Itinerary for Historic House Bus Tour
June 15, 2006
This bus tour is designed
to highlight some of the historic houses in New Garden Township, houses which
have been documented and also
. houses which are accessible by bus. During
the years 2003-2005, the New Garden Historical Commission in collaboration with
architectural historians from the University of Delaware researched 30 of New
Gardens farmhouses. This evening you will see and hear some
of what we learned about these 18th and 19th century
In the last few years New Garden has experienced
phenomenal growth. Because of development, we lost 3 historic houses in
2003. This became the impetus for our documentation project. We
have argued that if people know something about the history of their houses,
they may be more likely to preserve them from demolition. Our goal is to
preserve the historic houses which make up the fabric of New Garden
This tour traverses busy roads. Be mindful of vehicles behind you when slowing
to look at a house. Please excercise caution and observe all traffic laws.
Also, please respect the homeowner's property rights and privacy. All homes on
this tour (wth the exception of the Lamborn House) are privately owned, and
should be viewed only from public roads.
Begin at the New
Garden Township Building (299 Starr Rd). From the parking lot, turn left onto
Starr Rd, then right on Newark Rd. Turn sharply right onto Laurel Heights
Rd., then left onto Walnut Run Rd. The Shortlidge house is on your right
down a lane.
1. Shortlidge House -
177 Walnut Run Rd
House is the home of the Barclay Hoopes family. This house was
built before 1811 by Swithin Shortlidge.
The Shortlidge family was a
large and prominent one in the southern part of New Garden Township. Swithin
Shortlidge, a son of early Quaker settlers, assembled 5 small tracts of land to
create his farm of 91 acres. By 1811, he was taxed for the house we are
going to see. Shortlidge built his house of a distinctive black rock
The house as we see it
today, reflects 2 periods of construction. The 1st period was
Shortlidges stone house, the 2nd was a 2-storey addition built
by the first Barclay Hoopes in the late 19th century.
In New Garden Township, we
have 2 typical floor plans, the 1-room plan with a large cooking fireplace
(like the Wilson house later on the tour) and the 2-room plan with back to back
corner fireplaces. In most houses, combining these plans happened in
stages. In this house, however, the 2 separate floor plans were joined in
the original house.
On the floor plan you will
see how this L-shaped house combines the 2 typical plans. On the left is
the large kitchen where a hearth was located on the west gable wall, flanked by
a bake oven. A straight flight of stairs on the east partition
leads to the second floor. Doors led into each of the 2 rooms with
the back to back corner fireplaces. A door from the kitchen led to the
backyard and the south porch, although not enclosed, was part of the original
Sadly, Swithin Shortlidge
lived for only a decade after building his house. He died leaving his
wife, Hannah, with 5 children. The farm went out of the family.
Several years later, in 1854, David Owens purchased the house and was the
patriarch of the family which lives on the farm today. David Owens was the
great-great-grandfather of Barclay Hoopes. But it was Barclays
great-grandfather, also named Barclay, who was responsible for the
2nd period of construction.
The period-2 phase in the
mid 1880s was built against the north wall of the dwelling. It had
a stone first floor with a frame 2nd storey. On the first
floor, there was one room with a small hearth on the north wall. Two rooms were
on the second floor with no evidence of heating.
The Hoopes family has lived
in this house for over a 100 years and has produced a number of public spirited
citizens. The women often served as Republican committee persons,
Barclays grandfather was assessor for 39 years, his father was also
township assessor. Today Barclay serves on the Board of
To illustrate the Hoopes
familys commitment to the preservation of farm land, the development
rights of this farm have been sold. The land you see will remain forever
as it is, as open farm land.
turn around and head north again on Walnut Run Rd. Pause at the intersection of
Laurel Heights Rd.
2. Joshua Shortlidge
House - 201 Laurel Heights Road
This is another Shortlidge
house, built by Joshua Shortlidge for a widowed sister-in-law. The 1822
house follows one of the typical New Garden plans. There are 2 rooms with
back to back corner fireplaces at the partition wall. A winder stair
gives access to 2 rooms on the second floor where there is no evidence of
Turn right onto Laurel Heights Road and continue to intersection; pause before
turning left onto Newark Rd.
