York County inches toward Strickler Farmhouse demolition
The historic Strickler Family Farmhouse in Springettsbury Township will be photographed and thoroughly documented, the first step in a process that could end with the home's demolition.
The York County Board of Commissioners approved a $14,632 contract on Wednesday, Oct. 30, with King of Prussia-based A.D. Marble and Co. Inc. to make an official record of the property and its history.
Demolition is not imminent, said Scott Cassel, facilities director for the county.
"This is a first step," he said. "One thing that I will say it has done is, it’s brought it back to the forefront of everybody’s minds."
The house, which was built in three segments during 1742, 1835 and 1865, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
It sits on the same property as York County Prison and previously housed the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.
Beginning in 2016, the Board of Commissioners explored the possibility of renovating the building and moving the York County Coroner's Office there, but they decided the cost was too high.
Costs to repair the current damage would be about $500,000, said county spokesman Mark Walters.
The property sits in a flood plain, and there's mold and water damage in the basement, Cassel said. Other issues include poor parking and the building's close proximity to York County Prison.
It also needs a new roof.
Currently, the house doesn't generate any annual costs to the county. But if the building continues to deteriorate, it could eventually collapse into itself, Walters said.
If the building were demolished, the county would install a panel on the property with photos and historic information about the house, Cassel said.
"I think it would be a tragedy for it to be lost," said Terrence Downs, a county resident and advocate for historic preservation. "A panel cannot replicate a structure."
Downs said York County tends to undervalue its assets. Ulrich Strickler, who founded the namesake farm, was one of the county's early settlers, and his farmhouse is one of its oldest structures, he said.
"This is one of those touchstone assets," Downs said.
Cassel said the county has considered allowing an outside entity to relocate the house to another property. The county would also be open to granting an easement to an outside group to preserve and maintain the property, he said.
"We’re open to any and all ideas," Cassel said. "There is no such thing as a bad question or a wrong question, and I think this will open those lines of communication."
Commissioner Doug Hoke said the county would be happy to hear from residents or outside groups with ideas or proposals for what to do with the building.