William Penn Inn
527-533 E. Lancaster Avenue
Wynnewood, Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County
c.1799, Joseph Price; addition c.1880, Addison Hutton
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2015: William Penn Inn appears to be safe after Rayer Builders and local developer/preservationist Mac Brand announced an agreement to subdivide the Inn from the rest of the Rayer development! The new plan proposes three new condominium units in the preserved and restored building, with three new single-family homes to be built on the adjacent grounds. The Lower Merion Historical Commission voted to recommend approval of the new plan on February 27. Pending final approval by the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners in April, this compromise represents a true “win/win” scenario for the township and for preservationists across the region who rallied support to save the Inn.
The William Penn Inn was built in 1799 to host travelers along the Philadelphia to Lancaster Turnpike, the first paved highway in America. It was built and owned by Joseph Price, a Quaker farmer and carpenter instrumental in the development of both the turnpike and Lower Merion Township. The building has been a cherished area landmark for more than two centuries, but would be demolished and replaced with five new single-family houses in a proposal submitted to Lower Merion Township officials by Media-based Rayer Builders.
Despite the building’s unquestionable significance, it is only listed as a “Class II” resource in the township’s historic resources inventory and therefore only eligible for a 90-day demolition delay. The Alliance has joined the Lower Merion Historical Society, the Lower Merion Conservancy, and the Lower Merion Historical Commission in calling on the Township to impose this delay in the hopes that preservation alternatives can be pursued. We are also urging Lower Merion officials to revisit the preservation and zoning policies that would allow a building of such distinction to be demolished “of right.”
Resources and Links
- “‘Thrilled’ Lower Merion commission recommends approval of plan to save William Penn Inn,” Main Line Times, Feb. 27, 2015
- “Agreement raises hopes for saving Wynnewood’s William Penn Inn,” Main Line Times, Feb. 12, 2015
- “Future of former Montco Inn is uncertain,” Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 20, 2014
- “William Penn Inn demolition plan tabled for now,” Main Line Times, Oct. 15, 2014
- “Places We Love: William Penn Inn too significant to lose,” Main Line Times, Aug. 1, 2014
- “Plan to raze Lower Merion’s historic William Penn Inn prompts protests,” Main Line Times, July 17, 2014