3. Wilson House -
Intersection of Laurel Heights and Newark Roads
As we go slowly around this
corner, you will see a small stone house on your left. Although this
house looks to be an early 18th century dwelling, actually it was
not built until 1835. The 1-room plan with large cooking hearth and
winder staircase was built by a Joseph Wilson who lived in it with his
wife, 3 children and 2 boarders. Wilson was a mason and because there was
a coopers shop on the property, the boarders may have been constructing
turn left onto Newark Rd, then almost immediately turn right onto Sunny Dell
At the corner of Newark Rd
and Sunny Dell Rd is a new house that was, until 3 years ago, the site
of a stone house built by William Thompson in 1822. It was one of the
historic farmhouses we lost within a 6-month period in 2003.
proceed along Sunny Dell Rd to the Moses Rowan house
4. Moses Rowan house -
316 Sunny Dell Road
The house Moses Rowan house
was built in 1770 by a ships carpenter named Moses Rowan. Rowan had
grown up on a farm just south here, but left to go to Philadelphia to build
crates for shipping tea from the Orient. He returned here to build a
house for his brother James. Before the house was finished, James
died. Moses inherited the house and placed his initials MR on the 1770
On the floor plan for this
house, you will see the original dwelling had 2 rooms with a side passage on
the east gable end. The side passage had a door at the front and at the
back with a straight flight of stairs on the east gable wall. The south
room had a bake oven and a large cooking hearth on the west gable wall.
The north room had the typical New Garden corner fireplace against the west
wall. A door from the hallway in the east wall suggests this stone house,
when it was built, may have been an addition to the existing log house which,
from the paper trail, we know was in place.
The second floor more or
less mirrors the first, but with 3 rooms and no evidence of fireplaces.
Sometime between 1770 and
1783 when he listed the farm for sale, Moses Rowan added a 1-storey stone
kitchen on the east wall. This would have concurred with the removal of
the existing log house.
The next changes to the
house occurred about 1813 when William Denny purchased the farm. He had 9
children and 4 black servants and must have needed more room. He gained
this by raising the kitchen, using brick laid in Flemish bond. The
2nd floor included a winder stair and 2 rooms.
What is of particular
interest in this renovation is the modernization of the kitchen
functions. The fireplace was scaled down to accommodate a built in
cabinet, and a stove with a cooking kettle. A brick chimney to service a
wash kettle was built against the outside of the east wall, and in
.Denny built a small outbuilding 14 feet from the kitchen
door. This building, floor level with the kitchen, was connected by a
porch which had a frame wall on the east end. This work area outside the
kitchen, next to the pump, was therefore slightly protected, as was the access
to the stone building. The lower level of the stone building contained a root
The final alteration to
this house was one of style rather than function. Sometime during the
2nd half of the 19th century, John Wilson changed the
roof line to accommodate a cross-gable, reflecting the new fashion.
There is an irony attached
to this house. In 2004, the owners received an award from the Historical
Commission, recognizing their care for an historic house. Two years later
they sold the house to a firm which is planning a large commercial shopping
center for the area. Although the house will be preserved, we have no
idea what its new use will be.
Continue to Rt. 41 and turn right; bear left onto Sheehan Rd. and stop in
front of the G.W. Taylor house.
5. George Washington
Taylor House - 139 Sheehan Road
We have no architectural
documentation for this house since its construction fell outside our 18th
and early 19th century parameters. However, because of
the man who built it, we thought you might be interested in stopping.
George Washington Taylor
was born in 1803, the son of a country storekeeper, Jacob Taylor. He
received his education at Enoch Lewis school (which we will see
later). By age 20, he was speaking at meetings about temperance and at
anti-slavery meetings. We remember him for his involvement in the Free
Produce Society. This was a group which promoted the use of goods which
were not produced by slave labor.
