Peter JonesHouse Might Be Lost to History
By Darrin Youker
For five years, a stone pile that was once the 1772 Peter Jones house has sat in an Amity Township field waiting for a home.
Now, time is running out on the opportunity to rebuild the historic home with ties to Berks County's earliest settlers.
Unless the Amity Heritage Society can find suitable land to relocate the house by June 30, it will lose a $60,000 state grant earmarked for the reconstruction. The grant required that the society obtain land.
Charles J. Miller, president of the heritage society, is making a public plea for land, hopeful someone can donate at least a half-acre to rebuild the structure that was dismantled stone by stone in 2005 to make way for a CVS/pharmacy and strip mall along Route 422 in Douglassville.
The society would use the rebuilt home as a museum and education center, where people could learn about Berks County's Colonial history.
Preservationists have searched for a building spot, but none has emerged, Miller said. If the grant is allowed to expire, the society would not be able to afford the reconstruction.
"We just want it to remain in Berks County," Miller said of the house. "It is a historical building that is a part of Berks County."
Peter Jones was a grandson of Mouns Jones, who in 1701 established Berks County's first European settlement along the Schuylkill River in what is now Douglassville. The Mouns Jones house still stands in a historic area known as Morlatton Village.
The Peter Jones homestead was about a mile west at what is now Route 422 and Maplewood Drive. After the house was dismantled, the stones were moved to a township-owned field at Old Airport and Morlatton roads, where they remain today.
Initially, organizers wanted to rebuild the Peter Jones house there but found that the land could not support a foundation, Miller said.
The society needs at least a half-acre to provide enough space for the house and for bus parking, he said. Ideally, the location would be near a major road so visitors could access the center easily and it would not disrupt traffic on local roads.
The museum and education center also would focus on conservation and historic preservation, Miller said.
"This is a place where we could educate people on the best use of resources," he said.
Amity Township Supervisor Kim McGrath said she hopes the heritage society is able to find a suitable location in Berks County. She said the society and the township have worked hard to move the project forward.
"We've been working with it for five years," McGrath said. "It would be a shame to have it fail."
Contact Darrin Youker: 610-371-5032 or firstname.lastname@example.org.