Since the Mifflin House property (York County) was listed on Pennsylvania At Risk in 2017, Preservation Pennsylvania has attended hearings, supported local advocates, solicited pro bono legal counsel, worked through courts and in behind-the-scenes meetings toward a positive outcome.
We’re excited to share today’s announcement that the property will be purchased by the environmental nonprofit The Conservation Fund, in collaboration with Preservation Pennsylvania and the Susquehanna National Heritage Area (SNHA).
“When we placed Mifflin House on the Pennsylvania At-Risk list, we knew that the efforts to save it would be difficult. Now, what seemed impossible is headed towards a great outcome and a wonderful new use for this beautiful historic property with its link to the Underground Railroad.” — Mindy Gulden Crawford, Preservation Pennsylvania’s Executive Director
For decades, the 87.5-acre Mifflin House property had been in private hands and faced various development risks, including potential demolition for new warehouses. In 2017, Preservation Pennsylvania designated Mifflin House as one of the state’s most at-risk historic sites and worked with the owner, local community groups and Hellam Township to delay any potential construction that could harm the site. In 2019, Preservation Pennsylvania partnered with The Conservation Fund and the Susquehanna National Heritage Area (SNHA) to find a solution to protect the land and its historic buildings in perpetuity.
The Conservation Fund stepped in to purchase the land, allowing more time for the partners to raise necessary funds. Once fundraising is complete, the site will ultimately be transferred to SNHA for permanent protection and adaptive use as the Susquehanna Discovery Center and heritage park, a new gateway visitor destination for public access, education, and interpretation.
“Land is inherently tied to our history, and that is why conservation plays a pivotal role in ensuring we can share the stories of the people who bravely took action in times of turmoil. Our purchase of the Mifflin House property is a huge step, but we’re not done yet. As temporary owners, we will continue to work with the York County community and our many local partners to raise capital and get this space and its important history protected forever.” — Kyle Shenk, The Conservation Fund’s Northeast Regional Director.
Early private funding commitments have been made by the Powder Mill Foundation, J. William Warehime Foundation, and Arthur J. & Lee R. Glatfelter Foundation. Public funding has also been awarded by the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program through the York County Economic Alliance (YCEA) and Redevelopment Authority of the County of York, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and the York County Open Space and Land Preservation Program.
“Conserving and re-purposing the Mifflin House site as a visitor education center and heritage park will welcome travelers to our two-county National Heritage Area and showcase the significant role this region and its people played in America’s enduring Quest for Freedom.” —Mark N. Platts, SNHA President
“Some of us are just learning about our Black history, so we can’t afford for places like this to disappear. My kids and grandkids are beginning to take an interest in this place, so I want them to be able to visit it one day and see its story.” — Kathleen Anderson, a descendant of the Loney family (Click the play button to hear Kathleen share why this site is important.)
About Mifflin House
The Mifflin House served as an essential stopover point along the Underground Railroad and was a Civil War battle site just four days before the Battle of Gettysburg. Today’s purchase is a key step in ensuring the land and its history are secured for future generations.
Built in 1800, the Mifflin House (also known as Hybla) was used as a safe location for freedom seekers as they prepared to cross the nearby Susquehanna River on their journey north via the Underground Railroad. Jonathan Mifflin, a Quaker farmer and Revolutionary War veteran, and his wife Susanna, coordinated with Robert Loney, a formerly enslaved Virginian, to ferry people across the wide and dangerous river. In 1840, the property passed to their son, Samuel W. Mifflin, who resided here with his wife Elizabeth and their eight children. Mifflin served as the primary point of contact for fugitives in Wrightsville until he moved away in 1846. Although it’s impossible to know exactly how many passed through the Mifflin House on their way to freedom, it’s estimated that over 100,000 people escaped slavery using the Underground Railroad between 1810-1850.
About Preservation Pennsylvania
Celebrating its 40th Anniversary, Preservation Pennsylvania is the Commonwealth’s only private statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people protect and preserve the historic places that matter to them. Since 1992, Preservation Pennsylvania has grown as a private, nonprofit membership organization with a statewide mission to protect and preserve Pennsylvania’s irreplaceable historic places. We assist individuals, organizations, corporations, and governmental agencies from across the Commonwealth (and sometimes the nation) in their own preservation-related efforts, through a dynamic scope of activities and services. Whether as a leader, partner, or advisor, Preservation Pennsylvania works to secure the future of the past through educational outreach workshops and events, legislative advocacy, advisory and technical assistance in the field, and other special initiatives.
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 8.5 million acres of land, including more than 145,000 acres of beloved land in Pennsylvania such as the Gettysburg National Historic Park. Learn more about The Conservation Fund.
About the Susquehanna National Heritage Area
The Susquehanna National Heritage Area (SNHA) is one of 55 National Heritage Areas and 12 Pennsylvania Heritage Areas. They work to we tell the stories of our region and raise the profile of our area to attract visitors from near and far. Guided by our Strategic Plan and in partnership with many organizations, we work to make the Susquehanna River through Lancaster and York Counties a destination for residents and visitors alike. Learn more about the SNHA.