The 5 Most Endangered Stone Homes in the United States 2017

One word: Heartbreaking. These historic homes are on the verge of being but memories. Endangered, in peril, at risk …here’s hoping local preservation groups and concerned citizens can step in and save irreplaceable pieces of our Early American history.

1. Mifflin House

Wrightsville, Pennsylvania
Mifflin House Hybla Wrightsville
The stone farmhouse, built in the late 1700s and coined “Hybla,” was a very important stop on the Underground Railroad when owned by prominent Pennsylvanians Jonathan and Susanna Mifflin. Later, while owned by J. Huber, a crucial Civil War battle played out on the site. So why would anyone not consider the home and the land that surrounds it hallowed ground? The most recent owners sold the home and its over 9-acre property to Kinsley Equities, which has been chomping at the bit to tear the home down. Locals believe warehouses will be built in its place. A report issued by the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office states that the home is eligible for historic designation. Hopefully, the report will make demolition efforts more difficult, although the home’s future remains uncertain.

2. McKee House

Lombard, Illinois
McKee House Churchill Woods Forest Preserve
The limestone Colonial-Revival-style home, nestled in the Churchill Woods Forest Preserve, was built in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and served as home to DuPage County’s first forest preserve superintendent. The home has stood empty since 2002 and neglect has led to deterioration. In 2006, the DuPage County Forest Preserve District announced plans to raze the structure; local preservation groups have fought valiantly to save a piece of DuPage County — and American — history. For more information, visit the McKee Preservation Group Facebook page.

3. Phillip Kaes House

Ballwin, Missouri
Phillip Kaes House Castlewood
This home, built between 1850 and 1860, sits atop land that was once part of a Spanish land claim. A two-story wood-framed addition was added to the original three-story stone structure, creating one of the area’s first true “split-level” homes. Lore says that the home served as a stop on the Underground Railroad and that Civil War soldiers were held prisoner in the property’s stone caves. In 1980, the home was acquired by the state park system as part of a land purchase and has remained unattended since. If the park is not willing to part with the land, it might at least consider a resident curatorship program now established in several other states.

4. Troy Hill

Elkridge, Maryland
Troy Hill Elkridge
This circa-1820 stone home was built atop the former “dwelling plantation” of Colonel Thomas Dorsey, one of Howard County’s most prominent 18th century landowners. The State of Maryland purchased the property in December 1958 with plans to raze the home to make way for a highway. Demolition deemed unnecessary, the home sat vacant for years, until Howard County acquired the homstead in 1971 as part of a land purchase. Troy was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, but sadly continued to sit in a state of decline. In 1991, a fire destroyed the interior. The county now has plans to restore the structure as part of a larger park improvement; adaptive reuse is being considered.

5. Kimball Castle

Guilford, New Hampshire

Kimball Castle

Bottom right photo by Jason Baker.


The former estate of railroad magnate Benjamin A. Kimball, the castle was built over the span of two years (1897-1899) and incorporates both English oak and local granite. It sits atop a 24-acre tract of land and boasts spectacular views of both the Lakes Region and the White Mountain. The estate fell into the hands of the Town of Guilford, which turned a 260-acre portion of the estate into a nature preserve. The town invited developers to submit ideas for the property’s development and a resort and restaurant plan was eventually approved by the town. Lack of funding put the project on hold.

Old Stone Home Needs a Hero

We don’t often dedicate an entire post to one stone home, but this sweet Hudson River Valley property tugged at our very heartstrings.

The circa-1750 Colonial-era stone farmhouse, located in the historic village of Saugerties, is presently for sale. Before you scoff at the price, take note: You get the home, nestled on a gently sloping piece of land, a circa-1800s barn, a lovely bit of meadow, a few more outbuildings (chicken coop included!) and almost 70 acres of lush farmland (right in the middle of which once existed a major Indian path to the Woodstock valley).

The structure itself is described as in “poor condition,” but we’re certain that it could spring back to life with the tender touch of a caring owner. Just another run-down, run-of-the-mill farmhouse? We think not. In the 2005 Town of Saugerties Historical Resources Survey, experts noted, “This house can be directly compared to vernacular farmhouses of Northern Europe. Its builders and the first farmers to till this land may have been among the earliest permanent settlers of Saugerties. To find an early structure this historically intact is an extreme rarity and this house deserves separate, comprehensive study and protection.”

