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Black Horse Inn

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Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: October 28, 2005
Byline: Bonnie L. Cook

The state pitches in to restore historic inn

The $1.5 million restoration of the Black Horse Inn has been boosted by a $500,000 grant from the state capital budget, officials interested in the project said yesterday.

The grant requires matching funds, which have already been identified, said James V. Mascaro, chairman of the Black Horse Advisory Committee overseeing the project. It means the fund-raising is two-thirds complete.

"We now can go to foundations, corporations and wealthy donors and say, 'Hey, please give us the other half a million dollars,' " Mascaro said yesterday.

The money is being used to fix up and stabilize the old tavern, an eyesore along Bethlehem Pike in Springfield Township for more than a decade.

In its heyday, the Black Horse was a stagecoach stop for passengers moving between Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley. Vacant since the mid-1990s, it had suffered weathering.

The inn's chimneys were recently shored up, Mascaro said. The roof and supporting woodwork need rebuilding, windows need replacing, and the interior of the inn needs sprucing up, Mascaro said.

The Spring Township Historical Society is expected to make the building its headquarters and archives once the work is done 18 months from now. The exterior will appear as it did in 1880, but the interior will be modern.

Restoration efforts began in February after Springfield Township, the historical society, and an activist group, Friends of Historic Bethlehem Pike, formed a working coalition.

While volunteers cleaned and painted, fund-raising began in earnest. U.S. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz announced a $150,000 federal grant for the project in July. The township set aside $110,000, and pledged another $200,000 later, Mascaro said.

Also, Friends of Historic Bethlehem Pike raised $40,000. It wants to collect $50,000 per year over the next three years and is 80 percent along in meeting that goal, Mascaro said.

The $500,000 came from the state's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, said State Rep. Lawrence H. Curry (D., Montgomery). Curry guided the application through the approval process.