Pa. considers selling historic Bradford House

March 17, 2014
The historic David Bradford House has been listed by the state for possible sale. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The state Department of General Services opted to possibly sell a historic house museum in Washington with ties to the Whiskey Rebellion.

The department Sunday advertised for letters of interest for the potential purchase of the David Bradford House, which is operated by a local board of directors.

“We are doing our due diligence,” Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission spokesman Howard Pollman said Monday.

The announcement seeks requests for interest from potential buyers and includes disclaimers that the property must be maintained in perpetuity as a historic site and a reverter clause that would return ownership to the state if the restrictions are violated.

The Bradford House is among six historic sites in the state that are possibly for sale.

“These sites are very significant locally, but not so much statewide,” Pollman said.

The others are Fort LeBoeuf, Washington Square Park and Judson House in Waterford, the French Azilum in Towanda and Old Mill Village in New Milford.

The new owners would also agree to pay for all maintenance on the buildings.

“We’re saving the taxpayers a lot of money,” Pollman said.

Built in 1788, the stone Bradford house at 175 S. Main St. is an “architectural showpiece” that reflects the lifestyle of Bradford, an attorney who led rebels in a protest of a federal tax on whiskey produced on area farms, its website indicates. Bradford fled to the South after the rebellion ended in 1794 to avoid being arrested.

Bradford House Director Clay Kilgore said the option to sell the property dates to 2009 when the state quit funding the house amid a funding crisis coupled with a national recession. The nonprofit Bradford House Association since has lost $8,000 in state funding a year and was left to bear the sole responsibility for the house’s operating costs.

Pollman said the PHMC is working with the association and considered selling the house to the group for a dollar.

The direction changed in late summer during a meeting with state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, who, as chairman of the House State Government Committee, didn’t want to “hand over a valuable asset for a dollar,” Pollman said.

“This is in case someone might come along and offer more money,” Pollman said.

If the state decides to sell the properties to the general public, a formal solicitation will be issued and a competitive sealed bid process followed, state records show.

“We want it to be donated to us,” Kilgore said. “I’m not overly concerned about it.”

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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