Don’t have the cash to snatch up this historic gem but interested in seeing more of the Hudson River Valley and its concentration of old stone homes? This map will help you see the coolest stone homes the area has to offer.

Diamond in the Rough?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. Take a look at these fixer uppers and tell us what you think: Two thumbs up or two thumbs down? It would take a lot of love to bring these stone homes back to life, but the rewards may just be worth the pain and effort.

Forgotten Farmhouse in Frenchtown

Situated on the edge of historic Frenchtown, New Jersey, you will find this stone farmhouse (tax records say it dates to 1875). The home sits on almost 80 acres of secluded farmland that boasts horse trails, wooded areas and even a pond. The three-bedroom farmhouse is in a sorry state, indeed. But the land has such potential — and who wouldn’t love living right across the Delaware River from Bucks County, Pennsylvania!

Hopeless Case in Havre de Grace

Located in the sleepy harbor town of Havre de Grace, Maryland, this patchworked property is being sold for the land, not the home, which dates to 1860. The place is in such a bad state of disrepair that potential buyers must sign a “Hold Harmless & Right-of-Entry Agreement” before entering the property! We’re not sure about you, but we couldn’t bear to tear down this historic structure.

Timeworn Cottage in a Port Town


Not much information exists about this old stone cottage in the woods. It’s age? Hard to say. Maybe circa 1930s-50s? The cozy home is nestled on over three acres of woodland in Huntington, West Virginia, which itself sits at the confluence of the Guyandotte and Ohio Rivers. With a heavy dose of elbow grease and some vision, this dilapidated structure could truly shine. The perfect weekend or summer getaway!

Last Hope for La Loma Treasure

A rare find, this Southwest-style cottage located in La Loma, New Mexico, features solid adobe, stone and block construction. Although this home sits on only 3/4 acres, the seller also has 11+ acres — with water rights on the Pecos River — available nearby. Granted, interiors are a wreck right now, but a handyman could quickly whip this home into shape.

Pioneer Home Turned Rehab Project

This pioneer homestead, constructed of limestone, circa 1878, has a new standing-seam roof and windows. It only needs the touch of an old stone home lover to preserve interiors. The Fredericksburg, Texas, property includes an old smokehouse, a storage building and over 77 acres of lush farmland.

5 Most Endangered Stone Homes of 2015

Our first-annual list of threatened historic properties! We’re bringing to light stone homes and structures that are historically signifanct and in need of caring folks and funds to stabilize and/or restore them for future generations. Take a look at this list and let us know if you have more details or updates on any property listed. Also feel free to reach out with a property you think we should add to the list.

1. Henry Varnum Poor’s ‘Crow House’

Crow House, Henry Varnum Poor, New York, old stone home, old stone cottage, endangered historic properties
Rockland County, New York
Henry Varnum Poor, a famed American architect, painter, sculptor, muralist, and potter, built the main part of his cottage in 1920 and 1921, with all locally sourced materials. His design successfully melds elements of the Arts and Crafts movement with features of a French farmhouse. The town of Ramapo purchased the property in 2007 with hopes of restoring the home; plans have since been put on pause as the property continues to decay.

2. Naugle House

Naugle House, Fair Lawn, New Jersey, old stone home, old stone cottage, endangered historic properties, old stone houses
Bergen County, New Jersey
In North Jersey, the Naugle House, a beloved local landmark, is just one of many historic properties in jeopardy. This circa-1740 Dutch Colonial-style home was built into a hillside along the Saddle River and has ties to the Revolutionary War (Marquis de Lafayette may have visited this home in 1784). The home, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, boasts coursed ashlar sandstone block walls. The township of Fair Lawn purchased the home in 2010 with plans to restore it, but rehabilitation has been slow in coming. Residents continue their efforts to save this unique property.

