Lancaster County PA Realty Check: What Future For This Historic Lancaster PA Farm House?

What Future For This Historic Lancaster PA Farm House?

What Future For This Historic Lancaster PA Farm House?

For years I have passed this vacant and boarded up stone farm house on Charlestown Road, Lancaster, PA.

Stone Farmhouse, Lancaster, PA

                            When I first saw it, there was farm land on both sides of the road.

             Stone Farmhouse, Lancaster, PA

                                      Now there are commercial property and municipal projects nearby.

Barn, Lancaster, PA

                                                    This is the old barn on the property.

              Stone outbuilding

      There is a matching stone outbuilding next to the farm house.  Perhaps it once was a carriage house.

                                Stone farm house, Lancaster, PA

The style of the farm house indicates that it was probably built circa 1780 or 1790, during or shortly after the American Revolution.  One can only imagine how much history this home has seen!  Unfortunately, it has been sadly neglected.  I wonder how long it can go before it gets vandalized, or worse yet, demolished?

Stone farm house, Lancaster, PA

The double size house, portico, gabled dormers and wide chimneys suggest that there may be interesting architectural features inside.   It can only be hoped that some owner will take note of the history and beauty of this homestead and try to preserve it before it is too late.

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Comment balloon 42 commentsBrian Schulman • January 14 2008 07:40PM

Comments

thank you for sharing the pictures, Brian.  I love looking at historical buildings.  Try to get a peek inside!
Posted by Bethany Little (Whitworth Builders Realty, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Brian,  There's something very special about that property....I wish I could go inside of it. If it were possible, I would go down there and buy it and then set about renovating it to it's former glory.  I can picture it with mullioned, wavy glass sparkling windows shaded by lace curtains, some comfortable old chairs on the verandahs and flowers all around.

Is it limestone? It reminds me so much of many of the fine historic stone homes around here....

beautiful pictures...I wonder what the story is behind it?

Jo 

Posted by Jo-Anne Smith over 10 years ago

What a find.  This is a big opportunity for anyone willing to fix this up.  This would be great to watch a restoration on HGTV. 

 

Posted by Chris Frantz (EDU Real Estate Group) over 10 years ago

Awesome property, Brian! Have you looked into the owners of the property? I wonder how long they've had this property and if they've thought about the historical value.

Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Debbie DiFonzo, Lebanon MO and Buffalo Missouri Real Estate (Debbie DiFonzo - United Country VIP Realty, SW Missouri) over 10 years ago
Brian-what a shame.  Such a great example of an old stone farm house.  I'm surprised in your area that someone has stepped up to save it but I expect the structure is to far gone.  I've managed to gather stones and barn wood in the past and put them to reuse in another property.  Hopefully the same could with this building if it has to come down.
Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 10 years ago
Bethany, I would love to get a peek.  The house was rented until about 4 or 5 years ago, but now is boarded over.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago

Hi Jo,

In my restoration days, I would have loved to restore this house myself.  I still have a number of old wavy glass panes from other projects that I  collected for just such a project.

Yes, the home is built  with native Pennsylvania limestone.

Brian 

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago

Chris, you're right - this would make a great story to be shown on TV.

Debbie,  I have not researched who the owner(s) might be.  Perhaps I should. 

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago

Cindy, the structure is definitely not too far gone to restore.  It's still in surprisingly good condition.  If anything, materials from somewhere else could be used to restore it.  The biggest problem for its restored value is that it's too close to the busy road.

No doubt years ago when the house was built, it seemed far enough back from a narrower, less traveled, unpaved road.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago
Brian, This home does look like it's steeped in history and I'd love to be able to step inside.  I too wish it could be returned to the beautiful place it once was; since it's so close to the road, I know here they took a historical home and made it a restaurant, it's lovely!
Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 10 years ago
Brian, This home does look like it's steeped in history and I'd love to be able to step inside.  I too wish it could be returned to the beautiful place it once was; since it's so close to the road, I know here they took a historical home and made it a restaurant, it's lovely!
Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 10 years ago

Brian, 
Carole's comment  reminded me of a beautiful old stone mill near the University of Guelph (where I attended for 4 years) that was on a very busy highway.
Some people bought it and turned it into a wonderful dining facility. It does extremely well and has been in business for many years....it was a favourite place of mine to go to when I lived in Guelph.

