Lancaster County PA Realty Check: Another Lancaster County Farm House Bites the Dust

Another Lancaster County Farm House Bites the Dust

Lancaster County has one of the better agricultural preserve laws in the country.  Some agricultural areas are protected from development, while others cannot be subdivided off except for one lot of not less than ten acres.  Some farmers have been paid by the acre for signing protective easements that prohibit their farms from ever being developed.

Many historic homes, mills and farmhouses have not been so lucky.  As a student of history and architecture, I have watched sadly for thirty years as our architectural heritage disappears.

Another farm house bites the dust

The farm that this home once inhabited is now a small island with townhouses on one side and a supermarket and garden center on the other.  Rohrerstown, once a rural community, is now an extension of greater Lancaster.

                      Another farm house bites the dust

Because of the fading light and the distance I had to stand away from the house due to the construction (or should I say deconstruction) tape, my camera could not show the original built-in antique corner cupboard in the dining room just to the left of the bulldozer.  There's no evidence that the corner cupboard will not be destroyed along with the rest of the home.

Another farm house bites the dust

I wonder how many generations of families lived here, and how different was Pennsylvania in the horse drawn days when this farmhouse was new and vital?  I wonder what their stories were, and whether anyone who lived here is still alive?  Every time another one of these homes of another era disappears, we all lose a piece of our history and culture.

 

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Comment balloon 38 commentsBrian Schulman • July 31 2007 09:17PM

Comments

Brian,

Seems a big disaster there, nice pictures taken, keep the good blog and post my friend. I will look forward to read more, I always learn from you.

Ray Saenz
Posted by Ray Saenz, Homes for Sale in Laredo, TX - Texas, Realtor (Exit Realty Laredo) almost 11 years ago

Thanks, Ray.  It's not like there haven't been success stories in preserving our historic homes.  But too often old  houses are torn down for stupid reasons.  An eighteenth century log home in Elizabethtown was torn down so that a church could expand its parking lot. 

The eighteenth century stone Flory Mill farmhouse was demolished, not because it was in poor condition; not because anything was being built to replace it; but because its owners didn't want the liability of a vacant house.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 11 years ago

Hi Brian.  What an all too familiar but sad story your pictures tell.  I felt the same way while watching the old farmhouse on Petersburg Road and Fruitville Pike come down a few months ago, for the new development of homes, townhomes and retail shops coming in.  And my thoughts were exactly like yours were here - wondering about what sort of families have lived there over the years and what sorts of treasures those old walls held.  And I'll miss the giant Christmas wreath with blue lights that I have seen for the past decade or so every holiday season hanging from the front porch of that old house.  I just couldn't believe that efforts weren't made to build around that particular home, rather than take it down.  

It makes me feel we all need to work harder to become stewards of our local lands and raise awareness.

Posted by Jeannie Kontis almost 11 years ago

This is a sad story and comments, Brian. I wish all historic  homes and sites could be preserved and admired for their beauty and good craftsmanship.  Thank you for taking pictures of this old farmhouse before it disappeared for good.

Do you have pictures of the log house you restored ?

Jo 

 

Posted by Jo-Anne Smith almost 11 years ago
Progress is good but not when we destroy our past. It looked like a great home.
Posted by Ashley Drake Gephart (Drake Intel Group) almost 11 years ago

Brian,

We are seeing the same kind of things here in Lebanon County. There is a huge area in South Londonderry Township just north of Campbelltown that has been approved for development. Hundreds of homes plus a retail center (they tout a new Giant among other shops). The only saving grace is that the farmhouse has been designated as a historical property so it will remain.

Meanwhile, North Londonderry (where I live) has been less hospitable to development so it'll be a while before we see this here.

 

Posted by Fred Pickard, Hershey, PA (Fred Pickard Innovations Realty Inc) almost 11 years ago

Jeannie, I watched and admired the farmhouse at Petersburg Road and Fruitville Pike myself.  I know that that area is under great development pressure, but there's still no reason not to preserve an old farmhouse with great character, even with new homes built around it.  In fact, it would have enhanced the character of the newer subdivision.

The way the original farmhouse was preserved and restored by the pond in Woods Edge is an example of how our architectural heritage doesn't have to be destroyed by development. 

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 11 years ago

Jo, I do have photos of the log and stone home I restored in Marietta, before, during and after the restoration.  Unfortunately, they're over twenty years old, taken before the advent of digital photography, so I can't share them in this venue. 

