Sweetheart Stone Cottages in Pennsylvania

Thank God for Pennsylvania, the land of old stone homes. We have German, Swedish and Scots-Irish settlers to thank for bringing with them distinctive architectural styles, plus masonry skills that would guarantee the longevity and durability of these early dwellings.

Today, we focus on the smaller homes, the cottages that most often dot the countryside. Charming? Absolutely. Affordable? More often than not. Dreamy? Without question.

Take a peek at these four steal-your-heart homes, waiting for someone willing to take a chance.

The Real Deal in Robesonia

A fly fisherman’s dream come true. This two-story cape, circa 1820, is nestled right across the street from trout-stocked Furnace Creek. The home has been completely remodeled, while maintaining the cottage’s most charming original details (exposed stone walls!). Outbuildings are just one of several amenities that make this property a keeper.

Fleetwood Cottage Far from the Madding Crowd

Pennsylvania or the Irish countryside? Honestly, it’s hard to tell when one first spies photos of this 868-square-foot stone cottage, circa 1850. Situated on three acres, the home comes with many outbuildings, including the original summer kitchen with open walk-in hearth and barn structure. It wouldn’t take much effort or elbow grease to put your unique stamp on this historic home.

Care Needed for Coopersburg Cottage

Located in the beautiful Lehigh Valley, close to Allentown, this circa-1890 stone cottage is in dire need of some love and attention. Two pluses: the big stone fireplace and the home’s location on a quiet country road that cuts through picturesque Pennsylvania farmland.

Rural Home with a River View

There’s a lot to say about this old stone cottage in Wrightsville. Can we start with that stellar view of the Susquehanna River? Breathtaking. Not to mention the completely renovated interiors. Originally a schoolhouse, this circa-1892 structure would prove an ideal starter home for a small, growing family.

Historic Stone Taverns in the Keystone State

Old stone taverns certainly tug at the heartstrings, don’t they? See one and your mind tends to wander off to a place long ago and far away. Can’t you just imagine the scene? A warm fire blazes in the open hearth as locals — from landholders to lowly farmers — huddle around candle-topped tables, discussing politics of the day as tankards of ale slowly take their toll. There’s something nostalgic too, about the notion of the weary traveler, stopping off at a wayside inn after a long journey to find conversation and perhaps a warm supper and a place to lay his or her head.

Early American tavern scene, Colonial tavern, old stone homes, old stone taverns

Figures in a Tavern or Coffee House by William Hogarth

There are many early American taverns still standing (and operating!) in this country. And on occasion,  an tavern-turned-home comes up for sale, the owner hoping to find a thoughtful someone willing to take on the caretaking responsibility for a few more decades.

If you’re currently shopping for an old stone home with a special spirit of hospitality, you’ll want to take a look at these five magnificent properties, located along old toll roads and once-busy thoroughfares in Pennsylvania.

Historic stone tavern, Cumberland Hall, Moore's Tavern, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, old stone homes, Early American tavern

Moore’s Tavern, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Cumberland Hall, an estate nestled on 2+ acres, was once known as Moore’s Tavern. The Carlisle, Pennsylvania, limestone home was built by James Moore in 1788 and operated as a tavern from 1795 to 1885. The home boasts 17 rooms, eight working wood-burning fireplaces, a rebuilt barn and a vintage brick tollhouse.

Gechter Tavern, old stone tavern, Early American tavern, Reading, Pennsylvania, old stone homes

Gechter Tavern, Reading, Pennsylvania

Originally known as the Gechter Tavern on the Oley Toll Road and steeped in Civil War history, this circa-1750 home, located near Reading, Pennsylvania, boasts four bedrooms, its original springhouse with walk-in fireplace, a bank barn and a wagon shed.

Historic stone tavern, LeVan Tavern, Kemp Hotel, Kutztown, Pennsylvania, old stone homes

LeVan Tavern, Kutztown, Pennsylvania

In 1740, Daniel LeVan, an immigrant from the Netherlands, built a stone home along a highway that connected the Pennsylvania towns of Reading and Easton. As traffic grew, so too did the size of his home until finally, in 1765, Daniel opened The LeVan Tavern, which would go on to host both John Adams and George Washington. After decades of serving as a hotel/bar/restaurant and, finally, as a yoga studio, the property is up for sale. Although the building is zoned commercial, second-floor living quarters are available for a brave soul willing to bring this historic tavern back to life.

