A York College official says the school plans to eventually resurrect a 200-year-old manor house in the city, despite concerns from its former owner that the college has let the building fall into disrepair.
The house at 427 Kings Mill Road was built in 1812 by Philip King, who opened a paper mill there in 1798, according to local historian Scott Butcher's "York's Historic Architecture." The college purchased the 27-acre industrial site, including the house, for about $5 million to $6 million around 2009.
Local real estate developer and former owner Matthew Bupp had offices in the old house.
In November, Bupp sent an email to several city and community leaders, saying he contacted the college because he thought he left an old file cabinet in the house and wanted to retrieve it. But he was later told it wasn't safe to enter.
"I've been told the floors and ceilings are smashed, the staircase collapsed, windows are broken, the fire system destroyed and more," he wrote. He included an email from a York College facilities employee who stated that the building "sat empty for a while" before the college could secure it.
In the email, Bupp said that while he owned the building, mantles were reinstalled, hardwood floors fixed and period chandeliers hung. The building had an operable alarm and fire system, deadbolt locks, and security cameras, he wrote.
"My concerns are that
Mary Dolheimer, spokeswoman for York College, said that when the college took possession of the property, "it was already in a state of disrepair" with broken windows and homeless people living there.
"What we did was board up the windows and basically secure the property," she said. "We don't have any short-term plans at this point in time for the facility, so it's just been secured, boarded up." The area is patrolled by campus security, she said.
Dolheimer said she didn't have information on the damages Bupp mentions in his email. She said she believed the employee was referring to a lapse between the time of the sale and when the college was able to take possession, while environmental remediation work was being done at the site.
The college's early conversations about what to do with the building included the possibility of moving campus safety employees there, she said.
But while there are no immediate plans, Dolheimer said, the college does want to "resurrect" the house rather than leave it boarded up.
Alycia Reiten, executive director of Historic York, said she hasn't been inside but the building appears from the outside to be "in really good condition."
The mortar isn't damaged, and the roof looks to be in great condition, she said. There are some broken windowpanes, she said, but they are easily fixed. She noted that the windows were boarded up in a "respectful way" to maintain the openings.
The building is one to be celebrated, she said.
"It's not one we should be saying, 'Oh dear, it's crumbling by the wayside'," she said. "Its life still appears to be strong, and the folks that own it have a good reputation for recognizing historic characteristics."
She said that Historic York has offered its services to the college if needed.
"From Historic York's perspective I think it's in good hands," Reiten said.
Bupp said he doesn't think the college's attitude is "preservationist."
"I'm concerned that the building needs to be preserved, and it's my hope the school intends to do so," he said.