Penn Township takes possession of Red Rose Inn

posted Sun, Sep 4, 2011

Special to the Daily Local News

PENN — Saving the historic Red Rose Inn may not be as difficult as initially feared. Last month, Penn Township supervisors voted to take possession of the property by eminent domain, not knowing the structural condition of the building.

At their Aug. 3 meeting, board Chairman Curtis Mason reported from a meeting with an architect and a restoration contractor at the inn. “The center part is so good it’s a preservation not a restoration. That made me feel good,” Mason said.

The center core of the building is the original portion that dates to colonial days, while the wings were added much later. There has been significant damage to the building by vandals who have torn all of the copper out of the building and even ripped out ceilings. “Fortunately most of the damage was in the carriage house,” Mason said. “Thankfully most of the damage was in the parts that were not going to be preserved.”

The township has boarded up the building to keep vandals out and trimmed the weeds on the property to increase visibility around the structure. But until money changes hands and all chance of appeal of the eminent domain action is over the township cannot proceed with any substantial work on the building.

As they go through that process, cost estimates to tear off or move portions of the building and to restore the original core are being sought.

Tina Skinner from the Oxford Arts Alliance was on hand at the meeting to offer help with the building. This spring, the organizations held a designer show house at the Stonebridge mansion in Chadds Ford, renovating and decorating the interior and gardens of that building.

Skinner believes designers would be eager to do the same kind of project at the Red Rose Inn. “I always thought that would be a way to save a valuable landmark.

I know we could get contractors, we could get decorators, we could get landscapers,” she said.

If a project like the designer show home was done, furnishings and décor would be brought in for the show and removed when it is over, but improvements such as paint and moldings would remain.

At this point, the township is not making any firm decisions on the direction it will go with the property, but it is encouraged by the inn’s condition and the community support.

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