|By Katie Eder, The Philadelphia InquirerMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News |
Nov. 15, 2010--The Perkiomen Bridge Hotel has been the centerpiece of Collegeville since it was built in 1689. But on Monday, it is to be sold at absolute auction. The fate of the hotel is unknown, but demolition is a possibility.
For nearly three years, the historic inn at Main Street and Route 29 has been offered for sale by the estate of James Overstreet. Every potential purchase to preserve the hotel has fallen through.
"Our last hope is that someone with a passion for historical preservation comes through," said Andrea Baptiste, a Collegeville councilwoman and cochair of the Collegeville Economic Restructuring Committee. "We've done everything we can to raise awareness about the hotel."
In March 2009, Baptiste and her committee hosted an open house for the three-story hotel, which, despite its crumbling stucco walls and decaying windowsills, has retained its grandeur for more than three centuries.
About 40 people, several of whom expressed interest in buying, came to learn about important moments in the hotel's history, such as the night that the 19th-century political thinker and historian Alexis de Tocqueville stayed there, as well as development options.
A few months later, Linda Flederbach, manager of the Collegeville Main Street Program, organized a group photo of about 100 people in front of the hotel and entered it into a national "This Place Matters" contest, sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The goal of the annual contest is to raise awareness about the importance of preserving historic buildings. The nonprofit group with the best photo, story, and community support of a historic place wins $25,000 and, more importantly, national attention for preservation efforts.
According to Flederbach, the picture in front of the Perkiomen Bridge Hotel didn't win the contest, but the effort sparked interest in the hotel -- for a while.
"We've held off on forming a committee for the hotel's preservation because we kept hearing there was interest," Flederbach said. "But now that it's going to auction, our last option is to reach out to old potential buyers."
For the last 18 months, the hotel's sale price has been $1.25 million. Included are a full bar and dining area, a liquor license, restaurant and bedroom furniture, several lounges, and kitchen equipment, according to commercial real estate agent Blair Gilbert.
There is no minimum opening bid for the auction.
According to Baptiste and Flederbach, the town is not in the financial position to "buy back" the hotel at the auction.
"I have heard nothing about community members wanting to come together to register for the auction," said Doug Clemens, president of Traiman Real Estate Auction Co.
Baptiste and Flederbach hope someone will recognize the importance of the hotel's preservation, see past its current abandoned condition, and reopen it as a business.
According to Flederbach, many people living in and around Collegeville have personal memories tied to the inn. She has kept a picture of her husband painting the hotel back when he was in college.
"It's important to keep historic buildings standing," Flederbach said. "To see them go away is like seeing a piece of the town go away." Contact staff writer Katie Eder
at 610-313-8110 or email@example.com.
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