Preservation Pennsylvania has released their “Pennsylvania At-Risk: Twenty-Year Retrospective of Pennsylvania’s Endangered Historic Properties, Where Are They Now” edition. It’s a fascinating look at preservation in action and we’ll be posting a look at each property in a series of posts over the next several months.

INTRODUCTION
Preservation Pennsylvania established the annual Pennsylvania At Risk list in 1992, making us the first statewide preservation organization in the United States to have an annual roster of endangered historic properties. Since 1992, we have listed and worked to
preserve more than 200 endangered historic resources, including individual buildings, historic districts and thematic resources statewide. For 2012, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our organization, we are presenting a 20-year retrospective edition of Pennsylvania At Risk. In this issue, we revisit some of the amazing historic places across the Commonwealth, some of which have been rescued from extinction through preservation and rehabilitation efforts, and others that still need our help.

Approximately 18% of Pennsylvania’s At Risk properties have been lost, having been demolished or substantially altered. Another 32% have been saved or are in a condition or situation where the identified threat no longer poses a problem for the historic property. Approximately 50% of the 201 At Risk resources remain in danger, or we have not been able to confirm their current status as either saved or lost.

By monitoring these properties over the past 20 years and working with individuals and organizations trying to preserve them, we have learned many valuable lessons. Those lessons are called out throughout this publication.

 

1998 – Hazleton High School, Luzerne County

Hazleton High School, Luzerne County

 

• SAVED!•

Hazleton High School, affectionately known as “The Castle on the Hill” to local residents, is one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks.  Built in 1926 in the collegiate Gothic style with elaborate medieval-=style towers and concrete parapets, the building was later converted for use as a junior high school.  Despite its continued use, the school suffered from years of deferred maintenance.  Serious structural problems resulted from water penetration; outdated heating and cooling systems resulted in broken pipes that damaged the wood floors.  When a section of the concrete parapet above the building’s main entrance fell and struct a parent, the school board voted to demolish the historic school.

With vocal opposition from the community and support by a mayor who refused to issue a demolition permit, local residents rallied and called for funding to repair and rehabilitate the building.  Following changes in the composition of the school board, claims that the building was beyond repair were questioned and its condition was reassessed.  When the building was listed in the Pennsylvania At Risk in 1998, the board was divided, and the community was polarized over the issue; many saw preservation as counter to the school’s need for improved technology and other upgrades to the educational curriculum.  After much public debate, the school board voted in May of 2004 to renovate the building for use as an elementary and middle school rather than demolish it.  Renovation of the school occurred relatively quickly, with the new Hazleton Elementary/Middle School opening in the old High School in 2007.

During this renovation, the auditorium was stabilized but not rehabilitated.  Members of the community worked to preserve the auditorium and raise funds for its rehabilitation.  Using a variety of funding sources including grants, private donations, and a large contribution from the school district, the auditorium was fitted with new seating and reproduction aisle standards, digital theater lighting, theater rigging, audio and visual systems and more, and opened as the Alice C. Wiltsie Performing Arts Center in 2011.  The facility, which is owned by the school district and leased to a nonprofit organization that operates the auditorium, received a preservation award in 2012.

To support the Wiltsie Performing Arts Center at the Hazleton School, please visit www.wiltsiecenter.org.

 

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In 1998, Preservation Pennsylvania dedicated its entire At Risk list to endangered schools.  With help from Arthur Ziegler at the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, Preservation Pennsylvania brought attention to the fact that the Pennsylvania Depart of Education’s policies for reimbursement encouraged the construction of new schools over the continued use and preservation of existing and historic schools and began working to improve the situation.

Since 1998, Preservation Pennsylvania has continued to focus on the school issue, working with the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and other partners to keep the issue of retaining historical school buildings as schools in the forefront and to encourage the smart siting of new schools in locations where at least a portion of students can walk or bike to school.  Preservation Pennsylvania just completed a policy recommendation on Capital Maintenance Reimbursement and the Joint Use of Community-Centered Schools in Pennsylvania.  The Community-Centered Schools page on our website has the most up-to-date resources and success stories. [/sws_grey_box]

 

 

 

Preservation Pennsylvania has released their “Pennsylvania At-Risk: Twenty-Year Retrospective of Pennsylvania’s Endangered Historic Properties, Where Are They Now” edition. It’s a fascinating look at preservation in action and we’ll be posting a look at each property in a series of posts over the next several months.

INTRODUCTION
Preservation Pennsylvania established the annual Pennsylvania At Risk list in 1992, making us the first statewide preservation organization in the United States to have an annual roster of endangered historic properties. Since 1992, we have listed and worked to
preserve more than 200 endangered historic resources, including individual buildings, historic districts and thematic resources statewide. For 2012, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our organization, we are presenting a 20-year retrospective edition of Pennsylvania At Risk. In this issue, we revisit some of the amazing historic places across the Commonwealth, some of which have been rescued from extinction through preservation and rehabilitation efforts, and others that still need our help.

Approximately 18% of Pennsylvania’s At Risk properties have been lost, having been demolished or substantially altered. Another 32% have been saved or are in a condition or situation where the identified threat no longer poses a problem for the historic property. Approximately 50% of the 201 At Risk resources remain in danger, or we have not been able to confirm their current status as either saved or lost.

By monitoring these properties over the past 20 years and working with individuals and organizations trying to preserve them, we have learned many valuable lessons. Those lessons are called out throughout this publication.

 

1997 – Coal Oil Johnny House, Venango County

Coal Oil Johnny

 

• SAVED!•

Commonly known as “Coal Oil Johnny,” John Washington Steele was the Pennsylvania oil boom’s prodigal prince.  Adopted at a young age by the McClintock family, John resided in this circa 1850 wood-frame farmhouse for much of his life.  In return for decades of helping the widow McClintock run the farm and manage oil leases on the property, John inherited the estate when Mrs. McClintock died in 1864.  His inheritance included well royalties of $2,000 to $3,000 per day, plus a huge reserve that the widow had stored in a safe in the farmhouse.

