What can you tell me about this house

robbieknobbieJanuary 13, 2009

Style, Age, anything is appreciated...

The agent is saying 1850, but I think that's ageneric number she just threw out there.

The windows have been replaced, and I noticed aluminum over the exterior window sills.

The agent says that the addition on the right or the house was recently closed in but had originally been a simple porch.

The addition on the back of the house is the kitchen. It has a stucco exterior, for some reason. I don't recall ever seeing stucco being used next to stone... is this acceptable?


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I can't say about the stone/stucco, but I would say that if you have a chance to buy that house, and it checks out otherwise after a good inspection, don't wait - it's terrific!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 6:44AM
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Looks like late Federal to me. (1830-ish)
I am guessing it's somewhere in the mid-atlantic states, Penn, NY, MD, NJ? The "eyebrow" windows are typical to NY. The stone farmhouse is generic to Pennsylvanian German farmers, but I never saw them build with eyebrow windows.
Super house, BTW. I hope some interior details have survived. I'd expect to see some built-in cupboards on one side of each fireplace. Maybe a nice staircase.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 12:22PM
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OMG, that's beautiful! 1850s or before wouldn't surprise me. I think sombreuil called it just as I would......late Federal, like my house and that would pull it back to around 1830s.

As for the kitchen with stucco exterior. Not only is the porch a built-on, but suspect your kitchen is as well. Maybe a fairly recent one (within the last 75 years). Cooking was done in the kitchen fireplace and it was intrinsic to the rectangular main house, not jutted out as a separate feature. You very often see added on kitchens in very old homes, and they were often a closed in porch. I don't think either of the additions on this house are original.

Stone masons became very rare in my area and practically none existent before the 1850s. To have added on a stone addition would have been much harder than a brick or wooden one. Soft brick was often stuccoed to preserve its integrity as the mortar began to crumble and protect it from weather. Wood frame can also be covered with stucco. I think that is why you have stucco against stone.

I don't understand why eyebrow windows subject was raised. This house doesn't have them, at least not what we call eyebrow windows.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 12:35PM
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Wow - that is an incredible house. I can't even imagine trying to build something like that out of stone. That is true craftsmanship.

As for style, if you are english, you would call that Georgian (after the series of kings names george.) The colonies weren't so fond of george by the end of the 1700's, so americans gave it our own twist and called that Federal to go with our new government. The style was popular until the 1830's, but of course someone could have just liked the styles of their youth and built a Federal style house 20 or 30 years after they fell out of fashion.

The style was inspired by greek and roman construction. It fit in with the times as the country was embracing classic democratic ideals. Out when the lofty peaks and spires and in came well grounded symmetry.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 2:36PM
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What's the inside like? Do you have pics of that to share?
It should have fireplaces on the ends and a central stairwell. I'd guess it's in the southern part of PA. Federal style for sure.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 4:50PM
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Yup, mine has fireplaces at either end and a central stairwell. Sometime after the original (but judging from the style, craftsmanship and materials, mine was doubled in size buy building an almost exact replica of the original and 'elling' it on. Again with a fireplace against the end wall, and an additional fireplace up and down for the center room.

Also curious. What kind of foundation, beams? cellar? Where is your geographical location in general? We have stone homes here, in S.E. Ohio built by settlers new to the territory when it was opened up and bringing their Eastern culture with them. As said, the stone houses ceased for the most part before 1850 here. One of my Swiss ancestor and his kids came here as stonemasons.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 5:27PM
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Colonial Georgian. Federal was distinguished by fanlights, front gables and more ornamentation.

Great looking home! (Except for the steel roof.)

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 5:39PM
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Georgian is probably closer, but Federal is defined as a 'Georgian' style, and many of that period were neither one or the other as styles tended to meld. I really like the roof, though. Simple and practical. We had to re-roof our monster and I wish I had the money to go to steel. Our house originally had cedar shakes, still had some under the slate a later owner installed in its sted.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 7:46PM
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Sorry, Georgian style technically ended on these shores in 1776 when we were no longer obligated to naming our architecture after the sitting monarch in the British Isles. Federal was the first style of our new republic. It roughly corresponds with English Regency style. On this side of the Atlantic, it can be as refined as the ultra-high styles of Charleston and Boston, or much more rough-hewn style encountered in the agricultural hinterland, as witnessed in this example. Federal may or may not be identified by a fanlight, but the absence of one detail does not include, preclude, or exclude the delineation.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 11:13PM
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Thanks for the comments and great info. We looked at a couple houses in this area (SE PA)and just fell head over heels for this one.

