Presbyterian Ministers Restore New Castle County Farmhouse
Heaven on Earth: A Presbyterian minister couple faithfully restores a home built in 1735.
The stone fireplace mantel in the dining room was salvaged from a Victorian house in Linden, N.J., and the brass-and-glass chandelier was purchased from an electrician on Long Island, N.Y.
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Past and Future
Slowly the house evolved. The homeowners worked closely with contractor Dick McCoy, and carpenter, Ron Harmon, to retain the feeling of a home built in Colonial America.
It wasn’t the first time the house had been renovated in its long life. A little architectural detective work revealed that the house had been converted to a duplex at one time, with the miller renting one unit.
“The rent was $30 a month, plus board for the mill hands,” Potter says.
In the 1950s, the house got another makeover. It was converted back to a single-family dwelling. The windows were enlarged, allowing more natural light into the rooms. Elegant built-in cabinetry with wrought-iron Colonial-style hinges was installed in the double parlor.
In the most recent update, the faded bathrooms were razed from the back of the house to make way for an open-air deck where the couple enjoys views of the gardens and conserved open space beyond.
Pringle and Potter installed a master bath on the second floor, as well as a walk-in closet. They carved out space in the large entry hall for a powder room and coat closet. To make the rooms look as if they were part of the original floor plan, the couple asked their carpenter to make precise copies of the 18th-century doors in the rest of the house.
The kitchen was gutted down to its dirt floor. A sturdy concrete foundation will anchor the room for centuries to come. The heated floor is paved in limestone, a creamy counterpoint to the deep brown stain of Shaker-style cabinetry.
Pringle and Potter embraced their home’s charms. In the master bedroom, there’s a one-of-a-kind floor of alternating planks of poplar and pine. The blue-and-white tiles on the decorative fireplace, likely added during the 1950s, depict such historic events as the founding of the Pony Express. They installed central air conditioning but kept the radiators, replacing electric baseboard heating in a family room addition with reclaimed rads.
“Nothing keeps a house as toasty warm as radiators,” Potter say.
In a successful marriage, spouses work together to achieve their goals. The same goes for home renovation. In the Pringle-Potter home, she papers and he paints.
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