Cedarcroft in 1960
|Nearest city||Kennett Square, Pennsylvania|
|NRHP Reference #||71000693|
|Added to NRHP||November 11, 1971|
|Designated NHL||November 11, 1971|
Cedarcroft, also known as Bayard Taylor House, is a historic house on Gatehouse Drive in Chester County, Pennsylvania near Kennett Square. It was built in 1859 for writer Bayard Taylor (1825–1878), and is a good local example of Italianate architecture. It remained Taylor's home until 1874, and is where he wrote some of his well-known works. It has been a private residence for most of its existence, spending a few years in the early 20th century as a private boys' school. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971 for its association with Taylor.
Taylor built the mansion he named Cedarcroft near Kennett Square, Pennsylvania in 1859–1860. He personally supervised its construction, including its two-foot walls and tall tower, and later wrote a series of articles about it. He also owned the surrounding 200 acres of land which he had spent several years acquiring. He described the building's design as "large and stately, simple in its forms, without much ornament... expressive of strength and ornament." He lived here with his wife Marie Hansen, the daughter of the Danish/German astronomer Peter Andreas Hansen, whom he married in 1857. Several of Taylor's writings were either written at Cedarcroft or reference it, including his 1863 book The Poet's Journal, which he dedicated to his wife as "the Mistress of Cedarcroft".
Taylor pushed to complete the new home shortly after the birth of his daughter Lilian in 1858 and increased his writings for periodicals and offered several lectures to acquire the necessary revenue. Taylor laid the cornerstone for the house's tower on June 9, 1859, with a hidden time capsule. That zinc box, he wrote, contains coins, a newspaper, a copy of his book Views Afoot, as well as "an original poem by me, to be read five hundred years hence by somebody who has never heard of me."
Upon moving into the home in 1860, Taylor's family performed a farcical play co-written with Richard Henry Stoddard. In addition to Stoddard, Cedarcroft hosted several other literary figures, including George Henry Boker, Edmund Clarence Stedman, James Russell Lowell, James Thomas Fields, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Outside the house, Taylor planted a number of fruits and vegetables, including Latakia tobacco and melons. Plants included a giant sequoia from California, ivy, Dutchman's pipe, Virginia creeper, wisteria, and trumpet flower. After visiting the house, Sidney Lanier wrote a poem called "Under the Cedarcroft Chestnut" about a tree there that was alleged to be 800 years old. The first work which Taylor himself wrote while living in Cedarcroft was his semi-autobiographical poetic series The Poet's Journal, written within a month after moving in, though not published until 1862.
The construction of the home cost $15,000 by February 1860, which was $5,000 more than anticipated and left Taylor in debt. His life in Kennett Square was further complicated by the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861. As he wrote to Stoddard in April, "Everything here is upside down. We live almost in a state of siege, with the rumors of war flying about us. At present we don't know what is going on. We have reckless secessionists within twelve miles of us." Out of precaution, Taylor acquired weapons and buried his manuscripts before leaving the country and visiting Europe.
Because of financial and political issues, Taylor only spent four out of the first eight summers at Cedarcroft. Instead, he traveled, gave lectures, and continued his literary work in New York. In the spring of 1862, he was chief war correspondent for the New York Tribune and visited the army at the lines in Virginia and reported on Congress in Washington, D.C. Later that year, he took a diplomatic job as chargé d'affaires at Saint Petersburg in Russia. The job was short-lived, however, and his financial problems continued. Further, Taylor had some difficulty with his neighbors, mostly conservative Quakers, who disapproved of his use of alcohol and cigars as well as his late-night gatherings.
By 1870, Taylor complained to his mother, "If I had known, in 1859, how prices were to change, and labor to be dear and unreliable, and the neighborhood to go backwards instead of forwards, I never should have built [Cedarcroft] at all." Further, he admitted he wanted to live in New York and considered his experiment at a country life combined with literature was "a dead failure, and I have been carrying it on now for several years... out of stubborn unwillingness to admit that I was mistaken." By 1875, he left the home to the care of his parents, sister and brother-in-law.
Taylor died in Germany on December 19, 1878. The home remained in the Taylor family until 1882, when his widow Marie and daughter Lilian sold the house and the 116 acres that remained from the original estate to Isaac Warner Jr. for $14,050.
In September 1905, the home, along with a new 3-story building behind it, was opened as a private preparatory school for boys. The first class included seven boys under the leadership of Principal Jesse Evans Philips, though later years saw between 32 and 40 enrolled for each class. Among the school's students was future professional baseball player Herb Pennock. At 18 years old, Pennock was signed to the Philadelphia Athletics in 1912; he was later traded to the Boston Red Sox and then the New York Yankees. Pennock, nicknamed "The Squire of Kennett Square", was posthumously inducted into the baseball hall of fame in 1948.
The house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971. It stands surrounded by suburban neighborhood of mostly single-story tract housing built in the 1950s,  at the junction of Gatehouse Drive and Potter Road.
- List of National Historic Landmarks in Pennsylvania
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Chester County, Pennsylvania
- National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Cedarcroft". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-02-06.
- Wermuth, Paul C. Bayard Taylor. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1973: 24. ISBN 0-8057-0718-2.
- Lordi, Joseph A. Kennett Square. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2006: 102. ISBN 0-7385-4529-5.
- Corley, Liam. Bayard Taylor: Determined Dreamer of America's Rise, 1825–1878. Bucknell University Press, 2014: 162. ISBN 9781611485721
- Corley, Liam. Bayard Taylor: Determined Dreamer of America's Rise, 1825–1878. Bucknell University Press, 2014: 37. ISBN 9781611485721
- Corley, Liam. Bayard Taylor: Determined Dreamer of America's Rise, 1825–1878. Bucknell University Press, 2014: 197. ISBN 9781611485721
- Wermuth, Paul C. Bayard Taylor. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1973: 25. ISBN 0-8057-0718-2.
- Maynard, W. Barksdale. The Brandywine: An Intimate Portrait. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015: 116. ISBN 978-0-8122-4677-3.
- Wermuth, Paul C. Bayard Taylor. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1973: 123. ISBN 0-8057-0718-2.
- Corley, Liam. Bayard Taylor: Determined Dreamer of America's Rise, 1825–1878. Bucknell University Press, 2014: 93. ISBN 9781611485721
- Corley, Liam. Bayard Taylor: Determined Dreamer of America's Rise, 1825–1878. Bucknell University Press, 2014: 26. ISBN 9781611485721
- Wermuth, Paul C. Bayard Taylor. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1973: 27. ISBN 0-8057-0718-2.
- Lordi, Joseph A. Kennett Square. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2006: 108. ISBN 0-7385-4529-5.
- Westcott, Rich and Bill Campbell. Native Sons: Philadelphia Baseball Players who Made the Major Leagues. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003: 30. ISBN 1-59213-215-4
- National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Cedarcroft. (261 KB)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cedarcroft.|
- Historic Homes of Unionville, Pennsylvania: Bayard Taylor & Cedarcroft Mansion
- "Cedarcroft: Bayard Taylor House", Living Places Website, with excerpt from 1971 nomination to National Register of Historic Places
- Cedarcroft, Bayard Drive (East Marlborough Township), Kennett Square, Chester County, PA: 9 photos and 1 photo caption page, at Historic American Buildings Survey