Save King George Inn


The King George Inn has been a South Whitehall historical institution since 1756, but it may soon be a modern hotel and drug store.

Cliff McDermott owned the King George Inn for 42 years before a decline in business pushed him to close the restaurant that is designated as a National Historic Site by the National Park Service. He is now working with a development company to destroy the building and build a hotel or other commercial property.

Below is a letter to the editor of the Morning Call from Renew Lehigh Valley board member and State Representative Robert Freeman.

I was dismayed to read in The Morning Call that the owner of the King George Inn and Hotel Hamilton LLC plan on tearing down the 257-year-old historic structure to make way for a new hotel, bank and possible drug store.

While some might consider this progress, it is not. We lose a significant historic structure in return for more ubiquitous suburban-sprawl commercial structures. Instead of tearing down the King George Inn, the developers, architects and planners involved in this project should incorporate the original stone structure into the plans for the hotel. Incorporating the Inn into the hotel complex would offer restaurant and bar patrons something unique and historic. The developer could even qualify for historic tax credits.

The communities of the Lehigh Valley have lost a number of significant historic structures over the years as the result of misguided urban renewal initiatives and the ever-expanding pattern of suburban sprawl that consumes our landscape. It would be a travesty to see this National Register of Historic Places building torn down when a creative plan to incorporate it into the development could save it and offer something special.

The sale of the building depends on several zoning variances and the next meeting to review those is in two weeks. In the meantime, a MoveOn.org petition has been started to send to legislators when it reaches 2,000 signatures. Right now, it has 1,760. By providing your information on the MoveOn.org page, you can add your name.

In addition to the redundancy of adding another hotel and drug store to an area that is rife with commercial amenities, given its proximity to Dorney Park, the destruction of the King George Inn would be detrimental to South Whitehall’s sense of place. Smart growth and sustainability are not concepts that we should apply only to new construction. Historic buildings have a place in creating the distinct character of a community. Some of the most notable features of the Lehigh Valley are the historic ones; the maintenance of the blast furnaces at the old Bethlehem Steel site amid new construction is one example. Revitalizing our core communities does not require demolition, but rather the careful planning of necessary commodities with respect for the heart and soul of the area.

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Posted on August 15, 2013, in Events, Municipal Government, Neighborhoods, Public Infrastructure, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. There are tools local gov’t’s can use to encourage the reuse of existing historic stock. The answer isn’t further regulating but rather easing regulations and streamlining the process for historic conversions. Here in LMT we are facing the loss of our historic barn structures. We can save by opening up more by-right uses for them through zoning. Use the market to make them more valuable.

    http://www.ronbeitler.com/2013/07/26/another-one-bites-the-dust/

  2. Even though this isn’t really a state issue, I contacted Rep. MacKenzie & Senator Browne and asked them to work with Bob Freeman to encourage local officials to ensure real historic preservation of this structure. MacKenzie replied that he was in contact with Bob Freeman, but I had no reap;ones from Pat Browne.

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