The Friends of Hoke House have a clear goal to save Spring Grove's oldest building.

Now they're working on how to do it.

The Friends of Hoke House met Thursday to discuss potential uses for the historical farmhouse that is now owned by Rutter's Farm Stores, which has a convenience store near the home.

Rutter's obtained a permit to demolish the structure and has one year to do so. There are no immediate plans to demolish the building, company officials said recently.

In the meantime, close to a dozen Friends of Hoke House members held a meeting at the borough's municipal building, discussed making a proposal to Rutter's to "mothball" the structure, or keep it in good condition, while the group comes up with a plan to restore the property.

The group decided to look into establishing a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that would lead the effort and accept donations to save the building. They also agreed to find a lawyer who could guide them — pro bono — through legal issues connected with preserving the building.

Friends of Hoke House members also discussed getting local preservationists and historical societies involved in the effort to save Hoke House, situated at the corner of Route 116 and Roths Church Road.

Reb Scavone, of Freeland, Md., said he became a Friends of Hoke House member after hearing about the issue and learning that his wife's ancestors stayed there.

"This place and its history shouldn't be taken lightly," he said. "I would like to see this place maintained as a historical entity."

Other suggestions include using Hoke House as a museum or a tavern, which it was in the 1750s, according to Paul Nevin, a local restoration contractor who does preservation work.

"Back then, (Hoke House) was on the road to Kentucky," he said. "People stopped there in their travels. This is part of American history."

First President George Washington used the space to meet with York delegation in July 1791. In July 1863, the 35th Battalion of the Virginia Calvary used the building as a Confederate headquarters during the Battle of Gettysburg.

Nevin said he will research whether the building can be added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Nevin said he was among several people who toured Hoke House on Monday. The structure in good shape and could be restored, he said.

Jane Heller, a volunteer working with Friends of Hoke House, said the group should consider how to make the structure viable as a commercial unit.

Heller, a Springettsbury Township resident, said the corner where the house is situated "is gold" for a business because of heavy traffic in that area.

"For Rutter's, it's business, so you'll have to pull at their heartstrings" to preserve the building, she said.

Heller called plans to demolish the historic building "sacrilegious."

"My thing is making sure it doesn't go down to the ground," she added. "This is not just borough history, this is York County's history."

—Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.