To preserve or not preserve? Cumberland County debates history

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – The Bell Tavern in Silver Spring Township, said to be the birthplace of the Bill of Rights, is now officially a state-recognized historic landmark. But it was only given that title after it was knocked down last week.

Meanwhile, the Craighead House in Boiling Springs is currently going through restoration.

“The Craigheads were so central to the early environmental movement in this country,” said Tom Benjey, who fought to preserve the Craighead House. “We looked at the house and said, ‘it’s now or never.'”

It was built in the mid-1800s by the Craighead family, whose ancestors settled in Cumberland County in the 1700s.

So what made Benjey’s movement to preserve the Craighead House different from those fighting for the Bell Tavern?

“Bell Tavern was running into hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix,” Lindsay Varnar with the Cumberland County Historical Society said. “You have to be slightly realistic about costs. Is it something that can be saved and what will you do with it?”

That’s a question the historical society is tackling with a new roundtable group which meets every two months.

“Trying to look at things that are currently part of our heritage and culture and recognizing them before they get to the point of the bell tavern.”

The historical society hired two interns this summer to sift through all the landmarks in Cumberland County and figure out which ones should be preserved.

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