Residents of Whitemarsh Township in Montgomery County were alarmed to hear that a developer planned to build 65 townhomes in their local historic district.

The National Register-listed crossroads village features a homestead that once served as an important Underground Railroad hub where generations fought against slavery and George Corson built a public meeting space where the controversial subject of abolition could be freely discussed.

It was also home to generations of artists, whose work may be found in places such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge. While the historic buildings would not be torn down, the development, as designed, was still a threat to their long-term survival.

Group of people in front of a house.

After learning of the listing on the 2017 Pennsylvania At Risk, the Friends of Abolition Hall held a love-in to show support for preservation of the nationally important Underground Railroad site in Montgomery County. (Photo Credit: Vita Litvak)

Sydelle Zove, convener of the Friends of Abolition Hall, sought listing on Preservation PA’s Pennsylvania At Risk.

“The Friends of Abolition Hall was in its infancy when Preservation Pennsylvania gave us the welcome news that the Corson Homestead would be included in the 2017 At Risk list,” Zove recalls. “[The recognition] also affirmed our sense of the value of our struggle. . . .The articles and photos that followed the listing generated significant interest, which has further legitimized our efforts and enabled us to pursue our objections to the ill-conceived development plan for this once-busy stop on the Underground Railroad.”

Could this tool be useful to your efforts to protect and preserve a historic place with special meaning to your community?

If so, Preservation Pennsylvania is now accepting nominations to the 2019 Pennsylvania At Risk.  Click here to visit the Preservation PA website for more information and to download the submission form.

Pennsylvania At Risk draws statewide attention to the plight of Pennsylvania’s historic resources, promotes and supports local action to protect historic properties, and encourages funding and legislation that supports preservation activities.

Building framing.

The former Kiddie Kloes Factory holds lots of memories for local residents who worked there, and it was a favorite shooting location for fans of abandoned places, but years of neglect had taken their toll. The best way for Preservation Pennsylvania to help this site was with grant money for emergency stabilization as the owners pursue their dream of creating a community arts center. (Photo credit: Kim Novak)

Preservation Pennsylvania will waive field service fees for At Risk Properties for the year and provide additional services and support, such as letters of support for Keystone Grant fund applications.

In the past, we’ve been able to do provide emergency stabilization funding for buildings with structural concerns. We have met with local government representatives to discuss the merits of preservation over demolition and facilitated sale to new owners ensuring the reuse of the building. We have attended hearings and testified about historic significance. We have served as fiscal managers for fundraising efforts for groups without nonprofit status. We have offered free technical advice ranging from potential reuse ideas to expert structural engineering analysis reports. We’ve even rolled up our sleeves and invited volunteers to join us for a hands-on work day!

People engaged in construction work.

Preservation Pennsylvania held a workday at the Lincoln Motor Court after its listing on the 2014 Pennsylvania At Risk. Volunteers stayed in the guest cabins at the only surviving motor court on the Lincoln Highway, re-roofed a cabin and did prep work, painting and maintenance. (Photo credit: Mindy Crawford)

While not every site can be saved, it’s been rewarding to see a number of Pennsylvania At Risk sites transform into Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Award honorees. The Star Barn was listed on Preservation Pennsylvania’s very first At Risk list and received the Chairman’s Award at the recent award ceremony in late September.

People holding a plaque.

The much-beloved Star Barn and its barnyard of outbuildings was a sorry case of demolition by neglect. Preservation Pennsylvania listed the building on the very first At Risk list in 1992 and funded emergency stabilization work to prevent further deterioration. David and Tierney Abel purchased, moved and rebuilt the barn to serve as an event venue. They received the Chairman’s Award in 2018 for preservation of this iconic building. (Photo credit: Don Giles)

Check out Pennsylvania At Risk at and submit a nomination for your threatened place today and help us spread the word in your community.

Deadline for nominations is November 5, 2018.

Today’s Guest Author is Sabra Smith. Sabra is Communications Director at Preservation Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth’s only private statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to helping   eople protect and preserve the historic places that matter to them. We are supported by our members and donors who believe in the power of preservation as a tool for community pride, economic revitalization, and more. We invite you to join our passionate community of preservers!