Management Strategies for Use of Historic Resources

Location

  • Lower Makefield Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Services

Like many communities across the nation, Lower Makefield Township is challenged to strike a balance between preserving the township’s historic treasures and making efficient and responsible use of municipal funds. Over the years, the township has acquired a large number of historic structures, and in 2004, the township contracted with Heritage Conservancy to accomplish several tasks, including:

  • an inventory of the township’s historic resources,
  • an evaluation of the potential for some or all of these resources to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and
  • the development of management strategies for township-owned historic sites.

Conservancy staff first conducted a detailed inventory of all six historic properties owned by the township, including their current zoning, uses, and condition. The sites are: the Patterson/Brown Farm, the Patterson/Satterthwaite Farm, Elm Lowne, the Warren/Farringer House, the Dalgewicz/Slack House, and the Five Mile Woods Nature Center. After the inventory was collected, the historic significance of each structure was evaluated, including its current National Register status

As part of the analysis, Heritage Conservancy staff met regularly with all key stakeholders, including the township manager and a committee formed by the township to work on this study. The Conservancy also held public workshops to determine which properties, and what aspects of the individual properties, were relevant to the public. Ultimately, the Conservancy developed a strategic plan for each property, which included suggestions for in-depth business and market analyses, more detailed architectural or structural analyses, and more detailed historic research.

The report, Management Strategies for Lower Makefield Township’s Historic Resources, was presented at a public meeting of the Lower Makefield Township Board of Supervisors in April 2006.

Some of the overall recommendations found in the report are as follows:

1. Define a Strategic Approach for Acquisition of Historic Resources: Heritage Conservancy recommends that, prior to making any further purchases, the township outline a selection process, define a strategy for funding, determine the mechanics of transferring ownership, and identify the intended use of the property.

2. Submit Nomination for Three Properties to the National Register: Heritage Conservancy’s evaluation clearly placed the six properties into two groups, those that were viable submissions for the National Registry and those that were not. Heritage Conservancy recommends submitting National Register nominations for Patterson/Satterthwaite, Patterson/Brown, and Elm Lowne sites.

3. Continue to Develop Partnerships, and Conduct Market Analyses before Taking Further Action

Some of the specific recommendations for the six sites studied were:

Patterson/Brown House: Pursue leases of the two houses on the Patterson/Brown site; investigate use of the barns for other township, nonresidential, public, or agricultural uses in association with the open space.

  • Patterson/Satterthwaite: Stabilize the house until a revised and expanded study of its future use/restoration is completed.
  • Elm Lowne: Investigate potential future uses. Consider sale, or transferring management to a Friends group. Any sale should include provisions for promoting the adaptive reuse of the historic structures and determine what portion of the property, or rights, the township should retain beyond façade easements, such as preserving scenic vistas or potential future storm water facilities needs.
  • Warren/Farringer House: Maintain status quo; determine ability to sell with façade easement; or donate to a nonprofit.
  • Dalgewicz/Slack House: If further historic/architectural research does not suggest pursuing listing on the National Register, investigate any potential golf-related uses for the structures; consider documentation and demolition if no viable use is found.
  • Five Mile Woods: Maintain status quo.

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