Tour an Old Stone Home This Christmas

Step back in time this holiday season! Some of the most historic stone homes in the country are open for tours, teas and more. Check out this line-up to find an event in your community. Is your favorite stone home sponsoring a holiday event? Let us know and we’ll add details to this listing.

Christmas at Fort Hunter

Fort Hunter Mansion, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Christmas tours, old stone homes, old stone houses
Now Through December 23
Guided tours highlight holiday trimmings and Victorian-era customs
Fort Hunter Mansion and Park
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

38th Annual Festival of Trees

Pearl Buck House Festival of Trees old stone homes old stone houses holiday events
Now Through December 31
Holiday interiors designed by Bucks County’s best artists and decorators
Pearl S. Buck House
Perkasie, Pennsylvania

Puritan Past, Holiday Presents

Henry Whitfield House Connecticut holiday event Christmas old stone homes old stone houses
December 10-11
House tour, treats, ornament making and more
Henry Whitfield State Museum
Guilford, Connecticut

Christmas Carol Tea

Steppingstone Farm Museum Havre de Grace Maryland Christmas tea old stone homes old stone houses holiday events
December 10-11
Victorian tea with holiday storytelling
Steppingstone Farm Museum
Havre de Grace, Maryland

Historic East Berlin Christmas House Tour

East Berlin Pennsylvania holiday home tour old stone homes old stone houses
December 11
Six privately owned homes will be open to the public, as well as three Society Buildings, plus music, open hearth cooking demonstrations and refreshments
East Berlin Historical Preservation Society

East Berlin, Pennsylvania

St. Nicholas Days

Old Stone House Ramsey New Jersey St. Nicholas Day old stone homes old stone houses holiday events
December 11
Open house, cooking demonstrations, crafts, tree trimming and more
Old Stone House Museum
Ramsey, New Jersey

Holiday Candlelight Tour

Ramsey House Knoxville Tennessee candlelight tours old stone homes old stone houses holiday events
December 11
Period decorations and candlelight in the 1797 home of Francis Alexander Ramsey and his family
Historic Ramsey House
Knoxville, Tennessee

Holiday Open House

Sayler House Pearl River New Jersey old stone houses old stone homes holiday events dollhouse
December 11 and 18
Holiday decorations, dollhouse holiday show, carols under the tree and cookies
Historic Salyer House
Pearl River, New Jersey

Brandenburgers Holiday Concert

Old Stone House Brooklyn New York historic homes old stone homes holiday concert holiday events Brandenburgers
December 17
Violins, violas, cellos, bass and flute play music by Bach, Corelli, Dvorak, Glickman, Ostyn and Piazzolla
Old Stone House & Washington Park
Brooklyn, New York

Lantern Tours

Ephrata Cloister Lancaster County Pennsylvania Lantern Tours old stone homes old stone houses holiday events
December 27-31
Theatrical tours that present the religious community as it may have appeared in the 1700s
Ephrata Cloister
Ephrata, Pennsylvania

The Pieter Bronck House: New York State’s Oldest Stone Home

The oldest surviving house in the upper Hudson Valley also happens to be (from the research we’ve done) the oldest stone dwelling in the state of New York. The story of this sweetheart of a stone cottage begins with Pieter Bronck, a sailor from Holland, who emigrated with his wife, Hilletje Jans, to the colony of New Netherlands in 1653. They originally settled at Fort Orange (now Albany, New York) on the banks of the Hudson River, and made their living as tavern keepers and brewers.

Bronck. Hmmm. Sounds a lot like Bronx, right? Peiter happened to be a close relative of Jonas Bronck for whom the borough is named.


The life of a tavern keeper was not without its trials, and Pieter experienced his fair share of financial troubles. Hoping for a fresh start, the couple set their sights on the Catskills region of the colony and a life of farming (and perhaps fur trading). So in 1662, Pieter headed downriver to purchase 250 acres of land from Wappinger Indians in exchange for 150 guilders-worth of beaver pelts. He chose his tract of land, which native peoples called “Koixhackung” (now the town of Coxsackie), for its proximity to a major trade path.

The home built on the site a year later reflected rural Northern European home building practices of the time. The one-room 20′ x 20′ structure (we’re talking only 400 square feet!) featured 12-inch-thick fieldstone walls and massive 14- by 8-inch beams that supported a small storage garret and roof above. Wide-planked 18-inch floorboards and a hand-dug cellar were more defining features. The home was expanded in 1685 with a hallway, main room and loft, and in 1738, Pieter’s grandson, Leendert and his wife, Anna de Wandelear, built a brick home that was then connected to the stone cottage by what was called a “hyphen hallway.”

