His­toric Rogers-Hi­ester prop­erty pre­served

Souderton Independent - - FRONT PAGE - By Bob Keeler

When the first of­fi­cial map of Penn­syl­va­nia was printed in 1759, Daniel Hi­ester’s home was on it. That house is still here. “It was built in 1757 and, be­lieve it or not, it has most of its orig­i­nal hard­ware and has been al­tered very lit­tle,” said Jake Lea, di­rec­tor of land preser­va­tion for Mont­gomery County Lands Trust.

About a month ago, MCLT com­pleted a $1.6 mil­lion pur­chase of the 78acre Rogers-Hi­ester prop­erty off Route 63 near the Sum­ney­town sec­tion of Up­per Sal­ford and Marl­bor­ough town­ships.

“Plans for the prop­erty in­clude restora­tion of the his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant struc­ture, the cre­ation of a 75-acre park and the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of hik­ing trails that will con­nect the prop­erty to other re­gional trails and open space,” ac­cord­ing to a por­tion of an MCLT re­lease on the pur­chase. Set­tle­ment was held Aug. 17.

Af­ter restora­tion and sta­bi­liza­tion work is com­pleted on the house, it will be open to the pub­lic on a lim­ited ba­sis, al­low­ing those who visit to ex­pe­ri­ence what it would have been like to live there in the early days, he said. It’s expected to be sim­i­lar to one of the Land­mark Trust prop­er­ties in the United King­dom.

“That’s the plan for that house, but they’ve got quite a bit of work,” Lea said.

The MCLT holds a con­ser­va­tion ease­ment on the prop­erty en­sur­ing it will never be de­vel­oped, but turned over the own­er­ship of the land.

“The 75 acres sur­round­ing the house is owned by Up­per Sal­ford,” which

will keep it as a pub­lic park, Lea said.

The house and drive­way are owned by the Woodtiger Fund, he said.

7KH SURSHUWy LV DW WKH FRn­fluHnFH RI Mont­gomery County’s only two high­qual­ity streams, Unami Creek and Ridge Val­ley Creek, and a large por­tion of it is in the Unami For­est, which is part of the Penn­syl­va­nia High­lands, ac­cord­ing to MCLT in­for­ma­tion.

“The land is ide­ally sit­u­ated to serve as the linch­pin for fu­ture con­nec­tion to both Mont­gomery County’s 3,400-acre Green Lane Park and the 19-mile Perkiomen Trail just west of the prop­erty,” ac­cord­ing to the MCLT in­for­ma­tion.

“We’re go­ing to try to do a mas­ter plan IRU WKH SURSHUWy DnG fiJuUH RuW wKHUH WKH trails are go­ing to go,” Lea said.

Up­per Sal­ford is seek­ing a grant to have the mas­ter plan done, he said.

Fund­ing for the pur­chase in­cluded $678,000 from the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion and Nat­u­ral Re­sources; $342,000 from Mont­gomery County’s Green Fields/Green Towns Open Space Pro­gram; $150,000 from the Open Space In­sti­tute; $20,000 from Up­per Sal­ford Town­ship; and more than $60,000 of community sup­port raised by MCLT.

“There was also a do­na­tion by the land owner of $175,000,” Lea said.

The fam­ily of Charles and Maureen Rogers, the pre­vi­ous landown­ers, had owned the prop­erty since 1929.

“This prop­erty was a ‘Crit­i­cal Habi­tat’ ac­qui­si­tion,” Carolyn Wal­lis, nat­u­ral re­source pro­gram su­per­vi­sor for DCNR, was quoted in the MCLT re­lease. “The land has the high­est con­ser­va­tion value in the Schuylkill High­lands Con­ser­va­tion Land­scape. Two high-qual­ity streams run through it, the di­a­base ge­ol­ogy sup­ports rare and un­usual plants, and it is within the Unami For­est Im­por­tant Bird Area as LGHnWL­fiHG Ey WKH 1DWLRnDO $uGuERn 6Rci­ety. In other words, it is an ex­cep­tional place that needed des­per­ately to be pre­served.”

“This prop­erty has been on our radar for years, al­most since our in­cep­tion,” Lea said. “It was a nice project to get com­pleted.”

Photo by GE­OFF PAT­TON

A view of the sec­ond floor in the Heis­ter house in Up­per Salford Town­ship.

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