3. Circle Creek Farmhouse/Guy’s Distillery

Circle Creek Farmhouse/Guy’s Distillery, old stone home, old stone house, endangered historic properties, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Chickies Historic District
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Circle Creek Farmhouse, originally used as a commercial distillery, was built in 1826 by John Guy, a hotel owner from Baltimore, Maryland. In 1834, Christian Haldeman converted the structure to a farmhouse. The stone home is located in the Chickies Historic District, a collection of historic homes built by the area’s wealthiest iron masters, plus the remains of iron pits and furnaces and limestone quarries. The home, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, has been sitting vacant and neglected since 1988.

4. The Pest House

Pest House, Cockeysville, Baltimore County, Maryland, old stone house, old stone home, endangered historic property
Baltimore County, Maryland
Built in 1872, the Pest House was designed to house the sick and those suffering from communicable diseases (and perhaps segregate African American men from other ill patients residing at the adjacent almshouse, currently home to the Historical Society of Baltimore County). It is believed that the structure was built with limestone quarried in Texas, Maryland, by African Americans. The home has been vacant since the early 1900s and its interior damaged by vandals. Recent news reports indicate that African American historian Louis S. Diggs is leading an effort to raise funds to rehabilitate the building.

5. Rural Mount

Rural Mount, Tennessee, old stone home, old stone house, most endangered historic places
Hamblen County, Tennessee
Perched atop a hill that overlooks the valleys of the Nolichucky River and its tributaries, this stately Georgian-style mansion was built in 1799 by Alexander Outlaw as a wedding gift for his daughter Penelope and son-in-law Joseph Hamilton. Both men were instrumental in the formation of the State of Franklin and, later, the State of Tennessee. The home is an excellent example of early Tennessee stone construction, boasting walls of limestone set in a random ashlar pattern. Surrounded by active pastureland, the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 but, sadly, has sat vacant for the past 30 years. In 2010, several Tennessee advocacy groups joined forces to clean and secure the mansion from vandals. According to a recent newspaper report, the present owner continues to work with preservation groups to develop a plan for the home’s rehabilitation.

Save an Old Stone Home

Now’s your chance to live the dream: buy an old stone home at a steal and renovate from inside out to suit your needs. These fixer-uppers require a few cans of paint and some elbow grease, for sure. But the return on investment? Priceless!

Audience participation requested: If you have a few moments, pick a home, click on the image to review the details and then tell us how you would bring your favorite stone treasure back to life.

old stone farmhouse for sale in Pipersville, Pennsylvania, fixer upper, as is home for sale

Stone farmhouse in Pipersville, PA, circa 1740


old stone home for sale in Asbury, NJ, fixer upper, as is home

Stone farmhouse in Asbury, NJ, circa 1780


old stone home for sale in Mason Texas

Old stone cottage with windmill in Mason, TX, circa 1900


stone cape cod, old stone home for sale, Melbourne, Kentucky

Stone cape cod in Melbourne, KY, circa 1875

Pave Paradise and Put up a Parking Lot

That’s exactly what a company called Hillwood Enterprises LP would like to do in Lower Swatara Township in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. The company is attempting to rezone 500 acres of what is now some of the most picturesque farmland in the area and replace it with a mega warehouse, in and out of which hundreds of trucks would travel per day.

And right in the center of this parcel of land? You guessed it: An old stone home, now slowly fading away. Sadly, this home was once a stunning mansion, built by one of the earliest settlers of Dauphin County.

Residents who surround the property have banded together in an effort to sway local commissioners and stop rezoning. To learn more about the stone mansion and what an industrial warehouse might do to the environment and the community, please visit the Save Lower Swatara Agriculture blog. If you live in the area and wish to protect vanishing Pennsylvania farmland, please show your support by joining the Save Lower Swatara Agriculture group on Facebook and signing the petition to stop the rezoning. And, last but not least, if you have super-deep pockets (all the Jay Zs and Bill Gates of the world), consider buying the land and preserving it for future generations.

Old Stone Homes in the News

Three properties popped up in the news this week: one in desperate need of repair and two others of historic significance. Let’s take a look.

