E pluribus unum refers to thirteen colonies peacefully becoming a single nation. But it applies to Philadelphia in a different sense. Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods.
Delaware (State of)
Originally the "lower counties" of Pennsylvania, and thus one of three Quaker colonies founded by William Penn, Delaware has developed its own set of traditions and history.
Philadelphia dominated the medical profession so long that it's hard to distinguish between local traditions and national ones. The distinctive feature is that in Philadelphia you must be a real doctor before you become a mere specialist.
Art in Philadelphia
The history of art, particularly painting and sculpture, has been a long and distinguished one. If you add in the art schools, the Philadelphia national influence on artists has been a dominant one.
The 20% federal tax credit for historic preservation is said to have been the special pet of Senator Lugar of Indiana. Much of the recent transformation of Philadelphia's downtown is attributed to this incentive.
Customs, Culture and Traditions
Abundant seafood made it easy to settle here. Agriculture takes longer.
Nature preservation and nature destruction are different parts of an eternal process.
Right Angle Club 2008
A report, to the year 2008 shareholders of the Right Angle Club of Philadelphia, by the outgoing president, Neale Bringhurst...
Chester County, Pennsylvania
Chester was an original county of Pennsylvania, one of the largest until Dauphin, Lancaster and Delaware counties were split off. Because the boundaries mainly did not follow rivers or other natural dividers, translating verbal boundaries into actual lines was highly contentious.
Low-end furniture for America is now mostly made in China, and seldom made of wood. Truly American cabinet making tends to be high-end, and high priced. That tendency goes to some sort of extreme around Unionville in Chester County, where a 25-year old company named Kinloch Woodworking holds pride of place. The owner, D. Douglas Mooberry, picked the name Kinloch at random from a map of Scotland, but his selection of southern Chester County was not an accident. The influence of nearby Winterthur has infused that whole region with an interest in fine furniture craftsmanship, and museums like the Chester County Museum and others throughout the nearby Pennsylvania Dutch country provide an ample source of authentic pieces to serve as examples. There's one other factor at work. As Doug Mooberry quickly noticed, people with money usually have lots of it. There really is a market for $28,000 tall case clocks, $18,000 highboys, and $12,000 tables -- if you can convince people in Chester County you are really good.
Although this 12-person company repairs antique pieces, it does not make exact reproductions. It produces new pieces in the old style of the region, based on careful analysis and evaluation of museum pieces from earlier times. Kinloch once aspired to equal the quality of the early artisans, but now aspires to surpass them in quality of materials and workmanship. The more conventional stance of fine artists is to attempt to excel in today's current style, whatever that may be, probably "post-modern". Kinloch artists, however, choose to excel in the style of a long-past era, taking care not to claim the product is antique. Artisans grow up in cooperative clusters; there's a world-famous veneer company nearby and a pretty good hardware company, although the best craftsmen of furniture hardware are still found in England.
The characteristic style of Chester County furniture in the Eighteenth Century was a mixture of two neighboring cultures, Queen Anne, Chippendale, ball and claw Georgian style of Philadelphia; and the "line and berry" inlay style of the Pennsylvania Germans. If carefully executed, this hybrid style can be very pleasing, and you had better believe it requires painstaking craftsmanship. Others will have to explain the significance or symbolism of intersecting hemi-circles in the lines, and the inlaid wood hemispheres, the berries, at the end of the lines. But the technical difficulty of laying strips of 1/16 inch wood in curved grooves only a thousandth of an inch wider, or the matching of 3/8th-inch wood hemispheres into hemispheric holes gouged out of the main piece -- making the surfaces of the inlays perfectly smooth -- is immediately obvious to anyone who ever tried to whittle. Ultimately, however, true artistry lies in combining two unrelated styles without producing an aesthetic clash. By the way, you would be wise to wax such furniture once a year.
The factory is on Buck and Doe Run Road, and here's another culture clash. At one time, Lammot du Pont cobbled a 9000-acre estate out of several little country villages. In 1945 it was sold to the Kleberg family of Texas, the owners of the King Ranch. Robert Kleberg was an admiring friend of Sam Rayburn but treated the oafish Lyndon Johnson as his personal political gofer. From 1945 to 1984 Buck and Doe was used as one of several remote feedlots for Texas Longhorns bred to Guernseys, the so-called Santa Gertrudis breed. Originally, Texas cattle were seasonally driven to Montana for fattening, then on to railheads for the stockyards. As farmers began to build fences interfering with the long drive over the prairies, it became cheaper to fatten cattle closer to the markets. So satellite feedlots like Buck and Doe Run were developed. You can pack more cattle in a rail car when they are younger and smaller, and advantage can be taken of price swings by suppliers who are close to the market. In this case, the markets were in Baltimore. Since the King Ranch is larger than the state of Rhode Island, such 9000-acre farms were pretty small operations in the view of the Texas Klebergs, an opinion they did not trouble to conceal from the irritated local gentry. The point was even driven home in high society circles by holding large parties at Buck and Doe Run, allowing guests to wander around the roads, unable to find the house of their host even though they had been on his property for most of an hour. In 1984 the Buck and Doe was sold to Art DeLeo, who is busily converting it into a nature conservancy.
Originally published: Friday, October 05, 2007; most-recently modified: Wednesday, August 07, 2019