Almost overnight, John stopped working hard and started playing hard.  He left his wife of two years and young son in western Pennsylvania and adopted a flamboyant, expensive lifestyle that included extended stays in New York and Philadelphia, where he rode in a bright red carriage decorated with pictures of oil wells gushing dollar signs.  According to local lore, Johnny once spent $100,000 in a day; he bought a hotel for  a night; he lit cigars with hundred-dollar bills; and diamonds dripped from his fingers.  His life was reflective of the boom and bust of the industry.  After living the high life and drinking heavily in cities along the eastern seaboard while poorly managing his money, Coal Oil Johnny quickly depleted his fortune.  He returned to this farmhouse and his wife and son in 1866, and filed for bankruptcy in 1867.  Johnny returned to work.  After hauling other people’s oil to market and dabbling in business, he moved his family farther west, dying nearly penniless in 1921.

After sitting vacant for more than 50 years and subjected to water infiltration as well as insect and rodent infestation, the structural integrity of the building’s foundation was in jeopardy. Its support beams had rotted, and the building’s exterior cladding was damaged beyond repair.  Unable to find a new owner for the house, the owners announced plans to demolish the building in 1996.  By 1997, when the house was listed in Pennsylvania at Risk, the Oil Heritage Region, Inc. (now Oil Region Alliance) had stepped forward to coordinate emergency stabilization measures.  Making good use of both public funds and private donations, they succeeded in moving the house across Oil Creek to the Rynd Farm in Oil Creek State Park in 2001, where they were able to rehabilitate the house over the following years.  The Coal Oil Johnny House is open for special events, an annual open house, and by appointment.  The immediate threat of demolition has been overcome, and the building is currently safe from harm.  But the Oil Region Alliance could still use additional financial support for expanded programming at the house.

To support this project, please contribute to the Oil region Alliance via their website: www.oilregion.org.

 

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Lessons Learned:

Intervention tools such as grants and tax credits are helping to make preservation projects possible.

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission’s Keystone Historic Preservation grants make a significant impact on the ability of municipalities and non-profits to preserve endangered historic buildings for public use. At least 48 grants have been given to 25 of Pennsylvania’s 201 At Risk properties as a result of the Keystone Recreation, Park & Conservation Fund. The federal Save America’s Treasures program assisted at least six additional projects that were once at risk of being lost. At least nine additional endangered historic properties in Pennsylvania have benefited from grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP). The NTHP has invested additional funds into initiatives started to address the threats identified in Pennsylvania at Risk, such as the demolition of historic properties for construction of new, large houses and stores, and addressing problems common among specific property types, such as churches and schools.

At least 20 historic properties that were included in Pennsylvania At Risk over the past 20 years have benefited from the federal Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit. All relatively large commercial rehabilitation projects, these projects are scattered all around the state, occurring in Allegheny, Bedford, Blair, Crawford, Dauphin, Erie, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, and Philadelphia Counties. With the new state tax credit in place, rehabilitation tax credits will certainly continue to provide important financial incentives for preserving Pennsylvania endangered historic properties in years to come. [/sws_grey_box]

 

The Central Pennsylvania Preservation Society recently hosted representatives from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for a presentation on the brand new state historic tax credit program.  You can read their summary of the presentation here.

 

 

 

Preservation Pennsylvania has released their “Pennsylvania At-Risk: Twenty-Year Retrospective of Pennsylvania’s Endangered Historic Properties, Where Are They Now” edition. It’s a fascinating look at preservation in action and we’ll be posting a look at each property in a series of posts over the next several months.

INTRODUCTION
Preservation Pennsylvania established the annual Pennsylvania At Risk list in 1992, making us the first statewide preservation organization in the United States to have an annual roster of endangered historic properties. Since 1992, we have listed and worked to
preserve more than 200 endangered historic resources, including individual buildings, historic districts and thematic resources statewide. For 2012, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our organization, we are presenting a 20-year retrospective edition of Pennsylvania At Risk. In this issue, we revisit some of the amazing historic places across the Commonwealth, some of which have been rescued from extinction through preservation and rehabilitation efforts, and others that still need our help.

Approximately 18% of Pennsylvania’s At Risk properties have been lost, having been demolished or substantially altered. Another 32% have been saved or are in a condition or situation where the identified threat no longer poses a problem for the historic property. Approximately 50% of the 201 At Risk resources remain in danger, or we have not been able to confirm their current status as either saved or lost.

By monitoring these properties over the past 20 years and working with individuals and organizations trying to preserve them, we have learned many valuable lessons. Those lessons are called out throughout this publication.

 

1994 – Huber Breaker, Luzerne County

Huber Breaker

Photo by  John-Morgan on Flickr

 

• AT RISK •

Built in 1937-1938 by the Glen Alden coal Company, the Huber coal breaker utilized state-of-the-art washing and separating technology to process the output of several collieries into 7,000 tons of marketable coal daily.  The highly efficient breaker delivered purer coal in smaller sizes, a product in high demand in the 20th century. The facility could not overcome strong trends in the energy industry – including competition from other energy sources and the switch from shaft to strip mining, which required different processing technology.  So after nearly 40 years of operation, the breaker was shut down in 1976.

This important industrial property was documented by the Historic American Engineering Record in 1991 and determined eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.  The Huber Breaker Preservation Society, whose mission is to provide for the preservation of the Huber Breaker and for its adaptive reuse as a historic site and park, has been working for decades to preserve the property.    They hold clean-up days at the site and are building a memorial park where they will interpret its history.

Despite the fact that the Borough of Ashley, Luzerne County, and several area organizations have been supportive of its preservation, the Huber Breaker remains at risk today.  The company that owns the property is currently in bankruptcy.  The very real and imminent threat is that once the bankruptcy proceedings are finished, teh breaker may be sold for its estimated $400,000 value in scrap metal, with additional revenues generated by the mineable coal under the property.  Recongizing this threat, the deteriorating Huber Breaker was identified by leaders of historic and preservation groups as the most endangered historic landmark in Luzerne County in 2012.  If the property is to be saved, it must be acquired soon by a new preservation-minded owner with the resources to take on the monumental task of stabilizing and rehabilitating the property so that its story can be told to the public.  These needs certainly pose an additional challenge.

To support the Huber Breaker Preservation Society and help protect this historic property, please visit: www.huberbreaker.org.

 

 

 

Historic Preservation in Progress is a series of our posts where we show you how historic preservation happens, as it’s happening.

