This Old Chicken House
If you're an old house geek, you'll love the history of Brick House on Main.
Brick House on Main 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. One contractor 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. The exterior walls are three bricks thick. 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.
The Wardells used a variety of woods throughout the house - including walnut and quarter-sawn oak - and nearly all of the wood trim 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 there were no laborers available to work in the mine, so John Ridgway 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?"
The house remained in the Ridgway family, passing next to son Bill, and his new bride, Rose in 1946. 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. As we removed carpeting to repair and refinish the floors, we found a large area of chicken scratches in the living room, and various scratches upstairs. We kept them as a reminder of the house's history.
That's the end of Brick House's history... or so we thought. A few years ago a visitor asked, "Did anyone tell you about the monkey?"
But that's a story for another time.