 The Aberfoyle Mill

 

 

 

 

The old stone farmhouse in your post really reminds me of it and if it is near enough to major towns/cities, would make a fine restaurant where one could reserve the old time character and heritage of the place.

Jo 

Posted by Jo-Anne Smith over 10 years ago
Brian, this house is known to the county historic preservation officer - I had lunch with her in December and it came up in conversation.  That property is part of a large tract owned by a developer who wants to put in a big TND project but has some legal wrangling to get through first, as I recall.  This house likely won't survive.
Posted by Jeff R. Geoghan, REALTOR, Marketing Manager (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 10 years ago
I hope they don't tear it down - once gone as these reminders of our past don't give the same impact in photos.
Posted by Kathleen Lordbock, Keller Williams Realty Professionals (Keller Williams Realty Professionals) over 10 years ago

Carole, the restaurant idea sounds like an excellent one.  They would have enough room around the property for parking.

Jo, your suggestion is similar to Carole's.  I guess great minds think alike!

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago

Jeff, there's no reason the original farm house couldn't be preserved even in a development - especially if it could be used for some purpose such as a restaurant, retailer or office.  It would still be a highly desirable property.

At the very least, I would hope that the owners allow the National Trust for Historic Preservation to photographically document both the interior and exterior while that's still possible!

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago

Good post on Look What I Found..whether it is for sale or not.  Get it listed!

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 10 years ago
Kathleen, I totally agree!  But if this home eventually is destroyed, at least there will be a photographic record that it existed.  Every historic building deserves at least that much.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago
Wow, that just breaks my heart.  I would love to get a peek inside.  I hope this particular developer has a heart and enough integrity to see the historical value of it and save it.
Posted by Jeannie Kontis over 10 years ago

Jeannie, I hope you're right that a developer could see the value of saving it.  The condition definitely seems to be salvageable.  The architectural quality of this house is way above average - it's really more like a manor house than a farm house.  

I'd love to get a peek inside, too.  There may be some excellent fireplaces and fine moldings still extant. 

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago
I don't expect you'll get much trouble if you stop by again...with a hammer?
Posted by Jeff R. Geoghan, REALTOR, Marketing Manager (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 10 years ago
I'd love to see and photograph the interior - with proper permission.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago
I have driven by this house for years and have wondered what's going on with it.  I know it's been vacant for some time.  Is it for sale?  I bet it is amazing inside and would love to get a look at it.  It would absolutely be my dream home!
Posted by Melanie Weir over 10 years ago
Melanie, it's not for sale.  If it were, it would make a great listing.  I'd be excited to be able to restore it myself!
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago
It's terribly sad when history like this is forgotten and neglected.  It's such a beautiful piece of history.  I know it's not for sale but have you talked to the owners at all?
Posted by M A over 10 years ago

Martin, I know what you mean.  I personally have a hard time understanding why so many people don't appreciate beautiful ancient homes like this. 

I believe it's owned by a developer - I'll have to do some research to find someone to talk to.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago

Brian,

I, too love, and specialize in historic homes, I am licensed in PA, but in the York County area.  I think you should check with your local historical society first, they will do the research and could submit it for application to the National Trust of Historic Homes, and they would know if it met the criteria or not.  Should it meet the criteria and be restored as a business there are fantastic taz benefits that could be reaped.  Would make it very appealing to a developer.  I live in Maryland and my home is on the National Register, it had been vacant and vandalized when I purchased it.  Great photos and it is a shame someone did not persue this prior to the purchase by a developer.  I do think that your local Historical Society should be where to start. It's nice to know that people out there do care about those wonderful homes of the past. Thanks for sharing,  

 

Posted by Dottie Hicks, ABR,CRS,GRI, Historic Homes Specialist (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 10 years ago
Dottie, that's an excellent suggestion.  Years ago I was a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  I restored a number of homes in Lancaster County myself.  Thanks for your comments.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago

Brian, great photos. It would be a shame to see these buildings razed. They remind me of some of the abandoned farmsteads in outstate Minnesota. 

If you manage to sneak in and get some inside photos, we won't tell. I can only imagine some of the  wonderful old woodwork inside.