Historic Preservation in Progress

The Wilmington Public Library

Historic Preservation in Progress

The Wilmington Library was built in 1922 and has remained a landmark on Rodney Square for ninety years.  Especially in recent years, due to heavy use by the public and the changing role of libraries in an urban environment, there has been an increasingly evident need for expensive repairs.

After extensive study, the Board of Managers determined that the best course of action was to undertake a substantial renovation to restore the Library to its original classic beauty.  As importantly, the “redesign” of the facility would also be the catalyst for the Library to modify, expand and effectively market its collections and exciting new services and programs to better accommodate the Library’s diverse constituencies.

Historic Restorations will be restoring three pairs of doors on the project, including the massive exterior pocket doors.  Below are videos we shot while removing these HUGE 22′ tall wood entrance doors on the Wilmington Public Library.  The doors will be stored at our shop until we are ready to restore and re-install them for the Library’s restoration project.

 

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This article is a part of a series from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s excellent field guide on the historic architecture found in Pennsylvania.  In it, they’ve assigned key periods of development – from the Colonial period in the 18th Century to the Modern Movements of the 29th Century.  This article focuses on an overview of the log building style in Pennsylvania from 1638 through 1880.

Historic Architecture in Pennsylvania

Log Buildings 1638 – 1880
Common Building Types :  Houses, barns, forts, taverns, churches, mills

Identifiable Features
1. Horizontal log construction
2. Small windows
3. Clay or mud chinking between logs
4. Side gabled roof
5. Brick, stone or clay chimneys
6. Irregular spaced window and door openings

Historic ArchitectureHistoric ArchitectureHistoric ArchitectureHistoric ArchitectureHistoric Architecture

Very little historic architecture has caught the public imagination as much as log houses have. To many people, these simply designed structures are the epitome of early American life, and thus the log house has assumed a rather mythic and romanticized place in our national history. However, log buildings played a real and significant part in Pennsylvania’s architectural past.

The Swedes, who settled in southeastern Pennsylvania in the mid-17th century, are credited with first bringing the log house historic architecture form to the American colonies. The Swedes had established several permanent settlements as part of the colony of New Sweden in southeast Pennsylvania andDelaware from 1638 through 1654. Despite some challenges by the Dutch, the Swedes and Finns of New Sweden continued to control their land until William Penn claimed the land under his charter for Pennsylvania in 1682. The few remaining Swedish log buildings in the southeast corner of the state are the earliest evidence of European settlement in Pennsylvania . The earliest surviving building in our state is the Lower Swedish Cabin, which dates from circa 1640 and is located along the Darby Creek in Drexel Hill , Delaware County. The Lower Swedish Cabin is a typical Swedish log house, built from hewn logs, stacked horizontally and joined by notched ends with a corner chimney. Clay chinking fills the space between the logs. Almost all the buildings in New Sweden were of log construction: houses, barns, churches, forts, mills, sheds, stables, and trading posts. Even the house of the governor of the colony was made of logs. Unfortunately, just a few of these early Swedish log buildings survive.

Another early survivor is Morton Homestead in Prospect Park , Delaware County. It is a one and one half story three-room house, built in three periods. The earliest section of the house dates to circa 1698; a similarly-designed log addition was made in 1758, and a stone connecting center section dates from the late 18th century. Log construction was not just for houses; it was used for forts, taverns, barns, churches and mills.

The log building historic architecture form was adopted from the Swedish by other settlers in Pennsylvania . When the English, Irish, and Welsh settlers arrived with William Penn, constructing a log house was an expedient way to provide shelter in the new world. Oftentimes a log house was built, only to be replaced as fortunes improved, with a house of brick or stone. The log houses were then abandoned or relegated to use as a shed or agricultural outbuilding or housing for relatives. Log houses were also incorporated into newly expanded buildings as seen in the Morten Homestead. Log buildings were constructed by the German and Scots-Irish settlers as settlement moved westward. While the Swedish preferred corner chimneys, the Germans generally built central chimneys, and the English often used wall end chimneys. Log buildings were usually of one or two story design, with some beginning as a single story, and then enlarged. Windows were small, originally employing sliding wood shutters before glass was commonly available. The gable ends were made of boards and the roofs of wooden shingles.

Vernacular architectural historians have identified a number of traditional log house forms and patterns commonly found in the United States.  A simple, one-room, log house is called as a single pen or single crib house.  Another common descriptive term for log houses in the Mid-Atlantic region is a Continetal Plan house, made up of a single-pen log house with three rooms arranged around a center fireplace. The Continental Plan type of log house is associated with the early German settlers of Pennsylvania who brought this building tradition with them from Europe.  Another common log building plan is the Saddlebag Plan, where two single-pen log rooms are joined by a center chimney.  The Saddlebag Plan often reflects the addition of another log room onto an earlier building with the old exterior chimney wall now forming a center interior one.  The Dogtrot Plan includes two log pens with an open porch or covered passageway between. The Dogtrot Plan is often associated with the building traditions of the southern states  because its open air design is well suited for warm weather.

In the mid to late 19th century, log buildings were often covered by clapboards in an effort to make these vernacular buildings fit into the architectural styles of the day. Many historic buildings thus have an inner core of logs, long covered and forgotten. Due to the immense practicality of log construction, log buildings continued to be built throughout the 19th century, especially in more remote areas of the state. Log construction also remained popular for sheds and agricultural buildings.

Certain types of late 19th and early 20th century buildings incorporate log construction to create a consciously “rustic” design.  In the 1870s as part of the “Great Camp Movement” rustically designed vaction homes and visitor lodges  were built in the Adierondack Mountains of New York.  Buildings of similar style and design were also constructed in the Poconos area of Pennsylvania as rustic retreats.  Designed with natural materials to better fit into their wooded enviroment, these buildings featured native stone, wood shingles, and logs, often with the bark retained.  In the 1930s and 1940s the Civilian Conservation Corps (a federal program created as part of FDR’s New Deal) also produced log buildings for public parks.  These early 20th century log cabins, visitor centers and support buildings are still present in Pennsylvania’s public parks and recreation areas.  Thus, every log building should not be assumed to be of especially early construction.

 

Historical architectural styles range from quaint and inviting to intimidating and forbearing, delicate and refined to stately and prominent, traditional and elegant to funky and modern.  Which one is your favorite?

