For historic Darby building, stay of execution

The Darby Borough Historical Commission has six months to raise $75,000 to save Woodmount, a 250-year-old structure on Darby Terrace once owned by William Penn.

Six months. That's how much time the Darby Borough Historical Commission has to raise $75,000 to save Woodmount, a 250-year-old structure on Darby Terrace, according to John Haigis, the commission's chairman.

Haigis said that after a weekend meeting at Woodmount, Davoud Baravordeh, one of the property's owners, agreed to put off any demolition plans, giving the group six months to come up with the money and a plan to save the building.

Baravordeh confirmed in an email Monday that he would postpone demolition for at least six months.

Meanwhile, the borough council on Monday postponed a scheduled hearing on the fate of the building hours before it was to start.

Haigis has been spearheading a fight for Woodmount since Baravordeh requested a demolition permit last month. He said the site has been abandoned for 20 years.

Woodmount is on land once owned by William Wood, one of Darby's original settlers and owner of 325 acres in the Delaware County borough, Haigis said. The property overlooked the first Darby woolen mills, he said, though some of the historical details remain unclear.

The demolition delay, Haigis said, "gives us a chance to look at what we have before we lose it."

Haigis said that Woodmount could be converted into an apartment building or a day-care facility.

Darby Mayor Helen Thomas said last week that the building poses a danger to neighborhood residents and that she had not heard of any interested buyers.

Haigis said he is brainstorming about potential partners, but he knows the task is daunting.

"Do I think it could be done? Yes." Haigis said. "Will it be done easily or quickly? Probably not."

610-313-8105 @ErinMcPSU