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Chester County Press

New Garden unveils historic – and restored -- grandfather clock

02/28/2024 01:09PM ● By Richard Gaw

The New Garden Township Building now has a new method of keeping time, in the form of a fully restored and functioning 250-year-old grandfather clock that was unveiled at the township’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Feb. 26.

The grandfather clock was originally built in the 18th century by clockmaker Isaac Jackson, who was born in 1734 in West Grove and lived in New Garden Township on a 200-acre farm near what is today the New Garden Elementary School. 

The son of William and Katherine Miller Jackson, Jackson spent two years honing his clockmaking skills under the tutelage of Benjamin Chandlee, Jr. in Nottingham. For the next several years, Jackson became Chester County’s premiere clockmaker, and was well known for his signature design that reflected the conviction of his simplicity and the local Quaker heritage, which was prevalent in the community at that time. Jackson died in 1807 and is buried at the New Garden Friends Cemetery.

The clock, which had been in a home in Kennett Township, was secured by the township’s Historical Commission in February 2023 and restored by Leon Trager of Trager Clock in Quarryville and Robert McKeown of Elk Creek Cabinetry in Elkton, Md. Its total cost – purchased for $3,500 and repaired for $3,300 – was paid for by members of the Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

“I had heard about it being at a tag sale, and that’s when I said that we needed to get the Commission involved in it,” said Brian Roberts, the chairman of the Historical Commission. “It hadn’t run in years, so its movement was completely disassembled and cleaned, and new string was installed for the weights. The front panel was damaged and held together with a piece of plywood and dry wall screws in the back, so Robert studied a similar clock of Jackson’s that is at Winterthur and made a new base, blending the new wood in to give the clock a stable base and keeping it consistent with the style of Jackson’s design.”

“We’re bringing the clock home,” said township historian Dr. Margaret “Peg” Jones. “It was made less than a mile from here, very possibly in an upstairs room where there was a fireplace, because Isaac needed it for his metalwork.  This is a symbol of how this township and other townships learned to make things they needed with their hands, and how interested they were in adorning their homes. This was a Quaker community during that time, and this clock represents the Quaker heritage because of its simple lines.”

The clock will be on display at the New Garden Township Building.

Baltimore Pike and Newark Road Intersection update

In a presentation before the supervisors, Stephen Giampaolo, a regional highway design services leader for McMahon, a Bowman Company, shared the progress and timeline for the redevelopment of the intersection at Baltimore Pike and Newark Road in Toughkenamon. 

With preliminary engineering now completed – and funded by the township – Giampaolo said that the project began its final design last November and is being funded by PennDOT. The completed project will reflect a re-alignment of the intersection and Newark Road north of the intersection and provide additional turning lanes, traffic signal modernization, pedestrian accommodations, stormwater management and street lighting. 

Giampaolo then shared the timeline for the completion of the improvement project, which will include the funding of utility relocations, right-of-way construction; stormwater evacuation, geotechnical testing and environmental studies; and the finalization of the design, all of which are expected to be completed in 2025 or 2026. Advertisement for the project’s construction will be determined in 2027, with a completion date for the intersection and roadways anticipated to be in 2029. 

Sewer Advisory Committee formation on hold

In other township business, the board formally voted to table a decision to form a Sewer Advisory Committee. The creation of the group was included as part of the final asset purchase agreement between the township and Aqua in the negotiations that sold the township’s wastewater system to the Big Water giant in 2020 for $29.5 million. The agreement states that the committee is to be made up of between three to five members and include one Aqua employee or official and a maximum of four township residents, who will be appointed by the Board of Supervisors. Once formed, resident committee members will provide recommendations to Aqua about policies, rate increases and other issues.

Transportation Impact Fee Study

The board also approved a proposal by McMahon, a Bowman Company to enter the township into an 18-month Act 209 Transportation Impact Fee Study – an ordinance that will assess fees on new development based on the impact of the traffic it generates, and utilize funds collected to improve the capacity and function of key roadways and intersections. 

Under the study, the township will enact, amend and repeal impact fee ordinances and charge impact fees on new developments for off-site public transportation capital improvements. 

Act 209 also establishes a Transportation Capital Plan (TCP) which will identify areas in the township that need structural and functional improvements. Specifically, the study will focus on 24 intersections within a transportation service area within a seven-mile area.

McMahon, a Bowman Company will be responsible for overall management and completion of the study, which will cost the township $87,000 and include a land use assumptions report; a roadway sufficiency analysis; a transportation capital improvement plan; and a transportation impact fee ordinance.

In partnership with McMahon, the township will establish a transportation advisory committee, which will be made up of between seven and 15 members and include township residents and representatives from the real estate, development and building industries who conduct business in the township.

A new roof for the Township Building

Township Manager Christopher Himes shared the results of a recent assessment of the Township Building’s roof, which was originally built in 2003 and has sustained substantial structural damage over that time. Based on a July 2023 assessment by Pennoni and LHL Consulting, the roof – constructed of asphalt shingles and copper metal -- has been affected by high winds and over-exposure to sunlight and other environmental elements.  

The assessment provided by Pennoni and LHL Consulting estimated that the overall cost for replacing the roof with a metal standing seam roof system will be between $900,000.00 and $975,000.00, and replacing the roof with asphalt shingles will cost between $525,000 and $600,000.00.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].