After you answer our poll, you can go take this very fun quiz that determines which architectural style reflects your personality.

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Art Deco Architectural Style

Art Deco architecture (a modern movement occurring in the 20th Century) is characterized by smooth wall surfaces, usually of stucco; zigzags, chevrons, and other stylized and geometric motifs occur as decorative elements on a facade; towers and other vertical projections above the roof line give a vertical emphasis.

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Arts & Crafts Historical Architectural Style

The Arts & Crafts movement (late 19th and early 20th Century Revivals) of historical architecture is characterized by low pitched, gabled roofs (that are occasionally hipped) with wide, unenclosed eave overhang; roof rafters usually exposed; decorative (false) beams or braces commonly added under gables; porches, either full- or partial-width, with roof supported by tapered square columns or pedestals frequently extending to the ground level (without a break at level of porch floor).

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Colonial Revival Historical Architectural Style

Colonial Revival historical architecture (late 19th and early 20th Century Revivals; Georgian Revival) is characterized by an accentuated front door, normally with decorative crown (pediment) supported by pilasters, or extended forward and supported by slender columns to form entry porch; doors commonly have overhead fanlights or sidelights; facade noramlly shows symmetrically balanced windows and center door (less commonly with door off-center); windows with double-hung sashes, usually with multi-pane glazing in one or both sashes; windows frequently in adjacent pairs.

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French Renaissance Historical Architectural Style

French Renaissance historical architecture occurred from the late 19th Century through the Early 20th Century revivals and is characterized by chateauesque features. Steeply pitched hipped roof; busy roof line with many vertical elements (spires, pinnacles, turrets, gables, and shaped chimneys); multiple dormers, usually wall dormers extending through cornice line; walls of masonry (usually stone).

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Georgian

The Georgian historical architectural style is a Colonial style characterized by paneled front doors, usually centered and capped by an elaborate decorative crown (entablature) supported by decorative pilasters (flattened columns); usually with a row of small rectangular panes of glass beneath the crown, either within the door or in a transom just above; cornice usually emphasized by decorative moldings, most commonly with tooth-like dentils; windows with double-hung sashes having many small panes (most commonly nine or twelve panes per sash) separated by thick wooden muntins; windows aligned horizontally and vertically in symmetrical rows, never in adjacent pairs, usually five-ranked on front facade, less commonly three- or seven-ranked.

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Gothic & Gothic Revival Historical Architectural Style

Gothic and Gothic Revival historical architectural styles (mid-19th Century to Early Gothic Revival period) are characterized by steeply pitched roofs, usually with steep cross gables (roof normally side gabled, less commonly front gabled or hipped; rarely flat with castellated parapet); gables commonly have decorated vergeboards; wall surface extending into gable without break (eave or trim normally lacking beneath gable); windows commonly extended into gables, frequently having pointed-arch (Gothic) shape; one-story porch (either entry or full-width) usually present, commonly supported by flattened Gothic arches.

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Greek Revival Historical Architectural Style

Greek Revival historical architecture (mid-19th Century) is characterized by gable or hipped roof of low pitch; cornice line of main roof and porch roofs emphasized with wide band of trim (this represents the classical entablature and is usually divided into two parts; the frieze and the architrave below) most have porches (either entry or full-width) supported by prominent square or round columns, typically of Doric style; front door surrounded by narrow sidelights and reactangular line of transom lights above, door and lights usually incorporated into more elaborate door surround.

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Italianate Historical Architectural Style

Italianate historical architectural style (late Victorian, Victorian or High Victorian Italianate) is characterized by two or three stories (rarely one story); low pitched roof with widely overhanging eaves having decorative brackets beneath; tall narrow windows, commonly arched or curved above; windows frequently with elaborate crowns, usually inverted U shape; many examples with square cupola or tower.

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Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival Historical Architectural Style

(Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals – Spanish Revival; Mediterranean Revival)

Mission style historical architecture is characterized by a mission shaped ormer or roof parapet (these may be either main roof or porch roof); commonly with red tile covering; widely overhanging eaves, usually open; porch roofs supported by large, square piers, commonly arched above; wall surfaces usually smooth stucco.

Spanish Colonial Revival historical architecture is characterized by a low-pitched roof, usually with little or no eave overhang; red tile roof covering; typically with one or more prominent arches placed above door or principal window or beneath porch roof; wall surface usually stucco; facade normally asymmetrical.

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Prairie School Historical Architectural Style

Prairie School historical architectural style (late 19th and early 20th Century American Movement) is characterized by low-pitched roofs, usually hipped, with widely overhanging eaves; two stories, with one story wings or porches; eaves, cornices, and facade detailing ephasizing horizontal lines; often with massive, square porch supports.  The best known architecture in this style is that of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

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Tudor Revival Historical Architectural Style

The Tudor Revival historical architectural style (late 19th and early 20th Century Revivals – Jacobean or Jacobethan Revival; Elizabethan Revival) are characterized by steeply pitched roofs, usually side gable (less commonly hipped or front gable); facade dominated by one or more prominent cross gables, usually steeply pitched; decorative (i.e., not structural) half-timbering present on about half of examples; tall narrow windows, usually in multiple groups and with multi-pane glazing; massive chimneys, commonly crowned by decorative chimney pots.

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Victorian “Queen Anne” Historical Architectural Style

Queen Anne historical architecture (late Victorian – Queen Anne Revival; Queen Anne-Eastlake) is a Victorian architectural style characterized by steeply pitched roof of irregular shape, usually with a dominant front-facing gable; patterned shingles, cutaway bay windows, and other devices used to avoid a smooth-walled appearance; asymmetrical facade with partial or full-width porch which is usually one story high and extending along one or both side walls; often painted in multiple layers of color.  These showy “peacocks” of architecture are often called “painted ladies”

In honor of the ever-approaching spooooooooky Halloween holiday, we’ve been highlighting haunted historic buildings (or historic buildings that by all rights should be haunted) for you to virtually explore so you don’t have to meet the ghosties face-to-face.

One of our recent blog posts was about the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia – the state’s first attempt at humane treatment of prisoners that opened in 1829.  After implementing Penitentiaries as prison management reform, the state then turned its eye towards reformation of the way the mentally ill were treated with the opening of the Harrisburg State Hospital in 1850.

