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Turnpike Slip Ramp


Letter to Kurt W. Carr from
Janet Baldwin, Chairwoman,
Charlestown Historical Commission



February 24, 1999
 
Kurt W. Carr
Bureau for Historic Preservation
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
P.O. Box 1026
Harrisburg, PA 17108-1026
 
Dear Mr. Carr:
 
I wish to thank your office for seeing to it that the Charlestown Historical Commission received a copy of the "Historic Resources and Determination of Eligibility Report" recently provided to the Turnpike Commission for the Route 29 Slip Ramps Alternatives Project by Cultural Heritage Research Services, Inc. of North Wales, PA. Susan Zacher kindly sent it to us at the request of Sally Willig, chair of the Charlestown group opposing the slip ramp.
 
We looked at it carefully yesterday morning and are very pleased to have the in-depth descriptions for the buildings in the survey area. In several of our folders for these historic buildings we had only the sketchy c.1980 Architectural Inventory Forms.
 
We do, however, find several important omissions in their report. Most serious is the boundary line of the "area of potential effect". By drawing it along the north side of Warner Lane (including the two Tisgood properties), it missed by about 100 feet the 18th century house across the street on the south side (locally called the Devault Beaver house). Originally part of a farm that was shattered when the Turnpike went through in 194850, that forlorn building is one of few 18th century structures nearly unchanged. It only received heat and indoor plumbing in the 1950s. We have fair amount of local lore about the 19th century Devault Beaver (whose first name was given to the P.O. and the crossroads), and about his grandfather, the first Devault Beaver a boy during the Revolution. I enclose for your records the evaluation and the deed chain for this house prepared for us by Estelle Kremers. She titled it the Davis/Adams House. We believe it must be included in the Turnpike's "area of potential effect."
 
The other problems concern the buildings on the northeast corner of Yellow Springs Road and Route 29. The Gilligan property [designated (3) in the survey, tax parcel #35-4-114], and the DeFillippo property [ (4), 35-4-116] were both township post offices. The Study Area History beginning on p. 3 did a good job of recapitulating the story of the crossroads now known as Devault. Unfortunately the background described by Philip Ruth was not coordinated with the physical descriptions of the houses prepared by Neeta Desai. The Gilligan property was indeed the building which Samuel Walley opened as a store about 1830, and which carried on as store, tavern and/or post office until 1909 when Samuel Buckwalter moved the post office to the freight station just west of the present Turnpike overpass. Presently a muchchanged two-family dwelling, this structure and its outbuildings were the center of crossroads life for almost 80 years.
 
Next door, the DeFillippo property [(4), tax parcel #35-4-116) had a much shorter public life. After the Turnpike forced the closing of the freight station in 1948, the Devault post office was moved into the front room of the DeFillippo residence, at that time owned by Tom and Lucy DeFillippo. Lucy was post mistress, a job she carried on when in the 1950s they built a new stone ranch house across the Turnpike on the Devault Foods property which Tom owned.
 
We visited the neighborhood yesterday. Both the Devault Beaver house [tax parcel 35-4-109] and the DeFillippo house are currently for sale, a prospect not enhanced by the threat of the slip ramp.
 
In addition to Estelle Kremers' report I also enclose photocopies of the pictures of the Devault Beaver house taken for our Commission records. Although vacant and subject to demolition by neglect, we believe this could well be eligible for the National Register.
 
We think the PHMC should be aware of our additions to the Cultural Heritage Research Services' survey of the "area of potential effect". I will send copies of this letter to Barry Troup and Walter Green of the Turnpike staff and to interested local officials. We appreciate the care that PHMC provides for local historic fabric.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Janet M. Baldwin

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