Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An Einsel House Sibling?

To the best of my knowledge, there are only five stone houses remaining in this county.  So a few months ago when I saw one of the others on a local realtor's website I was immediately itching to check it out.  It went under contract almost immediately (read - before there was any open house) but luckily for me (although admittedly unluckily for the homeowners) the deal fell through.  And this past Sunday from 4:00-5:00 the realtor held an open house.

The stone house for sale is far and away the largest of all of the stone homes in this area.  It is 3,150 square feet, two stories with a large walk-up attic, a perfect 35x45 rectangle.  (For comparison sake, the two story part of our house is 20x28.) 

With the exception of the west side of the house (bottom picture above) all of the basement windows have these amazing grates:

The house clearly originally had a porch with a balcony above.  As at our house, there is a single huge flagstone as the porch floor.

Behind that atrocity of a screen door is the original paneled front door.

As can be seen in these pictures, the house has horizontal stone bands under both the first and second story windows.  Other than these bands around the house, the stone construction looks a lot like that of our own house.  Even the chisel marks in the stones look identical to the marks in our stones.

Walking through the house, even more similarities to the Einsel House were noticable. 

Take these baseboards - Big House at left, Einsel House at right:

 Or the framing around the parlor windows:

Or this:

The left picture above was taken on the way up to the big house's attic.  The right picture was taken on the way down to the EH basement.

The window frames in both houses are beveled (at what appears to be an identical angle) and several doors in the big house have the same large center board as our doors at the EH.  Even the layout of the houses are similar - centered entrances and centered staircases, both parlors in the front right corner and both original kitchens in the back left corner.

The more I walked through the house the more intrigued I became.  The realtor's information sheet gave a build date as 1890, but she probably got that information from the county auditor (who claims the Einsel House was built in 1900 - phoooey.)  To my eye, I'd easily place the larger stone house within a decade or less of the EH.  The houses are located about 4 miles from each other, both within the same township.   It is very conceivable that they were built by the same mason and/or carpenter.  Which means that - someday when I have time - I'm going to be digging into the big house's history, hoping that it will perhaps tell me something about my own home's story.

But, since I know you're all curious, I'll share more pictures from the big stone house.  As the pictures above have already shown, the bigger house has been slathered in paint.  There is not one inch of baseboard or trim or door that has escaped a solid white fate.  The walls all have a textured surface, and they too are covered in light colored paint.  Too light, in my humble opinion.  The details in the larger house are actually a bit fancier than our house, but with the white paint and pale walls everything sort fades into itself.  The wood floors in the first floor are all under carpet (beige berber).  The second floor is carpet free, but its wood floors are all painted a solid Hershey's Milk Chocolate brown.

All that said, the house is amazing.

In my mind I see this room with the (far) chandelier and adjustable shelves gone, the original wood floors refinished, and a wall color that doesn't try to smother the white trim.

Standing back a few more feet:

Can you believe that doorway!?!?

After a close study of the large room, I am convinced that there were probably two doorways like this.  Today, when you come in the front door you are immediately in the large room pictured above, the wide doorway above is to your right, the single door straight in front of you goes to the stairs.  But lines on the wall and ceiling reveal that the front door didn't always open into such a large room.  There was at one time another wall, making a hallway about ten feet wide that ran from the front door straight back to the stairway door.  The right wall of this hall was the large doorway pictured above.  The left side of this hall is now gone, but since Greek Revival houses are heavy on symmetry I suspect that it probably was a mirror image of the doorway that remains.

The bathroom reveals more change from the home's original layout.  It was carved out of two rooms, the parlor and the back right room (now the kitchen).  Check out the windows in this picture:

The window on the right is a parlor window, the one to the left is from the back room.  Between them you can even see a little stub of the wall that came out when this became a bathroom.

At right is a picture of the hall at the top of the stairs.  It basically splits the second story into two equal halves.  This picture is taken looking from the back of the house to the front.  In the lower lefthand corner of the picture is the bannister.

I suspect that the original wood bannister may still be there, just plastered over.  I'm not 100% sure, but if the place were mine you can bet I would be busting a hole in that plaster to check.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the house for me was the attic.  I've often wondered what our attic looks like.  (Without all the bat dung, that is.)  So when I walked into the big house's attic and saw this:

...it took my breath away.  (And not because the chimney is crooked.  It's not.  It's just wider at the roof than it is at the attic floor.)

The pictures cannot convey how absolutely massive those beams and tree trunks are.  Even the boards used as roof sheeting are amazing.  Some are nearly two feet wide.  And as you can see in the pictures, it's all mortise and tenon construction.  The tree trunks are not pieced, each one runs all the way from the attic floor to the peak, with a notch in the center to fit over the support beam.

It almost makes me want to bust a hole in one of our bedroom ceilings so I can poke my head up into our own attic.  (After all the bat dung has been cleaned up, that is.)

I wish the big house's owners luck in selling it.  The realtor said they lived there 30 years and were ready to downsize.  Clearly they maintained the place well, albeit with a remodeler's hand instead of a renovator's.  If I'm able to learn more of the history of the house they left behind I'll be sure to share it here.


  1. Wow, what an amazing house! I would bet the two houses were built by the same person. I didn't see any fireplaces, were they covered up?

  2. Love the photos from the attic. Pure American craftsmanship at its best.

  3. No fireplaces, Milah. (Which is yet another similarity to our house...) The two chimneys in the middle of the big house continue all the way down to the basement. There are also at least two chimneys built into the exterior stone walls on the gable ends of the house. These have been capped at the roof, but the flue covers on the interior walls give them away.

  4. Some lucky soul will have the doors left in the attic too to work with. How much are they asking for this place? Is the upstairs 4 bedrooms and a bath? I am willing ot bet your attic when available will give you room to expand a little with the use of pull down stairs maybe? I wish I could have seen this with you... did your Mom go? Or Charles? Aunt J.

  5. It's a steal at $99,000, J. It's 4 bedrooms (all up) and 2 baths (1 up/1 down). There's an extra room downstairs that could easily be a fifth bedroom. There's only .9 acre that sells with the house. I went by myself on Sunday, but my mom had actually gone through it earlier.

  6. WOW ! : ) how interesting and beautiful... I thought of you while we were at Salt Fork State Park last week. There is a stone house there built near the time of yours, but the stones are 3'x1'x1'. I took some photos of it that I will send to you when I have time. It is called the Kennedy House. I haven't looked on line to see if it is featured, could be... it is being renovated and made into a museum. It was in ruins so much that the whole interior was gone, but they have rebuilt and it is now beautiful. love to all, Aunt Barb