Integrating new and old

200-year-old home is renovated by former teen caretaker

200-year-old home is renovated by former teen caretaker

May 10, 2009|By PAT SCHOOLEY

Scattered developments lie among fields along Greencastle Pike north of Cearfoss Circle. A single lane tees into the pike on the left. It leads past a couple of old greenhouses and presses a half-mile west, beyond several businesses, a herd of longhorn cattle and a flock of hair sheep.

There, on a 55-acre parcel, stands a comfortable clapboard house on a knoll above a pond, silent, solitary and serene. In 1979, Lewis Horst and his wife Frances purchased this property, with its half-mile-long, 15-foot-wide panhandle lane, from Bob Daley.

The Horsts owned and ran a milk-hauling business, but Lewis was a farmer at heart. Here he raised hobby cattle and pet pigs; he kept chickens in the milk house. Just turning the ground to raise corn for his pets made him feel good. Daley had stripped the shale from the farmstead for use in the Interstate 81 roadbed and replaced it with ten inches of topsoil, so the earth was productive.


Original structure; uncertain date

The house is log. Its original section, a 30-foot-by-22-foot, two-story pen, has a single room with a fireplace and a commodious 10-foot-wide hall on the first floor. Stone foundations and flattened log joists form the cellar.

Doors open at either end of the hall. Chair rail lines the walls. Stairs rise gently to what was then a single room above. The front door opens to the south.

A two-story addition, containing a dining room and kitchen, was built at some point on the north side of the original pen. The back door of the original section of the house opens into the dining room, but no opening between the bedrooms in the old and new wings was ever cut. Instead, the addition accommodates a closed staircase to the second floor. The kitchen has a small fireplace with a tall mantelpiece on its north wall and a door on its east side which opens onto a porch.Henry Schnebly, described as a "doctor of physick" in early records, wrote his will on July 22, 1805, and died less than two weeks later. He had accumulated tracts of land in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. He appointed his three living offspring, John, Jacob and David Schnebly, as executors.

They must have had great difficulty fulfilling their duty, because they applied to the Maryland General Assembly for help. The Assembly took up the issue, as reported in Volume 596 Chapter CXLIX under Laws passed in the Last Session 1807, and created "An act for the benefit of John Schnebly, Jacob Schrebly (sic), David Schnebly and the children of Jacob Barnett of Washington County, divisees of doctor Henry Schnebly, late of said county." This was done, according to the 1813 deed, "owing to the inaccuracy of expression of said will."

The will left the "plantation and farm where their father Jacob Barnett now resides being a part of a tract of Land called Spring Garden and containing about three hundred & thirty acres more or less" to the children of "my late daughter Elizabeth Barnett with the provision that Jacob Barnett have the use of said plantation and farm during his natural life."

In 1813, Henry Barnett (one of three of Henry Schnebly's grandsons who were named Henry) purchased a tract of land called Spring Garden for $14,795.41 from the trustees of his grandfather's estate. This probably included the log house and its wing.

No metes and bounds were described nor any acreage mentioned in the deed pages still existing. The deed did, however, describe the act the General Assembly had passed and conditions of Henry Schnebly's will.

Two centuries of ownership

David and Mary W. Washabaugh purchased the property, then 340 acres, in 1834 for $4,225. It changed hands again in 1867, when Catharine Gabriel bought 166.7 acres for $5,651.25. Trustees for the Gabriels' estate sold it to David and Elizabeth Leaher in 1925. Twenty years later Marvin and Mabel Clark purchased the property. Parcels were sold to Lorain Construction Company in 1959 and 1962, with the final piece containing the house sold to Robert and Elsie Daley by Mabel Clark's estate.

The old house was run down and full of debris when the Horsts bought it. They cleaned it out and rented it to a man who worked for them. Again it filled up. When that man moved out years later, it was cleaned out. The task of looking in on the empty farmhouse fell to the Horst's youngest daughter, Amy, while her parents were in Europe.

Current owners

Years later, Amy, now married to Mickey Stenger, was looking for a house. They looked for some time, but nothing seemed to fit. When Amy checked in on her parents' rundown, old place, she entered the main hall, and it touched her heart. Under the peeling wallpaper and dirt in the hall, Amy saw dignity and simplicity. She liked the hall's easy-rising steps, its chair rail and simple rectangular balusters bathed in light from the landing window. She remembered when she was a high school student skating on the pond with her future husband.

Amy was hooked. Mickey resisted, and her parents couldn't believe she wanted to renovate the old wreck.

The Herald-Mail Articles