A Stone Home in Danger
Lapole Tenant House, Farmlands estate, Cantonville, Maryland
The Lapole House (Lurman House) in Catonsville, Maryland, may not look like much at first glance. The boarded-up stone cottage is located on the grounds of Catonsville High School but was once part of a much larger estate. The story starts with Edward Dorsey, who gave the name “Farmlands” to the area in the late 1700s. He passed the large tract of land to his son, Hammond, who built a mansion on the site in the 1790s. In 1820 the house with six hundred acres was sold to Henry Sommerville, who renamed it “Bloomsbury Farm”. In 1848, Gustav W. Lurman, Sr. purchased the estate and restored its original name. The Farmlands estate passed down through the Lurman family until 1948 when Miss Frances D. Lurman sold the last 65 acres to the Board of Education. The main house and most outbuildings were demolished in 1952 to make way for the high school. The tenant or gardener’s cottage, once the home of estate caretakers Charles and Ida Mae Lapole, is all that remains today. Local resident Jim Jones is raising awareness in hopes that the cottage can be saved from the ravages of time, weather and vandalism.

A Stone Home That Needs an Owner
Stone mansion, Fieldston Historic District, Bronx, New York, old stone home
It’s a mansion in fine condition. The only thing lacking is an owner. And for $3.7 million the home could be yours! Located in Fieldston, a privately owned neighborhood in the Riverdale section of the northwestern part of the Bronx, this 100-year-old home of solid fieldstone construction features eight spacious bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms, a formal dining room and a renovated eat-in kitchen. The Craftsman-style home, designed by architect William B. Claflin and built for Columbia University professor George B. Pegram, sits at the top of a 1/2-acre sloping, terraced lot and exists within the Fieldston Historic District.

A Stone Home That Wants to Tell Its Story
River Street neighborhood, old stone home, sandstone, Boise, Idaho, Erma Andre Madry Hayman
The 900-square-foot home at 617 Ash Street in Boise, Idaho, was once surrounded by timber-framed homes in a bustling neighborhood coined River Street. Built in 1907 of sandstone, the house became home to Erma Andre Madry Hayman and her husband Lawrence in 1943. Erma raised a large family in the small home and lived to the ripe old age of 102. After her death in 2009, grandson Richard Madry sold the house and property to the Capital City Development Corporation. Hopes are to protect the home via a National Trust for Historic Preservation designation and learn more about the vibrant multicultural working class community via an archeological dig at the homesite, led by the University of Idaho field school.

A Sane Way to Save a Neglected Stone Home

Something about underdogs and things on the verge of extinction speak to me. Even when things look bleak, shouldn’t we always cling on to that last kernel of hope?

When I see a dilapidated stone home, I see only the possibilities, where others see only “money pit”. Are these love pangs just a flight of fancy? Sometimes I wonder. But then the logical side of me jumps immediately to the defense. If it weren’t for the dreamers, we’d have no Monticello, no Grand Central Station … no lasting historical monuments. Nothing but parking lots and convenience stores.

And so this story of a Germantown, Wisconsin, couple really speaks to me. They went about their daily lives, content to live in their 1970s ranch-style home. Until, one day, on a commute to work, they noticed something: an old stone home. Sure, a tree was growing up through the porch and the rubble foundation beneath the home was crumbling, but they saw only the what-could-bes. “One day, wouldn’t it be nice to live in that place?” they mused. And then, fate stepped in and placed a for-sale sign in the front yard. Eureka! The couple wacked through weeds and overgrown brush to make their way to the windows for a look inside. Love at first sight.

After taking a deep breath, they bought the property and then spent the next 25 years of their lives bringing the Greek Revival-style home back to its former glory. What a smart way to make historic preservation more bearable – both emotionally and financially. Take baby steps, do what you can, step back, reassess and pivot where needed and when your pocket allows.

Do you know someone who adopted an old stone home and worked wonders to renovate it? We’d love to hear your story!

Three Fabulous Mid-Atlantic Fixer Uppers for Sale

“Diamond in the rough”. “Fixer upper”. “As is”. Sure, there’s more than one way to spin the description but only one way to make a neglected stone home livable again: a lot of elbow grease, patience and plenty of padding in the mortgage for renovations.

But these three historic properties may be worth the extra effort it takes to modernize and mend poorly thought-out “improvements”. Take a peek and tell us how you’d update each home if you had the means to take on ownership.

