Save the King George Inn!

You guys know my historic preservation impulse is very weak. I usually think people are inclined to preserve too many unimportant old buildings, and aren’t appreciative enough of the blend of the modern and the historic that makes for great urbanism. But the King George Inn? Built in 1756? People want to tear down a place where O.G. American Revolutionaries hung out to build ugly new sprawl on Hamilton Blvd?

The restaurant at Cedar Crest Boulevard and Hamilton Street — which is not protected from demolition despite being on the National Register of Historic Places — closed last year.

Owner Cliff McDermott, who ran the popular spot for more than four decades, and Hotel Hamilton LLC have applied for demolition permits to take down the building and a defunct Burger King restaurant next to it, township zoning officer Keith Zehner said.

“They are going to start with a flat, vacant piece of land and they say they are going to propose an extended stay hotel, a branch bank and possibly a drug store,” Zehner said.

No plans have been submitted to the township, but the owners on Wednesday will ask the Zoning Hearing Board for variances to township rules on building heights and parking lot setbacks.

(via Morning Call)

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  1. Donald Dal Maso says:

    Jon, by pure chance during one of my rare drives to Allentown yesterday I passed the King George. Have you seen it recently? Its location has become disastrously bad and the parking lot is even uglier. Ideally a good stone mason and his team would carefully dismantle and rebuild the structure far, far away from suburbia. The only comparable misplacement that comes to mind is Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia which exists–barely–in the most awful depressed and industrialized neighborhood in the Northeast.

  2. The building has not been properly maintained, for whatever reason. It is very difficult to keep up with maintenance on these old buildings – they require a lot of TLC and $$$$. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened in a LONG time. It isn’t financially reasonable to save this dilapidated building, sadly. The time to “save” the KGI was many years ago when it still had a chance.

    • Nancy Lloyd says:

      Completely disagree! What looks dilapidated are the wood add-ons around the original 1756 stone structure. Building was open to the public until August 2012!

  3. Dorney family member says:

    I’ve read the comments about this historic building and I believe that we should work to preserve this historic site. I’ve done research with the history of these , at one time, 4 stone buildings and have read that they were built by a stone mason – Henry Dorney. The owner and tavern proprietor – Peter Dorney’s father – Adam Dorney was a Revolutionary soldier. Both Peter and Adam’s graves can be found at Jerusalem Western Salisbury Cemetery. The family lived and worked in this community. I believe we owe it to our American Historical Culture to preserve this National Historic Building for future generations. Only last month when attending a meeting for the Liberty Bell Shrine at Zion’s UCC, the importance of conveying our American historical culture was stressed. A special program is being conducted to include studies of the Liberty Bell Church and its importance in the Allentown Schools.

  4. Ken Wales says:
  5. I have been to the King George Inn a number of times over the years. It’s history is something else. Ever hear the story about the spirit in the attic? I recall the other 2 buildings that were destroyed. Why isn’t the KGI protected? It is OUR HISTORY and HERITAGE. It is so sad that anything will be destroyed for more sprawl. So many people have lost the respect of our history.

    • Nancy Lloyd says:

      National Register Historic Places or any historic buildings can only be protected from demolition by local zoning ordinances, specifically historic district overlays. As one of the thirteen original colonies, Pennsylvania—particularly the Lehigh Valley just north of Philadelphia—is rich in historic sites, which are community assets deserving protection for economic, cultural and environmental value. For decades, economic impact studies have shown that historic preservation benefits the economy—just look at Bethlehem! Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation Activities in Pennsylvania can be found at

      What’s in your community? Does your township or municipality have zoning ordinances to protect your historic sites? If not, I urge you to urge them to make progress as rapidly as possible before your historic community assets disappear through demolitions.

  6. Doris Todd says:

    My family’s line of ancestry is connected to this Inn and I also feel that it is awful that a historic place cannot be protected from demolition. How are we as mentors to our younger generation show respect for our past when we destroy the treasures we do have left? We want our youth to know and appreciate our nation’s history and we are not making a good example of this thinking when we demolish historic sites. Certainly – the planners of the site can find a way to restore safety to this site and have it somehow incorporated into the building plan of the new structures. Appreciate what we have and use it wisely!!
    Thank you!

    • Nancy Lloyd says:

      Having attended South Whitehall Township’s July and August Zoning Hearing Board meetings, and reviewed the July meeting testimony about the condition of the 1756 King George Inn, I want to counter the misinformation in the media that the building is “unsalvageable.” A “sagging ceiling” and basement flooding years ago does not make a building that has stood for 257 years “unsalvageable.” A structural evaluation and report by an historic architect or structural engineer with experience in historic buildings–or any engineer–has NOT been done, so there is no evidence that the King George Inn is “unsalvageable.” When asked, developer Atul Patel’s engineer told me that he doesn’t have experience with incorporating historic buildings. He is very experienced with planning new developments.

      The King George Inn is not in a floodplain. Storm water run off was mitigated in the mid-1970s, mid-1980s, and in 1990 with the construction of I-78. The remaining storm water run off at the intersection would be further remedied by the proposed storm water control plan presented by Mr. Patel’s engineer or another plan.

      The King George Inn already has the non-conforming road setback zoning variances sought by Mr. Patel for a new bank building. Preserving and reusing it will not require these variances.

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