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Black Horse Inn

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Source: Springfield Sun
Date: January 31, 2003
Byline: Joe Barron

Society writes letter in attempt to preserve inn

With the relocation of the Black Horse Inn only a building permit away from reality, the Springfield Township Historical Society continued its efforts this week to preserve the structure on the spot where it has stood for centuries.

The society sent a letter this month to the CVS corporate headquarters in Woonsocket, R.I., pleading with the company to reconsider plans to move the inn to make room for a pharmacy.

In addition, news that the Kmart Corp. would close its store on Bethlehem Pike prompted the society to investigate the possibility that CVS could open its new store at the Flourtown Shopping Center.

T. Scott Kreilick, chairman of the society's resources committee and the author of the letter to CVS, said this week he hoped to convince the company of the public relations value of preserving the inn.

In negotiations with the township, according to Kreilick, the Hampton Realty Group, the developer of the site, maintained that CVS insisted the inn be moved to make the new store visible from Bethlehem Pike.

The company was confronted with a choice, Kreilick said. It could decide full visibility is essential to the store's profitability, or it could bet the community would reward it saving the Black Horse.

"I think the latter is true," Kreilick said by telephone from his home in Oreland. "I think people will be more inclined to go there if they work with us to help save it."

The letter, which is dated Jan. 9, is addressed to Thomas M. Ryan, president of CVS. The society also sent copies of the letter to more than a dozen CVS corporate officers, and in each packet, it included a copy of a petition with 4,400 signatures in opposition to the move.

'A little less visibility and seven parking spaces — that is all that is required to keep this building where it has stood for the last 258 years," the letter said. "Here is an opportunity to be a good neighbor as you begin operations at this new facility."

Following up on the closing of Kmart, Phoebe Rosenberry, a member of the historical society, contacted Federal Realty of Rockville, Md., Kmart's landlord, to ask whether the company could attract CVS to the Flourtown Shopping Center.

Rosenberry said this week she was told a representative of Federal would contact CVS.

Michael DeAngelis, spokesman for CVS, said the terms of his company's lease agreement with Hampton were confidential, and he could not comment on whether CVS would consider opening at the Kmart.

He added, however, that CVS was exploring all of its options and alternatives regarding the site.

Meanwhile, the Black Horse stays put, reprieved by the absence of the bar that used to stand in the inn's tavern.

When the township board of commissioners approved Hampton's land development plan Jan. 8, it stipulated the township would issue no building permits until the Mendelson Family Trust, the building's owner, returned the bar to the township's keeping.

The family removed the bar from the inn last August, and Springfield Township Manager Don Berger said Wednesday the township was still waiting for it to be returned.

"We don't have it, but he doesn't have any permits yet either," Berger said. "It's going to be in our possession before we sign off on any land development plans or issue any sort of permit."

The full text of the historical society's letter to CVS is reprinted on page 6 of this week's Sun.