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History on the line

November 05, 2006|by PAT SCHOOLEY

The Mason-Dixon line was completed in 1767 to settle a border dispute between land grants given to William Penn and to Lord Baltimore by King Charles the First of England. This line approximated latitude 39 degrees 43 minutes and divided Pennsylvania from Maryland. Mason Dixon Road follows the line, more or less, from U.S. 11 to Greencastle Pike. A few businesses and small homes are scattered among fields. About a mile west of Interstate 81, just before a railroad crosses Mason Dixon Road, stands a handsome brick house surrounded by a yard filled with well-tended gardens, flowering trees and accessory structures.

Franklin Railroad came through this area in 1841 and placed a station on the southwest corner of its intersection with Mason Dixon Road. Perry B. McLaughlin built a general store and grain elevator on the north side of the road in Pennsylvania. Then about 1860, he built the elegant brick home in Maryland across the railroad tracks from the depot. He trimmed the porches with curvilinear latticework and placed heavy cast iron floral-patterned ornaments above the windows and doors on the north and west side of the house where they could be seen from the train. He built fancy three-part peaked windows with divided lights in each attic gable and planted a linden tree in the yard facing the railroad.

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A hand-dug well 30 feet deep served the house and many of the neighbors in the little village that grew up around the station. This community became known as Mason and Dixon, and the house was called Linden Hall.

Perry McLaughlin died in 1875, and his son Harry P. McLaughlin inherited the house. He later became proprietor of the general store as well as the elevator. Passenger trains stopped coming through in 1955, and the elevator and general store closed. Seven years later, the depot was sold, moved several feet away from the tracks and remodeled into a home. The brick house was sold and reconfigured into two apartments, one on each floor, by adding an exterior staircase to the east side of the house. Windows were covered, the back staircase was closed off, part of the upper porch was enclosed to make an indoor bathroom, ceilings were dropped and layers of carpet and flooring were added.

In December 1997, Michael Lushbaugh and Garry Mac-Kenzie purchased the house and small parcel of land on the south side of Mason-Dixon Road: 1.6 acres in Maryland and 0.3 acres in Pennsylvania. For two years, they worked uncovering the original features of Perry McLaughlin's home. They found a water line passing under the road indicating the well's water was used in the store and/or elevator. Two stone tunnels - under the railroad tracks and parallel to it - give credence to stories that the house was part of the Underground Railroad and helped slaves gain their freedom.

Lushbaugh's father, George Lushbaugh Jr., was a plasterer and helped restore Lushbaugh's first house as well as this one. While looking in his father's shop, Michael Lushbaugh inquired about a strange-looking tool with a wood handle attached to a flat metal piece. He was told that it was one of his grandfather's molds for drawing plaster into cornice moldings. Michael Lushbaugh insisted that it be used to finish the parlors.

The house has a double porch on the left and five bays. The front door opens into a square foyer with winder stairs to the left that cross in front of a window. The jib window on the east wall opens onto the lower level of the porch, and wide openings on the other walls lead into the dining room and into the front parlor. Woodwork is wide with a raised molding on the outer edge. Doors have either two or three long, slender panels in two tiers. Doorknobs, roses and escutcheons are porcelain with beveled-edged iron box locks latching the doors.

Both the front and back parlors have fireplaces with marble mantelpieces and surrounds with arched fireboxes, typical of the time. The front parlor has a square bay with double doors opening into the yard that faces the railroad. At one time, Harry P. McLaughlin's son Victor Bruce lived in the house and practiced dentistry in the small parlor, insisting his clients enter the office through this bay. Paneled pocket doors can be pulled to separate the two rooms.

The hall between the back parlor and the dining room has original chimney cupboards beside the rooms' back-to-back fireplaces. A large, shallow cupboard with a single large pane of old glass in the upper part of its door stands on the other side of the fireplace in the dining room.

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