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Expressions of Interest wanted for Mather Mill and Peace Church

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Interested in owning a piece of Pennsylvania’s history? Looking for a unique opportunity to rehabilitate a local landmark? Does your organization want a new home in a historic building?

PHMC is looking for new owners for Historic Mather Mill in Montgomery County and Peace Church in Cumberland County. Interested parties can submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) for one or both of these historic properties by January 25, 2021.

What is an EOI?

An Expression of Interest (EOI) is a way for PHMC to gauge interest by interested parties in acquiring the Mather Mill or Peace Church properties. Neither PHMC nor any party submitting an expression of interest will be bound to proceed with a sale/purchase/transfer/lease of the property.

This EOI is not a formal solicitation to sell a property and will not result in the sale of a property. The Commonwealth will follow appropriate means to transition any of its properties out of public ownership. Currently, PHMC does not have legislative authority to convey either the Mather Mill or Peace Church properties, which is a necessary precondition of conveyance.

Instructions for preparing and submitting EOIs for either property are included in the links below.

Ensuring their Preservation

Beginning in the early 1980s, PHMC began to carefully review its portfolio of properties in order to determine statewide vs. local or regional significance with a view to focusing available resources on sites with the greatest statewide significance.

Over the last several years, PHMC has been continuing to pursue alternative ownership/stewardship arrangements for properties that may benefit from more local or regional management.

Mather Mill and Peace Church are among the properties identified as a candidates for new ownership arrangements, and the Commission has voted to move the properties out of the State system. Both the Mather Mill and Peach Church properties will be conveyed with a historic preservation covenant to help ensure their preservation.

For Mather Mill, the covenant is to assure that the exterior appearance of Mather Mill will be retained in perpetuity. It does not extend to the building’s interior. Exhibit “A” in the Mather Mill EOI is an example of the covenent new owners can expect for the Mather Mill property.

For Peace Church, the covenant is to assure that Peace Church will be retained in perpetuity as a publicly accessible historic resource, to maintain its National Register of Historic Places listing in perpetuity and that the building and grounds are preserved and well maintained, free from any uses that would be inconsistent with the historic values of Peace Church. Exhibit “A” in the Peace Church EOI is an example of the covenant new owners can expect for the Peach Church property.

Historic Mather Mill

The Historic Mather Mill property is located in Whitemarsh Township, Montgomery County at the intersection of Skippack Pike (Route 73) and Farmar Lane. The approximately 3.185-acre property includes one building.

For this property, PHMC is considering EOIs for acquisition.

Mather Mill along Farmar Lane, 2018. Photo by Don Giles, PHMC.
Brief History

Originally called Farmar Mill, the original water-powered gristmill located on the Wissahickon Creek in Montgomery County was constructed c. 1690 by Edward Farmar.

In 1746 ownership passed to Samuel Morris, a prosperous Quaker entrepreneur, who owned the mill until his death in 1770. The property was
then sold to Isaac Mather, whose son built the present mill in 1820. The mill remained in operation until the late 19th century. Renovated in the early 20th century, none of the workings of a mill remain today.

The Mather Mill property was conveyed to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1966.

Current Conditions

Mather Mill is individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is currently owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The mill has not been actively used for several years, following some damage caused by repeated flooding.

In 2018, PHMC hosted a workshop to explore alternative uses for Mather Mill. Regional architecture firms were invited to participate in a one-day discussion and submit follow-up proposals afterward. PHMC’s State Historic Preservation Office received materials from five firms, and an in-house design solution was also produced by a member of PHMC staff

You can read about this workship and its outcomes in the September 2019 blog post, Mather Mill: A Model for Developing Resiliency for Historic Properties.

Mather Mill will be conveyed in “as-is” condition.

EOI Details

Anyone interested in submitting an EOI for Mather Mill should visit https://www.phmc.pa.gov/Museums/Documents/Mather-Mill-EOI-FINAL-11022020.pdf for instructions, requirements and other information.

PHMC will provide interested parties with the opportunity to perform a Mather Mill site visit and property inspection. Registration is required and details are included in the EOI document.

EOIs, including supporting materials, must be emailed to RA-PHMatherMillREOI@pa.gov and received by the Commonwealth on or before 3:00 P.M. EST on January 25, 2021. All expressions of interest should be clearly marked “Historic Mather Mill” in the Subject line of an email. Any expressions of interest received after 3:00 P.M. EST, January 25, 2021, will be rejected.

Historic Peace Church

The Historic Peace Church property is located at 200 Saint John’s Church Road in Camp Hill, Cumberland County. The approximately 1.135-acre property includes two buildings.

For this property, PHMC is seeking EOIs for acquisition or leasing for either

  • providing public access and historical interpretation and maintaining the building subject to certain covenants; OR
  • providing an alternative use and maintaining the building subject to preservation covenants.
Peace Church, 2020. Photo by Don Giles, PHMC.
Brief History

This stone church, simple in design and without a steeple, was erected in 1798 by a Reformed congregation. A Lutheran group obtained a half-interest eight years later in 1806, and the building remained in regular joint use until 1866. Other Protestant denominations also held services there. It
therefore is exemplary of the multi-religious society that was accepted in Pennsylvania from its founding.

Peace Church is a typical representation of Pennsylvania churches in the last decade of the eighteenth century, but its real significance lies in the fact that it is one Pennsylvania historic landmark that has remained completely unaltered. It is noted for its 1807 organ made by Conrad Doll which is known as the first instrument of its kind to be used in a church in Cumberland County.

Peace Church was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in March 1972.

Current Conditions

For decades, this site and all related operations have been managed by the Friends of Peace Church. The Friends of Peace Church, while willing to continue in their current role managing operations, has declined ownership of the property.

The building itself is in excellent condition, having benefited from numerous capital improvement and maintenance projects between 2005 and 2019.

EOI Details

Anyone interested in submitting an EOI for Peace Church should visit https://www.phmc.pa.gov/Museums/Documents/Peace-Church-EOI-Final-11042020.pdf for instructions, requirements and other information.

PHMC will provide interested parties with the opportunity to perform a Peace Church site visit and property inspection. Registration is required and details are included in the EOI document.

EOIs, including supporting materials, must be emailed to RA-PHPeaceChurchREOI@pa.gov and received by the Commonwealth on or before 3:00 P.M. EST on January 25, 2021. All expressions of interest should be clearly marked “Peace Church” in the Subject line of an email. Any expressions of interest received after 3:00 P.M. EST, January 25, 2021, will be rejected.

Author: PHMC

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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