If there’s any doubt that natural gas development is transformative to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you need not look past the restoration work underway on Dennis Farm in Brooklyn, Penn.
Dennis Farm encompasses 153 acres of land in the Endless Mountains of Susquehanna County. Prince Perkins, a free African American farmer and Revolutionary War veteran, settled the land in 1793. The farm was then passed down to Perkins’ granddaughter and her husband, who managed to retain ownership at a time when 90 percent of the African American population was enslaved. Since then, the farm has amazingly remained in the same family for eight generations.
Although Dennis Farm hasn’t been a working farm since the early 21st century, it remains an important landmark. The Dennis family wants to transform the farm into a historical center that can give visitors a unique look into what life was like for African Americans in the Northern states from the birth of the nation through the Civil War and beyond.
But the house alone is in need of an estimated $1.2 million in restoration, and it will take even more to build the visitor’s center and museum that Dennis family has always envisioned. But in 2010, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. approached Dennis family spokesperson Denise Dennis to ask for the mineral rights to the land.
Once an anti-fracking activist, Dennis studied the natural gas extraction process presented by Cabot and decided to lease the rights. She determined that this could be the solution to her problem — Cabot could safely extract the gas without disturbing the farm, and she could use the funds to help with the restoration.
Dennis is now reinvesting the funds from the lease agreement back into the farm, stopping deterioration in its tracks and securing the structure. Today, Dennis remains confident in her decision to get involved with Cabot. In this news article from The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dennis said, “They wouldn’t want to draw attention to this if they were going to wreck it.”
However, the transaction hasn’t been enough to restore the house and fund the additional features that would showcase the farm’s numerous historical sites. That’s why Dennis is using The Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the farm that she founded with her great-aunt in 2001, to raise the money to develop the farm into an educational site for the world to enjoy.
This story is a great example of how The Marcellus Shale is positively impacting the community. It’s playing an important role in the restoration of this historical landmark, and everyone here at the DVMA encourages you to contribute to the restoration of the farm by making a donation to Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust.