Only a few lucky travelers will find what is arguably one of Chester county’s best historic inns. Located off the beaten path, is a lavish mansion built by William Baldwin in 1860 and subsequently owned by investment banker Smedley Darlington. Smedley and Faunbrook were often in the news in the late 1800s, but like many historic homes of the era, Faunbrook was under constant threat of demolition. After years of vandalism and neglect, Faunbrook was eventually given a second chance in the early eighties.
Kick back and enjoy yourself
There is also a mention in the black notebook of a short biography of Smedley Darlington Baker, a war hero. This Smedley was the grandson of Smedley, the banker, and is the only American soldier to have received both the Medal of Honor and the Marine Corps Brevet Medal twice!
Local periodicals and brochures are available to chart your course for the area’s attractions, dining, and shopping. For breakfast you’ll be treated to an excellent meal at 9:00am or even earlier if needed. Lori sources most of the produce locally and gets her eggs from a friend’s backyard chicken coop. The meat items come from Lancaster, Pennsylvania where quality farm goods are sought after. Fresh home-made baked goods accompany this delicious breakfast.
One of the most amazing bookstores in the U.S. is Baldwin’s Book Barn. The barn was built in 1822 and features over 300,000 used and rare books, maps, and prints. Be sure and take time out to visit this five-story barn as it’s only a two-minute drive from Faunbrook. Rumor has it that the barn has three resident ghosts. You might encounter them while browsing the bookshelves!
For local shopping, check out the Artisan Exchange on Saturdays held throughout the year. This market brings craft food items from dozens of mom and pop vendors and is located in the center of West Chester. Drive 20 minutes’ away to Kennett Square, the Mushroom Capital of the World to shop for mushroom products. On State Street in Kennett Square find the Mushroom Cap, or drive a bit farther to The Woodlands At Phillip’s Mushrooms. At either shop, you’ll find more mushroom products than you knew existed.
Also in Kennett Square is the world-famous Longwood Gardens, a former home of Pierre S. du Pont. At these gardens find one of the most dramatic fountain displays in the world, a pipe organ with 10,011 pipes, a carillon, an indoor conservatory, and three unique tree houses on the extensive grounds. Drive just a bit further to see Winterthur, another famous du Pont mansion now open to the public. Both du Pont properties require a fee for admission. Check out their websites for prices and events throughout the year.
Special events at Faunbrook
Each harvest dinner features local vendors and farmers celebrating themes like mushrooms, tomatoes, herbs, and more. These four-course dinners are held outdoors on the enclosed patio, and usually sell out every time. Wine and beer are included, but guests are allowed to bring their own if they have a particular wine or beer to pair with the dinner.
Disclaimer: Although my stay was comped by Faunbrook, my opinions are my own.
When to visit
The best time to visit is probably during springtime or in the fall when the gardens and the weather invite a stroll through the gardens. Reserve your room on Booking.com 24/7. Smedley Darlington knew an excellent place to call home when he bought Faunbrook. You too can call it home, even if it’s just for a night or two.