Posted by Dean Christiansen (EXIT Three Rivers Realty) over 10 years ago
I can imagine the woodwork myself, Dean.  This house is a quality homestead, if the original features are still extant.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago

I must correct Jeff, the property is owned by Armstrong Corporation.  At one time Armstrong was in negotiations with a developer to build a TND on the property - the developer was going to keep the historic buildings and restore them; however, that deal fell through when Armstrong went into bankruptcy.  i don't know what Armstrong Corp has planned.  By the way, there are two more historic houses and a lime kiln on the property.

Posted by Historic Preservation Specialist - Lancaster County over 10 years ago

Thanks for your input, Historic Preservation Specialist!  The other two houses and the lime kiln must be much farther back from the road.

Do you have any idea who at Armstrong would know what the plans are for the property?

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago

Here is the earlier photo that Jeff sent me of the home.  Note the beautiful original 12 over 8 windows!

Stone farm house, Lancaster, PA

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago

This may seem like a stupid question, but it is serious: I know many buildings can be either be entirely or partially deconstructed, then moved and reconstructed elsewhere, is it possible to do that with a stone structure such as this? It is my dream to live in a renovated stone farmhouse or even barn, but nothing is available in my area. It's a shame to see such a beautiful structure lost...I hope something can be done with it!

Posted by Chrissie about 10 years ago

Chrissie, earlier in my career I tried a couple of times to save wonderful historic houses that were in locations that were being developed, and were slated for demolition.  It's extremely expensive to take a house apart and number each piece for later reconstruction.  It's also prohibively expensive to move a house - in the hundreds of thousands.  And that's to say nothing of the expense of purchasing a lot, excavating, getting utilities, and restoring.

It was way above anything that I could afford, and I was the most motivated person trying to save them.  In recent years, my goal has been to publicize historic houses that are in danger of being lost, and making a photographic record of them.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 10 years ago

Brian, thanks for the answer...and evn though you may not be able to save the physical structures, it is great that you take the time and effort to capture a photographic record of them! I have convinced my husband that our next home is going to be stone with loads of "character" and you can bet I will take inspiration from all the beautiful stone houses of the past. Pictures, such as yours, will be an invaluable resource to us, and in some way, once finished, our project will be a tribute to those historic homes!

Posted by Chrissie about 10 years ago

Chrissie, what area are you in?

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 10 years ago

Brian, I am in the northeastern corner of Illinois, and because of my proximity to the southeastern corner or Wisconsin, I would even consider moving there!   I have a list of "wants" for my dream home--stone, old house or barn renovation, a couple acres, in-ground pool and water front/water view (I know...) and I have actually found my dream property. Sadly, I forgot to include "affordable" in my list of desires, and it is far above what I can afford at this time.  At least I now know these sort of properties DO exist in this area, they're just hard to come by!  

Posted by Chrissie about 10 years ago

Chrissie, if you keep searching, eventually your efforts will be rewarded!  Maybe you'll find one that's affordable because it needs work which you can do.  The water view is the factor that you may have to compromise on because that would command a prime asking price.

If I can ever be of service in the Lancaster County, PA area to you or someone you know, please let me know!

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 10 years ago

 

The board is already off in the 2nd photo on the 1 story part.

Posted by Old Houses about 7 years ago

Yes, this house has lots of history, and I know some of it very well.  I grew up in this house, with my five sisters and one brother.  The house isn't as old as someone guessed - the date stone on the west end (left end, looking at the front of the house) is from about 1804 and the east end is in the 1840's, if I remember correctly.  My parents, Elmer and Ruth Rohrer, owned the farm until about 1961, when they sold it to Armstrong World Industries.  They continued to rent the property from Armstrong until 1973, and then my brother and his family lived there until the late 70's.

We had grand dreams, but not enough money, to open some of the old fireplaces, expose some of the interior stone walls, and maximize the architectural beauty of that wonderful house.  My parents were the ones who installed an indoor bathroom (one bathroom for a family of 9 and usually some extas who stayed with us for one reason or another) and installed central heat (coal-fired hot water heat).  If the other families who lived there over the years were like mine, the walls could tell of lots of laughter, good times, and of course some tears.

Posted by Nancy Rohrer Sauder almost 6 years ago

Nancy, thanks for telling of your family connection to this great old farmhouse!  I'm glad to learn of some of the dates and details.  I had hoped at one time to be able to get it into private hands so it could be restored, and I still would be thrilled to be able to see it from the inside...

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 6 years ago

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