For 20 years Taylor managed
a cotton mill in Doe Run and operated a Free Produce Store in
Philadelphia. The effort was never financially successful. People,
even those dedicated to the cause, complained about the coarsely woven,
scratchy fabric and the poor quality of the sugar. The Civil War brought
an end to these efforts for Taylor and in 1866, he purchased his fathers
farm, developed a herd of Alderney cows and started a butter dairy.
In the period between 1866
and 1885, Taylor built his house and stone barn
which you see on the
right. In 1885, when his wife died, he sold his farm to his nephew and
moved to Philadelphia.
Proceed and bear left onto Kaolin Rd, then turn left on to Hartfeld
Drive. At its end turn right onto Sharp Rd to and follow it to the George
6. George Sharp House -
485 Sharp Road
This house was once the
farmhouse for a 100 acre farm, but as you can see, it now is situated on only 8
acres. The origin of the house is a bit murky, because prior to 1800,
there were at least 2 stone houses on the property. We do think, however,
that this house was built by George Sharp before 1782, and possibly as
much as 20 years earlier.
As with each house we
visit, there is at least one owner who stands out either because of his
stewardship of the house or because of his contribution to the wider
community. Jesse Sharp is the outstanding person we associate with this
Jesse Sharp, son of George
and Sarah Sharp, was in his early life, a carpenter. However this
vocation was cut short by an accident. His leg was crushed while felling
a tree and he was crippled for life.
Seeking work he could
perform, Jesse became a storekeeper in Kennett Square. And in 1811, he
purchased his fathers farm from his brother who had gone bankrupt.
Their father, George Sharp had built a very fine Federal house for its time and
place. Instead of the typical 3-room plan, with corner fireplaces and
winder stairs, this house had a 4 room floor plan with fireplaces balancing
both gable ends.
As we face the front of the
house, there are double parlors, one on either side of a center
partition. However, there was no central hallway. Behind the west
parlor was the kitchen as well as a dogleg flight of stairs interrupted with a
landing. Since the stairs led off the west parlor, it probably served the
function of a hall. The northeast room mirrors the front rooms and all
are connected with doorways. In the kitchen against the west gable wall
was a beehive oven and a cooking fireplace. At the north kitchen door was
Jesse Sharp wasnt
satisfied with his substantial stone house and set out to embellish it much in
the style of a fashionable Philadelphia townhouse. He named the property,
Homestead, and then he called in the carpenters. First
a kitchen wing was added to the north. In the parlors, slender Doric
columns were placed either side of the hearths, decorative molding was used to
decorate the interior surround and to finish
. a convex curved mantel was
placed above the hearth.
However, there are 2
aspects which really set this house apart. One is the Patera molding
returns at the top of the doors and windows and the archway between the
southeast room and the northeast room. (Patera molding looks like several
finger sized half rounds laid together to form a half round curve.)
The second special aspect
of Jesse Sharps renovation was to create a ballroom on the second
floor. The 2 front rooms on the second floor (over the parlors) were
connected by a large tripartite door
2/3. This allowed
the two rooms to become one.. With identical small fireplaces at either
end, and the Patera molding over both the doors and windows, this ballroom
would have been quite elegant by any standard.
Jesse Sharp did not remain
a storekeeper. In 1818, he became County Recorder of Deeds, and
subsequently he was appointed County Sheriff and then Associate Judge for
Chester County. He died in 1854 at the age of 75. In his obituary,
he was referred to as a man who could not be bought
.a man whose
purity of purpose was rarely surpassed.
Turn left onto Hillendale Rd., then north on Thompson Road.
On the left and right is a
farm and greenhouse range owned by the Thompson family for the past 100
years. The farmhouse, while not documented, dates from the
18th century. The fine house on the right was built sometime
in the 1940s. What is happening to this property is typical of what
is happening to New Garden Townships farms. The greenhouses which
date from the turn of the 20th century are being demolished and the entire
hillside is being developed with large houses.
