Each year, the nonprofit Preservation Pennsylvania releases a list of new additions to the Pennsylvania At Risk list, sites determined to be among the commonwealth’s most endangered historic resources. In 2017, eleven places were identified through nominations submitted by the public, and will become Preservation Pennsylvania’s work priorities for the year.
The 2017 Pennsylvania At Risk list includes two sites connected with helping enslaved people find their way to freedom on the Underground Railroad, the home of a general who sat on the jury of conspirators in the Lincoln assassination, artist’s homes and studios, a former bank, two former taverns, a former factory and a downtown landmark hotel.
Common threats to historic resources include demolition; physical deterioration; inappropriate alteration; and compromised setting. A number of factors contribute to these threats, including development pressure, vacancy and abandonment, depressed local economies, and limited interest or financial capacity of property owners. Preservation Pennsylvania is committed to helping people protect and preserve Pennsylvania’s endangered historic properties and will provide free assistance to local advocates to preserve and rehabilitate these significant historic places.
2017 Pennsylvania At Risk List
ABOLITION HALL, HOVENDEN HOUSE, AND PLYMOUTH MEETING HISTORIC DISTRICT
Germantown Pike and Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting, Montgomery County
THREAT: Compromised Setting, Demolition
Abolition Hall is widely considered among the nation’s most important sites related to abolition history and the Underground Railroad. Jane Johnson, an enslaved woman involved in a landmark court case related to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, was sheltered after the trial on her way to be reunited with her sons in Boston. The site is also connected to three generations of artists, including Thomas Hovenden, painter and former head of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
702–710 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County
Toll Brothers City Living has said it will demolish several buildings in America’s oldest continuously operating diamond district to erect a 29-story luxury residential high-rise.
202 Cool Springs Road Wrightsville, Hellam Township, York County
Jonathan and Susanna Mifflin were pioneers in the Underground Railroad in the 1820s and 1830s. Located just north of Wrightsville on the west bank of the Susquehanna River, the property provided an ideal location to keep fugitive slaves safe until they could be transported across the river to Columbia.
7590 Jonestown Road, West Hanover Township, Dauphin County
THREAT: Physical Deterioration, Demolition
The oldest part of the property dates between 1730-1750. The newest portion was built in 1805 and served as a tavern for more than a century (the discovery of a box of gold wedding bands in the tavern walls teases the imagination). Owned by the local township, it has no use for the building.
420 N. Main Street, Spring Grove, York County
The Georgian-style house was built c. 1750, is the oldest building in Spring Grove, and is a contributing resource in the National Register Spring Grove Historic District. Rutter’s Properties owns the adjacent convenience store, but has no use for the historic structure.
357 Parcell Road Prosperity, Morris Township, Washington County
A foundation’s unsuccessful effort to use the former home of painter Malcolm Parcell to host visiting artists led to the eventual sale of the 14-acre property to CONSOL Energy Land Resources Division (CNX Land LLC) for longwall coal mining. The unoccupied and remote property is deteriorating and subject to vandalism. Local advocates hope to work with CONSOL to save the property.
Campbell Lane, Schuylkill Township, Chester County
This National Register-listed farmstead dates from 1754 and during the American Revolution it served as both a hospital and a headquarters for American officers. Located just a few miles from the encampment at Valley Forge, the home boasted illustrious visitors such as General Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold. Since the 1930s it served as a golf club but was recently acquired by eminent domain by the Phoenixville Area School District for potential expansion. A Schuylkill Township task force hopes to find a way to save the farmstead from demolition.
203 South Water Street, Elizabeth Borough, Allegheny County
One of the oldest structures in the borough of Elizabeth, the brick Greek Revival building (c. 1840s) is named for its owner, General James Adams Ekin, a Civil War hero, boat builder, and descendant of the Bayard family, founders of Elizabeth. At the end of the war, Ekin served on the commission that tried the conspirators in President Lincoln’s assassination. The Ekin House needs a new owner and strategy for re- use that could include a commercial venture or return to use as a private residence.
MONESSEN SAVINGS AND TRUST
500 Donner Avenue, Monessen, Westmoreland County
The Monessen Savings and Trust served the banking and business needs of the City of Monessen from 1905-1926 and stands as a living testament to the industrialists that helped shape Monessen and the Pittsburgh region, with historic ties to nationally-significant industries such as Carnegie Steel and the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. The City of Monessen owns the property, and City Council is strongly advocating for demolition. A local advocate created the 500 Donner Project envisioning a nonprofit cafe, music center, and auditorium.
KIDDIE KLOES FACTORY
West Bertsch Street, Lansford Borough, Carbon County
THREAT: Physical Deterioration
This former silk throwing mill was built in 1904 and is listed as a contributing building in the National Register Lansford Historic District. In 1935, Philadelphia-based Rosenau Brothers, Inc. converted the factory to manufacture their Cinderella brand of girls’ dresses, made famous by child movie star Shirley Temple. The building has been derelict since the 1990s but is now owned by local residents who hope to rehabilitate the building.
THE YORKTOWNE HOTEL
East Market Street, York City, York County
THREAT: Partial Demolition
This 198-room hotel opened in downtown York City on October 5, 1925 and has since been the site of most major events in York City. It was purchased by the York County Industrial Development Authority, which closed the hotel in November 2016 for a renovation expected to last two years. Materials distributed by the York County Industrial Development Authority in its search for an architect include the option for partial demolition that would include removal of the top five to seven floors of the building and new construction on top of the base.
Download the 2017 Pennsylvania At Risk publication at Preservation Pennsylvania’s website. It includes opportunities to get involved and support efforts at the local level.
About Preservation Pennsylvania
Sabra Smith is Communications Director at Preservation Pennsylvania. Preservation Pennsylvania publishes Pennsylvania At Risk annually to draw statewide attention to the plight of Pennsylvania’s historic resources; promote and support local action to protect historic properties; and encourage funding and legislation that supports preservation activities. Helping people to protect and preserve Pennsylvania’s endangered historic properties is a top priority for Preservation Pennsylvania. The organization is committed to engaging with people interested in working to preserve and rehabilitate these significant historic places.
Preservation Pennsylvania is the Commonwealth’s only statewide, private, nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of historically and architecturally significant resources. For more information, visit the website at www.preservationpa.org or contact Preservation Pennsylvania at 717-234-2310.