The advantages of living in an authentic house built in Orange County New York three centuries before our time.
If a home could have a personality this house’ s character would be steadfast and open. For three hundred plus years it has earned its reputation as a National Registered Historic Place which the body of the house reveals. The ax hewn post and beam timbers which support this authentic house are evident in many of its twelve rooms. They explain its long life. In the master bedroom two visible twenty foot long oak beams support an eleven foot high vaulted ceiling in a room measuring twenty by eighteen feet. ( Click the photo on the right ). Notice, too, the doors to two of three walk-in closets. On the opposite side of the room is the third walk-in closet or utility room and the Victorian style master bathroom which includes an old fashioned cast iron porcelain clad soaking tub. It took two years to build this old house with only axes and hand saws. With all the effort involved it explains why homes then were passed on from one generation to the next. It was more practical to add an extension to a home then move somewhere else and start the laborious process all over again. This house began as a one room pioneer’s house c. 1709 settled by Palatine (German) immigrants who came for the free homesteads offered by Queen Anne of England. Three major reconstructions brought the house from one room to twelve, the last two rooms added in 2008 in spaces left open for future generations to decide their use. In ten of the twelve rooms all the white pine one inch thick floor boards were sawed by hand. Two more rooms were recently added which were empty spaces waiting for some future generation’s expansion. Such planning was not by chance. Besides the new master bedroom and bathroom with its three walk-in closets on the second floor a second room was added in the house, a new kitchen on the first floor which now sits next to the old 1700s pioneer kitchen, then called a “keeping room”. Both of these “filled-in” spaces became two more rooms in the house and were faithfully constructed with the same materials that were used centuries before including wide-plank one inch thick floor boards.
Altogether this is a sturdy authentic farmhouse which assimilated over time various architectural styles, early Colonial, Federal, neo-Classical and Victorian architectures drawn into its original oak timbers, posts and beams. New homes today are usually built in a few weeks on pine 2 by 4 ‘sticks’ and clad with composition boards which will only last a few decades.
This house is genuinely one of a kind, not one of many copies in a housing development. This house was built in a simple practical neo-classical architecture — what we admire in Greco-Roman architecture which describes many of our national historic places. In this house all the rooms meet in a central hall. In practical terms the symmetrical floor plan of the house reduces clutter. No space is wasted, and there is more storage room in this house than would be found in most contemporary homes. These would include the fourteen foot long store room and three walk-in closets. The two staircases in the house, for example, take up the same vertical space, one staircase on top of the other, one to the basement below and one to the second floor above. Nearly all the rooms on the first floor and second floor can be entered from their center hallways. Movement from one room to another is also possible through so many connecting doors to adjoining rooms. Through these connecting doorways one can move from one end of the house to the other. Most rooms in contemporary homes are dead ends. The first floor center hall , a stunning Greek Revival entryway, was the social center of fine homes in the 18th and 19th centuries when people would gather for important social events in their homes — for weddings and funerals, for instance.