Regarding the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Section 106 Review of
The Historic Dennis Farm House Restoration and Rebuilding Project
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust, a grant to restore a 19th century farmhouse, and to repair stonewall foundations of the barn complex ruins for open-air exhibits on an African American site listed on the National Register of Historic Places, located in the Endless Mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania, and to develop it as a museum and interpretive space. NEH is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. This public notice is issued as part of NEH’s responsibilities under 36 C.F.R. Part 800, the regulations which implement Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended, 16 U.S.C. § 470. NEH, a funding agency, is required by regulation to identify and assess the effects of any proposed actions on historic properties. If any proposed action will have an adverse effect on historic resources, NEH works with the appropriate parties to seek ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any adverse effects. Additionally, the Section 106 regulations require NEH to consider the views of the public on preservation issues when making final decisions that affect historic properties.
The Dennis Farm was originally settled in the early nineteenth century by the family of Prince Perkins, a free African American who moved to northeastern Pennsylvania from Connecticut in 1793. In 1859 Henry Dennis, son-in-law of Prince Perkins, purchased 100 acres of land adjacent to the original Perkins farm. The new property included the Dennis House. The descendants of the Perkins-Dennis family actively farmed the property for over 150 years. After ceasing to actively farm the property, the Dennis Family renovated the house in c. 1940 as a summer vacation home. By 2011 the house was in poor condition, and the roof partially collapsed. The house was stabilized in 2013, and intact material was salvaged. The entire 153-acre Dennis Farm was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a nationally significant property in 2014.
In its grant application, Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust, plans to undertake the following work at the site located at located at 7799 Creek Rd, Kingsley PA 18826:
► Restore and rebuild two-story, four-bedroom timber-frame, farmhouse as a museum the house will be reconstructed much as it was in 1939-40 renovations, with modern construction required to meet modern construction codes. The reconstruction design will be based on its 1939-40 configuration and appearance beginning with reconstruction of the original timber frame core where exposed to view. The rebuild will provide a green-energy efficient, geo-thermal HVAC system with concealed ductwork, designed to carefully control temperature and humidity. The renovation will incorporate modern exhibit lighting and modern digital communications and data systems. A smoke and fire detection alarm system and an on-site, back-up power generator system will also be provided. Two of the upstairs bedrooms will serve as offices; the other two will be used for exhibition space.
► Repair the remaining stonewall foundations of the barn complex near the house, and utilize the space for exhibits that illustrate the farm’s agricultural heritage.
In a letter dated September 10, 2019, Douglas McLearen, Chief of the Division of Environmental Review for the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office advised that the proposed undertaking will have no adverse effect upon historic properties, as defined by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
As required by Section 106, NEH is providing the public with information about this project, as well as an opportunity to comment on any knowledge of, or concerns with, historic properties in the proposed project area, and issues relating to the project’s potential effects on historic properties. Comments may be submitted to the NEH by e-mail to FPO@neh.gov. The deadline for submitting comments is October 4, 2019.