I snapped these pics while waiting for the realtor, and unfortunately I didn't take any pics inside. Like I mentioned, we loooked at a few houses that day, so we weren't able to spend a whole big bunch of time on any of them. Obviously I will be spending more time looking around this property and will have a thorough examination done before we get too far, though it will take a pretty horrendous report for us to walk away from this house.

The inside seems (to my untrained eye) to be largely original. There is a little cracking of the plaster in the stair well, but I didn't notice any anywhere else. The stairs appear to be original, moderately ornamented dark hard wood, but with a lot of miles on them. The stairs were carpeted some time ago - which raises an eyebrow. Plus the carpet is not of a quality that I'd expect from a house like this.

There are four total fireplaces, one in each of the living room and dining room, and one in the two rooms directly above. I'm suspect of the fireplace in the dining room, it looks like it has an 8" round cut out in the plaster 6-7' high directly above the mantle. I'm guessing that someone fitted a little wood burning stove in that room when the original fireplace became unusable? It looks like the boiler in the basement uses that chimney as well.

The fireplaces in the upstairs rooms have been blocked off. If I buy the house I'll call in some experts to sleuth out this one.

The majority of the trim work (excluding in the two additions) seems original. Not terribly fancy, but sturdy, so it fits the rest of the place.

The floors are wide planks. Don't know the species. There are gaps and cracks in the floors in some areas, but I kind of think that this goes with the house as well.

Some work was done in the basement: looks like someone poured a concrete floor, the stairs going down are fairly new. Still, its a good sized area, decent head room (7'?). The floor joists don't look like big rough hewn timbers, more like oversized 2x8. As mentioned in a previous post there is an I beam down there too.

The property is out in the agricultural hinterland and was at one point part of a farm. The farm remains, but was seperated from this parcel and is now the only neighbor.

What are the pluses and minuses to the steel roof? What type should it have?

Thanks again!!!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 8:44AM
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Nothing wrong with a steel roof from a functional point of view. I was just referring to aesthetics. But now that you mention it, I see only one vent on the entire roof, which would normally be considered inadequate. As well, the roof drainage also appears subpar, with just two downspouts. Nothing fatal.

A friend grew up in an 1880s stone farmhouse with foot-thick stone walls. In the 1950s, it was sheathed in "up-to-date" aluminum siding. When the farm's original owner's son died in his 90s, the home was saved from demolition by a young couple who stripped off the aluminum and restored the exterior completely. It now sits in the middle of a subdivision facing a limited access four-lane highway that even my friend remembers as a two-lane country road. Dates us, eh?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 9:18AM
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One other thing to consider if you pursue this house, have the chimneys inspected as part of your purchase inspection. If there's anything wrong with them, you'll be able to get the repair cost factored into your offer. Chimney repairs aren't cheap - is the left side chimney leaning a bit?

That's a beautiful home.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 9:37AM
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That's what I tell people when they ask me about the fireplaces in my house. We'll get there, but it will be over 10,000. Yours look capped; if they were lined too, that will save you 3K each, but there may be other work still keeping it pricey.

Resist the urge to chop down all the overgrown shrubs when you buy. Any new plantings will be so tiny and out of scale. Try a little light pruning and trimming (not shearing, see plantamnesty.com), and also plant some new, complimentary things alongside your existing shrubs, then when the new things mature, you can take out some of the old shrubs if you must. Mature plantings add to the romance of an old house, it would be a shame to lose that feel just because the shrubs need a few smaller, more colorful companions to soften up the lines.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 9:27AM
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I'm thinking keep the stucco and the clapboard addition; let the house tell a story. But, consider painting them the same color. Farrow and Ball has some great colors for painting wood details on stone houses. I would definitely start with them, even if you end up going with another company. They have less than 200 colors, and most are specifically chosen to work well with older homes.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 9:31AM
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I'm probably keeping both additions, definitely the porch. The kitchen may at some point be raised a floor higher and given a roof to match the rest of the house. The single slope looks all wrong to me.

This won't be done right away. As someone mentioned in another thread, I think I'll live with the house a while and get to know her before I go changing things.

