We have been meaning to get to this, but the misinformation spreading around has finally driven us go write a story. First, there is a proposal to redevelop land that is part of the historic district in the Plymouth Meeting section of Whitemarsh Township. The district includes Abolition Hall and other structures. The property is most well known as being part of the Underground Railroad.
There is a section of the property that is currently farmland. That portion of the property is proposed to become a townhome development. No one is proposing to knock down any of the historic properties. If you read the notice for a now cancelled zoning hearing, it mentions that the developer wants to subdivide the property and sell the historic portion. Here is the text of that zoning notice (and remember, it has been cancelled):
ZHB#2016-08: K. Hovnanian Pennsylvania Acquisitions, LLC, 4006 Butler Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA; VC-2 Village Commercial Sub-District 2. The Applicant is proposing to develop a 48-unit townhome development on approximately 9.3 acres at the Property Location, with the remainder containing historic buildings (approximately 1.38 acres), proposed to be subdivided off and offered for sale. In order to develop the townhomes, the VC District regulations require that conditional use approval be obtained from the Board of Supervisors. One of the conditions for approval of any conditional use in the Village Commercial District, as contained in Section 116- 292.A. of the Zoning Ordinance, is that every conditional use must have shared access and/or shared parking with an adjacent property. The Township Zoning Officer has determined that this condition is not met. The Applicant has therefore filed an Appeal of the Zoning Officer’s determination that Section 116-292.A. is applicable to the proposed townhome development. In the alternative, the Applicant is requesting a Variance from Section 116-292.A.
So as you can see, there is nothing in there seeking permission to knock anything down.
We would also like to point out that this property isn’t really being promoted as a historical area. Abolition Hall has no website, no real Facebook page (there is one of those that get started as a place by the public), etc. Google it, you won’t find anything. We couldn’t even find a decent photo of the outside (that is why we used the historical marker above) and we couldn’t find even a single photo of the interior.
If you want to read a very thorough article on this topic, Hidden City Philadelphia did a pretty extensive article.
Once a new zoning hearing is set we will provide an update.