Haunted Historic Buildings

The History Behind these Haunted Historic Buildings

Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital, as it was then called, was also built by architect John Haviland (who built Eastern State Penitentiary, another haunted historic building in Pennsylvania)  The cost for patient housing (paid for by families of the patients or the county in which they lived before admission to the hospital) was $2.50 per week and the facility used an adjoining 130-acre farm for work therapy and to grow food and provide other necessities for the hospital’s operation.

Originally, the hospital was a single structure that housed all administration, staff, and patients.  In the late 1800’s and very early 1900’s, the hospital was rebuilt in the increasingly popular “cottage plan” style.  At its peak, the facility had 70 buildings spread out over 1,000 acres and was completely self-sufficient with its own farm, power plant, and stores.  This “City on the Hill” as it became known, operated as a hospital facility for mentally ill patients until 2006 and has been housing various government administration offices since then.

The Hauntings

Since the closing of the insane asylum the place has been haunted. Noises, screams, shadows, apparitions, and footsteps have all been heard and seen within this place. The basement, morgue, and the tunnels underneath the basement are the areas of heightened supernatural interest.  Blood like stains are sometimes found on the floor of the exam room in the morgue and poltergeist activity runs rampant on the property.  Paranormal activities are reported by visitors, staff, maintenance crews, contractors working on the property, etc.

So rampant that the Everyday Paranormal and Ghost Lab television crew from Discovery Channel came to investigate the building for one of their episodes.  The Ghost Lab show explores haunted buildings, which are often haunted historic buildings.  For this episode, they explored a private residence in Arkansas and the Harrisburg State Hospital.

NOTE: The segment on the Harrisburg State Hospital starts at about 6:42 in the first video.

Readers beware: this is some spooky stuff, please watch at your discretion.

httpv://youtu.be/oV_dCRVO_3c

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The other week, Lois, Danielle, Katie, and Karri’s family took a field trip to see the ruins of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.  A nearly 200-year-old prison that looks like an abandoned castle and held scores of the dangerous, morally bankrupt, and sometimes the completely innocent for about 150 years… does it get any spookier than that?

Take a few minutes to explore with us.  We’ll begin with some basic history of the prison and then you can “walk” around the grounds with us as we comment on what we saw and learned.  The spoooooooooooky stuff we saved until last, because we didn’t want to scare you away from all of the rest of the fantastic stuff in this post.  But if you like to be scared first, feel free to scroll on down to the end.

After you’re done with our article, there is an excellent detailed description of the daily life and operations (including some surprisingly horrendous punishments for a “more humane” approach to imprisonment) at Eastern State read “Solitary Confinement: History & Hauntings of Eastern State Penitentiary”.

Note: Click on any of the smaller pictures to see them in full size.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

Built in 1829, the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA was the world’s first, true penitentiary.  After gaining their independence and launching a new nation, America’s founders were eager to lead the way in social development too.  At the time, prisons were nothing more than places to hold large groups of criminals, and not necessarily even humane or safe places.  Overcrowding and abuse of prisoners was common, as were unsanitary conditions and horrific physical punishments.

Inspired by Enlightenment thinking, a group of Philadelphians founded The Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons in Benjamin Franklin’s home.  The goal of the Society was to establish a ground-breaking prison system that would encourage true penitence and spiritual change in a criminal’s heart.

Designed by John Haviland, the Penitentiary turned the concept of incarceration at the time on its head and strove to rehabilitate instead of punish.  Based on the Separate System principle of isolation, the Penitentiary used solitary confinement to encourage self-reflection.  Not only were daily schedules and activities structured to encourage that self-reflection, the Penitentiary’s architecture was too.

Katie: It was interesting that the Pennsylvania System was used in most of Europe but the New York System was popular in the United States.

Note: The New York (or “Auburn”) System also strove to rehabilitate prisoners.  It did so by having prisoners work in silent groups during the day. At night they would retire to solitary, and once again silent, confinement.  This was to teach them discipline and respect for work, property, and other people.  An example of a prison founded on the Auburn System principles is Sing Sing in New York.

Eastern State Penitentiary’s overall design was seven main cell blocks arranged around a center hub, like spokes on a wheel.  This enabled the guards to watch each cell block from the center hub.  For the exterior of the Penitentiary, Haviland deliberately chose the intimidating gothic style to both keep outsiders at a distance and imply the kind of fortitude we associate with massive, stone castles.

Lois: The layout may look like wheel spokes from an arial view, but walking around inside the Penitentiary felt much more like a maze!  If an inmate, used to walking around with a hood over their head, managed to get into the main part of the building, they would never have been able to find their way out.

Aerial View of Eastern State Penitentiary Layout

[pe2-gallery] Watchtower at Eastern State Penitentiary   Eastern State Penitentiary   Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

Front Wall at Eastern State Penitentiary

[pe2-gallery] Eastern State Penitentiary   Eastern State Penitentiary   Front Entrance of Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

Note: The gargoyles are not original.  They are circa 9/20/2012 when they were erected for the Penitentiary’s annual “Terror Behind the Walls”.

Danielle: Eastern State Penitentiary definitely seemed like a fortress from the outside.  As imposing as it seems today, it must have been more so sitting on top of a hill in the midst of fields and forest a few miles outside of the hustle and bustle of the “civilized” city in the 1800’s.

The Cells at Eastern State Penitentiary

Individual cells were small, sparse, and closed off by a heavy wooden door that had a hole just large enough to pass food through.  At the back of each cell was an entrance to an outdoor exercise yard that was also small, sparse, and closed off from the rest of the prison and prisoners (though there was no roof).  Inmates spent all of their time in their cells, and were allowed a single hour out of every day in their exercise yards.  For those rare times a prisoner needed to be anywhere other than his cell or exercise yards, they were transported with hoods over their heads to eliminate contact with others and keep security tight.  After all, inmates couldn’t escape if they didn’t know the layout of the prison they were held in.

[pe2-gallery] Later Cell Skylights at Eastern State Penitentiary  Original Cell Skylights at Eastern State Penitentiary  The Exercise Yard at Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

Note: The original cells had the much-smaller circle skylights seen in the second picture instead of the larger rectangle seen in the first picture.  To give you an idea of the size of the exercise yard – those cute kids of mine are standing at the door to the cell and I am back against the outside wall.  That was all the space they had to “exercise” in.