Farming as a profession proved a wise choice for this family, as through the years, they expanded the property with outbuildings. The estate passed through eight generations of the Bronck family until 1939, when the last family owner, with no heirs, gifted the farming estate to the Greene County Historical Society, which has maintained the home and land as a museum ever since.

Wondering how the original stone home has survived nearly four centuries? Credit must go to caring members of the Bronck family and their ability to keep this home within the family. Its location also played a part – off the beaten path, away from the harsh elements of the coast, etc. And lastly, its solid stone construction. Those New Yorkers know a thing or two about building homes that last ;-).

Resources:
“Bronck House Celebrates 350 Years” by Ann Gibbons
“Bronck Family” by Greene County Historical Society
“Pieter Bronck” by Jonas Bronck Center

The Cutest Stone Cottages

Spring is so close we can almost feel it. And that means a whole new batch of stone homes will hit the market. The latest to pop up on our radar date from 1740 to 1810. Can you just imagine savoring a cup of tea in front of the cozy fireplace or tending garden in the backyard of one of these adorable cottages? Like puppies, kittens and all things diminutive, these beauties can’t help but warm the heart. Enjoy!

Former Artist Abode in Blairstown, New Jersey

Old Stone Cottage, Blairstown, New Jersey, Moravian architecture, old stone home, old stone house, colonial home, old stone home for sale
This stone cottage, circa 1740, is built in the pre-Revolutionary War Moravian style. Architectural details include three stone fireplaces, hand-hewn beams, and stone and wood floors. A detached studio is perfect for the artist or musician and the place where previous owner, artist Ben Wilson, created some of his finest work! The home is sold “as is”.

Solid Stone Farmhouse in Annandale, New Jersey

old stone cottage, Annandale, New Jersey, old stone house, old stone home for sale, stone farmhouse, historic home for sale
Beautiful stonework, a desirable location in Clinton Township, New Jersey, beautifully reworked interiors — what’s not to love about this circa-1800 stone cottage? The right owner would have great fun researching the history of this property, which was formerly hidden from view by overgrown pine trees and brush.

Weekend Retreat in Whitehall, New York

Old Stone Cottage, Whitehall, New York, old stone houses, old stone home for sale, colonial home, historic home for sale
Vermont is just a stone’s throw away from this historic stone cottage, built circa 1775-1776. The home sits high on the cliff overlooking the last lock before entering Lake Champlain. The perfect country getaway for someone who works in New York City and seeks refuge from life’s stresses on the weekends.

Former Distillery in Parkton, Maryland

Old Stone Cottage, Parkton Maryland, distillery, Historic distillery on Castle Calder estate, old stone house, old stone home for sale, historic home for sale
All we can say is, “Oy, yoi, yoi!” For sale for the first time in over 250 years, this circa-1810 stone cottage once served as the distillery on the Castle Calder estate. The historic home is being sold with 84 acres of beautiful Maryland farm- and woodland and sits along a meandering stream. The new owner is expected to preserve this dwelling and serve as a caring steward for years to come.

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.

Grey Beauties of Vermont

Holy smokes, Vermont! We had no idea you laid claim to some of the prettiest old stone homes in the country. Check out these stunners — from old-fashioned farmhouses to Greek revival-style mansions. The dreamy grey stone is likely marble, mica schist or granite. These six beauties are all up for grabs. We couldn’t think of a better way to start a brand new life!

Real-Life Haunted Houses: Stone Homes That Will Spook You Senseless

It’s that time of year, the season when nights turn chilly, leaves change hues and our thoughts turn to harvest, the ethereal glow of carved pumpkins and things that go bump in the night. We couldn’t let October slip by without announcing a list of our favorite real-life haunted houses in the United States. (All stone, of course!)

Most Haunted House in Pennsylvania: Jean Bonnet Tavern, Bedford

The wayside stone tavern was constructed sometime during the 1760s by Robert Callender, a famed fur trader and scout for General George Washington. During its storied history, the structure served several purposes: as a fort, trading post, tavern and inn and private residence. Public hangings were also known to have occurred on the property. Stories of ghostly encounters were made public in the late 1950s by the Enyeart family, owners who discovered the remains of a Colonial-era man in the basement during a renovation. The remains of a second body were discovered in the 1980s, during a floor restoration project. Tavern guests and staff members have reported sightings of several apparitions, including a wagon master, a horse thief, an officer, a soldier and a forlorn young woman (some say the mistress of Callender, abandoned and forever morning the loss of her lover).

Most Haunted House in New York: Beardslee Castle, Little Falls


Constructed in 1860 by New York lawyer and legislator Augustus Beardslee, this stone castle, built atop the site of a circa-1700s fortified homestead, is heavily inspired by the design of ancient Irish castles. Now a wedding venue, the former family manse is said to be haunted by the ghosts of French and Indian War soldiers (and their victims), a woman named “Abigail”, who is dressed in white and awaiting a wedding she died the night before, and Pop Christensen, a former owner who, broken and weary from prolonged illness, hung himself in the building.

