In 1852, through the purchase from John Pusey of a deserted farm across the road from his father's land, a boyhood dream of Bayard Taylor became a realty. Two heaps of stone were all that marked the site of the old house and barn - a few ragged fruit trees hovered around the outskirts of the vanished garden but Bayard Taylor's hopes soared and his plans for the future were quickened by possession. The enclosed field, called by the English a "croft" was sprinkled with cedars and was christened by Taylor as Cedarcroft.
Seven years later in the midst of his busy life the building of the house begun. Clay from one of the fields on the place furnished the bricks of which the house is built. The corner stone was laid on June 5, 1859, and contains under it, in a zinc box, a copy of Bayard Taylor's first book of travel "Views Afoot"; an original poem by himself; some coins; a manuscript poem by his close friend, R. H. Stoddard, and a few other items. The house-warming, after the completion of the house, was celebrated August 18, 1860. On the morning of the 20th a large paper balloon was found on the premises of Baily brothers in East Marlboro township. Attached to the balloon was a card inscribed "Cedarcroft, August 19, 1860-9 o'clock P.M." On the reverse side was written, "Please report by Village Record where this balloon descends."
Bayard Taylor did not live to see all his hopes fulfilled. From the orchards and field crops his visions had included a sustaining income for Cedarcroft. This proved to be far from true. Being away from home a great deal of the time, he was unable to see that his plans were executed. Much as he loved it he became very weary and discouraged in keeping up a place that had become a great burden to him. When he bought Cedarcroft he wove an invisible web about himself. Every tree he planted invited him to rest; the sunset through the trees was the background of his dreams, and his mind, when at leisure from other duties, turned wistfully to the fields his youth had known. At first he was stubbornly unwilling to recognize his error but later frankly admitted his failure to combine farming and literature. For years he tried to sell Cedarcroft. The house had cost him fifteen thousand to build which was five thousand more than he had estimated. What was easy at the time of building became very difficult. Failing to sell, in 1874 he made the decision to continue ownership, migrate to New York with his family and leave his parents in occupation of the mansion. He never returned except for short visits.
From 1852 to 1952 Cedarcroft has had many owners. In 1878, by will, Bayard Taylor left the property to his wife and daughter. In 1882 it was in the name of T. E. Sickles and again in 1882 it was transferred to Isaac Warner, Jr. In 1883 it became the property of Dr. Richard J. Lewis and in July of 1893 it was sold to Clara Barrington. In December of 1894 it was nearly destroyed by fire.
Through a sheriff's sale in 1900 Cedarcroft became the property of Elwood R. Green. The spring of 1904 found it in the hands of several Kennett Square citizens who were endeavoring to raise funds to convert it into s boarding school for boys. Later in 1904 the new school managers formed a stock company under title of "The Cedarcroft School" and appointed Professor Jesse E. Philips as Headmaster. This school lasted for several years and was successful in all ways except financial.
In 1913 the property was sold to Mr. J. B. D. Edge of Wilmington under whose plan and guidance it rapidly became a place of beauty and continued as such for many years.
And in 1952, one hundred years from the original purchase, Cedarcroft has again changed ownership. We are grateful that men with a vision of a permanent future have acquired possession of the property, planning subdivisions with attractive homes to be built upon its beautiful acres throughout the years ahead. This, together with the keeping of the name "Cedarcroft" will insure a lasting homage to Chester County's own Bayard Taylor. The land over which he roamed and loved will soon be peopled with eager children; the trees under which he lingered will become the delight of another generation and who knows- from the inspiration of Bayard Taylor's dreams what greater things may come.
The history of Cedarcroft has been prepared for Chester County Day, 1952, by Mrs. Genevieve R. Pratt upon request by the new owners, Cedarcroft, Inc. Robert E. Ferguson, President, J. D. Pusey, Secretary, C. Maxwell, Treasurer.
Home History Members Minutes Photos Architecture Oddities Maps Links Resources