Dolores J. Aumen breathed a sigh of relief Monday night.
As Spring Grove mayor and president of the Spring Grove Area Historical Preservation Society, she was pleased to learn during a meeting with borough officials and Rutter's executives that the Manchester-based convenience store chain has no immediate plans to demolish the Hoke House.
"It was a very positive meeting. I walked away feeling good about it. They said they're willing to work with the Friends of the Hoke House to see if something can't be done so it doesn't get torn down," Aumen said.
County Commissioner Doug Hoke, who said he attended the meeting as a concerned citizen, also viewed the meeting as a positive step forward.
The meeting was held at Rutter's corporate headquarters with CEO Scott Hartman and Tim Rutter, president of the company's real estate company, M&G Realty, Hoke said.
"Rutter's is a well respected company in York County and a great family, and they were very accommodating," he said.
Hoke's father rode horses at the Hoke House, but beyond that the county commissioner isn't aware of any other ties he has to the property of the same name.
"I went because I've gone to some of the other meetings. Rutter's is going to give the Spring Grove residents some time to look at the property and see what needs done to bring it up to code," he said.
The Manchester-based convenience store chain applied for a demolition permit in October, just days after the Spring Grove Borough Council found the company in violation of borough code for the condition of the building -- the community's oldest.
"Their options were to fix it or to apply for a permit to demolish it," said borough Manager Andrew Shaffer.
That permit will become valid this week. From that point, Rutter's will have one year to demolish the building.
The Spring Grove historical society and Friends of the Hoke House will have some time to brainstorm for ideas to save the house, which once hosted first President George Washington and later the 35th Battalion of the Virginia Cavalry.
"We have no ideas at this time, but we're going to have to come up with a business plan," Aumen said.
The groups will also have to do some fundraisng, she said.
"We need to figure out the cost to stabilize the property and how to pay to do that," Aumen said.
Rutter's previously estimated it would cost $690,000 to remodel the house for use as a commercial property.
The inside of the house has been damaged by vandals and contains very little of its original architecture, the company said last month.
In December, the company also said in a letter that it had no legitimate business use for the old house.
"Without a use, and because the interior was not historically preserved, we do not believe that investing over $690,000 to remodel the house for use as a commercial property would be a wise use of our charitable monies," spokeswoman Alex Henry said in a letter.
The company instead chooses to invest in local charities for children, including Make-A-Wish, the YMCA, Leg Up Farm, Crispus Attucks, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Junior Achievement, York County Libraries and others.
"We simply cannot justify telling these, and many other charities, that they will not be supported by Rutter's the next two to three years because the Rutter's charity money went to remodel the former Hoke House," she said.
--Reach Candy Woodall at firstname.lastname@example.org.