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Bill to allow sale of West Newton's 200-year-old Plumer House awaits Gov. Wolf's approval

Paul Peirce
| Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, 1:00 p.m.
The Plumer House at 131 S. Water St. in downtown West Newton was built in the early 1800s by one of the first families to settle in that area.
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
The Plumer House at 131 S. Water St. in downtown West Newton was built in the early 1800s by one of the first families to settle in that area.
The exterior of the Plumer House at 131 S. Water St. in downtown West Newton that was built in the early 1800s.
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
The exterior of the Plumer House at 131 S. Water St. in downtown West Newton that was built in the early 1800s.
A closeup of the door knocker at the Plummer House at 200 S. Water St. in downtown West Newton that was built in the early 1800s by one of the first families to settle in that area. The borough bought the house in the 1970s using $2,000 in state funds, then a year ago transferred it to the Mon Valley Initiative for $1. Now the state says it couldn't be sold without permission, and with compiled interest the borough should repay $18,000 or give the state another historic property.
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
A closeup of the door knocker at the Plummer House at 200 S. Water St. in downtown West Newton that was built in the early 1800s by one of the first families to settle in that area. The borough bought the house in the 1970s using $2,000 in state funds, then a year ago transferred it to the Mon Valley Initiative for $1. Now the state says it couldn't be sold without permission, and with compiled interest the borough should repay $18,000 or give the state another historic property.

State legislation allowing the sale of the historic John C. Plumer House in West Newton only needs Gov. Tom Wolf's signature.

State Rep. Justin Walsh, a Rostraver Republican, said state House members this week concurred with Senate amendments that would lift Project 70 restrictions on the 200-year-old wood-frame residence along South Water Street. In return, property sale proceeds will go into an account that will develop park and open space lands in the borough.

“That's really great news,” said council president George Molovich. “That house has been basically sitting there for more than 30 years, and now someone can come forward to buy it, and the borough benefits because a portion of the profits have to go to park and recreation uses.”

Walsh, who sponsored the legislation, called it a win-win.

Plumer, a captain of a militia cavalry troop in the War of 1812, built the home in 1814 on the banks of the Youghiogheny River. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1830 and the state Senate in 1839. He also served as a justice of the peace.

The borough bought the property in 1968 with a $1,250 state historic preservation grant. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

In 2011, the Mon Valley Initiative bought the home after upkeep became difficult for the borough. The group made some structural improvements to protect the building.

Molovich said the Mon Valley Initiative recently found a potential buyer but deed restrictions to enable the sale needed to be removed through state legislation.

The borough could receive an estimated $17,900 for the special recreation-open space fund from the sale, Molovich said.

“And the house will be preserved, too,” he added.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.

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