House tours, 'n more


FORT LOUDON, Pa. - Dixie Chilcote said that since she moved into her 1803 stone house in Fort Loudon five years ago, she has often had the sensation of someone looking at her. She said the presence of "visitors" is more felt than seen.

She did not know when she moved into the house that it had been a funeral parlor in the early 1900s. She also later learned that the hearses were stored in a nearby shed and, on Halloween, local youths would steal them and take them to the town square.

Without actually using the word "ghost," Chilcote and her daughter, Bethany, 17, described several spooky incidents.

Bethany said she was making a bologna sandwich once, and when she turned back to it from getting some lemonade, the bread was back on the counter top.

Once, her bed moved as though someone had just sat on it. Her brother, Ben, who uses the attic bedroom, had his covers pulled off him.


"Sometimes, our dog won't go into a room," Chilcote said. "For a while, he just stared at one corner of Bethany's room."

Chilcote has many old family items displayed in the home, including a Bible dating from 1836. "It didn't look the same in a new house" where she used to live, she said.

The Chilcote home was one of several open to the public for four hours Saturday on the House and Garden Tour that was part of the Fort Loudon Bicentennial celebration. The weeklong celebration concludes today.

At the 1887 George M. Stenger House, owned by Bob and Kay Foreman, Greg Foreman stood in the elegant dining room and shared memories of growing up in the house. He was 3 when his family moved there in 1973, he said, and he had nightmares about the high, open staircase in the front hall.

The house has 12-foot ceilings throughout, and retains its original woodwork.

Displayed throughout the rooms are Kay Foreman's collection of glass baskets and her husband's collection of nature items, including two wasps' nests, and many family heirlooms.

In the 1950s, the back part of the house was used as a temporary doctor's office for schoolchildren receiving vaccinations and physicals. Several people in their 50s came through on the house tour and said the last time they were in this house, they got a shot, Kay Foreman said.

Across the street, Bonnie Shoemaker showed people around her home, built by Hezekiah Easton in 1850.

The building served as the Easton bank for many years, and later as a grocery store. Easton became a captain in the Civil War and died at the battle of Gaine's Mill near Richmond, Va.

Shoemaker operates Bonnie's Beauty Shop in the front part of the house. She showed off the original shutters on the front of the house, which covered the windows as security for the bank.

The home has its original outside cellar door and cast iron gingerbread.

Shoemaker said gasoline cans and pickle barrels used to be stored where her dining room is.

The cellar, now a cozy family room, housed prisoners during the Civil War, Shoemaker said, because the small windows, going through 3-foot thick foundation walls, made escape impossible.

The ginko tree beside the home is at least 150 years old.

"It's twig-sized in an early photo of the home," Shoemaker said.

The tree is thought to be the second largest ginko tree in Pennsylvania.

Only two weeks before the house tour, a violent thunderstorm combined with a very wet spring brought down the historic chimney at the Widow Donaldson House. Local legend says the woman who lived in the house saw Indians coming and climbed up into the chimney, where she escaped detection.

Built in 1752, the small house has curving wooden stairs and its original chestnut logs.

Nick and Glen Sabetto, the owners of the property, restored it in 1986. They also expanded the original smokehouse to make a garage.

The Widow Donaldson Place was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

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