Shrubs: Good thought. I'll definitely trim things back a little, and wait a little and see how things go. I think I'll probably wind up focusing on structural/mechanical issues for a while so the grounds will just get maintenance as needed.

The fireplaces are one of the things that I'll definitely leave to experts. I do a lot of DIY stuff, but know dangerously little of fireplaces.

Thanks for al lthe replys and great info!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 5:48PM
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When you get the place would you mind taking some pics of the interior and sharing them?
I'm curious if the inside matches the outside as far as style.
I've got a Federal style home too. Upstate NY.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 7:54PM
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I will be in the area late next week and I'll try to talk the realtor into letting me have another walk-around. This time I'll bring a tape measure, flashlight and camera to get a better measure of the place (pun intended).

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 8:36AM
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The second I saw this house I guessed southern PA. My grandmother grew up in a house very similar in feel to this house in York county which is still standing! I would have called the style Federal, but others who are way more informed than I already weighed in. I hope, if you do buy this house, you are able to find out about the history of it. Just through the field from the house my grandmother grew up in was the one her mother grew up in, which was just off the railroad (my great-great grandfather worked on the RR) and my great grandmother met her husband by waving to the passing trains.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 9:45AM
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Yes, all old houses have histories and usually interesting ones. I started out researching the census for this townhip, and then found some 1835 atlases. Here she sat in all her glory. I own a business at this site too, and the elderly customers from this township were more than happy to sit down on a hot summer day and share their recollections of this house from their childhood.

I found out that there was a one-room schoolhouse about a quarter mile down the road, and in the early 1900s, the teacher would send two boys with buckets to our property to pull up water from the spring house for their day's use in the school.

I also found out who owned it initially and that he was the first mecantiler in this township. That led to more questions, and another fellow down the road said his store was in a wooden building right across our drive to the road. It was moved in recent years to an intersection down the ways and was a little general country store.

That the original roof was wood shakes, and later found them when we had to replace the roof. Found the original owner through tax records, and the owner who built the store and lived here, where he was from and on the inet, got an accounting from an descendant who gave me their life's story. Half of the family died off from tyhpoid fever. Followed the family through old local newspapers on microfilm and found out his son was a mayor of the nearby town and owned a shoestore. More folks came by with pictures taken during the Civil War. Found deeds where it was purchased by a coal company and mined, and found out it was the stopping point of the first road built in this township and used as a road house. On and on. It really adds to your appreciation of the house you call home. Makes you also make a firmer commitment to keeping it up, because you are living in history, literally.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 1:34PM
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I stumbled on a picture of an even older house that reminded me a bit of yours:

Here is a link that might be useful: Check out the house called Penn Wick

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 8:02AM
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thanks for all the great information.

Can anyone give me an idea what kind of stone the house is made of?

What is the significance of the chimneys being capped?

Assuming the house was built in the 1830-1850's, then what type of floor joists should it have, what species should the floor likely be?

There is no closet space in the house beyond the corner cupboard and shelves next to the fireplace in the dining room. I'd prefer not to take the house too far from its original layout... but where can I hang my clothes!?!

Thanks again

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 11:04PM
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I'd get something like these to put in your bedrooms. Functional and gorgeous! Armoire yummy

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 5:16PM
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Chimneys capped: others will know more, but for a start, capping implies that thoughtful maintenance has been done to the house. Your mortar may be in better shape bc of less water intrusion into the chimney. You won't have to spend $400-$1000 each getting them capped yourself. But a cap does not guarantee a liner, and that's another 1-2K per.

Closets: Our master bedroom closet situation is problematic. One solution we are considering is purchasing several Ikea wardrobes and creating a "dressing area" in our master bath (it will be well ventilated bc moisture and closets don't mix well). They have many sizes and styles, and the customizability of the interiors is awesome. Ultimately I'd prefer the antique wardrobe route, but since it's in the bathroom, not the bedroom, it will look OK for us. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 9:27AM
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LOVE IT!! As soon as I saw the picture, I thought of Doylestown, PA, just ouside of Philly--we went there a few years ago to get our puppy from a breeder. What really stood out were the myriads of gorgeous, old stone homes--just fantastic!

I would get it in a heartbeat!! But I'm a big sucker for old homes--there are many compromises you have to make living in a piece of history, but to me it's worth it!!

Sarah from Albany, NY

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 4:52PM
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