Saturday, December 28, 2013

Good luck to the Ruth L. Bennett Home

From this... this 
“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” is an old saying that implies that any thing gifted should be accepted as it is and not to be tested after accepting it.

I’ve been concerned that the PennDOT gift of renovating the Ruth L. Bennett properties, while definitely appreciated, was also concerning because because the non-profit organization responsible for its occupancy, upkeep and administration hasn’t reveled a plan to sustain the buildings.

I was hoping the Community Spirit paper would shed some light on their plans, but they couldn’t seem to get an answer either and focused on the building history and quote from PennDOT. 

It appears Delores Freeman-Clybourn will move her Nia Center arts and education program back into the nursery building and the Ruth L. Bennett board members will use the former boarding home as their administrative offices. 

Historically, the Nia Center has provided extremely low cost fees for children to enjoy arts and education programs. Their cost structure provides a unique opportunities for low income families in Chester who can’t afford traditional daycare expenses. Hopefully, they’ll fill that nursery building to the brim.

Strangely, no one from the Ruth L. Bennett board contributed to the article. Since they’ve basically managed two abandoned buildings for the past 25 plus years with little to no regard for the property upkeep or renovation, I’m very curious what type of administrative work they’re planning to conduct in their new building. 

With new buildings come new responsibilities. Let’s hope they take good care of the new gift and earn enough revenue to use the new air conditioning system in the summer months for the kids and maintain the property so that it continues to look new for a very long time.


  1. This property is beautiful. There need be an organization who would be there to hold the users of the property responsible for upkeep. It would be a shame to allow it to fall to destruction again


  2. Thanks for this article....that's one million dollars of renovations...let's hope for the highest and best use of these publicly funded monies...I also hope they don't stay empty too long...

    1. The Community Spirit says the renovation costs over $2 million.

      If I recall correctly, the home has 5 rooms for offices on the top floor. There was talk from the architect and engineer before they broke ground that the bottom floor would/could be used as a space to honor Ruth L. Bennet with photos and other items.

      The two buildings could be real money makers if occupied at market value. If so, there would be no issue with administering upkeep.

      We'll see what 'they' come up with. With over a year of renovation to figure it out and still no real plans, I'm saddened that someone wasn't forced to make a decision on the use of these buildings. Not a good way to spend tax dollars.

      It's not like it was a secret project if you saw my multiple blog posts throughout the year. My suggestions were ignored by many people I spoke to privately who could have made this a great image builder for the city.

  3. I wonder how many other buildings in the city are owned by organizations that are just left to fall apart. And why the city doesn't sue these groups or use eminent domain to take these buildings.

    1. The city did beef up some laws a couple years ago to do just that. That was a councilman Linder initiative. Eminent domain requires a plan for the use of the property and usually the owner gets paid something in return, normally way below market value.