Vesta Furnace Office, Marietta, PA
Marietta, PA has a long and distinguished history going back to the earliest 1800s, when lumber from the north was floated down the Susquehanna River and sawed in its lumber mills. A good portion of its wealth, reflected even today in its many preserved homes, derived from the iron furnaces that bought the industrial age to our area.
The Vesta Furnace, built in 1868, was the last of eight coal-fired blast iron furnaces constructed in the river floodplain between Columbia and Marietta, and the last complete blast furnace built in Lancaster County. Ore for the furnace came from Cornwall (Lebanon County) and local mines, as well as from Maryland and West Virginia. The iron produced was shipped to factories in Pittsburgh, Coatesville, and Youngstown, Ohio.
It's hard to picture the vast industrial furnace complex that existed until the 1920s, when production ceased - because almost none of it is there any more. The Iron Master's house, a beautiful home, still exists up a hill overlooking the river plain. But of the furnace itself, only the Vesta Furnace Office still exists, in advanced disrepair.
In the 1980s I tried for a couple of years to purchase and restore the Furnace Office. The slate roof was in ruins, the dormer had no glass and was letting the weather in. The ceiling of the first floor, which would have been the floor of the second story, was mostly rotted away - and a tree was growing from the first floor right through the second floor!
I felt that the Vesta Furnace Office was an important part of Marietta's history, and thought it should be preserved. The property had been acquired by Lancaster County as part of the Chickies Rock County Park. Unfortunately, after countless meetings with the county and the state, I was unable to resolve the problem of being allowed to rebuild in a flood plain, nor were we able to agree on a price, or how to subdivide the land.
Fortunately, the Marietta Restoration Association (MRA), working with Rivertownes, PA (a cooperative effort between Marietta, Columbia and Wrightsville) is now planning to restore the building. The MRA has negotiated a 100-year lease with the county on the Vesta Office. They have sealed the dormer and put a metal cover over the slate roof to preserve it until the slate can be restored. Their plan is to eventually make it into a museum telling the story of the iron, lumber and railroad industries in Marietta.
Brian Schulman offers expert real estate representation for buyers and sellers of homes in Lancaster County, PA. To learn more, visit http://www.FindLancasterHomes.com/
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