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Black Horse Inn

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Source: Springfield Sun
Date: July 8, 2005
Byline: Joe Barron

Restoration effort moves ahead

Within two weeks, Springfield residents will receive, by mail, an appeal for contributions to the restoration of the Black Horse Inn.

The fund-raising effort, organized by the Friends of Historic Bethlehem Pike, coincides with the renewal of work on the exterior of the building, which is scheduled to begin again this month with the replacement of three chimneys.

The Friends hope to raise about $150,000 from the appeal, according to Don Mitchell, the group's spokesman. That amount would constitute 10 percent of the $1.5 million the Friends believe they need to renovate both the exterior and interior of the inn and to establish a maintenance fund.

"There's been a lot of work to raise funds beyond the public appeal," Mitchell said Wednesday. "The lion's share of the dollars [is] going to come through other sources."

The Friends currently have about $9,000 cash in their Black Horse renovation account, with another $37,500 pledged, according to Mitchell. Springfield Township, which owns the building, has earmarked $109,000 in its capital reserve fund for the building's restoration.

Under an agreement with the Friends signed June 10, the township will release the capital fund in stages as the Friends meet their fund-raising goals. Township Manager Don Berger said Wednesday he expected work on the inn's exterior would exhaust the capital reserve by the end of the year.

"At this point in time, the township has not pledged any other money," Mitchell said.

Springfield has awarded the job for rebuilding the chimneys to Stonehenge Masonry of Erdenheim, which is charging $8,050, Berger said.

Stonehenge is scheduled to begin reconstruction of the chimneys July 15, according to Dick Meyer, the chairman of the Black Horse Advisory Committee' subcommittee on construction.

After the restoration of the chimneys is complete, the township will award contracts for wooden trim and crown molding in preparation for replacing the roof, Meyer said.

The replacement of the roof is tentatively scheduled to begin in September or October, Meyer said.

The last phase of the exterior restoration, the repair of the broken and crumbling stucco, has to wait until new window frames have been installed and painted, and it would most likely not begin before spring 2006, Meyer said.

Other work on the exterior includes new porch columns and doors, he said.

Springfield Township acquired the deed to the Black Horse in February under an agreement with Moreland Development, the builder of the Flourtown Walgreens and liquor store.

The agreement gave the township 10 months to stabilize the building and renovate the exterior, so that the inn's dilapidated appearance would not drive away potential customers.

Work began in the spring, when the township subjected the outside walls to a power washing, and the Friends of Historical Bethlehem Pike arranged for the exterior to be painted. The Flourtown Sherwin-Williams paint store donated 20 of the 52 gallons of paint used, and sold the rest to the Friends at cost, according to Mitchell. Ferguson Painting contractors of Oreland donated the labor.

Moreland Development also repaired a rear wall that its building contractors mistakenly tore down in May 2004.

While the ultimate use of the Black Horse has not been settled, Mitchell said, several potential tenants, including nonprofit organizations, have expressed an interest in occupying it.

"Everybody is confident that the building will have a vital use," he said.