Turn left onto Route 1. At the light in Toughkenamon, turn left onto
We are turning onto Newark
Road which was the first planned road in New Garden Township. It was
blazed in 1710 to go from Moores mill in Doe Run to Newark,
Delaware. For many years, however, the gradually widened path went only
as far as New Garden Friends Meeting House.
We are passing through
Toughkenamon which is a fairly young village. Before 1852, there were
only 5 buildings at the crossroads: 3 houses, a general store and the inn known
as the Hammer and Trowel. Within the space of 25 years, by 1875,
businesses included: a flour mill, a feed mill, a blacksmith shop, a brick
kiln, a wheelwright shop, broom factory, saddle and harness shop, feldspar
mill, spoke mill, lumber mill and a creamery.
Turn left into Maple Lane, go to the foot of the hill and turn around in the
parking lot, return to stop in front of the Isaac Miller house.
7. Isaac Miller house -
101 Maple Lane
The original part of this
house was built between 1746 and 1767 by Isaac Miller. Isaac Miller
inherited 150 acres of unimproved land on the eastern most part of his
grandfather, John Millers original Penn Grant. (John Miller was one
of the first Irish Quakers to take up land in the Township; his grant was for
1013 acres which stretched almost to Avondale. It was in John Millers
house that New Garden Friends met before they built a Meeting House.)
As we face grandson, Isaac
Millers house, the oldest surviving section is the left hand or western
part. It consists of 2 ½ storeys with 2 rooms up and 2 down.
The front room on the first floor served as a hall with the parlor in the
rear. A large fireplace on the west wall heated the hall and a corner
fireplace on the same wall provided heat for the parlor. A stair was
located against the east wall. The 2nd floor followed the same
pattern of 2 rooms, but without fireplaces. Most likely there was a frame
kitchen attached on the east of the house.
To Joel Thompson, who
purchased the house in 1822, we attribute the period 2 addition. He
enlarged the house to the east, nearly doubling the size with his addition. The
first floor of the addition became the kitchen with a large fireplace on the
east wall. This would have allowed the former front hall to become a more
private part of the house. There was no heating source for the 2 rooms
above the new addition. Joel Thompson lived in the house for 25 years
until he was elected County Commissioner and moved to West Chester. In
his sale advertisement, he noted that the Baltimore Central Railroad is
expected to pass through this property.
This was the kind of news
London Grove resident and entrepreneur, Isaac Slack, wanted to hear.
Slack, a carpenter by trade, we now know as the Father of
Toughkenamon. He purchased this stone house and with partners the
remainder of Isaac Millers 150 acres, stretching north, down the hill to
Knowing that businesses in
the village could only thrive if there were regular rail service, Isaac Slack
used all his powers of persuasion to that end. When words failed, he
built and made a gift of a railroad station complete with water tower.
Ultimately, he succeeded in persuading the railroad to make Toughkenamon a
The coming of the railroad
fueled development in the valley, with Slack busy laying out streets, selling
lots, building houses and constructing 2 factories. In 1866, his saw mill
was filling an order for ship timbers to go to Boston and thousands of handles
for axes, picks and hatchets were being shipped to Philadelphia and New
York. His spoke mill was busy with orders for spokes and carriage wheels
to ship to the developing middle West.
While Toughkenamon grew,
Slack and his family which included 5 daughters, a son and an apprentice
carpenter, continued to live in this house. Unfortunately, despite all
his talent, Slack was unable to ride out the economic swings of the 1850-1875
period. He had frequent financial reverses, during one of which, in 1866,
he lost this house.
The house passed through
several owners until in 1881, John and Adelaide Springer moved in. They
are responsible for the look of the house today. They removed all the
fireplaces, built a new stairway (where a fireplace had been in the SW room,
changed the windows to 6 over 1 sashes and added a new roof and long front
The next three houses come up in quick succession along Newark Rd. Newark
Rd. is a busy road and stopping will impede traffic and is unsafe. You
may wish to read the following descriptions of the three houses before
proceeding and taking a quick glimpse of the houses as you drive by.