Most Haunted House in New Jersey: Olde Stone House, Washington Township

The oldest structure incorporated in the Olde Stone House Village, this circa-1730 Jersey brownstone home sits along Egg Harbor Road, an old stagecoach route to the shore. Originally home to early settlers in the Morgan family, the home is presently used as a wedding, party and meeting venue. Several paranormal research groups have investigated the home and the village over the years, and suggested that the site is haunted by the ghost of a little girl, whose giggle can be heard on rare occasions, and the ghost of a Civil War solider, who walks up and down the home’s interior staircase.

Most Haunted House in Maryland: Jonathan Hager House, Hagerstown


A young German immigrant eager for adventure, Jonathan Hager purchased 200 acres of land in what was then considered Maryland wilderness and built, in the 1740s, his German-style fieldstone home atop a freshwater spring. A noteworthy citizen for his efforts in settling the area (now known as Hagerstown), Hager was elected to the General Assembly at Annapolis in 1771 and 1773. His homestead, “Hager’s Fancy,” is now owned by the city of Hagerstown and open to the public. The home is believed to be haunted by former owners of the property, and visitors have reported seeing a man dressed in black who paces the porch as well as the sounds of footsteps and disembodied voices on the second floor.

Most Haunted House in Virginia: Belle Grove Plantation, Middletown


Construction of this elegant Classical Revival-style manor home began in 1794 and continued for three years. Built of locally quarried limestone, the manor was originally home to Revoluntionary War veteran Major Isaac Hite, Jr. (President James Madison’s brother-in-law), his wife and their children. In the early 1800s, the home was sold out of the family and, during the Civil War, was occupied several times. Today a National Trust Historic Site, Belle Grove serves as an educational center and remains a working farm. The plantation is said to be haunted by the ghost of Hetty Cooley, a former owner’s young wife who was murdered in the 1860s by a resentful servant. She is often spotted, dressed in white and moving silently as she relives the very last moments of her life at Belle Grove.

Old Stone Homes of Southern California

My sister and her husband are in the first phases of a new home search near their current digs in Laguna Niguel, California. A few weeks ago, she directed my attention to a certain Zillow listing. I assumed, at first, that I’d click the link to see another perfect-for-two townhome. But no. This was different. The property, surrounded by live oak and sage brush, was perfectly nestled in picturesque Trabuco Canyon. And right smack dab in the middle? A simply adorable circa-1907 cobblestone cottage.

“See! There are old stone homes in California,” she said. “You could move out West, be close to me and still live your dream!” I have to admit, the notion of old stone homes in California intrigued me: Was this home an anomaly or some sort of regional vernacular that to this point had escaped my notice.

I’ve always assumed that those who moved West in the mid to late 1800s constructed shelters of log, timber, sod brick or adobe. But a quick google images search surfaced pictures of stone ruins — a foundation here, walls there — mostly in the arid desert regions of California and Nevada. The story continued to unfold: Ranchers, gold and silver prospectors and then homesteaders staked their claims in the Southern California deserts and built their first homes with materials easily accessible to them. And that meant lots of rock. From what I could tell, homesteads were often destroyed by fire or slowly crumbled to dust, abandoned by prospectors who moved on to bigger and better things.

My sis was apparently on a roll. A few weeks later, she sent another Zillow listing, a plot of land in Modjeska Canyon. I couldn’t resist the note attached, “Would love to know the history … stone foundation, fireplace.” Game on!

I first reached out to the realtor, who knew only a legend shared by locals: Sometime during the 1960s, hippies living in the area started a fire that destroyed the homestead. Interesting, but who knows if it’s true. I next reached out to the Orange County Historical Society. History buff and Silverado Canyon resident Mike Boeck asserted that the remains sit on land that was once homesteaded by beekeeper Joseph Pleasants in the late 1800s. Could the stone walls and chimney be the remains of some early shelter? I love that theory! But archivist Chris Jepsen noted that Pleasants’ homestead was incorporated into the estate of famed actress Helen Modjeska in 1888. Clearly as curious as I, Jepsen took a closer look at deeds and tax records and found that in 1937 there was no home listed on the site. By 1939, one appeared. And it’s hard to say if the home was made entirely of stone or stone paired with timber, sourced in the Riparian forest that surrounds the site.  Regardless, the remains could easily be incorporated into a new build. An exciting prospect!

Thanks to my sis, I am now keeping a close eye on California real estate listings, hoping that a property pops up with terribly old stone ruins — and a wickedly interesting story to tell.