Silver Spring Township supervisors approve plan to save James Bell Tavern

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SILVER SPRING TWP., Pa. – The ongoing saga around the partially demolished James Bell Tavern in Cumberland County finally has a way forward.

The tavern that hosted discussions on the Bill of Rights and was in the process of being destroyed will avoid full demolition under a deal narrowly approved 3-2 by Silver Spring Township supervisors.

“I think it’s important that we as a nation understand what those rights are and how we continue to preserve those rights, and this is a symbol of those rights,” Brian Mains, a descendant of Captain James Bell who lives in Carlisle, said after the vote.

Triple Crown Realty, which owns the property, will transfer title of the tavern to the township or a non-profit and donate $100,000 toward its restoration. The group that takes ownership will be responsible for meeting multiple benchmarks within a five-year period. If they are not met, the township would take over the property and demolish the tavern.

“In relationship to what we were trying to achieve it was a highly negotiated agreement, a lot of time put in to come to the all the adjustments and figures that were made,” Mark DiSanto of Triple Crown Realty said.

The plan was not without its opponents, because Triple Crown gets a zoning change allowing them to build a large warehouse on their property.

Board president Nancy Konhaus Griffie compared the plan to prostitution and Supervisor Harold Kertes said he tried to buy the tavern from Triple Crown, but was turned down.

“I cannot go along with this as I’ve said the way it all came about, I don’t like it, even if it is legal to me,” he said. “Morally it is not right.”

Now the Patriots of Captain James Bell’s Tavern Association is working for non-profit status to become the group that takes ownership of the tavern and raise about $300,000 in restoration costs.

“It’s been up and down and kind of all over the place but tonight I’m ecstatic and I think those emotional ups-and-downs are over,” Christine Musser, the woman who has spearheaded restoration efforts at the tavern, said.