Exit Maple Lane and
turn left; proceed slowly past the Elwood Michener house on the
8. Elwood Michener House
- 993 Newark Road
The original part of this
house is in the middle and it is log. This was built sometime before 1800
by James Miller II, a grandson of the patentee, John Miller. Legend has
it that James Miller built 7 log houses, one for each of his children.
This would have been one of the log houses, a house he built for his son,
The logs in this house were
10-12 inches on the face with 5-7 inches of chinking between each log.
The builders left the logs rounded at the top and bottom and removed all the
The plan of the house was
of 2 rooms with back to back corner fireplaces on the east gable end and a
stairway against the west gable of the back or north room. As we look at
this house today, the original log house has become a kitchen.
In 1824, a Dr. Palmer
Chamberlain, purchased the house and built the attached stone wing to the
.toward Newark Rd. He gutted the log house, removed the back to
back fireplaces and the stairway. The stone addition formalized the plan
of the house, giving it a central hallway and staircase. The south
elevation now contained 4 windows with a central door.
Dr. Chamberlain remained
for only 5 years, selling his house to another doctor, Dr. Ezra Michener.
It was Dr. Michener who made the second addition, this time on the west end of
the original log house. Because there is evidence of a bake oven, cellar
stairs and a door to the north yard in the room now adjacent to the log
section, it appears this was designed as a kitchen. The room against the
west gable with the exterior door to the front would have been Dr.
In 1860, Dr. Michener gave
this house to his son, Elwood. (Dr. Micheners first wife had died
and his new wife did not want to live in this house. To accommodate her,
in 1855, he built a fine brick house on the southern part of his
Dr. Ezra Michener was one
of New Garden Townships most outstanding citizens. He was not only
the local doctor, but he as a weighty Friend in Quaker circles and
a prolific writer on topics of natural science.
One oft repeated story of
Dr. Micheners doctoring occurred in the early 1860s. A man
was passing through the village of New Garden taking a log to the
sawmill. The means of transporting a large log was to fasten one end to a
high hoop which was suspended between two 6 foot high wooden wheels. The
contraption, pulled by oxen, allowed the low end of the log to drag on the
dusty road. You can imagine how children liked to hitch a ride on the
One day a little girl
was riding the log and she fell. The log dragged over her leg crushing
it. Dr. Michener who was quickly on the scene, called for boiling water
to sterilize his equipment and sent for the cabinetmakers sharpest
saw. People were certain he meant to amputate, but Dr. Michener used the
saw to remove pieces of crushed bone. When the bone began to knit, each
day Dr. Michener measured the leg and stretched it, to keep the leg the same
length as the other. Other doctors censured Michener, saying he would
kill the child, but her leg healed and she lived to walk again.
Almost immediately on your left will be the William McConaughey
9. William McConaughey
house - 984 Newark Road
This house was built by
William McConaughey in 1817. McConaughey was a blacksmith whose claim to
fame was that he invented the first corn cultivator. For about 30 years
he had a small industrial complex south of the house, with a grinding house,
smithy, barns, carpenter shop and a house for his workmen. McConaughey
packed his corn cultivators in horse drawn wagons and peddled them throughout
the County and neighboring New Castle County.
Originally the house had a
4-room plan with a center hall, large fireplaces in each room and a dog leg
stairway. In 1874, Henry Thomas purchased the house and completely
rearranged the interior spaces. All the fireplaces were removed to be
replaced by stoves, and a 3 room floor plan was created
.one large parlor
along the road, (west) a sitting room in the former kitchen, (the southeast
room), a dining room in the northeast room and a frame wing to the east for a
kitchen. It was Henry Thomas who added the red mansard roof which
distinguishes this house as you view it today.
Instructions: Look quickly
to the right through the trees.
10. Ezra Michner House -
947 Newark Rd
The red brick mansion was
built by Dr. Ezra Michener for his second wife around 1855.
Instructions: Turn right
onto New Garden Road and pause.
The village of New
Garden grew around the Friends Meeting House. Built in three periods, the first section of
the brick Meeting House was constructed in 1743, replacing a log house.
