It was a historic mistake.
A Pennsylvania building believed to be the birthplace of the Bill of Rights was partially demolished earlier this month because developers didn’t know the origin of the site, The Sentinel reported.
The building, originally known as the James Bell Tavern, hosted a meeting in 1788 of anti-Federalists opposed to the ratification of the new nation’s Constitution. The group began calling for changes to the document, and their plea was eventually heard when the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791.
But while several documents from the original 1788 meeting are preserved, and the tavern was initially deemed qualified for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a formal designation wasn’t sought, PennLive reported.
“Whether intentional or by error in 1995, the Bell Tavern was not listed as an historic, protected building on the Township’s Cultural Features Map and Historic Buildings List referred to in our zoning ordinance,” a news release from Silver Spring Township officials said.
That decision proved costly.
The property’s owner, Triple Crown Corporation, obtained a permit from the Township for demolition of the two-story stone structure that most recently served as an auto sales store, according to The Sentinel.
But a member of the Township’s Conservation and Preservation Committee, Christine Musser, was alerted to the building’s significance by an “outside source” and worked to get the demolition put on hold.
“Triple Crown apparently had no clue of the building’s historical significance,” Musser told The Sentinel. “It was an oversight.”