The Preservation of the Lazaretto:

Some Good News at Last!


            After years of talk and false starts, there is positive news to report about the preservation of the Lazaretto historic site.  Tinicum Township, which owns the property, proposes to move its administrative offices and police headquarters to the Main Building of the Lazaretto.  This is especially opportune because the township has received considerable grant funding for a new township administration building, and has other applications pending.  Combined with funding that the township had previously received specifically for the Lazaretto, the total amount is over $2 million—not enough to cover a complete restoration, but probably more than half of what we will need.

I sit on the board of the Lazaretto Preservation Association of Tinicum Township, which is charged with overseeing the preservation of the site.  It is a given that any restoration and future use of the site will include substantial space for historic interpretation, exhibits, etc.  Plans are currently underway to reopen the marina and seaplane base, and to restore the original seawall (which appears to be mostly intact underneath/behind landfill).  There may be additional uses as well.  There are four historic structures on the site:

Main Building: 15,700 square feet

Carriage House: 950 s.f.

Bake House: 410 s.f.

Bargemen's House: 300 s.f.

I strongly doubt that any new construction will be approved by the LPATT board.  Archaeological investigation is a possibility.  There will certainly be extensive landscaping done.  What kind?  What will the historic interpretation look like, and where will it be?  Where will the rest of the money come from?  These are very much open questions.  We need money, ideas, and volunteers.

Do you have fundraising experience, or ideas?  Have you thought about the kind of historic interpretation that would be best suited to the Lazaretto site and its history?  Have you seen any exciting or innovative historical museums or exhibits recently?  Can you contribute a few hours of your time here or there to help with our public events, attend LPATT meetings, or investigate possible preservation opportunities?  Please contact me!  All ideas are welcome, and all volunteers are welcome. 

Thank you for your interest.

—David Barnes

University of Pennsylvania


Spring 2012 Update