Curious - 1930s farm house, what's it supposed to look like?

marys1000September 4, 2008

I saw this on the MLS and interesting I feel like this would be too big and expensive a prospect for me (single, no reno skills:(

However while looking at it I noticed it look like it has 3 doors in the front?

One was maybe a window at one time? but the the one the second floor going now where, whats that all about? How many doors do these normally have?

They seem to shy away from showing the back.....what would that normally look like?

I had the book recommended here from the library but being only sort of a dabbler here (dont' hate me!) I had to return it eventually.

Oddly there are two listings, one showing it in winter with a few inside pictures and one more recent one with no inside pics. (In the winter one does that look like a kerosene heater out front?),-N300895,-N,-A,-N13316342

Here is a link that might be useful: Winter listing

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Hi - that house is SO much like a bunch we looked at in the past 10 yrs. I have to say that while it might be in great condition, the tip off (that it's not) is their own admission of being a 'great restoration project'. Read 'trouble'! SO many of these old farm places turn out to have MAJOR foundation problems, terribly out of date (not to mention unsafe) wiring, horrid plumbing, terrible roofs and are just beyond money pits. Worrying about floors is the least of your worries. The back probably has a dinky 'porch' (6 x 6') with a few rickety steps, maybe a root cellar lift-up door or not, but not a lot of fascinating detail (or did I miss "New Deck" in the listing?). All windows probably need replacing, as would the surrounding woodwork and ... do you really want me to go on? DO check it out, but take along a good inspector if you get interested, but until you know the full story on the place, hang onto your money.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 6:35PM
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This isn't a 1930s farmhouse. It's an 1850s farmhouse. I doubt it has major foundtion problems. It probably has a stone foundation, it's been there for one hundred and sixty years and probably will be there a hundred and fifty years from now. I know that area pretty well, it's miles from my husband's birthplace, and I get up there often.

My brick farm house is at least twenty years old than this one. Moneypit would have been a compliment, lol. The brick is probably soft brick and needs to be looked at closely as when they get that age, they often powder away, but the pictures look decent, although they aren't close-ups. The door upstairs leading to nowhere may have been to a portico or porch over the front entrances, or even a sleeping porch.

It is amazingly in better shape from the few pictures I see than ours was. What I'd expect to see in this house before ever going to see it is plaster issues, wiring issues, window issues, plumbing issues, possibly septic issues. We found out ours had makeshift septic, lol, and we had to have a drainfield and tank installed.

It may have a low output shallow well, too.

But, all these are easily answered questions. Somebody may have taken care of these issues since it's been habitated.

The major thing I'd worry about is how to heat it. I see it has oil. Ours didn't even have central heat when we bought it, and of course we put in a modern heating system.

Given that acreage, given that house, I would go see it and dicker but then again, I have been there and done that with ancient house renovations and still working on them in a very similar house. I love my old house and it has been worth it to me. I had to laugh however, that they call it a 'horse farm'. That's the tag the realtors hang on small pieces of farms with the original house, like they are pandering to country gentlemen. LOL.

This one started out as a quality house, compared to most.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 8:45PM
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Old farms sometimes had two doors one for guests and one that goes directly into the dining room for the thrashers or temporary field hands, but from how it was explained to me that second door was often on the side of the house.

I would definitely check it out even if it's just out of curiosity.

By the way, it may be just a picture artifact but in the winter one there appears to be a ghost outline of an old porch that went the whole way across the front of the house with a hip-like roof or maybe flat with a little slope at the perimeter?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 12:05AM
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My house has one front door with a centrally located staircase to the upstairs and a foyer, but like this old house it had a living room on one side an a parlor on the other. Perhaps instead of the central entrance, one door goes to the sitting room and one to the parlor.

I also have three back entrances. Like you mentioned, one goes directly into the dining room, one into the kitchen, and one into the center foyer by the stairs. It also had a second staircase from the kitchen to the upstairs, but three of the four upstairs bedrooms are in a line, with the entrance to the back two through the room in front of it.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 12:58AM
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Marys - I was well aware of the house's age when I answered, and I'll say it again - have the foundation well inspected. There could easily be issues with termites (or something similar), plus you may find either that there are suppot 'jacks' all over holding things up (but not properly installed or functional), or even worse, no jacks where there should be. The fact it's still standing is NOT a guarantee that it will continue to do so, or that you can assume it's safe to live in.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 5:54AM
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As has been mentioned, there were often 2 or more doors into main rooms of the home. There's a number of reasons for it. First, the more doors and windows, the better the cross ventilation. Also, since there weren't funeral homes back then, oftentimes families laid out the deceased in the parlor and one of the doors was used to let visitors in and out to pay their respects.

