Annual Pa. home tour offers glimpses of nostalgia

December 11, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE |
  • The wooden logs in the walls and floorboards in this bedroom inside Karen Geesaman's home are an estimated 100 years old. Her Kuhn Road property was featured in Greencastle's 2011 Heritage Christmas Home Tour on Sunday.
By CJ Lovelace/Reporter

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — With hundreds of years of history surrounding her, Karen Geesaman sat down in her favorite room to reflect on the property she purchased in 1982.

Situated on 54 acres at 7982 Kuhn Road, Geesaman’s plot sits on a historic piece of farmland amid the picturesque rolling hills just outside Greencastle and has ties to the late 1700s.

Many families owned or lived on the property before Geesaman, who bought it “not so much for the house itself, but for the setting.”

“It’s kind of my little 54-acre domain,” Geesaman said. “It’s my little world.”

The home, which now doubles as a country bed and breakfast called The Inn at Birches Garden, was one of five Greencastle-area properties featured Sunday on the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce’s annual Heritage Christmas Home Tour.

The land was originally settled by the Peter Kuhn family in 1790, and has undergone numerous transformations through the centuries with different owners. Prior to its most recent renovation in 2006, the farm was home for 12 years to Birches Garden Arabians, a horse training and breeding facility operated by Geesaman, and trainers Gwen and Scott Brumfield.

One thing has stayed the same, though, Geesaman said. People are still very attracted to the property, which features the main home that was expanded to 4,200 square feet of living space, including five bedrooms, 4 1/2 bathrooms, two kitchens, dining room, living room and a poolside Florida room, Geesaman’s favorite.

“I’ve had people come stay here at my bed and breakfast that had lived here in the ’40s,” Geesaman said, referring to a Florida man who was in the area to visit. “It doesn’t look like anything it did when he lived here, but he remembered where things had been. The barn is the original old barn.”

Although the original log cabin-style home is gone, many of the usable logs and floorboards can be found inside the interior of the home, which drew numerous compliments Sunday.

“It’s just beautiful,” said Greencastle resident Joanne Thomas, who had her home featured several times during the 1990s on the tour. “The setting is really nice.”

It is estimated that the original log structure, which was brought down around the early 1950s, is about 100 years old, Geesaman said.

Several rooms inside the home expose the original wooden logs in the walls and the wooden floorboards grace the entryway, stairwell and some of the upstairs floors. Geesaman said she was going for an upscale and modern look that still had a historic feel.

“(I really like) the contrast of the old with the new,” said Bonnie Statler of Greencastle, who was touring an upstairs bedroom with Thomas.

Less than a mile away, migrating tour-goers were also filing into Ebenezer United Brethren in Christ Church at 3661 Williamson Road on another leg of the tour.

Officially established in 1882, the church started on a plot of donated land that was originally intended for a graveyard and it has grown greatly in its 129 years, now resting on 12 acres of land, church parishioner Paul Helman said.

The original white weatherboard church was torn down in 1951 after the new brick building was completed the year before. Several building additions have brought the church to where it is today, serving close to 200 people in the area.

“There’s a lot of room to grow,” said Helman, who was married in the church in 1972. “We’ve actually doubled our attendance in the past two years.”

Helman credited the church’s newest minister, David Grove, for much of their current growth. Grove, who previously performed as an Elvis impersonator under the name David King, is currently away with members of the church on a mission trip in Belize, Helman said.

“He’s every bit as good as a pastor,” he said. “It comes from the heart. He’s genuine and he’s able to relate from the very young to the oldest members of the church. You don’t find that in an individual very often.”

Other homes featured on the tour belong to Ken and Bonnie Shockey of 8964 N. Rabbit Road, Greencastle; Ed and Sue Fox of 11883 Mercersburg Road, Welsh Run; and Al Bonnell of 12633 Molly Pitcher Highway, Greencastle.

The event supports the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce and is one of many events planned during Greencastle’s 2011 Heritage Christmas festival.

“The Greencastle chamber is a very active chamber and they really try to do a lot of community-based projects that are really proactive,” Geesaman said. “I did it to support them.”

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