WALLACE - The township is looking for ways to preserve a historic springhouse on a parcel of municipally owned property.

The structure was used to store meat and other perishable items during the 18th and 19th centuries, but fell into disrepair over time. It once belonged to the former Lamb Tavern and is now a private residence.

The building, located along Little Conestoga Road just north of Fairview Presbyterian Church, was acquired by the township through the Wallace trust within the past five years.

"It is good that it is on township land, so we can have some control over it," said historical commission member Jennifer Harkins. "It was okay, and it didn't look as bad when you drove by, but you could tell something needed to be done to reinforce the building.

Part of the springhouse suffered a critical collapse during a January windstorm, and the township's historical commission is seeking an engineer to assist with repairs.

Since then, the building has been cordoned off with orange plastic fencing.

Harkins said prior to the storm, part of the building looked "bowed," but that there wasn't any idea it would collapse.

"It is an 18th century structure, and that is what makes it of historical significance for the township," said supervisors' Chairman Robert V. Bock. "As it is right now, it is probably not worth saving the whole thing."

Bock said the township would be interested in keeping the structure standing, even if it is just one or two walls.

Harkins said she would like to have a structural engineer or architect who specializes in 18th-century buildings do a survey of the structure to determine what can be done to preserve as much of the structure as possible.

"We need to see if it is too far gone to keep it there," said Supervisor Bryan McDonaugh.

She would like to find someone who would perform an estimate free of charge, but preliminary estimates from an engineer, working for a township resident, who had looked at the structure brought the potential cost to between $50,000 and $75,000.

Harkins envisions leaving the structure as an "archeological ruin" similar to those found all over Chester County.

Depending upon the engineer's recommendations, the historical commission would deliver its recommendations to the board of supervisors, which would consider ways to find grants to conserve the springhouse.

"The end result could be that we find out a way to perform emergency stabilization, or we could find out that it is not worth preserving at all," she said.

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