We love the history of Brick House on Main.
BHOM was built in 1879 by lumber dealer Hezekiah Wardell and his wife, Sybilla. We are amazed at the construction, and we aren't the only ones. When a contractor inspected the home's structural integrity before we bought it, he told us, "I'm going to have to re-evaluate how I build a house. This one will still be here when the ones we're building today are all gone."
He's probably right. When we say BHOM has "solid brick construction", we mean that the exterior walls are three bricks thick. We mean that the main interior support walls of the home are solid brick and nearly 18" thick. The entire house sits on a sandstone foundation, with the original brick floor in the basement.
If you're an "old house geek" like we are, you'll love it here!
The Wardells included amazing wood treatments throughout the house and, fortunately, most of the wood was left unpainted through the years. Doors are all eight to ten feet tall, and nearly all of the original doors are intact. The walnut staircase survived decades of wear, carpet tacks & staples, and it's been refinished to look like new.
But we haven't told you the most amazing part of the house's history.
When the house left the Wardell family in the 1940s, it was sold to John Ridgway, owner of Ridgway Coal Company. During WWII he was unable to operate the mines because all able-bodied men were at war. He turned to farming as a way to make ends meet and to support the War Effort. The unoccupied house and nearby barn were turned into poultry houses for chickens and turkeys. When you see how lovely the home is, you won't believe chickens used to roost in the windowsills; but, if you tell any local resident that you're staying here, you'll probably hear, "Did anyone tell you about the chickens?"
As we removed carpeting to repair and refinish the floors, we found a large area of chicken scratches in the living room. We kept them as a reminder of the house's history.
The house remained in the Ridgway family, passing next to son Bill, and his new bride, Rose. Rose tells the story of how it took months of cleaning, scraping & scrubbing to make the house livable after the chickens were evicted. She and Bill enjoyed more than 50 years here before moving on.
That's the end of Brick House's history... or so we thought. As we hosted the local Heritage Home Christmas Tour in 2012, one visitor asked, "Did anyone tell you about the monkey?"
But that's a story for another time.