Featured Articles, North America, Pennsylvania, Places, USA

Vintage West Chester, PA

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on TumblrShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneBuffer this page

Our weekend in “the old country” wasn’t exploding with warring factions, unresolved crimes of passion, or never-forgotten slights at somebody’s daughter’s wedding. Maybe that’s because we weren’t in Sicily, and were not appearing in a Francis Ford Coppola movie. I know, I’m kind of disappointed too. But what it lacked in drama, our family reunion more than made up for in charm, ease, and gentle reminiscence by our group’s elder members.

Thirteen of us visited West Chester, PA on a beautiful spring break weekend. My mother-in-law and her sister had spent their childhoods there. Strolling down the streets with them as guides was a lesson not just in family history but in small-town life in 1940s to 60s America.

west chester 1

The old firehouse, for example, is the reason the family bought a TV. It was there that their brother, Tom, went to watch sports with the firemen every day after school. Their parents did not like that one bit and decided the only way to keep him home was to buy their own TV.

Many of the buildings have long since been converted to other businesses entirely. Behind their modern-day facades lie long-forgotten memories, like the town’s one department store, where the family would buy everything from fabric to school shoes.

Today, West Chester is a bustling college town—it is home to West Chester University—with loads of restaurants and boutiques. But it still maintains its old school small-town charm.

The weekend’s favorite haunts reflect West Chester’s graceful blend of old and new:

Hotel Warner: The Hotel Warner sits in the heart of West Chester in a converted movie theater. With its large vintage black and white photos of the town and theater, it set the perfect stage for our walks down memory lane and beyond. We loved that you could walk everywhere from here.

west chester 5

According to 6-year-old Jeremy’s school what-I-did-on-my-spring-break worksheet, his favorite part of the weekend was the “chair races.” I was not aware of this event but I’m guessing maybe our downstairs neighbors were. Sorry.

west chester 7

Éclat:: The culinary highlight for me was hands-down the insanely delicious chocolate I stumbled upon at Éclat. I met the chef/owner, Christopher Curtin, and within minutes we were waxing nostalgic about Belgium like long-lost cousins. I know very little about most things but I’m becoming kind of an expert in artisan Belgian chocolate. And this man is legit. He trained under one of my favorite Belgian chocolatiers, Pierre Marcolini. His bars and mendiants have an intense, honest flavor and are sourced from some of the best cocoa on earth. In fact, he filmed an episode with Anthony Bourdain during a chocolate quest in Peru.

west chester 4 

D’Ascenzo Gelato: This quaint little shop was so nice we went twice. Their homemade gelato and sorbet was delicious and their little outdoor seating area was a perfect place to check out the action on Gay Street (along with High Street, this is the town’s main street). It takes me about a minute to establish a routine so I ordered the same thing both evening: a scoop of dark chocolate and a scoop of hazelnut. TDF (I’m not sure if TDF is a “thing” but it was to die for).

west chester 2

Baldwin’s Book Barn: We discovered this bookstore on our way out of town and I could have spent all day, all winter really, wandering, browsing, and maybe catching a nap with one of the resident cats. The rambling shop rambles through an early 19th century stone barn on the outskirts of West Chester. The bookstore opened in 1946 but you lose all sense of time wandering through its nooks and crannies, creaky hidden stairways, and seemingly endless little reading corners. It was hard to tear ourselves away.

west chester 3

We couldn’t have picked a better setting for our gathering. Walking the streets of our relatives’ childhoods taught us about them, our children’s heritage, and American history. Thank you, West Chester. And maybe we’ll see you next year!

Discussion

One Response to “Vintage West Chester, PA”

  1. Popped over from SITS! I live near West Chester. Chester County is a lovely county. And in related news to another one of your posts…My husband goes to Ecuador this summer. CRAZY. Are you writing just for me 😉

    Posted by Tiffany | May 30, 2014, 10:39 am

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

VANAMOS!

Follow a family of four on their epic adventure through Mexico and Central America via VW van.

Instagrams from All Over the Map

  • What was the name of that Canadian coffee chain again?hellip
    2 days ago by alloverthemap What was the name of that Canadian coffee chain again? It's just on the tip of my tongue.... Continue reading »
  • Leg 1 of 3 done On my way to Newfoundlandhellip
    2 days ago by alloverthemap Leg 1 (of 3) done. On my way to  #Newfoundland  via LGA and YYZ. You can probably guess LGA, but who knows where YYZ is?  #wwwYYT  Continue reading »
  • That full moon yall Blue moon Continue reading raquo
    4 days ago by alloverthemap That full moon, y'all. Blue moon. Continue reading »
  • A little time zone trivia for you Newfoundland is onehellip
    2 days ago by alloverthemap A little time zone  #trivia  for you: Newfoundland is one of the few places where the time zone is offset from UTC by an increment of 30 minutes. Do you know another? And do you know one that deviates from UTC by 45 minutes? Continue reading »
  • A gorgeous and delicious lunch at Tavola in St Johnshellip
    21 hours ago by alloverthemap A gorgeous and delicious lunch at Tavola in St. John's, Newfoundland. Owner Bob Hallett shared his great love of all things Newfoundland and his passion for good food with a lively group of appreciative travel and food writers. Fresh halibut, smoked pork shoulder, house made chocolates, and a fine (really!) Wayne Gretzky wine.  #food   #instafood   #foodie   #foodporn   #nomnom   #wwwYYT   #wwwECT    #exploreNL   #exploreCanada   #StJohns   #visitnewfoundland   #yyt  Continue reading »
  • Our friiends and famly wore their party shirts to ourhellip
    5 days ago by alloverthemap Our friiends and famly wore their party shirts to our going away party Continue reading »
  • Good morning wild summer rose! I love these sticky morningshellip
    6 days ago by alloverthemap Good morning, wild summer rose! I love these sticky mornings that start with dew dripping and cicadas cicading and doves cooing and chickadees cheeping. Some people hate it but to me it is not summer without a nice long period of sticky stillness. Continue reading »
  • Early morning trip to the airport to start my triphellip
    2 days ago by alloverthemap Early morning trip to the airport to start my trip to  #Newfoundland  with WritingWalkingWomen. Can't wait to get there!  #wwwYYT   #wwwECT    #exploreNL   #exploreCanada   #StJohns   #visitnewfoundland   #yyt  Continue reading »
  • The pink chair stands alone on a Bangkok street throwbackhellip
    7 days ago by alloverthemap The pink chair stands alone on a  #Bangkok  street.  #throwback   #noreason   #justbecause   #thailand  Continue reading »
  • When in Canada Poutine and Molson Canadian! Continue reading raquo
    2 days ago by alloverthemap When in Canada... Poutine and Molson Canadian! Continue reading »
  • Absolutely gorgeous day at Quidi Vidi village in Newfoundland withhellip
    21 hours ago by alloverthemap Absolutely gorgeous day at Quidi Vidi village in  #Newfoundland  with  #wwwYYT  Continue reading »
  • Hello Bonjour Canada! Jeez you people really sound Canadian dontcha?hellip
    2 days ago by alloverthemap Hello Bonjour Canada! Jeez, you people really sound Canadian, dontcha?  #eh   #canadar   #airport   #wwwYYT   #travel   #instatravel   #enroute   #almostthere  Continue reading »
Shop Pack-it at Eagle Creek

Our latest e-book

Check out our e-book, Brussels with Kids, a guidebook for families traveling to the European capital. With added bonus - a comic book just for the kids by illustrator Sharon Emerson!

Brussels with Kids

Get great inspiration for your next family vacation.




css.php