Federal Style Stone Home, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, Levengood Farm, 548 Manatawny St
This stately circa-1808 Federal-style home is located in historic Pottstown, Pennsylvania, a borough just 32 miles northwest of Philadelphia. The home was built by a prosperous farmer in the Levengood family and originally sat on 130 acres of land. Evaluated by architect Daniel T. Campbell in late 2012, the home features a stucco-over-brownstone exterior and boasts its original paneled wood doors and cabinets, lathe-turned stair woodwork and hand-planed moldings, chair-rails and floorboards. The five-bay, center-hall plan with two through-parlors, a north-south gable roof and gable-end fireplaces features both a basement and spacious attic, plus summer kitchen. What’s not to love?

Old stone home, Hampton Township, New Jersey
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say, and we see so much potential in this old stone beauty, located in Hampton Township, New Jersey. Yes, the interior needs a major overhaul, but the exposed beams and open basement hearth provide such wonderful inspiration. Plus, this circa-1790 home offers four bedrooms and sits on 25 acres of land.

Old Limestone home, Moravian home, Hope, New Jersey
Oh heaven, will someone please adopt this home? This circa-1830s three-story limestone home is situated within the historic Moravian village of Hope, New Jersey. Close to an old stone gristmill and a meeting house, the home boasts original trim and two original fireplaces. The property would require vision and someone with a passion for historic preservation but the pay-off could be priceless.

The Mystery of the John Shopp Farm

John Shopp Farm, abandoned farm house, Camp Hill, Industrial Park Rd., Route 581

The John Shopp Farm, located along route 581 in Camp Hill, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, dates back to the late 1700s. After passing through several members in the Shopp family, the property was acquired by the Bohn family.

If you live in south central Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, to be exact) on what’s called the West Shore, you’ve probably traveled along Route 581 more times than you care to remember. And if you’ve traveled east-bound, you may have seen the crumbling limestone home that abuts the beltway as you near the 83 and 11/15 split. If curiosity gets the better of you (as it did this blogger), you probably go home, do a bit of research on Google Maps to discover that the home actually sits on Industrial Park Road, a quick turn off of St. John’s Church Road.

If you make the trip to the home site, you notice first that the property is overgrown, shaded by pine and oak trees. But the home, springhouse and adjacent barn seem at peace in this protected setting. Cedar Run meanders right through the property, fed by a spring that bubbles up from beneath the ground. The mind then wanders: Who built this home? Was it a dairy farm? Who owns it now? Are there plans to restore? And then comes that sad realization that property may be too far gone and the home razed by the time you pass by this way again.

Getting to the bottom of the home’s history took some digging through old deeds, an email to the Cumberland County Historical Association and a quick note to the folks at Hampden Township. Finally, some concrete info, via a Pennsylvania Historical Resource Survey Form! The property is known as the John Shopp Farm. The Georgian-style limestone and brick home was built in stages. The stone portion came first, circa 1775-1800, and the three-bay, side-passage double-pile house with a six-bay brick ell came next, circa 1850-1875. And then there are the outbuildings: A two-story brick kitchen sits behind the home, a stone springhouse with brick cellar sits to the south of the house and, across a gravel path, rests a large frame bank barn (which once served as a furniture store).

John Shopp House, Camp Hill, PA, Abandoned Farmhouse, 3824 Industrial Park Rd.

The John Shopp farm comprises an original limestone home and an addition. Outbuildings include a kitchen, barn and springhouse.

So who was this John Shopp? John was the son of Ulrich Shopp of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Ulrich purchased 209 acres of  the original Louther Manor in 1774 from Conrad Manismith. John inherited the land from his father and most likely built the stone structure himself. The home became a center of United Brethernism in the area until a church was built in 1827. The property was passed down through several members of the Shopp family, some of the earliest settlers of Cumberland County. The property then passed through the hands of a few development/mortgage companies and landed, finally, in the possession of the Bohn family, which owns it today.

What will family members do with the land? No one seems to know the answer to this burning question. In the meantime this lovely old stone mansion sits (quite sadly, might I add), waiting for someone to make a decision.

If you can fill in some blanks or know a bit about the farm’s history — or future — please share with us!