Johnson-Hatfield Tavern, old stone tavern, historic tavern, Brier Hill, Pennsylvania, old stone homes

Johnson-Hatfield Tavern, Brier Hill, Pennsylvania

A stop for 19th-century travelers along the National Road in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, The Johnson-Hatfield Tavern was built in 1817 by Randolph Dearth for Robert Johnson. The building served as a tavern through 1855 and thereafter as a private residence. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the home sits on 3.75 acres and features a historic stone springhouse.

John Hunter Tavern, John Hunter Inn, old stone inn, Oley, Pennsylvania, old stone homes

John Hunter Inn, Oley, Pennsylvania

Built in 1768 by Johannes Jaeger (John Hunter), this Georgian-style sandstone home located in Oley Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, doubled as a wayside inn during the colonial period. The home features 12 rooms and four fireplaces, plus an 18th century log cabin (not original to the site), a wagon shed and an English-style barn.

To learn more about the importance of the tavern or inn in the lives of Early Americans, take some time to read this informative post on the Gothic Curiosity Cabinet blog.

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.

The Federal-Style Stone Home

After the American Revolution, we strayed somewhat from the Georgian home style. It’s hard to blame Early Americans, fresh off the battlefield and not so keen on building homes taken from the pages of English pattern books.

Fort Hunter Mansion, Front Entrance, Federal style stone mansion, old stone home, Harrisburg, PA, colonial homeThus emerged the “Adam” style, made famous by Scottish architects Robert and James Adam, brothers who designed large country estates in England, circa 1750- 1800. Once word spread to our side of the pond, the name was surreptitiously changed to “Federal” and a truly American architectural form was born.

The Federal style borrows the Georgian adherence to Roman classical design; the center hall, symmetrical design elements and side-gabled roof all remain. The styles diverge by way of formal features: Think delicate, sophisticated ornamentation, a front door fanlight window, three-part or Palladian windows with curved arches and curving or polygonal window projections.

Fort Hunter Mansion, located along the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, provides a fine example of Federal style. Built with stone quarried locally, the home boasts refined details that would have showcased its owners’s wealth and position in society.

A Quaker Estate That Grew From a Humble Log Cabin

The Richard Wall House, circa 1682

The Richard Wall House, circa 1682. Source: Eric and Noelle Grunwald.

We have a devote Quaker to thank for the oldest stone home in Pennsylvania. Richard Wall came to America in the mid-summer of 1682, after purchasing 600 acres of land directly from William Penn. His land grant, along with 13 others, came to form Cheltenham Township, named after Cheltenham, England.

Penn's Treaty with the Indians

Penn’s Treaty with the Indians, c. 1830-1840, an oil-on-canvas painting by Edward Hicks

Wall’s home, coined “The Ivy” for the series of vines that once climbed its stone walls, certainly played its part in the early history of America. The humble Elkins Park abode served as one of the earliest Quaker meeting houses (and wedding/reception site for families within the congregation) and, later, a very important stop along the Underground Railroad.

And like most old stone homes in the states, the Wall House was a work in progress – at least for the first 245 years of its life. In 1682, shortly after arrival in Pennsylvania, Richard Wall built an 18’ x 30’ two-story log cabin with grey fieldstone end and fireplace. This style was in keeping with William Penn’s own suggestions on home style and construction and adapted from methods learned by the first wave of Quakers who migrated to New England during the 1650s-1670s and brought the building style back with them to England. (See our feature on construction method by region; New England stone enders). Subsequent tweaks and additions to the home came in 1730, 1760, 1760-1790 (when the log portion was removed), 1805, 1860 and 1927.

John Wormley's family home Camp Hill Pennsylvania

The original portion of the Richard Wall Home, constructed in 1682, may have looked quite similar to John Wormley’s family home, a circa-1769 log cabin located in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

After serving as the residence of four families, the property was purchased by Cheltenham Township in 1932 and served as the home of township managers. In 1980, the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission took the property under its wing and today operates a museum of local history at the site.

Richard Wall House Museum
Restoration Offers House Historic Future by Rhonda Goodman