Date: September 26, 2002
Byline: T. Scott Kreilick, Chair, Historic Resources Committee, Springfield Township Historical Society
Letter: "Register could keep inn where it stands"The Black Horse Inn is now one step closer to being moved out of its historical context to the rear of a parking lot to make room for a CVS and a regional distribution center for the liquor Control Board. The preliminary development plan was approved last week in a split decision by the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners. We commend Commissioner Marc Perry for his courage in opposing the majority vote. To their credit, the Commissioners' approval is contingent upon the developer returning the inn's bar, which was removed last month without warning.
I remain optimistic that an alternative can be found that will the Inn to remain where it has stood for the last 258 years. The Springfield Township Historical Society will continue to work to find such a solution. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has entered into discussions with CVS on our behalf. The Trust has informal agreements with CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Eckerd that they will not demolish buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the Black Horse Inn is not on the register, it was deemed eligible in 1989 due to the efforts of the historical society. All that is required for listing is the owner's signature.
Last year, during a three-week petition drive organized by the Historical Society, more than 3500 members of the community called for the commissioners to save the inn. Unfortunately, the commissioners chose to "save" the inn by allowing it to be moved. It is, as has been, the position of the historical society, that moving a historic building should be the last option, not the first. Some time ago, the historical society's board of directors unanimously passed a resolution stating that we do not endorse the settlement agreement between the township and the owner/developer.
The historical society has consistently opposed this development, not only because of the potential loss of the Black Horse Inn, but also for its negative impact on our community. The land will be overdeveloped and traffic will be worse than ever. The loss of our historic resources, however, is emblematic of the value we place on our heritage and our quality of life.
The 1998 Comprehensive Plan of Springfield Township recognizes that the Black Horse Inn, and other historic sites in the township, are a "valuable resource in a community" and that "t hey provide a link to a community's past and thereby can make a valuable contribution to its current educational, cultural, and social environment," If Springfield Township officials really want to protect our historic resources, and I believe they do, now is the time to have a serious discussion about creating and implementing a strong Preservation Ordinance.
The historical society has held preliminary discussions regarding an ordinance with township officials, and the Montgomery County Planning Commission. We look forward to working together on this significant undertaking.
In the mean time, the historical society is continuing to accept pledges and financial in-kind support for our efforts to preserve the Black Horse Inn in its current location if and when the opportunity presents itself. Please call 215-233-4600 to pledge your support.