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Township discussing future use of historic home

05/24/2016 12:28PM ● Published by Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

On Jan. 20 of this year, the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors officially agreed to the township's purchase of the 190-year-old Fussell House, located on 723 E. Baltimore Pike in Kennett Square, for the purpose of restoring it and, hopefully, using it as a satellite location for township functions and departments.
At the board's May 18 meeting, the township introduced some potential ideas for the historic home, and possible tenants. Township Police Chief Lydell Nolt and Township manager Lisa Moore have been consulting with architect Todd Breck of Wilmington-based Breckstone Architecture, and several historic commissions, to explore various possibilities. One of those ideas is to convert a portion of the home as the site of a heritage room, which would contain artifacts and historical evidence that connect the house to its role in the Underground Railroad movement in southern Chester County – as well as connections to other local historical references.
The house had been appraised for $615,000, and the township purchased it for $200,000. The purchase of the house was paid for through the township's Capital Fund.
Also known as “The Pines,” the house once served as a refuge for runaway slaves to find safety, shelter, food and clothing along their journey north to freedom. More than 2,000 runaway slaves were helped to freedom there by Quaker physician and anti-slavery activist, Dr. Bartholomew Fussell and his wife, Lydia.
Moore said that there is a possibility that the house could someday become the new home of the Kennett Township Police Department, but before any of these ideas are to take root, however, a lot of essential replacements need to be made. Moore said that the slate material from the original roof needs to be taken down, followed by the installation of a new roof and then the reapplication of the slate back onto the renovated roof. In addition, the home, which has not been occupied since 2006, needs new doors, new windows, and new heating and air conditioning units.
“Right now, the most important step is to stabilize the house,” Moore said. “After the house is stabilized, then we will see about moving forward about rehabbing the house and determining its funding.”
In other township business, long-time volunteer Bob Perrone was recognized for his 30 years of dedication to the township, particularly to the Zoning Hearing Board.
“This township has a strong and effective team of professionals that makes it work,” Stevens said, before making the award to Perrone. “The other part of it that is very special that even for all of the good work that they do, they can't do it by themselves. It requires a lot of volunteers putting a lot of hours in to make things happen.”
Police Chief Nolt recognized township police officer Jefferey Call for exhibiting the core values of the department. On April 23, Call was assigned to a sobriety check point in the township along Route 1. An 82-year-old man drove through the checkpoint. He appeared disoriented, but showed no signs of inebriation. Call investigated the needs of the individual, where he he came from and how the police could help him. The man had gotten disconnected from his family while on a business trip earlier that afternoon, and spent the next eight hours traveling unknown roads from Bethlehem to Kennett Township.
Call was able to make contact with the man's family, make arrangements for him to be reunited with his family, and to ensure that he would receive any medical attention he required.
“Without a doubt, Officer Call prevented a serious safety risk for this individual, because southbound on Route 1 in eight hours could have landed that man as far away as North Carolina,” Nolt said.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@chestercounty.com.




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