The brick building was enlarged in 1790 and the porch added about 1900.
At one time, in the early 1800s, the membership of New Garden
Meeting was about 450 persons.
The brick store/dwelling
was built by James Hughes in 1829 and a store and postoffice continued in the
building until the late 1940s. The brick house on the east side of
the crossroads was built by William Brown in 1871.
Proceed along New Garden Rd, the Ellis Allen house will be on your
11. Ellis Allen
House - 146 New Garden Rd
Originally, this property
was another part of John Millers Penn Grant. Ellis Allen purchased
90 acres from the estate of James Miller II, in 1810. Initially Allen
lived in a log house located to the west, probably one of the 7 James Miller is
reputed to have built. But in 1824, Ellis Allen built his 2-room plan
stone house. The original house was this west end. The 2-rooms each
had large fireplaces against the west gable wall and there was a dog leg
stairway on the northeast gable wall. There was an outside door in each
room, to the north and to the south. The 2nd floor also had 2 rooms,
each with a small fireplace.
In 1840, Allen added a
1-room addition to the east gable wall, creating the typical New Garden floor
plan. This room had a large cooking fireplace on the east gable wall and
a winder stairway up to 2 small rooms on the second floor. The new
first floor room became the kitchen, replacing, perhaps, a lean-to kitchen from
the original construction.
About 1914, new owner,
Charles Jones, turned Allens kitchen into a dining room and added a
1-storey frame addition on the east end of the house. This addition
created space for a kitchen and a woodshed. In 1988, Jones
granddaughter and her husband secured the services of John Milner. Milner
planned for a restoration of the house, removing late 19th century
finishes and replacing the frame addition with a modern kitchen and
mudroom. In 1991, the restored house was open to almost 2000 visitors for
Chester County Day. To accommodate a growing family, in 1996, Milner was
again engaged. He redesigned and enlarged the frame addition, making it 2
storeys. The new construction added a family room, upstairs playroom and the
wide front porch.
The owners of this house
were the recipients of the 2005 Preservation Award given by the New Garden
Proceed along New Garden Rd a short distance and stop in front of the James
12. James Miller I House
- 121 New Garden Road
Here is the oldest
documented house in the Township. It was built in 1731 by James Miller I,
the son of the original patentee, John Miller. The original house was the
2 rooms across the front, separated by a 5 foot wide central passage.
There were huge hearths against each gable wall and a winder stair in the
southwest corner of the room on the west.
Caleb Wickersham was
probably responsible for the period II construction. He owned the farm
from 1822 until 1848. His 2-storey addition was to the north and was a
kitchen with a large hearth and bake oven on the north gable wall.
Straight stairs go up to the second floor where there were 4 spaces.
Subsequent owners have made
a number of changes, removing partitions to create larger rooms, adding and
removing porches. Two more generations of the Wickersham family lived in
the house, but finally in 1939, the family daughtered out. With no
sons to farm the land, the farm was sold.
Unfortunately, during one
of the 20th century renovations, the windows in the front of this house were
changed to Tudor style, a style current 100 years before the house was
Drive to the intersection and turn left onto Rt. 41
careful. Continue east on Rt. 41 to the other end of New Garden Rd.
Turn left and pause at the foot of the long lane of the Jackson
13. Isaac Jackson House
- 291 New Garden Road
This house is brick, built
about 1770 by Isaac and Hannah Jackson. They lived here for 40 years, and
reared 11 children in their small, 4-room house. Isaac Jackson was a
premier maker of tall clocks, so it is most likely that one second floor room
was his workshop. Today there are 27 known Isaac Jackson clocks, more
than for most clockmakers. The reason he was so productive may be because
he had a club foot. He may have spent more time in clock making than if
he had been able to be an active farmer.
Isaac Jacksons house
was a 2-room plan, with gable end chimney stacks. The east gable shows
evidence of a large cooking hearth and bake oven. The west gable end also
had a large fireplace. There was a flight of winder stairs against the
back of the house. The second floor mirrors the first with a
fireplace in each room.
