Historic Building Renovation Showcase: PA HomeWorks Helps Restore Reiber House
One of the most wonderful things about living and working in the central and southeast region of Pennsylvania is our architecture: Beautiful, rural farmhouses and stately, colonial city dwellings and business alike. But, sometimes, historic buildings weren’t cared for properly, which led to damage and deterioration. Enter historic building renovation professionals.
PA HomeWorks was proud to be part of a large-scale, nearly decade-long, $350,000 renovation/preservation project: The Reiber House. This historic, stone farmhouse was built in 1772, and it holds historic significance in Lancaster County. The Manor Township homestead was involved in the founding of Pennsylvania’s United Church of the Brethren.
We joined The Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority and Paden De La Feunte, LCC on this enormous feat, which involved moving—stone by stone—the historic home to a new location. It now stands on a grassy hillside as part of the Turkey Point Renewable Energy Park. Had it not been moved, the near-crumbling home likely would have been part of a landfill. Today, the Reiber House serves as a meeting space, a visitor’s center and, of course, it’s really an architectural exhibit in itself.
Our company’s main role was to adapt the interior into a usable, multipurpose space. We used original beams and cut-outs of the original plaster, we installed replica bible shelves and, in essence, brought this historic Lancaster County building to new life—with an 18th century touch. To keep things of the period, we concealed all of the electronics behind a large German schrank—or, cabinet. And, to top it off, we built an of-the-era storage shed to complement the property.
HomeWorks is experienced in adapting historic spaces like the Reiber House for reuse.
Lancaster County’s Creswell landfill in Manor Township is best known for, well, trash. But not anymore, due to the restoration of the Reiber House, an 18th-century stone bank house that is one of the oldest homes in Lancaster County by the team of Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, Scott Paden of Paden De La Fuente, LLC and Jeff Snader of PA HomeWorks, LLC. The energy park is the new resting place for the Reiber House which played a crucial role in the founding of Pennsylvania’s United Brethren in Christ Church. Renovating the hidden, crumbling Pennsylvania German Reiber House inside and out and moving it into public view was an endeavor that took 11 years. The handsome house, built partially into the side of a hill, also will serve as an anchor for a new Turkey Point Renewable Energy Park off River Road, between the landfill entrance and the 26-acre Creswell Park, which the authority donated to the community and helped build.
The pre-Revolutionary War Reiber House, likely built around 1750, was sold to the authority in 1964. The Germanic-style home, which sat in a small hollow, was in severe disrepair and was threatened by expansion of the Creswell Landfill. The Rev. Abraham Hershey, the third owner of the house, held annual conferences of the United Brethren Church of Pennsylvania there in 1807, 1809 and 1813. And it was visited by Pennsylvania Gov. Joseph Ritner. The house’s heirs, the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County, Manor Township and others worked with the authority to save the house, move it a short distance from its original location and preserve much of its interior as part of an adaptive re-use project led by Jeff Snader, PA HomeWorks, LLC.
In 2004, the stone structure was painstakingly excavated, lifted and moved several hundred yards, near River Road and the entrance to the landfill. There it sat until outside renovations were made in 2006 and interior improvements in 2010 by PA HomeWorks, LLC.
Some of the unique features in the restoration by PA HomeWorks include many original beams, cutouts of original plaster with wheat stalks visible, clay insulation (to inhibit fire in case of an Indian attack), original wide-paneled floor which was brought back to life, replicas of a bible shelf and a massive floor-to-ceiling Pennsylvania German schrank, which conceals audio-visual equipment and electronics. A period storage shed also has been erected and a heritage garden with Colonial-era plants will be planted.
The Reiber House will serve as a meeting place for authority functions, school groups and others. “It really is a multiuse adaptive re-use. It’s the way to preserve buildings like that. We are proud to bring our quality restoration team to this project, and bring life into this historic site”, said Jeff Snader, of PA HomeWorks, LLC.
A wildflower meadow was planted in the fall and the new timber-frame pavilion beside the Reiber House will have picnic tables in the spring. The wind turbines are visible from the pavilion. For a close look at the turbines, hike about a half-mile on Turkey Hill Trail to the top of Turkey Point. In 2011, crews are expected to erect an observation platform on Turkey Point for sweeping views of the Susquehanna, Conejohela Flats and fertile Manor Township farmland.
HomeWorks enjoys restoring both public and residential buildings. Old becomes new again! HomeWorks has extensive experience in taking a shell and adapting it for reuse, as well as updating to current codes and project needs. Call us today to discuss your Restoration project……..