Date: January 3, 2005
Byline: Joe Barron
Black Horse gets a boost
The fortunes of the Black Horse Inn received a boost this week as preservationists pledged about $18,000 toward its restoration.
The Black Horse Advisory Committee also expanded the scope of its operations by appointing a subcommittee to explore possible uses for the inn.
The advisory committee plans to summarize the developments in the Black Horse story for the township board of commissioners Jan. 10. By showing both the community's willingness to support the inn financially and the interest of businesses and nonprofit organizations in renting space there, preservationists hope to secure a promise from the township commissioners rejecting any possibility that the Black Horse may be demolished.
"What's happened in the last two months has been so exciting because the community has really come together," Scott Kreilick, chairman of the advisory committee, said Wednesday.
Before initiating their fund-raising campaign, members of the advisory committee and its subcommittees spoke with people who have supported preservation in the past, asking how much they would be willing to contribute.
As a result of these informal inquires, the committee received contributions and pledges of approximately $18,000, according to John Alviti, chairman of the finance subcommittee.
"I'm overwhelmingly surprised and enthusiastic about the response we've gotten," Alviti said. "We're not asking anyone for money yet. We're just testing the field."
While heartening to the champions of the Black Horse, the contributions are only a small first step toward the $1.5 million needed to give the inn a historically authentic restoration, and the advisory committee proposes raising 10 percent of the total, or $150,000, from community donations.
The committee also hopes to raise 50 percent of the total from institutions, and because the final use of the inn will help determine the kind of institutions that will contribute, a subcommittee met for the first time Tuesday to locate potential tenants.
"The direction I gave the subcommittee is, go forth and bring me some letters of interest," Kreilick said.
The chairwoman of the use subcommittee, Barbara Sherf of Flourtown, said Wednesday a travel agency and two nonprofit organizations have expressed interest in setting up shop at the Black Horse. She asked them to submit their inquiries in writing, she said.
"We need to formalize this a bit and present it to the commissioners so that they have a sense of the commitment to the building," she said.
Sherf requested that any organization with an interest in occupying the inn send her a letter, on official stationery, at 10 Rose Lane, Flourtown, PA 19031. Letters may also be sent by fax to 215-576-6022 or by e-mail to Bsherf@aol.com.
"Ultimately, it would be lovely to be in a situation where we had too many people interested in the building, and we could choose," Sherf said.