Katie: The solitude the prisoners felt must have been unbearable.  I can’t imagine being walked into a prison with a hood on my head and not really knowing the layout of the building.

Karri: I see the roots in Enlightenment philosophy and the mimicry of monastic life, and I see where it would be easy to think of a place like Eastern State Penitentiary as being a much better approach than the traditional prisons of the time.  But were they really?  Or were they just a horror of a totally different sort?  It seems akin to sensory deprivation and other kinds of psychological torture – to subject another person to such complete isolation against their will.  And I wonder how well this approach really worked?  How many inmates truly changed and were successfully rehabilitated?  How many simply went mad?  (Is it perhaps telling that no one really talks about whether or not this revolutionary approach worked?)  Oh, and can you imagine the eye strain the prisoners must have experienced working in such low light?  My eyeballs are hurting just thinking about it.

Lois: This humane system’s intent was to repair souls that had gone astray.  But we will never know if more harm than good was accomplished.

A special note about this very topic… Some deeper research after our field trip reveals that prisoners often did go mad while imprisoned at Eastern State Penitentiary.  During the 1800’s, the many cases of insanity that were documented by prison doctors at Eastern State were listed as being caused by one of two things: genes and excessive masturbation.  Never once was the total isolation of the prison listed as a cause of any of the breakdowns.

During the 23 hours out of a day that inmates spent in their cells, they were expected to work diligently and studiously at a vocation.  The founders of the Pennsylvania System believed that lack of training in a trade or education in general was a contributing factor in someone developing a criminal career.  They also believed that providing criminals with education and training in a vocation or trade was a critical aspect to rehabilitating them.

[pe2-gallery] Recreated Cell at Eastern State Penitentiary       Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

Tucker: Someone really should have invented TV back then so the poor guys could sit back and watch the game after they were done working.

Katie: The cells even had feed doors and doors to their own exercise yards to minimize contact between other prisoners and guards.

The Door System at Eastern State Penitentiary

[pe2-gallery] Cell Door at Eastern State Penitentiary  Cell Door Track at Eastern State Penitentiary  Original Door Hinges from Eastern State Penitentiary  Gratuitous Cute Kid Shot at Eastern State Penitentiary  Cell Numbers at Eastern State Penitentiary  The Doors of Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

The door system for each cell was intriguing.  There was a solid iron interior door (the grated one you see in the pictures) that swung out on hinges, and a heavy solid wood exterior door that slid on a track.  Both of the doors were secured with a locking system, and both locking systems had special little “tricks” to them that weren’t easily figured out in the event that an unauthorized person did try to let someone out.  The pictures below show the kids trying their hand at getting into a cell – not an easy task.  Note: not all of the doors that are currently at the Penitentiary are original.  The wooden doors that are original have a cross in their ironwork, as pictured above.

Karri: I think there is something so much more final, and foreboding, about a sliding door like the wooden doors on the outside of the cells.  I think it’s those little things that might have added up to a terrible madness.  Think about it, put yourself inside that cell.  What seems more restricting to you – a door that slides back or one that swings open?

[pe2-gallery] Unlocking a Cell Door at Eastern State Penitentiary  Unlocking a Cell Door at Eastern State Penitentiary  Unlocking a Cell Door at Eastern State Penitentiary  Unlocking a Cell Door at Eastern State Penitentiary  [/pe2-gallery]

Bean: I could have TOTALLY picked that lock if I was a prisoner!
(Let’s not burst his little 5yr-old bubble and tell him if he was a prisoner he would have been on the other side of the doors.)

Gracie: I would have thought, “Oh crap I’m going to be stuck here for the rest of my sentence because I’mnever breaking out of here.”  Then I probably would have asked, “Can I have Al Capone’s cell?”.

The front gate of Eastern State Penitentiary had a similar set-up.  There were three sets of doors at the entrance to the Penitentiary, and only one set was opened at a time.  This ensured that people and deliveries could be moved in and out of the Penitentiary without any chance of someone slipping in or out.  Again, there were “tricks” to the locking system so that someone unfamiliar with how it worked couldn’t quickly unlock the door.

[pe2-gallery] DSC05046.JPG Unlocking the Front Gate at Eastern State Penitentiary Unlocking the Front Gate at Eastern State Penitentiary Unlocking the Front Gate at Eastern State Penitentiary Unlocking the Front Gate at Eastern State Penitentiary Unlocking the Front Gate at Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

Mason: Opening up the front gate was really neat.  I can’t believe it weighed 3,400lbs and I could move it.  See, Mama, you were wrong – I don’t actually need spinach to grow big and strong!

With all that time in their cells, inmates often “decorated”.  Perhaps not quite as lavishly as Al Capone’s cell, or other inmates of higher status, but many painted murals in their rooms or faux-finished their walls.

[pe2-gallery] Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Decorations at Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

Karri: The story behind that eye above the door was intriguing.  Positioned like that above the door, it’s unlikely that guards or prison officials ever saw it, or at least didn’t see it right away – which makes me wonder if the positioning was chosen deliberately to remain as “hidden” as possible.  The kids and I also couldn’t decide if the tear of sorrow was for the prisoner, or the guards.  Because we’re really not sure who’s fate was more sorrowful.

Eastern State Penitentiary is self-described as a “stabilized ruins” – an apt description of the property.  Some improvements have been made. There is a modernized admissions office and gift store, and a few places in the Penitentiary that have been restored to original condition to show visitors what it would have been like.  But largely, the Penitentiary remains as it has been since it was abandoned in the 1970’s.

Lois: “Stabilized ruins” isn’t just an appropriate title, it seems an appropriate manifestation as well.

Danielle: Not only are there guides throughout the Penitentiary to answer questions and host demonstrations and tours, the Penitentiary also offers an “audio tour”.  When we arrived, we each received headsets to wear as we walked around.  While at a specific spot (the exhibit on women in the prison, for example), you could play a recording of information about that topic.  These recordings included a lot of first-hand accounts of life in the prison – something I found incredibly valuable.

