you to come to the table.



Kyle Midkiff President                                                                                                                     Ed Suarez Secretary –Treasurer                                                     Spencer A. Manthorpe           

Management Committee                                                                      Newsletter Editor

Mike Trendler, John Asher                                                                                

and Jonathan Ziss.


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