Old Stone Homes That Will Steal Your Heart

We scoured the market to find old stone homes that would suit the DIYer, someone who has a soft spot for all things early American. These magnificent examples of Colonial and Federal-style architecture are in need of serious TLC (and perhaps the demolition of an awkward addition or two). But just imagine the possibilities! Granted, each home is a bit off the beaten path, but definitely the makings of a great country getaway. Take a peek at our slideshow and tell us what you think!

A Bond Not Easily Broken

Lime mortar made with oysters

Photos, clockwise from left: Abandoned lime kiln in Virginia by Abandonedcountry.com, oyster shells in lime mortar by Jacqui Newling © HHT, oyster shell by BeaKez

So what was the “glue” with which the earliest settlers built their fieldstone homes?

Clay or clay mixed with chopped straw or animal hair would have been used to build the earliest foundations and interiors of chimneys, but this concoction would not have been strong enough to waterproof walls, fill gaps between stones and act as a cushion as walls settled. For that job, settlers needed lime, which when incinerated in a kiln and reduced to ash, was mixed with water and sand to create a superior mortar. The best sources of lime in early America? Natural lime deposits and seashells, whether combed off the beach or removed from an abandoned Native American rubbish heap (also called a kitchen midden).

So when we boil it all down, we may have both the land and the sea to thank for old stone homes.

The Early Domestic Architecture of Connecticut by J. Frederick Kelly
Indiana Folklore: A Reader, edited by Linda Dégh
The Availability of Lime and Masonry Construction in New England: 1630-1733 by Paul B. Jenison