On November 4, 2010, the National Park Services Landmark Committee unanimously recommended approval of the Schaeffer House as a National Historic Landmark. The committee hailed the Schaeffer House as a rare survivor of European- style architecture in the U.S, noted its importance as an early distillery, and commended HSI for taking such good care of this architecturally significant property. The Schaeffer nomination will go before the full Park Service Advisory Board in April, and once that body gives its approval, the Secretary of Interior will officially confer landmark status.
The Schaeffer House and the Gemberling-Rex House have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for many years. While National Register listing indicates a property has state-wide importance, landmark status means that a historic property is of national significance, possessing “exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.” Fewer than 2,500 sites have been awarded this prestigious designation (http://www.nps.gov).
One of the benefits of National Historic Landmark Designation is access to limited federal grants; it will also improve HSI’s chances of receiving funding from other sources. The Park Service also offers technical preservation advice to owners of National Landmarks, and will provide us with a bronze plaque to display at the Schaeffer House.
The road to landmark status for the Schaeffer House has been long and rough. It began in 1998 when HSI hired Tim Noble of Noble Restoration Services to prepare the landmark nomination forms. However, the Park Service misplaced those forms and the application was dormant until about two years ago when HSI Board member Maureen Gallo called on Representative Tim Holden for help.
Through Rep. Holden’s intervention, the Park Service located our forms and began the review process. Board member Diane Wenger subsequently worked with Mr. Noble to revise and update the application, and he presented the Schaeffer nomination to the Landmark Committee at their November meeting. The Schaeffer House landmark application and an audio recording of the presentation to the committee can be found on the national park service website, http://www.nps.gov/history/nhl/index.htm.