SPRING GROVE, Pa. — For 275 years, the historic Hoke House has greeted people as they enter the borough of Spring Grove.
"I feel like this house is the cornerstone to this community," said Holly Seymour. "Cars come through, this is one of the first places they see. It’s kind of like the heartbeat of Spring Grove.”
That heartbeat is now in danger of being stopped.
Rutter’s, who operates a gas station right next door, owns the land and has applied for a demolition permit.
"I feel like if it comes down, we’re going to lose the history, the stories that it tells for our children," said Seymour.
Seymour has admired the stone house, which originally served as a tavern in the early 1800's, since she was a little girl.
She even tried to save it herself in 2006, by renting part of the building and attempting to turn it into an antique shop.
"We tried to save the integrity of the house as we fixed it up, but not being able to own it, and not being able to meet the needs of the township and the borough," explained Seymour.
An agreement between Rutter’s and another preservation group, Friends of the Hoke House, expired a few years ago, leaving the company to do what it wants with the land.
"It seems like it would be a shame, getting rid of all of this old stuff," said Steve Hoke.
Hoke was born and raised in Spring Grove.
While he shares the same name, he doesn’t know if his own family has a connection to the house’s original owners.
"Through the tales of the family, they say we did own it at one time, but I can’t verify that," he explained.
He stopped by the Hoke House on Tuesday to capture what could be some final memories.
"I wanted to get some pictures so at least I have the pictures," said Hoke.
"It’s just a shame, it’s a shame to tear it down when there’s something we could do so when people come into our community, we have a welcoming center instead of an eyesore," added Seymour.
The Spring Grove Area Historical Preservation Society provided FOX43 with this statement regarding the potential demolition of the Hoke House:
"The Spring Grove Area Historical Preservation Society and its Board of Directors express great disappointment regarding the news of the demolition permit being requested by the current property owner of the Hoke House. Originally known as Wilson’s Tavern, it is the oldest house still standing in the Spring Grove Borough. The society has working dialogues regarding the property with the Friends of the Hoke House and the Borough of Spring Grove. Many attempts have been made to open a dialogue between the current property owner and the society. We continue to monitor the situation and participate with other sympathetic groups to look for constructive solutions. The Hoke House is truly special to Spring Grove area’s history, it has stood as a silent witness to progress for the last 275 years and to lose this building would be a loss to the community."
FOX43 reached out to Rutter’s requesting an interview for this story, but the company did not return our request for comment.
Spring Grove Borough will hold a public meeting about the Hoke House’s future on Monday February 13 at the Spring Grove Municipal Building.
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