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Built to last

Five-bay stone house dates to early 1800s

Five-bay stone house dates to early 1800s

April 06, 2008|By PAT SCHOOLEY

This is the 169th in a series of articles about the historical and architectural treasures of Washington County.

Hebb Road extends west from Dual Highway, moving almost immediately from that bustling commercial strip into farmland.

On the right, not too far from the road, stands a sturdy five-bay stone house flanked on its left by a stone barn. On its right, settled into the hill that slopes down to a small run behind the house, sits a stone summer kitchen. Closer to the stream is the original hand-dug well, protected by modern cast concrete pipe sections standing over the original round stone work. It still furnishes water to the hydrants in the yard.

From early settlement days until about 1850, stone was the material of choice in this area for buildings that were intended to last. It was inexpensive, readily available and almost indestructible. Many early immigrants were masons.

Renovating the home has been the laborious project of Kristen and Jack Holden, who purchased the property in 2002. But the stone house on Hebb Road, owned by the Samuel Baker family for nearly 40 years in the latter 19th century, likely had its origin in the early 1800s.

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The historical record on this property begins with Conrad Knode's will, probated on Aug. 24, 1804, which gave 20 pounds each to his "last three children, Elizabeth, Jonathan and Mily" for their support, with the rest to be divided equally "between my beloved wife Susana and all my children."

Also in 1804, the property, totaling 145.5 acres, was sold to Henry Shrader for 1,200 pounds.

Just three years later, Shrader sold this same farmstead, now 151.75 acres, to John Knode for 2,000 pounds. The large increase in value probably indicates the addition of improvements to the property. Perhaps the farmstead with its stone structures was on the added 6.25 acres, or perhaps they were built during this period. Whatever the case, John Knode lived on the farm until his death.

John Knode's will was probated in 1849 by executors Simon and William Knode, two of his 12 children. Among his possessions was his farm, a parcel of ground containing "156 acres 2 roods and 10 perches of land," contiguous parts of original land patents named "Medcalf's Meadows," "Addition to Good Luck," "Be Content Though Your Lot Be Small," "Last Choice," "No Choice," "Establishment," and "Resurvey on Fox Deceived."

Description of the house

The house where John Knode lived and raised his children was built into the hill, allowing the basement to open at ground level in the back. The stones in its front faade have been dressed, as have the quoins that finish the corners. The other faades are built of fieldstone. Topping each door and window are roughly made lintels comprised of two large stones with keystones of varying sizes between them. Each lintel is different.

Doorsills also are stone, a feature often used early in the 19th century.

A wing that is half the width of the main block of the house and about 30 feet long, extends to its north. It appears to be an original feature of the house, since no seam can be seen in the stonework of the exterior west wall. A large stone chimney rises on this wall, but has been capped at roof level. At one time this chimney extended in brick a full story above the roof, but it has been disabled and any fireplaces served by it are hidden behind the walls.

The main entrance, in the middle bay of the faade, has a wide door that appears to be two narrow, original doors joined together. It is still latched with a large box lock with a lever handle, one of several found in the house.

Original random-width pine floors cover the first and second floors, and a broad staircase with shallow steps rises gracefully to a landing in the center hall, then curves all the way to the attic. Three levels are visible when looking from foyer to attic.

The first floor has large rooms on both sides of the center hall, each with a fireplace on the outer wall. Upstairs, the master bedroom and a bath fill the space east of the hall, with two smaller rooms on the west.

Samuel Baker's purchase

Samuel Baker bought the property from John Knode's executors in 1860. It remained in his family until 1899 when Savilla K. Funk and Etta V. Bovey bought it. They sold it to William E. Hebb for $10,500 in 1907, and it changed hands again 15 years later.

Kristin and Jack Holden bought the home, now on 1.75 acres, in May 2002 from Bob and Barbara McCoy. The house had been divided into two apartments; the stairs to the basement had been removed and a bathroom built where the basement steps had been.

The Holdens were ready to make changes. Their first task was to access the downstairs apartment. Jack opened a stairway leading from the dining room to the basement, using the railing and balusters found in the attic.

All the walls in the house had been wallpapered, and Kristin labored many hours to remove the paper and paint the walls.

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