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.

The Story of the Lonely Chimney

You know we love old stone fireplaces and chimneys. So we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share a story about a little lonely chimney that’s lost its home. This information comes to us from architect Leonard J. Baum.

How did this stone chimney become an orphan, you ask? It was originally attached to a 3/4 timber-framed cape, circa 1720-1740, located in Rhode Island. The home rotted and collapsed in on itself, leaving the stone chimney to stand by its lonesome for several winters until, last year, when frost heaves made it necessary to carefully disassemble the structure and store it away for safe keeping.

According to Baum, the chimney cap was fashioned of hammered smooth stones, packed in red clay. Walls were constructed of dressed stone, laid up in very soft lime putty; infill between walls and flues appeared to be a mixture of stone chards and red clay. The bake oven was topped with a turtle-shaped stone and featured a wrought-iron lintel. The kitchen fire box featured a chestnut lintel.

The chimney is almost completely dismanteled and sitting on pallets, with the fireboxes mapped and marked. Baum seeks a new owner who will incorporate this structure into a new or vintage design and also more information on this early American form of masonry. For more information, visit ljbarch.com.

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.

Step Inside an Old Stone Home This Holiday Season

The holiday season is fast approaching. Searching for festivities that will spark some holiday spirit? Step inside an old stone home! We’ve rounded up our top six Christmas home tours and holiday events, sure to warm your heart.

1. Firelight Festival, Henry Whitfield State Museum, Guildford, CT


On December 4, from 4 to 8 p.m., Connecticut’s oldest home, illuminated by outdoor fires and luminaria, will be open for a holiday home tour. Popcorn, marshmallows, s’mores, hot cider and hot chocolate will be served and a special reading of “The Night Before Christmas” are among the planned festivities. Guests are encouraged to view the Holidaze exhibit and try their hand at natural holiday ornaments crafts.

2. Holiday Candlelight Tours, Mount Vernon Hotel, New York, NY


On December 4 and 5 at 6:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. nightly, one of Manhattan’s oldest stone structures, a circa-1799 carriage house, and, later, a posh vacation retreat for wealthy New Yorkers, will be open for holiday tours. Visitors will be treated to holiday and period music as well as traditional holiday refreshments and reenactments.

3. Holiday Candlelight Tours, Kip’s Castle, Verona, NJ


On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during December, this circa-1905, 9,000-square-foot stone castle, inspired by the design of medieval Norman structures, will be open for nighttime tours. The home, originally that of a textile baron and later used as a monastery, will be adorned in circa-1920s holiday finery. The history of the home as well as its Tiffany windows will be shared during tours.

4. Christmas City Stroll, Bethlehem, PA


This holiday season, surround yourself by old stone homes and structures in the historic town of Bethlehem, a mission community established by Moravians in 1741. Running through January 10, certified guides, dressed in period costumes, will lead visitors on tours of Bethlehem, highlighting town history, colonial and Victorian architecture and holiday decorating traditions, including candles in windows and the Bethlehem star. The tour route is part of Bethlehem’s National Historic Landmark District, designated by the Secretary of the Interior in 2012.

5. Midnight Madness, Ellicott City, MD


On December 4, beginning at 6 p.m. and running through 12 a.m. on December 5, the historic town of Ellicott City, founded in 1772, will be alive with holiday spirit. The historic district, replete with old stone structures, will be open all night for shopping and dining, as carolers stroll through the streets and Santa pays a surprise visit. Shop windows will be decorated for the holidays with a contest crowning the best decked.

6. “Christmas Around the World” Tours, Belle Grove, Middletown, VA


How did early American’s celebrate the holiday season? Find out at Belle Grove Historic Plantation, which will be open for tours from Friday, December 4, through Wednesday, December 30. The Shenandoah Valley manor home, built by Major Isaac Hite and his wife Nelly Madison Hite, sister of President James Madison, will be adorned with themed decorations provided by regional garden clubs. A grand Christmas tree will be on display in the historic parlor and spiced tea and cookies will be served by the warming fire of the kitchen’s expansive open hearth.

Vote for Your Favorite Old Stone Cottage!

We scoured the market for the most adorable old stone cottages currently up for grabs. Some have been lovingly tended, while others offer an opportunity to flex those remodeling muscles. Take a look at these 10 lovelies and tell us which one you would love to own.

A Story of Old Stone Homes in Tennessee

A Pennsylvanian by birth, I came to live in Eastern Tennessee in 2008. A job planted me there for about five years. Quite lovely country, I thought, but it’s a land of log cabins, not old stone homes. After exploring the countryside, I realized I was wrong.

Ramsey House was my first real experience with a stone home in a Southern state. Breathtaking, it reminded me of many federal-style homesteads I had toured back home. And rightly so. Its original owner, Pennsylvania-born and of Scots-Irish heritage, hired an English-born architect to design and build the house of locally sourced pink marble and grey limestone – most likely in keeping with manses in his home state. Everything I love about old stone homes – intricate interior woodwork, a big walk-in cooking hearth and cozy fireplaces and a grand winding staircase – you’ll find at Ramsey House. Even a ghost or two (wink)!

So I was sitting at my computer today, pondering what to write. And Tennessee, for some reason, popped to mind. I did a search and – boom – up popped two gorgeous old stone homes for sale. Minus some columns and an odd architectural detail or two, these homes would look right at home if nestled on a country back road in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Maryland.

Wills-Dickey Stone House, Kingsport, Tennessee
Two-foot-thick stone walls. Can you imagine? This graceful lady was built around 1790 by Jacob and Mary Wills in a portion of Tennessee that was once part of Virginia. A two-story limestone dwelling, this mansion sits on over an acre of riverfront property, boasts its own barn, a guest house and four fireplaces and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Inspiration for this home’s design? Jacob was born in Pennsylvania and no doubt learned the art of stone masontry in his home state.

The Peter Range Sr. House
Imagine living in a home built by a Revolutionary War soldier! Peter Range Sr., of German descent and born in New Jersey, moved to present-day Johnson City (lower Knob Creek), Tennessee, with his wife Elizabeth and first child in 1777. He built his first home, a two-story log home, in 1796. That primitive structure forms part of the full basement of the present-day, circa 1804  home, constructed of hand-cut blue limestone. It was built along with a grist mill (Twin Falls), which is now but a memory. The home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, boasts four fireplaces, interior exposed-stone walls and original wide-planked wood flooring.