Actually, the photos I have of many of the restorations I did would make great blogs on their own, if they were only in digital format.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 11 years ago

Fred, I'm glad that at least the farmhouse in South Londonderry Township is being preserved.  I wonder whether the developers chose to preserve it on their own, or whether they were forced to because it had been designated a historical property?

It is was the latter, it shows the value of getting significant homes onto the National Register of Historic Places. 

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 11 years ago
Ashley, we can't stop progress, but society could be a lot more intelligent about what it destroys in the process.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 11 years ago
So sad.  At what price progress?
Posted by Maggie Dokic | Miami, FL | 305.81.HOUSE (46873), GREEN, CDPE, SFR, Pinecrest | Palmetto Bay | (eXp Realty LLC) almost 11 years ago
Brian - I was going to leave a brief comment after reading this post and moved on.  However, then I read a comment you made that is worth repeating because it is wisdom at its finest.  

 "we can't stop progress, but society could be a lot more intelligent about what it destroys in the process."
Posted by Jason Sardi, Your Agent for Life (Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina) almost 11 years ago

Brian, Did you know that you can take pictures of your physical
pictures with your digital camera ? I have done this often (although now I have a scanner ) in the past and used the pictures in emails and blogs.

The quality is not the greatest, however it does work.  I would love to see more posts about heritage and historical sites/homes from you.

For example,  here is a picture I took with my digital camera of a framed photograph I have of my Grandparents when they were first married. 

Jo 

Posted by Jo-Anne Smith almost 11 years ago

Jason, I've taken note of some of your wisdom as well.  One of my favorites:  "Live each day as though it were your last; learn as though you were going to live forever."

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 11 years ago
Maggie, it is sad when no trace is left of a piece of history.  That's why I feel compelled to record some of it.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 11 years ago

Jo, unfortunately, my present camera doesn't have the close-up capability to take good pictures of old photos.  Perhaps in the future I'll be able to do this, or figure out how to get a good scanned copy.

BTW, your grandparents were a very handsome couple! 

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 11 years ago

Thanks Brian.  My camera is about 5 years old and is only 2 mega pixels, yes TWO !  If you saw the picture that I derived the above one from, you would see that mine does not have the capability either. What I do is take a picture of a picture, then I adjust it (crop, lighten, etc) with google's Picasa (free to download and very good~ I use it for my real estate photos too). 

I just formed a new group for posts that have anything at all to do with historical sites, antiques, etc and I would be honoured if  you would  join and post all of your posts about heritage and history there. It would be nice for people to have one central place to come to and read all of these . 

Jo 

Posted by Jo-Anne Smith almost 11 years ago
Jo, I joined your new group.  I'll be away the remainder of this week, but will post some of my past historical posts later on.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 11 years ago
Good post, Brian.  I agree with Jeannie about that big house at Fruitville & Petersburg - a shame.  It's an awkward place to be, a realtor who is not in favor of development (in most cases).  Here in Lancaster it's the big developers that make the biggest messes, it seems.  Have you seen the latest mess on Petersburg Road at Weaver?  They tore down 2 farmhouses and at least one nice barn.
Posted by Jeff R. Geoghan, REALTOR, Marketing Manager (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 11 years ago

Jeff, it does seem to be a contradiction for a Realtor(R), but I have fought to preserve old buildings in the past, and no doubt will again.  I'm not against development per se, but I do resent it when no respect is given to the historic or architecturally significant homes in the way of the developers.

I have not seen what was torn down at Petersburg Road at Weaver.  That's a shame.  The countryside that drew people to see Lancaster County is slowly disappearing.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 11 years ago
I'm not against development either, but agree Brian that some respect should be given to the old homes and efforts should be made to avoid demolition.  Maybe we should start a local organization - Realtors Against the Destruction of Farmhomes. I'd put that on a bumper sticker!
Posted by Jeannie Kontis almost 11 years ago
Jeannie, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has a local chapter in the 18th-century Sehner-Ellicot House on North Prince Street.  They do good work in documenting and trying to save historic homes.  I was a member years ago when I was actively restoring old houses.  If you want to join an organization, they would be an excellent choice.  I may get active again myself when I have time.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 11 years ago
Brian, I've actually been a member myself for a few years, but have let my membership slip by the wayside.  I joined when my husband and I purchased a tobacco warehouse in Lancaster City.  We thought that perhaps we might want to renovate the top floor into a residence at some point, but haven't really pursued that.  Still, it's a great building and I have collected a huge amount of very informative reading and reference material from the Trust.  Now I feel all guilty for not doing much to help, so maybe I'll renew my membership. 
Posted by Jeannie Kontis almost 11 years ago

Brian, thank you for joining the Heritage Properties, Historic Sites and Antiques group !  I look forward to reading your posts there and learning more about historical homes and the history of your area.

