Stone Ruins, Shells and More

Say, you purchase a plot of land, and sitting atop that slice of earth is a stone foundation, a random wall or the shell of an old stone home. What would you do with it? Take a look at these for-sale properties and tell us what you think. Which one do you like the best? Which has the most potential? Which one makes you long to see photos of the property from former days?

Charles Springer Tavern Stone Barn Remains

On a plot of land that fronts Lancaster Pike in Wilmington, Delaware, you’ll find these beautiful circa-1852 stone barn ruins. They were once part of the larger circa-1780 Springer Tavern property that sits just across the lane from the barn. The barn was built by farmer Moses Journey, who purchased the tavern property in 1848.

Marshall Family Land Holdings

Own a piece of Bucks County history! This Erwinna, Pennsylvania, plot of land, originally owned by some of the township’s earliest residents, boasts amazing views across the Delaware Canal and River to New Jersey. The almost five-acre property includes its original farmhouse, which is in dire need of restoration, plus a barn, a corn crib and the remains of the property’s original bank barn.

Old Farmstead with Stone Shell

Gentleman farmer? Winemaker? Horse breeder? Now’s your chance to own 28 rolling pasture-like acres of prime farmland in lush York County, Pennsylvania. This Dover property comes with a barn with an old stone wall forebay, an open-span shed, a courtyard-style area and a circa-1900 stone farmhouse surrounded by a stone-capped wall. The home is in shell condition, awaiting the personal touches of a loving owner.

A Patch of Mountain Paradise

Private mountain views in all directions? Sold! This 97-acre plot of land in Madison, Virginia, is surrounded by 500 acres of Rapidan Wildlife Management Area land and provides space for a new house or cabin and includes the remains of the property’s original stone homestead, which could be incorporated into a new build. Beautiful!

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.

Old Stone Ruins For Sale

Take a peek at these properties: Each plot of land comes with its very own set of old stone ruins. Don’t these images just set the mind reeling? Tell us, what would you do with these rock remains: Set a new home inside, rebuild from the bottom up or just let the stone walls sink slowly and plant lovely roses around them? Let’s talk!

A Bucks County Beauty

The first property, located in Upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania, boasts 65 acres of land, with five acres available for new construction and 6.5 acres of open land for farming. A small stream runs along the property and the remains of an early 1800s stone farmhouse and barn can be used as the foundation for a gorgeous garden.

Serenity in the Southwest

We head to Dripping Springs, Texas, to see the next property, which would make an ideal cattle ranch or winery. The lot comes with over 30 acres of land dotted with massive oak trees, a barn and cattle pens and the remains of small circa-1800s stone cottages.

Magic on the Patapsco

The third property, back along the East Coast, is nothing short of spectacular. This lot in the historic town of Oella, Maryland, overlooks the Patapsco River and comes with a circa-1806 millworker’s house, stripped of additions and featuring a cooking fireplace of stone and brick now exposed on the north face of the building. Oh, the possibilities!

When the World Gives You Lemons …

You’ve purchased a plot of land that happens to include the remains of an old stone structure (home, barn, mill, what have you). Maybe the walls are still standing and the roof is intact (although it’s about to cave into the structure). Or perhaps all that remains is the rubbled outline of a barn foundation.

old marble structure, stone ruins, Alford, MA

Thirty-five acre property that includes old marble structure, Alford, MA. Source: Zillow.

You certainly don’t have the funds to rebuild this home (although you may desperately long to). What to do? Don’t demolish, but incorporate the remains into a brand new structure.

Need some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing? Take a look at The White House, located on the Scottish Isle of Coll. A forward-thinking couple decided to shore up the walls of the abandoned stone home, and nestle their new eco-friendly home within it. The old stone walls protect the new structure from brutal winds while lending a sense of permanence to a modern structure built of locally sourced, low-impact materials.

old stone home, Scotland, adaptive reuse, new home in old stone home

A new eco-friendly home built within the remains of The White House, Isle of Coll, Scotland. Source:

Springdale Farm, a circa-1837 estate located in Brinklow, Maryland, boasts European-style gardens planted within the confines of the property’s old stone bank barn, which was destroyed by fire in the 1940s. Its ruins were repointed to form the perimeter of the walled-in garden, where irises, peonies, roses, foxgloves, hybrid daylilies, baptisia, mums bloom.

Old stone ruins, bank barn ruins, garden inside old stone ruins

English gardens planted within remains of old stone bank barn, Springdale Farm, Brinklow, Maryland. Source:

On Pico, a remote volcanic island 800 miles west of Portugal, firm SAMI Arquitectos, in an effort to save 16th-century ruins, built a two-story concrete vacation home within the basalt stone walls of a long-since-decayed home. Four bedrooms are located on the ground floor, which in the stone home housed livestock.

old basalt stone ruins, new home in old stone ruins, adaptive reuse

New cement two-story vacation home built within the ruins of an old basalt stone home, Pico, Portugal. Source:

Back in the states, near Baltimore, Maryland, circa-1850s buildings (formerly part of the Poole and Hunt Foundry) house apartments, condos, office space and shops in a community coined Clipper Mill. The community pool is of particular note, as it is built within the the basement area of a former machine shop.

A community pool has been built within the ruins of a foundry in the Clipper Mill community, Baltimore, Maryland. Source:

A community pool has been built within the ruins of a foundry in the Clipper Mill community, Baltimore, Maryland. Source:

Have you salvaged old stone ruins? Or have you seen an absolutely extraordinary story of old stone homes and adaptive reuse? Share with us!