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Source: Preservation Online
Date: August 6, 2003
Byline: Salvatore Deluca

A New Plan for Pennsylvania's Black Horse Inn

The owner of the Black Horse Inn, one of four remaining Revolutionary-era stopovers along one of the nation's oldest roads about 12 miles north of Philadelphia, received clearance yesterday to relocate the 259-year-old structure to make way for a pharmacy, liquor store, and office space.

The 3-2 vote by Springfield Township Board of Commissioners gives the inn's owner, Moreland Development of Bryn Mawr, Pa., the option of moving the structure across Bethlehem Pike in Flourtown, Pa.

Moreland wants to build a 14,000-square-foot Walgreens pharmacy and an 11,000-square-foot liquor store with 5,000 squre feet of office space above it. Previously, he had agreed to put the Black Horse behind the new construction and turn the building over to the township.

While preservationists are pleased that Moreland has agreed not to demolish the Black Horse, they are concerned that moving it either across the four-lane highway or to the back of the three-acre property would alter the 1744 Federal-style building, which closed in the 1980s.

"I don't believe there's been enough effort to find a creative solution and leave the building in place," says T. Scott Kreilick of the Springfield Township Historical Society. "Moving the building should be the last option, not the first."

Township Commission President Robert C. McGrory says moving the structure across the pike "is not the best of all worlds for preservationists, but it's better than the current option of moving it to the back of the property, essentially behind the drug store."

A cluster of eight inns built between the 1730s and 1812 stood along the pike's two-mile stretch in Springfield Township, once a day's travel to and from Philadephia. In 1777, George Washington marched his troops past the Black Horse on their way to fight in the Battle of Germantown.

Kreilick says Moreland could use the inn's 5,400 square feet for office space.

"The developer showed me [a drawing of] a building with a colonial appearance, constructed of brick, and it's a great start," Kreilick says. "But we'd like to see if there's a way to creatively include the Black Horse. It's been here for 259 years," he says. "It's curious to me how we let buildings go and later lament their passing."