Many of the older homes in New Garden Township are, indeed,
lovely to view, and represent varied styles of architecture. They were built in
most cases to suit cultural backgrounds; constructed of materials available and
in a style dictated by the physical lay of the land. The oldest were often
built in several sections with one part frequently of logs. Early log house, or
"cabin," construction is attributed to the Swedes who soon turned to sturdier
brick or stone. The practice almost stopped until the 1730s when German
settlers reintroduced it. It was this style of cabin building that was picked
up and adopted by the English and Scotch-Irish.
Additions were made when economics improved and more space
was needed. Stone additions are predominant, but there are some of brick and
frame. Often the whole exterior was plastered to provide a uniform appearance.
Owners now removing this finish usually find fieldstone underneath in many
shades of ochre and brown. Some later homes were constructed entirely of "Brandywine
Blue" granite, while others have only a front wall of this material with
plastered fieldstone for the remaining walls. Ballast bricks were believed used
for early building, but the brickyards in New Garden Township undoubtedly
supplied material for homes constructed during the mid and late 1800s.
The hills of New Garden encouraged construction of "bank
houses" where part of the building stood within earthen banks. There were
entrances at two levels. The lower level usually housed a kitchen and, perhaps,
a spring or well room; the second floor door opened into the parlor; the third
floor "1oft" provided sleeping quarters. Narrow, winding stairways requiring
little space connected each level on the inside. These small homes were usually
tenant houses, but in some cases represent a landowner's first dwelling.
Larger houses had cellars that were divided into separate
rooms or sub cellars beneath in which vegetables and fruits were stored for
winter use. Niches in stone walls provided safe places for lanterns or candles.
Wells and springs were often located in cellars, too. Hand-hewn beams,
hand-wrought nails, door latches, hinges, utility hooks and pegs appear
throughout, along with various types of windows and doors; and one with special
knowledge can accurately date a building from these and other items. Large
wooden cisterns in attics stored water supplies that were pumped from springs
below, sometimes located quite far from the houses. Often a "ram," or force
pump driven by the water, itself, did the job.
Some of the o1d homes within our Township will be found on
the centerfold map. Many have surely been missed. An exact date shown was
either taken from a date stone or furnished by an owner. Those marked "pre-1860"
and "pre-1873" appear on maps of those dates (or at least a house was on that
site, then.) Approximate dates on others were usually furnished by owners, but
sometimes obtained from other sources. Some are undated for various reasons,
but considered worthy of inclusion.
There are many homes in Toughkenamon that should appear on
the map but little information was available of them. A drive along Newark Road and down the short streets will reveal them, although some exteriors have been
neglected or changed so drastically that their age is not readily apparent.
There are those listed in Landenberg without dates. Landenberg had its hey-day
in the late 1800s and many were likely built then, but several appear to be