Blooming Glen supporters hope to see village on national register
By: Emily Morris, Staff writer
A trip through the village of Blooming Glen can be like a trip back in time. Historic brick homes and converted barns line the street, with the occasional white picket fence surrounding a well-manicured lawn. But with traffic flying past on Route 113, some residents are ready to take action to help preserve the village's unique character.
Approximately 40 residents of the village joined together May 26 to discuss the possibility of putting the village on the National Register of Historic Places and what it might mean for residents of the village as well as in the greater picture of planning in the region.
The move to place the village on the register is being led by what is unofficially known as the Blooming Glen Improvement Committee - Blooming Glen residents Henry and Charlotte Rosenberger, along with Hilltown resident and historical society member Lawrence Owen and his wife, Cindy and David and Victoria Halliday, owners of the former Uneek Havana Cigar factory that they renovated into the Village Center Office Suites and Pasqualina's Deli. The three couples are working with consultant Kathi Auerbach to create a presentation to the state to have the village placed on the National Register. Auerbach has schooling in archeology as well as preservation, and has worked with National Register projects in several areas, including in Bucks County.
To keep residents informed, the three couples posted info in the Blooming Glen Post Office and placed fliers on village homes twice in the past several weeks alerting them of the meeting where Auerbach would explain how the process works and what it might mean.
David Halliday said the move really is taking the next step based on information Hilltown Township received when it was applying for grants to fix the roof on the former Hilltown High School located in the village. At that time, the township found out that the village was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, which means that it has some significance to the nation, the state or the local community regarding American history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture.
To put the village on the register would be a long and careful process that involves several interchanges between representatives like Auerbach locally and the state, all of which could take up to a year to complete, Auerbach said.
One item the group was careful to explain to residents is that placing
the village on the National Register does not affect homeowners'
abilities to alter their property. They do not have to use particular
paint colors or preserve buildings. They do not have to open their
homes to the public or be listed on a public document. In fact,
Auerbach noted, while it is not encouraged, a property owner could
completely demolish his home despite listing on the register.
What listing on the National Register would do is encourage preservation by documenting significance, honor the history of the village, provide information about the history of the village and its structures and in some cases provide federal tax benefits to those properties that are income producing that are preserved according to specific standards - an item that applies to the cigar factory project. Additionally, Auerbach explained that if the village were to be listed on the National Register, then it may have positive effects if developments or traffic alterations were to occur nearby as the state would have to take any impact on the village into consideration because of its historic status - an item that particularly appealed to residents present at the meeting.
"It'll help regulate the traffic and speeds of motorists," said Blooming Glen resident Barbara Rose after the meeting. "Any help we can get in that regard would be great."
"You've got to preserve this or it's going to disappear," said John Kerns, another village resident who lives behind the cigar factory in a home where many of the factory's employees would have lived in the past.
Information like that regarding Kerns' home is also what Auerbach was
seeking at the meeting. As her next step in the process to apply to be
on the register, Auerbach will spend the next few months walking the
village and taking careful notes on each property in the village -
construction of the home, any outbuildings, changes on the property and
what significance it may have had past or present in the village. To do
this, Auerbach has asked residents to contact her and small
questionnaires have been sent out to ask residents to submit any
history they are aware of within their own homes or properties - what
purpose the building may once have served, when it was originally
built, what alterations have been made over time and when and other
Once Auerbach submits that document, it will go through some suggestions for improvement from the state. When all the technical aspects are ready, the item will then be advertised and meetings will be held to discuss the process. The state committee then reviews the item and finally it is moved onto the federal level in Washington, D.C.
Henry Rosenberger, who has lived in the village since 1991 and now owns more than 500 acres of farmland there, said his love affair with the village began when he was just 10 years old at a wedding in the back yard of former Pennridge Principal John Grasse's home. Rosenberger said the preservation of more than 400 acres of his land surrounding much of the village has helped to lock the village in and preserve its character and will prevent some further development on its outskirts.
"I love the spirit of Blooming Glen," said Rosenberger, who noted residents have a particularly caring feel.
While township supervisors were invited to the meeting, none were present, but Rosenberger said he feels the township will be supportive. Auerbach explained that since the township is currently doing work to preserve its villages and work on Traditional Neighborhood Development, the two projects should "dovetail nicely." Rosenberger said he is extremely pleased with the township's current moves towards Traditional Neighborhood Development and that it would be right in line with what many in Blooming Glen seem to want to see.
Roy Landis, a 69-year resident of the village, remembers when everything he needed from school to a grocery to a shoe cobbler were in the village - and said he is all for adding Blooming Glen to the National Register.
"It certainly holds your real estate value and it certainly preserves the history of this town," said Landis. "We can't bring it back to where it was, but we can bring it back."