I'd wager a huge bet that the 2nd floor door is original and that it let to some sort of a 2nd story porch which would have covered the central front door.

The back of the house probably has just as many windows and at least 2 doors as well.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 9:47AM
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Lucy, the termite issue is a really valid one. In houses with stone foundations (really common here in S.E. Ohio, and I've lived in several of them), the biggest problem I've seen is failure of the beams, and not the integrity of the stones. We have a lot of ground movement due to clay soils and abundant springs, old mines etc. The ability of stone blocks with no mortar to move with the ground is a positive and not usually a negative and that's where more modern foundations tend to fail because of the pressures on them and moisture issues.

This is an area we eventually had to address after we installed heat into the cellar. Before that, there was no termite activity and the two hundred year old beams and logs were fairly intact and had integrity. Things like that are often evident when looking at walls. When the beams start to fail, there can become gaps in the plaster of the walls near the ceiling. The floors start to sag (as opposed to tilt) and it's a MAJOR repair when the guts of two floors with interior brick walls are sitting on them because it'll probably have balloon framing.

If you get interested in this house, don't just have an 'inspector' look at it, but somebody who is familiar with the ancient building techniques and has a good grasp on how they'll need repaired because it won't be the way modern homes are in materials or methods.

I would not be afraid of the term 'renovator's dream' if the realtor was addressing the probable prospective audience of old house freaks. To me it's less a realtor's jargon for fixer upper nightmares than it tells me somebody has not come in and made 'modern' repairs you have to undo before you can restore it with some semblance of historical integrity.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 2:15PM
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Sorry about getting the date wrong.
Interesting discussion. I can sort of understand multiple doors in the back depending on the size of the house , but the two next to each other in the front still seems weird. It ruins the symmetry of the 2 windows, 1 door, 2 windows. At 2160 sq feet the lower floor is approximately 1080 - 3 back and 2 front and maybe one on the side seems like a lot of doors for 1080!
I tried to find the ghosting of the porch outline but don't see it, no doubt there was one with that door there.
I did notice the chalky looking weeping under the windows.

This place doesn't call to me in and of itself.
I will drive by - it will all be about the "horse farm" (you are so right calliope) and how the land is, how the house is on the land, what's surrounding it, behind it. If that were perfect I'd ask to see it. I'm looking for a little bit of country, that is just right. After that its all about price and price for future repairs, not so much old or new.

I sort of doubt the property will be right but we'll see. On google maps it looks like there's a truck depot behind it.
I'm assuming the little porchy thing with the additional porchy think tied to that aren't original?
One comment re cellars. I looked at an old farmhouse in nebraska that had really old rocks? limestone bricks? not sure what they were but the were bulging inward in the middle of the wall like a beer gut. I suppose anything is fixable if you have enough money:) (but I don't. )

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 6:26PM
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I'm surprised no other Pennsylvanians have jumped to expound on the door issue. I'm actually originally from Carlisle, PA. Note that this house is in New Carlisle, OH and the original owners were from PA. The two front door style is extremely common on older brick farm houses in the central PA area. Patser is correct in that one door led into the formal parlor and was used by visitors; the second led into the "family" part of the house. Frequently, new owners update this style by removing both front doors and installing a solo and removing interior walls; I lived in a house with this "upgrade."

The second story door is not so common but seen occasionally. Usually, it opened onto a roof but my understanding is those doors were installed for ventilation purposes. An upper door on a side or back of a house usually indicated the presence of a balconey--but I'm not sure I've ever seen a front balconey. A friend of mine redid a farmhouse with the second floor door opening onto the porch roof for ventilation (no child safety laws when these houses were built!) and they kept the door but installed a deadbolt on it. Her home was a frame farmhouse in the Shenandoah Valley in Va, though.

The link below includes a picture of this type of house in York Co, PA as well as some information on the style.

Here is a link that might be useful: PA German farmhouse

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 4:38PM
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Those are not the original windows. They should be small square panes, 6 over 6 or 8 over 8 they aren't.
I've got a Federal style home. Upstairs door wasn't just for air flow but for moving larger pieces of furniture in and out of the house without having to deal with narrow or turning stair wells.
The back of my home has a semi-circular stone patio with a half wall all the way around it which connects to a two level porch on the back. One was open the other screened. There should be two side porches. One for the informal visitors or business men who would visit the farm and one for the household help. The helps porch should connect to the kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 8:24PM
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