A 19th century brownstone mansion boasting 17 rooms and eight fireplaces is being offered to a new owner for free - but with one condition. 

The home is up for grabs for $0 as long as the new buyer has the wherewithal and means to rip the entire 5,000 square foot home from its foundation and move it somewhere else, according to the historical society trying to save it.

The Hood Mansion, located in Limerick, Pennsylvania, was built in 1834 by John McClellan Hood, an Irish immigrant who came to America in 1799. 

He made his fortune starting a Philadelphia-based wholesale grocery store called 'Hood and Hamilton.'

It was a summer home for Hood, his wife and thirteen children to escape to when a yellow fever outbreak was ravaging Philadelphia in the early 1800s; but more significantly, the Hood Mansion was part of the Underground Railroad, having tunnels running beneath it to help slaves escape into the free northern states.

Now that the Brooklyn developer who owns the 113-acre property wants to demolish the relic to make way for a warehouse complex, the Eastern Pennsylvania Preservation Society (EPPS) is making a last ditch effort to keep this historic mansion alive.

On its website, the EPPS said its working with the Limerick Township Historical Society to secure the monument and anything inside that might be considered an artifact.

The idea to convince someone to move the mansion started when the EPPS made a deal that if someone was able to relocate it at no cost to the current owner, a demolition wouldn't be necessary. 

Originally, the owner said no to this proposal, EPPS President Tyler Schumacher told the Philly Voice.

'Then he came back and said, "OK, if you can get somebody to take it off the property, I don't have to be involved. I don't have to pay anything, then they can have it,"' Schumacher said of the owner's reversal.

No timeline was given but the owner did tell the EPPS 'he wanted it done soon.'

Moving a home of that size, of any size really, would be a massively expensive undertaking, something the EPPS is fully aware of.

'We've gotten some quotes coming in from around $700,000 to $1 million,' Schumacher said, adding that it would take one to two months minimum to actually move it.

Not only that, the mansion was vandalized back in 2016, when criminals broke in to smash windows, steal artifacts and spray graffiti on the walls.

'Renovations would probably come in around $400,000. It's not in as bad of shape as it looks. There's a lot of vandalism, but structurally the building is very sound,' Schumacher said.

In the Facebook post, the EPPS tries to hype up the home by mentioning its chestnut floors, oak beams and 'solid brownstone construction.'

'You’ll be hard pressed to find another home built as well as this is,' the society wrote.

You'd also be hard pressed to find a home steeped in as much history. Beyond being a key safehouse in the Underground Railroad, the mansion was home to Washington Hood, the son of John Hood and his wife Elizabeth.

Born in 1808, he was a graduate of West Point and later a captain in the Army Corps of Engineers. As the US expanded westward, he was involved in plotting the new state lines.

During this time, he also worked alongside Robert E. Lee, the man who'd later command the Confederate Army in the Civil War.

He died in 1840 from yellow fever while conducting a surveys of the Oklahoma Shawnee lands between Arkansas and the Missouri River, an assignment given to him by President Martin Van Buren.

Descendants of the Hood family used the mansion as a summer home until the 1940s, before being managed by paid caretakers for another 40 years, the Philly Voice reported.

By the 1980s, it was auctioned off to a developer who ultimately failed to turn the property into a golf course. 

In 2008, the property was sold to Boyd Gaming, a Nevada-based casino operator for $17 million. 

But like the golf course plans before it, Boyd's plans to erect a giant casino on the property fell by the wayside, prompting the company to once again sell to the current owner.

Schumacher told the Philly Voice that there has been some interest from individuals who might want to help move the mansion before it's demolished.

'We had a semi-serious party that was going to disassemble the house and move it to Chadds Ford,' Schumacher said. 'Unfortunately, the prices just came back too steep and they weren't able to make it work.'

Schumacher believes there ought to be better preservation laws in the US so developers can't just buy historically significant sites and let them sit for decades.

'There is so little that any historical society or preservation society can do to stop this,' he said.

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2024-06-13T06:06:05Z dg43tfdfdgfd