In 1818, the Jacksons
son-in-law, Enoch Lewis, a mathematics teacher at Westtown School, enlarged the
house to become a boys boarding school. The addition to the front,
doubled the size of the house, making it large enough to accommodate 20
students who would help with the farm work and receive an education. Heat
was still provided by fireplaces, a corner one in the southwest room and a
large one against the east gable wall. A central front door entered a
small vestibule with a straight flight of stairs. The second floor now
consisted of a central hall with 4 large rectangular rooms.
The Lewis family owned the
farm until 1852 when Enoch Lewis, now widowed, retired to live in
Philadelphia. During the Lewis tenure, however their home was the only
documented station of the Underground Railroad in New Garden Township.
Enoch had a brother living in Wilmington who persuaded him to serve as a
station master for runaway slaves traveling north. It is interesting to
note that Enoch Lewis did not approve of encouraging slaves to run a way.
He thought the dangers were too great. However, when one came to him, he
provided a safe house and assisted him on his way.
There is a story of 3
slaves arriving at Lewis door, dusty and out of breath. Slave
catchers were close behind. Quickly Lewis hid the runaways and then went
out to greet the slave catchers. When asked if he had seen any runaway
slaves, he replied, Yes, I did and if you hasten, you may catch
them. The men thanked Lewis and hurried on their way. When it
was safe, Enoch Lewis sent the slaves on to their next stop on the underground
Turn around and then turn right onto Rt 41. Drive to the Township Park
off of Rt 41 and proceed to the Lamborn house beyond the parks parking
lot, located behind the maintenance buildings.
14. Lamborn House -
New Garden Township Park
New Gardens Township
Park is on the land which was in the Lamborn family for considerably more than
a hundred years. Thomas Lamborn was first on the land in
1777. As a Quaker and an avowed pacifist, he very nearly lost his farm
due to the deprivations of the Revolutionary War. He was targeted by the
Patriot tax collectors when he refused to support the war. On one
occasion he was left standing in the field, alone with his plow, his horse
having been confiscated for army use. Another time, militia beat sheaves
of his wheat against posts in the barn to remove the grain, threw the straw
back into the mow, saying, There, Lamborn can have that! By
the end of the war Thomas Lamborns cumulative fine was almost
$4000. But for the intervention and assistance of his brother, the farm
would have been sold at sheriffs sale.
fortunes must have improved, however. His tax assessment for 1817, shows
that he built a brick house. Before 1817, he was taxed for a log house;
the evidence is clear. However, architectural research suggests the brick
house might be a much earlier house. The steeply pitched roof, the
Spanish brown paint on rafters in the cellar and brick laid in Flemish bond are
all reminiscent of building of the 18th century.
Thomas Lamborns log
house was sited where the present kitchen stands. In 1817, he built a
brick addition, 3 rooms down and 3 rooms up. His addition followed the
typical New Garden pattern. He built the southwest room with a large
hearth against the west gable wall. On the east gable were 2 rooms,
mirror images with back to back corner fireplaces. Each room had an
exterior door and winder stairs led up out of the northeast room.
Thomas Lamborns son,
also named Thomas inherited the farm. Sometime before 1858, he replaced
the log house with a stone kitchen
.1-storey plus loft. And it was
most likely Josiah Lamborn, of the next generation who was responsible for the
stucco on the exterior, for enclosing the kitchen porch and for building the
enclosed front porch
.sometime between 1884 and 1929.
Tragedy struck this house
in 1955. Ignited by sparks from the chimney, the roof and the 2 finished
3rd floor rooms were destroyed. The roof was replaced, but the
interior chimneys were removed and the stacks you see were put in place.
From this time on, the house saw hard use
.as a tenant house, as bachelor
quarters, for a Boy Scout Troop.
However, the Board of
Supervisors for New Garden Township has decided to restore this house to make
it a focal point for the Park. The New Garden Historical Commission is
delighted to have been asked to consult on the project. Come back in a couple
of years and see how Thomas Lamborns house has been returned to its
This concludes the driving tour.