Abolition Hall and the Plymouth Meeting Historic District: This Place Matters!


Friends of Abolition Hall

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                  CONTACT: Sydelle Zove
February 12, 2020                                                                                    Sydelle.Zove@gmail.com
Statement Regarding Litigation and Land Development
Commonwealth Court Appeal
The Friends of Abolition Hall and its co-appellants have determined to withdraw the appeal filed with Commonwealth Court. Despite our firm belief in the merits of this appeal, the mounting costs of continuing the appellate process and a recent threat of litigation against us preclude our pursuit of legal recourse through the courts.
 Plan Review at the Local Level (Whitemarsh Township)
  • On December 10, 2019, in a unanimous vote, the Whitemarsh Township Planning Commission recommended that the Board of Supervisors deny approval of the developer’s preliminary plan.
  • On January 7, 2020, the developer advised the Township that its experts were revising those plans for resubmission. In that same email, the developer conveyed its decision to extend the deadline for Township consideration to May 31, 2020.
  • Once the developer submits revised plans, Township staff and the Consulting Engineer will review them and issue review memos. From there, we anticipate the Board of Supervisors will add the project to its agenda for presentation and discussion at a regular public meeting.
  • We continue to hope the revised plans will recognize the significance of the homestead, that natural resources, including trees, wetlands, and water-filled sinkholes will be protected, and that both the developer and the Township will embrace our call for the creation of a publicly accessible welcome park adjacent to Abolition Hall.
If you'd prefer, please mail a check made out to PRESERVATION PENNSYLVANIA
(in the "note" section of the check, write "Abolition Hall")
and mail to
Preservation Pennsylvania
Attn: Friends of Abolition Hall
257 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101
(Please include a note If you wish your donation to remain anonymous.)
The Friends of Abolition Hall thank you for your support!
 To learn more about the history and significance of the Plymouth Meeting Historic District,
the Corson/Hovenden House and Abolition Hall, please continue on down the page.
Don't miss the "History at the Crossroads" mini-documentary at the bottom of the page!
October 25, Philadelphia Inquirer column by columnist Inga Saffron, "Pennsylvania's antislavery history is under threat from suburban development"
K. Hovnanian townhouses for Abolition Hall site 
Read the July 13 Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed, signed by 30 preservation and history leaders.
May 30 article, Philadelphia Tribune, "Abolition Hall backers won't let site get railroaded"
Update #5 April 28, 2018 Recap of the 4/26 Board of Supervisors meeting, links to media coverage, and more
Hovnanian Development Site Plan: This plan will be presented at the meeting March 26, 7pm at the Whitemarsh Township Building., 616 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill. Fill a seat, speak up, be heard!
Update #4 January 30, 2018- Report on January 23 Planning Commission meeting, next steps, and how you can help
Abolition Hall alternative land use plan 

Please support Abolition Hall!

Abolition Hall, Hovenden House and Plymouth Meeting Historic District

An excerpt: "Corson, who was white, maintained contacts with Dan Ross, a black conductor who lived in Norristown, and William Still, the free black clerk of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society who coordinated the eastern line of the Underground Railroad from his office at 31 N. Fifth St. in Philadelphia.

Ross and Still sent fugitives to Corson, who hid them in Abolition Hall. When the runaways were pursued by a slave catcher, Corson shuttled them off to the Plymouth Meeting Country Store via a tunnel. So effective was this arrangement that fugitives felt "that no slave hunter would catch them as long as they were under Corson's care," according to Still, in his 1871 book, The Underground Railroad.

Having spent many years researching and writing about - and trying to preserve - historic structures related to Pennsylvania's Underground Railroad, I know that even if the Corson homestead, Abolition Hall, and the Plymouth Meeting Country Store are not demolished, the historical integrity of the properties would be severely compromised by the developer's plans."

“Abolition Hall is a national historical site that should be preserved.”

Charles L. Blockson, Curator Emeritus, Afro American Collection at Temple University Libraries
YOU can help protect this well-documented, historic Underground Railroad site!

You can have a role in protecting the extraordinary and important legacy of Abolition Hall and the Hovenden House, in the heart of historic Plymouth Meeting.
Donate to Abolition Hall
(Should you prefer to send a check, please make it payable to Preservation Pennsylvania. In the memo section write "Abolition Hall Fund" and mail to: Abolition Hall Fund, Preservation Pennsylvania, 257 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101. Please include a note If you wish your donation to remain anonymous.)
Your tax-deductible donation to the Friends of Abolition Hall Fund at Preservation Pennsylvania will help the Friends with their appeal of a developer’s plan to subdivide this historic 10.45-acre parcel, and construct 67 townhouses on land that has been continuously farmed since the mid-1700s.

The Friends group is composed of local residents and supporters who believe that the proposed subdivision and townhouse development fails to acknowledge or respect the powerful history of this homestead.

(Donors will be listed in the Abolition Hall section of Preservation Pennsylvania's Annual Report. If you wish to remain anonymous, please use the check box to indicate so.)
Read all about the layers of abolition and art history at Abolition Hall, Hovenden House and the Plymouth Meeting Historic District.
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History at the Crossroads: The Activists and Artists of Abolition Hall from PFW Media on Vimeo.

Preservation Pennsylvania is acting as a fiscal agent to accept donations for the Friends of Abolition Hall. All donations will be held to cover expenses incurred by the Friends in their efforts to preserve Abolition Hall.
Preservation Pennsylvania is officially licensed as a charitable organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation under Internal Revenue Service regulations. A copy of the official registration and financial information of Preservation Pennsylvania may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free, within Pennsylvania, 1 (800) 732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement. Questions about Preservation Pennsylvania should be addressed to (717) 234-2310. All membership/donor contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

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