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Black Horse Inn

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Source: Springfield Sun
Date: August 4, 2005
Byline: Joe Barron

Inn receives $150K, lands on register

The Black Horse Inn received a shot of preservation insurance in the past month with a $150,000 grant from the federal government and a listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The federal grant was included in the Save America's Treasures program and was part of the $26.1 billion Interior and Environmental Appropriations Act, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-13, announced July 29.

The inn was the only historic structure landmark in her district she recommended for inclusion in the program, Schwartz said Monday.

"It's a very long wish list," she said "Obviously, you can't fund everything ... It's not easy to get those dollars committed."

Unlike a $1.5 million capital grant that was approved by the state Legislature last year but died when Gov. Edward G. Rendell declined to approve it, the federal money will not undergo further review, according to Schwartz. The appropriations bill has been passed by both houses of Congress and needs only President George W. Bush's signature to become law, she said.

"The bill passed, it's done," she said.

Schwartz is scheduled to appear at the inn for a check-presentation ceremony today at 12:30 p.m.

The grant requires $150,000 in matching funds from nonfederal sources, but its passage corresponds with the beginning of the fund-raising drive organized by the Friends of Historic Bethlehem Pike.

The timing is perfect," Schwartz said. "They're just beginning a fund-raising drive in the community. This is an opportunity to say that anything contributed is matched."

A public appeal for contributions, drafted by the Friends, was mailed to Springfield residents last month. As of July 28, the Friends had received 59 responses amounting to $5,000, according to Don Mitchell, president of the Friends.

Donations of material and labor may also be counted toward the amount of the matching funds.

The Black Horse is currently undergoing the restoration of its exterior, the cost of which is estimated at about $380,000, Mitchell said Monday. The township has committed $109,000 in capital funds to the inn's preservation, and, according to Mitchell, the Friends' preservation fund contains about $15,000.

The collection of matching funds may be helped by the appearance of the Black Horse on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service placed the inn on the register July 5 after receiving an application from the township, which acquired the deed to the building in February.

During negotiations over the fate of the Black Horse, proponents of preserving the inn argued that inclusion on the register would make conservation grants easier to obtain.

Restoration of the inn's exterior continued in July as workers finished rebuilding the chimneys and prepared to begin work on the roof line.

"I think it's really coming along," Mitchell said. "It's been a great month."