Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Valley Forge National Historic​ Park preps for possible commercial renters

By Gary Puleo, The Times Herald

How would you feel about heading over to Valley Forge National Historical Park for a double shot cappuccino and a blueberry scone — in a quaint café setting where memories fairly resonate off the walls?

It could happen before too long.

The National Park Service has put a few historic buildings up for commercial use, including the venerable Maurice Stephens House, which one entrepreneur is eyeing to transform into a charming cafe.

“We’ve had a couple of groups through the building and one is interested in turning it into a café of sorts so that people at the park will have a place to go to get a cup of coffee and a bite to eat,” explained the park’s business manager Patrick Madden, standing outside the 1816 stone farmhouse nestled off of Route 23.
“Also, another group representing local art centers would like to turn this into an art center where people can come and take lessons and paint the landscape. It’s a great spot. The hustle and bustle of King of Prussia is less than five minutes away and here it’s practically silent. It’s a nice getaway for people.”
Whoever the beholder and future tenant turns out to be, they will be applauded for their desire to preserve an old building that is brimming with character, while giving it a whole new purpose.
The sturdy structure that perfectly mirrors the rural architecture of the period comes with built-in customer appeal and ready-made ambience, but no street address, Madden noted.
“We just describe it as being on Route 23 across from the Washington Memorial Chapel,” he said.
Although the interior of three first-floor rooms and four upstairs rooms will require a bit more than a splash of paint and some elbow grease, the exterior has been redone, with new windows, a cedar shingle roof and masonry repointing “in connection with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” Madden pointed out, adding that the addition to the house, which was once used as an information center, was constructed in 1841.
Re-purposing historic buildings has met with great success at other sites, including the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Madden noted.

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