Historic Shull Farm in Newtown Township Was Sacrificed For the Greater Good. Can What's Left Be Saved? | Newtown News of Interest | Scoop.it

[Author: Carl LaVO: carllavo0@gmail.com]


The story revolves around William and Helen Shull, who since the 1930s owned a 113-acre farm off Wrights Road at the headwaters of Newtown Creek.


Everything changed in the 1960s. County government realized something had to be done to harness tributaries to Neshaminy Creek, the county’s central river. Big rains brought big floods to places like Hilltown, New Britain, Chalfont, Doylestown Township, Newtown, Northampton, Middletown, Penndel, Bensalem, Bristol Township and Hulmeville.


Bucks initially condemned a 27-acre chunk of the Shull farm, ending the family’s dairy operation. The Shulls sought a better financial offer. Bucks resisted. Faced with a protracted legal fight, according to Walt, the family decided to sell the entire farm to the county and leave in April 1972. Bucks set aside 86 acres as open space including the rare Shull home and barn.


Meanwhile, the county completed work on the Newtown dam in the late 1970s. “Hidden Lake” formed behind it, inaccessible to the public. (see aerial view)


In 1989, a local homeowners association got the farm added to the National Registry of Historic Places. Research revealed Robert Hillborn founded the farm in 1715 by clearing land and building a cabin. In 1750 Peter Taylor bought the property and enlarged the cabin into a two-story, sandstone farmhouse. A barn was added in 1750.


…there’s been little maintenance [of the property] the past 10-15 years. The barn with its wood peg construction was in a state of collapse. He wishes the county would invest some money in the home or sell it to someone who would better care for it. He and Rich hope the county posts a marker on Wrights Road to note the farm’s preservation and age. So far no action.


James O’Malley, deputy director of the county department of communications, told me last week land preservation “remains a priority” and Bucks “will continue to look for new ways to improve and maintain the land it owns.” He noted there have been no requests for historical signage.


Stay tuned...