How do you move a historic building? 3 York/Adams examples show it can be done

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It’s a tree of Christmas past at the log house at Dover Community Park in Dover Township, Pa. In this 2010 photograph, the Dover Garden Club had decorated the tree with natural ornaments.  For more on the log cabin – one of York County’s landmarks that has been moved to a new site – check out PreservingYork.com. Also of interest:  York County’s landscape, buildings, landmarks can serve as a classroom.

One proposal raised for Spring Grove’s Hoke House, that landmark with an uncertain future, is that the circa 1750 building would be moved.

At first, that seems to be a throwaway option, except when you start looking at a sample of such noteworthy York/Adams buildings that have been moved from their original locations.

The Log House in Dover, the Log Cabin in Adams County’s East Berlin and the York Valley Inn in York Township are three such examples pictured here (plus two more listed at the end).

The Hoke House would rival the York Valley Inn in the challenge it presents because of size and its stone construction. Not all of the York Valley Inn made the trip from Springettsbury to York Township, where it stands today as an office for Susquehanna Memorial Gardens.

The log houses were accompanied by strong community support and involvement – hands on and financial – in the dismantling and rebuilding process.

The month of January could be an important moment for the Hoke House. It’s the time frame required for review prior to its proposed demolition.

A group made up of owner Rutter’s, Spring Grove officials, concerned citizens and possibly major borough employer Glatfelter must work together to find options. Perhaps York County Commissioner Doug Hoke, who has called for the Spring Grove community to come behind the project, could convene the group.

Moving all or part of the Hoke House might or might not work, but the clock is ticking and demolition is simply not an option.

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The Log House in Dover Township serves as a community meeting place. Here, the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 1032 observe the election of officers there. That landmark has not always been in Dover. ‘The 1740’s log house was moved from Black Bridge Road, York, PA to the park on West Canal Road, Dover, PA. The log house was dismantled piece by piece and log by log by the students and community volunteers of Dover. It involved taking apart walls of logs up to 30 feet long, a foot to a foot and a half thick, and getting them onto a flat bed truck. Some of the logs were made from Oak and very heavy. The bottom logs were from chestnut and even heavier,’ the Greater Dover Historical Society website states.

log1The Log Cabin in East Berlin is home to a post-Thanksgiving crafts sale and other community activities. But it is also several miles from its original venue near Cross Keys in Berwick Township. ‘Thirty volunteer members of EBHPS spent 350 man-hours in 1980-1981 disassembling, moving, and reconstructing the house in East Berlin. The 21′ by 23′ building features V-notched logs up to the weatherboard gable ends of the second floor. Hand cut nails and spikes fasten doors, window frames and floor-boards. Joists and cross beams are fastened with wooden pegs,’ the East Berlin Historical Preservation Society website states.

snowsnow 051_sPart of the York Valley Inn was disassembled in Springettsbury Township in the 1960s and reassembled in Susquehanna Memorial Gardens. It serves as the York Township cemetery’s office. ‘When Ye Olde Valley Inn was dismantled, the findings were amazing… . Artifacts found included old shoes, old coins (one dated 1740), and pieces of pottery used in the early colonial period,’ Springettsbury.com states.

Also of interest:

– The Elmwood Mansion was moved in a different way from these three – intact, on greased logs. Check out this diagram from the late Jeffrey Bortner.

– And here’s another house that moved. The Barnett-Bobb Log House is part of the Colonial Complex. Check it out in its original location across from Penn Park.

Come out and say hello:
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About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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One Response to How do you move a historic building? 3 York/Adams examples show it can be done

  1. jane heller says:

    Moving Hoke House is a very unlikely option- First,changing it’s original location really removes it’s historic value. Where it sits now, and has for 270+ years and how it served the community and travelors is really the value of the house- It is NOT a really significant stone home, in the sense of outstanding architecture but is a simple, basic stone house of that period. This is not high qualiuty workmaship- the value is in the LOCATION. Second, moving it would cost more than paying Rutters their “ransom” sum to purchse and remodel there. It would have to be basically torn apart, and rebuilt along with finding an appopriate location if moved. If there is money to move it, there is money to buy it- You are looking at close to a million to move and rebuild. This idea has been thrown around alot since May 2013 and the Friends clearly decided this was not the way to go. Unfortunately they also didn’t decide if there a “was a way to go” with this. Ination has caused this mess, and what is needed are some clear-headed restoration-qualified, money-wise leaders to come forward and meet with Rutters. This is not a job for “beginners” -

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