[pe2-gallery] Eastern State University  Another Gratuitous Cute Kid Shot at Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Gratuitous Cute Husband Shot at Eastern State University  A View from the Center Hub at Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Eastern State University  Gratuitous Cute Family Shot at Eastern State University  Eastern State University  The Greenhouse at Eastern State University  The Greenhouse at Eastern State University  The Bocci Court at Eastern State University  The Visiting Room at Eastern State University[/pe2-gallery]

Bean: Those prisoners were pretty lucky – they got to play Bocci!

Pep the Dog

Although Eastern State Penitentiary housed some pretty big names (Al Capone spent almost a year there), perhaps its most infamous “inmate” was Pep the Dog.  Legend has it that Pep killed the Governor’s wife’s cat and was sentenced to life in the penitentiary.  Pep even had a mug shot taken, and was wearing an inmate number in that mug shot.  The Governor’s official story is that he donated the dog as a “prison mascot” of sorts to improve morale among the inmates.  But skeptics of that theory point out that Pep’s inmate number was never assigned to a human inmate and is completely missing from prison records….almost as if it had been assigned to Pep.

Danielle: Pep might have been a bad dog, but he must have been a very popular prisoner – he had the most items devoted to him in the gift shop!  Of course, the gift shop also had shank magnets available, so……  (And really? Shank magnets? Who buys those for their fridge?)

Katie: I thought the story behind Pep the dog was cute, but I think he was really just donated to the prison.

The Kids (resoundingly, as in all four of them): Somebody should have helped him escape, it’s not fair to lock a dog up behind bars and never let him out again.

The Inevitable Escape Attempts at Eastern State Penitentiary

Speaking of escape attempts, Eastern State Penitentiary did have its share of them.  Over 100, in fact, though only two go down in history.  The first because it was the only time a prisoner escaped and wasn’t recaptured when six men used a 30-foot ladder to climb over the Penitentiary walls in 1923.  All were recaptured, except Leo Callahan.  Callahan vanished and no one knows where he went or what happened to him after that.  The second, perhaps most infamous simply for its audacity, is the tunnel escape in 1945.  In that escape, 12 men crawled through a tunnel to escape under the Penitentiary wall.  The tunnel went down 15 feet from an inmate’s cell, across 97 feet under the courtyard, and up 15 feet outside of the Penitentiary’s 30-foot walls (which also ran 10-foot deep below-ground).   The first prisoners were recaptured within minutes of escaping, and all were recaptured within weeks.  One prisoner even turned himself back in after just a few days on the outside – he was tired, hungry, and cold and needed somewhere warm to sleep and eat.

Karri: Leo Callahan fascinates me simply because he’s the sole successful escapee from the Penitentiary.  Where did he go?  How did he just disappear?  What did he do that the five other men who escaped with him and were re-caught didn’t do?  Did he plan better?  Did he run further?  Was it just luck?  The tunnel escape was brilliant, but how did they do it?  It took them years to dig that tunnel, where did they put the dirt?  How did they hide what they were doing?  How did they keep it secret from other inmates? And just how on earth did they know that the exterior walls of the Penitentiary went down 10-foot underground?  That’s got to be the most brilliant of all, to have taken into consideration that those walls just might go deeper than normal.  Me?  I would have dug down a couple feet and then dug over to the wall and smacked straight into the stone.

[pe2-gallery] 1945 Escape Tunnel at Eastern State University 1945 Escape Tunnel at Eastern State University 1945 Escape Tunnel at Eastern State University[/pe2-gallery]

Surprising Details

[pe2-gallery] Eastern State University Eastern State University Eastern State University Barber Shop Chair at Eastern State University Barber Shop Chair at Eastern State University Al Capone's Cell at Eastern State University The Greenhouse at Eastern State University The Greenhouse at Eastern State University Eastern State University Eastern State University Eastern State University Eastern State University [/pe2-gallery]

Danielle: Despite the somber Gothic architecture and serious nature of what the purpose of the Penitentiary was, it was equipped with beautifully ornate details and very modern amenities.  Every cell block had its own barber shop that would (in later years) become the “social spots” where inmates gathered.  There was a “hospital” where inmates received medical care and a greenhouse where they grew fresh foods.  The Penitentiary even had running water and a central heating system before the White House did. 

As part of the modern preservation of Eastern State Penitentiary, there are a number of different “artist installations” around the Penitentiary that are all commentary on the Penitentiary – some good commentary, some purely historical commentary, some critical commentary.

[pe2-gallery] Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University Art Installation at Eastern State University [/pe2-gallery]

Karri: In 2012, we look back at history and the things our culture has done in the past and often think, “How could they have done that to another human?”  It is certainly easy to wander the Eastern State ruins and wonder that very thing, and then breathe a sigh of relief that we were born in a much more progressive time.  Until you come across the art installation that depicts a Guantanamo Bay cell sitting inside an Eastern State Penitentiary cell.  For as little as the Eastern State cells looked (and they were indeed tiny), the modern-day Guantanamo Bay cell was significantly smaller.  And looked like a dog cage.  A dog cage.  Let me correct that….looked like a cage most of us wouldn’t even house our dogs in. Somehow, the stone cell of Eastern State with its chipping whitewash, total silence, small cot, toilet, and a sink seemed so much more homier and comfortable than a dog cage with no light, no ventilation, and two buckets instead of plumbing.  How could we still be doing that to another human being?

Speaking of doing things to human beings… punishment was horrific at Eastern State Penitentiary – a penitentiary founded as a humane alternative to prisons at that time. In the beginning of the Penitentiary’s long existence, punishment didn’t happen – administrators and the Penitentiary’s founders and designers believed the solitary confinement in small cells was punishment enough.  But as prisoners continued breaking the rules, punishment began to be used and progressively worsened stepping far outside the Quaker roots of the prison.

“The Mad Chair” was a punishment where an offending inmate would be strapped to a chair so snugly that they could not move at all and was left there (without food and water) for a period of time that depended on the severity of their offense ranging from hours to days.

“The Water Bath” punishment involved dunking or dousing an inmate in ice cold water, hoisting them up onto a wall with chains, and then leaving then leaving them there overnight (a “treatment” method used at that time in mental hospitals).  When used during the winter months (the time of year the guards most often used this form of punishment), a layer of ice would form over the inmate’s skin by morning.

