Historic Rogers-Hiester property preserved
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.”
A view of the second floor in the Heister house in Upper Salford Township.