I spent 2 or 3 years photographing this mid-18th century house on a branch of the Brandywine River where my Aunt lived and raised her family. I had visited on holidays and other family gatherings over the past 40 years. My Uncle died a couple of years ago. This past winter (2008), the house, which sits on property that has been in and out of our family’s ownership for hundreds of years, was sold by my Aunt as she could no longer keep up with the stewardship needs.
As far back as I can remember, this place provided me a strong sense of home and heritage. More than that, it is a piece of old Pennsylvania that has held out against Toll Brothers McMansions and the rapid conversion in the last 20 years of farmland into housing developments. I don’t think either of these things are inherently bad, but driving around the area now, the dominant feeling is one of imbalance and occasionally jarring contrasts. Much of what lies in the surrounding valleys seems ridiculously ephemeral and unsatisfying. Reconciling the two worlds doesn’t really happen.The old one hasn’t disappeared but seems like a thinner, slowly vanishing layer of reality that continues, mostly obscured, beneath the dominant culture.