Jo 

Posted by Jo-Anne Smith almost 11 years ago
I've worked with Carole Wilson of the county when I wrote my book about historic East Petersburg last summer.  She's involved with the Preservation Trust as an advisor.  I'll drop her an email about this.  "Save our Farmhouses!"  right Jeannie?
Posted by Jeff R. Geoghan, REALTOR, Marketing Manager (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 11 years ago

That's right, Jeff!
I think more developers shoud consider donating these old houses to the local trade schools.  Let them work on them as class projects, upgrading them, etc.  Perhaps then auctioning or selling them to raise money for civic groups. 

Posted by Jeannie Kontis almost 11 years ago
I know it costs about $20,000 minimum to tear one down - a donation would be a better route.
Posted by Jeff R. Geoghan, REALTOR, Marketing Manager (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 11 years ago

Brian 

Hm... I can see, well, but what we can do?  nothing , we just will spend a lot of energy to try to stop them and who knows if they will hear, I do not think so.

also, I memed you, so lets start working on that.



Ray Saenz

Posted by Ray Saenz, Homes for Sale in Laredo, TX - Texas, Realtor (Exit Realty Laredo) almost 11 years ago

Brian,

Hm... I can see, well, but what we can do?  nothing , we just will spend a lot of energy to try to stop them and who knows if they will hear, I do not think so.

also, I memed you, so lets start working on that.



Ray Saenz

Posted by Ray Saenz, Homes for Sale in Laredo, TX - Texas, Realtor (Exit Realty Laredo) almost 11 years ago

Ray, never underestimate the power of the people. If even one piece of history can be saved, it is well worth the effort. The other thing is, towns and cities who have preserved their historical sites and heritage homes, do much better economically and on a tourist front. It's win-win all around.

Jo 

Posted by Jo-Anne Smith almost 11 years ago

Hey Jo,

thanks for your comments and for the email :) fixed it !!!! :P  sometimes I am so stupid :P

Posted by Ray Saenz, Homes for Sale in Laredo, TX - Texas, Realtor (Exit Realty Laredo) almost 11 years ago

Jeff, around here the lot is often worth more than preserving the house....unfortunately. Oftentimes what is done is that the house/building is offered to the public and someone comes along and dismantles it and moves it to another less valuable lot or to a historic site. Somehow it is not the same though...a big part of it's history is why and where it was originally built.

Ray, hmmm,  i make these errors too.....too many details to check on and not enough time. You are definitely not stupid, Otherwise, i guess we all are..of course, it means we're  only human afterall ! 

 

ok, guess we're rainjacking Brian's blog.  ...sorry Brian.

Jo 

Posted by Jo-Anne Smith almost 11 years ago
Jo,

thanks for your emails, everything is now fixed :P LOL, I know that many of us do mistakes, but not so often, I did a lot :) hahaha

Ray Saenz
Posted by Ray Saenz, Homes for Sale in Laredo, TX - Texas, Realtor (Exit Realty Laredo) almost 11 years ago

all i can say is that you have a unique way of fixing things, Ray.   ((((-:

Jo 

Posted by Jo-Anne Smith almost 11 years ago
Brian, One of the things we as a nation need to do is determine what real progress is.  I believe that those who would destroy the old to replace  with the new and shoddy are actually taking us backwards.  At the very least, if they are tearing down old, they should dismantle and recycle instead of bulldoze and haul to landfills.  Thanks for the post.
Posted by David Helm, Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp (Helm Home Inspections) almost 11 years ago
I agree, David.  The strip malls and such that replace many of these old buildings are coarser in character than what they replaced.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 11 years ago
Brian,

I can agree with you, your words are wisdom my friend, well said !!! :)

Ray Saenz
Posted by Ray Saenz, Homes for Sale in Laredo, TX - Texas, Realtor (Exit Realty Laredo) almost 11 years ago
Jo,

Well you understand me very well then :)

Ray Saenz
Posted by Ray Saenz, Homes for Sale in Laredo, TX - Texas, Realtor (Exit Realty Laredo) almost 11 years ago

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