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Historical landmark in Lower Alsace Twp. restored

By Adam Klein, 69 News Photojournalist
Published On: Dec 05 2012 06:35:07 PM CST

Historical landmark restored in Lower Alsace Township

LOWER ALSACE TWP., Pa. -

A historical landmark in Berks County has been restored. But getting to this point wasn't easy.

People who explore Antietam Park in Lower Alsace Township will now feast their eyes on a newly restored Antietam Lake Valve House.

The valve house has been a part of Antietam Park since 1880.

Clare Adams, executive director of the County of Berks Parks and Recreation, said on Wednesday that it took a long time to get to this day.

For years, the property belonged to the city of Reading.

As time passed, "it stopped being a water source for the city in the late 20th century. So we had 30-40 years of unfortunate benign neglect," said Adams.

Adams stated that around 2005-2006, many residents rallied for the city to restore the valve house.

The city of Reading, however, wanted to sell the property. It was a long fought battle between the city and the county to restore the lake valve house.

"There's so many people that feel passionate about this property," said Adams.

Some of those people include county Commissioner Mark Scott and former county Commissioner - and now - state Senator Judy Schwank.

"The commissioners finally agreed as it got to the point we had a real risk of losing the property. We pulled the trigger. We filed a declaration of taking and the law backed us up and we won. And here we are," said Scott.

"The state had a huge role in contributing millions of dollars to funding so we could purchase this. Senator O'Pake was a champion on this project as well," said Schwank.

The restoration project took three months and about $180,000. The money came courtesy of Lower Alsace Township and The Friends of Antietam Lake.

On Wednesday, one of the people smiling from ear to ear was Anna Wingert. It was her great-grandfather, Christian Fredrick Eben, who built the valve house more than a century ago.

"It's just so neat that something that my great-grandfather built is still existing and it really matters," said Wingert.