willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

Willowbrook Farm’s Connection to Yellow Springs

Have any of you seen the cult classic, The Blob?  It was filmed in the late 1950’s in a town near us called Phoenixville. In fact, the Colonial Theatre, site of the famous scene where people ran out of the theatre helter skelter being chased by a gluttonous Blob, still holds an Annual Blob Festival every summer. I have never experienced the festivities but our house has quite a connection to that movie which starred a very young and handsome Steve Mc Queen. 
The  Blob’s producer was a man by the name of Irvin Shortress “Shorty” Yeaworth Jr. who lived at Willowbrook Farm in the 1970’s and 80’s where he entertained a number of celebrities. (Keith Richards being one of them who was, let’s say “drying out” in an upstairs 3rd floor bedroom for a lengthy period of time. ) Shorty, as he was affectionately known, moved here from the Village of Yellow Springs, which is about a 15 minutes drive away. Shorty headquartered Good News Productions, Shorty’s film studio in the village which created over four hundred films between the years 1952 and 1974.
Here is a painting that was done for Shorty that is now housed in the Historic Yellow Springs Offices. It depicts the property and names the structures and what they were used for. The Village of Yellow Springs has an incredibly interesting history which spans nearly 300 years. In the 18th Century it was a fashionable spa village that attracted visitors for its healing waters.  George Washington commissioned a hospital to be built in the village during the American Revolution which became the first Military Hospital in North America. It reverted back to a spa town again in the early 19th Century.
From 1868-1912 the Chester Springs Soldiers’ Orphan School for children of Civil War Soldiers operated in the Village. The village was then purchased by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and from 1916-1952, it served as the Academy’s Fine Arts Country Day School. Shorty purchased the village in 1952 and lived there with his family, film crew, parents and other employees for over 20 years. It was a communal living experience and from here he produced films that spread the “Good News” of his Christian faith. He produced other films as well, his most well known, being The Blob.

I had known about the connection of the Village of Yellow Springs to Shorty Yeaworth and Willowbrook Farm. When looking for an organization to benefit during our upcoming Spring Sale and Show for Life’s Patina, it was this connection that made me approach the Yellow Springs Art Show. The Art Show is a well known show in our area that shows the artwork of over 175 juried artists. During my history tour through the village, a large farmhouse table caught my eye. As I commented on it, I took a better look and realized that it was exactly the same as a farmhouse table that we found in the barn upon moving into Willowbrook Farm! I learned that the table had been used in the Dining Hall during the tenure of the Orphan’s School in the village! 
Farm Table housed in the Village of Yellow Springs (in much better condition than mine)
When we found this table in the barn, the legs were experiencing some wood rot and a corner had been broken off. My husband asked if we should bring it to the burn pile and I, who have trouble throwing a plastic baggie out, replied, “Over my dead body!” I had a carpenter cut off the very bottom of the legs and he patched in a replacement piece of wood in the corner. The table has since been moved in and out of my house to be used at Christmas, onto the lawn to house a buffet for Graduation parties ( much to the chagrin of my hubby and boys who have to help move the heavy bugger) and it remains a fixed staple in the center of our barn during the Barn Sales. I LOVE that table and I love it even more, now that I know that it must have been brought by Shorty from the village to be used in the same fashion when he lived here at Willowbrook Farm. 
Oh my gosh! I just found another personal connection…when reading this poster again for the Art Show at Yellow Springs, I realized that this years’ show is the 40th Anniversary. When we purchased Willowbrook, it happened to be the Vassar Show House (the oldest designer’s showhouse in the country) and it was the 40th Anniversary of the Showhouse. I also happened to be celebrating my, ahmmmm….40th Birthday and tickets to the show house were my BD present from a dear friend. Needless to say, that is one big coincidence…or is it??? 
There you have it! Willowbrooks’ connection to the Village of Yellow Springs, Shorty Yeaworth, a table and now an Art Show.  We are forging that connection even further by partnering with the Yellow Springs Art Show for the upcoming Spring Barn Sale on April 26-28th. We will be donating a portion of our proceeds from the Barn Sale to the Art Show and Historic Yellow Springs. Two of the Yellow Springs artists will be showing their work here as well as other local artists. Come out to partake in benefitting Yellow Springs, to celebrate art and to see THE TABLE standing at attention (albeit a little lower than usual) in the center of the barn!
To find out more information about Historic Yellow Springs and the Yellow Springs Art Show, check out the following site:
Hope to see you next weekend!

share to:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Charlotte Ireland says:

    We grew up in Chester Springs (before moving to Nantmeal) and Yellow Springs was our playground. We rode our ponies through the trails behind Yellow Springs, took dance and art lessons, played in the creeks, trick or treated, and went to the annual Yellow Springs Christmas party where all the children and some adults would go door to door caroling. Yellow Springs was magical. It was nice to read about your house’s connection to it.

  2. My family was actually living at Yellow Springs as part of the Good News Productions group when I was born! I have wonderful memories of playing all around the Yellow Springs buildings, fields, and grounds. We were also friends with the Yeaworth family and we have found memories of playing with their kids and learning fun songs together. Thank you for this step back in time!

  3. Lifes Patina says:

    Wendy and Frank! I am so happy that you stumbled upon this blog! and that you have such fond memories of both Yellow Springs and the Yeaworth family. I have heard many stories and they are all so very interesting. I love delving into the past and its inhabitants! Thank you for sharing your memories!

  4. Lifes Patina says:

    Charlotte, I never realized that! We lived in Chester Springs before moving to Glenmoore and used to skate on Maloney’s pond. Did you ever do that? Yellow Springs is a magical place and I am glad that it has maintained it’s history thus far! I hope it continues! would love to see you! I have run into John on a few occasions and he seems to be doing very well.