“The Iron Gag” was the most popular form of punishment at Eastern State – and the most feared by prisoners.  The gag was an iron collar that went around a prisoner’s neck, with a metal piece that went in the prisoner’s mouth to suppress their tongue.  The prisoner’s hands were then crossed and pulled tight behind their necks and attached to the collar as well.  Any movement of their hands or arms would pull at their tongues and prisoner’s mouth was usually bloody and sore by the time their punishment was over.

“The Hole” was a set of incredibly small, completely windowless and utterly dark, rooms beneath the Penitentiary where inmates could be thrown for weeks at a time.  While in The Hole prisoners were given one cup of water and one slice of bread a day, and did not leave the dank cells for anything.  Not even bathroom breaks.  They were left to sit in their own filth, fighting off rats and other vermin until their punishment was done.

The Spooooooooooooooooooky Stuff at Eastern State Penitentiary

Rumors of ghosts at Eastern State Penitentiary have been around since the early 1900’s.  Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the first solid ghost story at Eastern State Penitentiary involved Al Capone.  Purportedly, Capone was haunted mercilessly by one of his St. Valentine’s Day Massacre victims and could be heard repeatedly screaming and begging in his cell for the ghost to go away and leave him alone.

But even before Capone getting his just desserts, prisoners and guards alike have reported supernatural goings-on at Eastern State Penitentiary – footsteps in empty halls, pacing in empty cells, wails coming from empty darkness, and dark shapes that resembled human forms drafting past.  Since the site has been opened to the public in the middle of the 1970’s as a National Historic Landmark, tourists and staff confirm even more supernatural encounters.

In Cell Block #12, independent witnesses have reported hearing laughter in certain cells and shadowy apparitions.  Similar shadowy apparitions have been sited in Cell Block #6 and “Death Row” Cell Block #15.  The most frequent “ghost” siting occurs in the older cell blocks, where visitors report a dark, human-like figure who just stands there emitting angry energy.

Mason: It doesn’t seem like it’s actually haunted – I checked pretty thoroughly.  Maybe even in a few spots I wasn’t technically supposed to.

Gracie: Eastern State Penitentiary was creepy, mysterious, intriguing, and ancient all at the same time.

[pe2-gallery] Spooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State PenitentiarySpooky Eastern State Penitentiary Spooky Eastern State Penitentiary[/pe2-gallery]

For the month of October, we’re going to feature Spooky, Creepy Preservation in honor of Halloween.  We’re kicking off the month with perhaps one of the creepiest buildings in our built history – Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood home.  Not technically the historic building our posts normally feature, but this post by Guest Blogger Sarah is still something worth contemplating.

 

image from: http://www.nydailynews.com (via Fox8 Cleveland)

 

Yes, it’s been all over the national news. And I had made a conscious decision NOT to cover it since it is already being over-exposed and the hideous crimes of JD are a little too recent for my comfort level.

But then I got a gently prodding email from a reader in Ohio (thanks Stacie!) so I said “okay, okay, I’ll do JD’s house on House Crazy“.

 

image from: trulia.com

 

But I can’t even bring myself to type the guy’s name (which I nonetheless had to type for the title of this post) so I’m just going to call him “JD”. He’s dead now anyhow – killed in prison in 1994 – but his crimes are some of the most heinous in recent memory.

The home where JD lived from 1968 to 1982 is up for sale near Akron, Ohio. This is also the home where JD murdered his first human victim in 1978, and um, cut-up and spread the remains throughout the wooded property. I’m sorry, I don’t know how else to say it – it’s just so horrible. JD moved to Wisconsin in 1982 and committed 16 more murders before he was caught in 1991.

 

image from: trulia.com

 

This dreadful crime scene languished on the market for a very long time but eventually sold for a reduced price in 2005. The new owner, a musician, was at first hesitant when he learned of the home’s gory past. “I didn’t stop shaking for another 24 hours,” the owner told the Akron Beacon Journal. But he was in love with the mid-century architecture so he bought the home anyway. Now the house is up for sale again because the owner is relocating.

 

image from: http://washingtonexaminer.com

 

There’s been a lot of photos of the exterior of the house posted in newspapers during the last week, but nobody had posted interior photos. Until now…

 

image from: trulia.com

 

I tracked down the actual listing after some minimal sleuthing.

 

image from: trulia.com

 

This 1952 home on West Bath Road is listed at $329,000.

 

image from: trulia.com

 

This is the actual listing blurb:

Amazing 50′s Ranch! Lush and beautiful flowers and trees decorate the landscape, which you can view from the oversized windows in the formal living room. Inside you will find plenty of space to create your own personal feel! Granite counters in the kitchen. Wood burning fireplaces! New central air unit was installed 6/2011

– from: trulia.com

The realtor is doing the best he can, but it’s a hard sell knowing the history of the house (and grounds).

 

image from: trulia.com

 

According to the Acron Beacon Journal Online,

The ranch house was built in 1952 by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Arens. It was featured in the Beacon Journal’s Roto section a year later for its modern style, open layout and floor-to-ceiling windows that provided views of the wooded hillside.

– from: http://www.ohio.com/news/dahmer-house-for-sale-1.328627

 

image from: trulia.com

 

This 2,170 square foot home has 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.

 

image from: trulia.com

 

image from: trulia.com

 

The stone and wood mid-century modern home is located on 1.55 private wooded acres.

 

image from: trulia.com

 

image from: trulia.com

 

My stomach is turning just writing this post. Normally I like to embrace a house (as this house’s current owner has) for it’s own historic and architectural merritts, rather than any gory history that took place there.

And I truly commend the current owner for being able to look past the house’s unfortunate past and appreciate and love the house for what it truly is: a beautiful mid-century home.

 

image from: trulia.com

 

But… I don’t know… I’d seriously get the willies every time I was carving ham in the kitchen. *shudder*

 

How about you? Could you live in a home that has a terrible history like this house?

Do you know what the future of preservation in Pennsylvania is?  Did you know we have a strategic plan for preserving our places here in Pennsylvania?  We do, it’s called “Pennsylvania’s Statewide Historic Preservation Plan 2012-2017”.  Here’s the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s overview slideshow presentation of the plan.

[slideshare id=13842954&doc=pennsylvaniastatewidehistoricpreservationplan2012-2017-120802150346-phpapp02&type=d]