Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lancaster's Storybook Houses

I thought you might enjoy a tour of Lancaster, Pennsylvania's historic domestic architecture. Across the county's farmland are stone farmhouses dating back to the seventeen hundreds. 
The Hans Herr house built in 1719 is the oldest homestead in Lancaster County.
In the city, colonial brick row homes line the sidewalks revealing a variety of door surrounds, rippled glass windows with paneled shutters on the ground floor for safety and louvered shutters on the second floor for ventilation.
These 18th century buildings belong to artist Charles Demuth's family for five generation.

As you move out from the center of Lancaster, two older neighborhoods are particularly charming.

Still within city limits is School Lane Hills, mostly built in the eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds. Former President James Buchanan's home, Wheatland, crowns this neighborhood.
Wheatland was built in 1828.
In this post, we will explore the second lovely area, Eshelman Road, which sits just north of city limits in Manheim Township near the Lancaster Country Club. 

Leaving the city, after you pass the country club on New Holland Pike, you can see two particularly charming houses. They are especially endearing, because of the story behind them.

Formerly, a house separated these properties. However, a few years ago, when that home came up for sale, sisters purchased and tore down the intruder so their properties would adjoin. How heartwarming to hear of sisters who get along so well, they choose to live side-by-side! One sister lives in a classic, white, two-story colonial.
Next door is her sister's quaint Tudor. 
Once you pass this family compound, you must turn onto Eshelman Road to enter the main part of the neighborhood. The private street fans out along the fairways passing a number of what I call "storybook-houses" which look like they came out of a Tasha Tudor picture book.

Part way up the street, before it forks left and right, stone "cottages" sit among the trees.
 An American federal sits high on one hillside, resplendent above its manicured gardens.
 When the road divides, some lovely French-styled homes come into view.

 My favorite home is on the left fork, at the apex of the hill.  I love the ivy covered stone, the pitch of the slate roof, and the round-top window to the left of the front door.
To the right of the house, two gazebos linked by a pergola add to the charm.

A stone carriage house on the left completes the picture.
 From the back, the lawn sweeps up to the house providing plenty of breathing room for the owners.
Another treasure in the set is perhaps the most interesting home on Eshelman Road, a modern take on a New England saltbox.

Dubbed "the telescope house", this architectural gem must be viewed from two sides to be appreciated.

Notice the glass between the sections? Those glass peepholes always lead me to wonder what human dynamics transpire inside the walls.

Actually, every home has a story behind the front door; some stories have happy endings, others tragic. What makes the difference?  I believe happiness comes from the choices we make. What or who we decide to serve. Do we live for our property?  Our fortune?  Ourselves?

In a happy home, each person serves the other.  Furthermore, because life involves sickness and sadness, the characters must choose to live with an underpinning of hope in God's grace and trust in His love.

For a truly happy, eternal ending to our life-story we must do as Joshua advised before his death:  "Choose you this day whom you will serve...But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).


  1. This is why I love living here!

    I have never seen the telescope house - I will be in the area today so I may need to drive by.

  2. I really enjoyed this tour!!! I like all these buildings! California also has many beautiful storybook houses!!! You can't miss the Witch's House from Beverly Hills! This bizarre house was built in 1921 for a movie studio in Culver City. In 1998, the house was bought by a real estate agent, Michael Libow. such an extraordinary home!

  3. I wonder if anyone can give me a thumbnail Architectural history of the Telescope House?

    It appears to be a renovated older structure, and if so, I am curious which architect developed what appears to be an amazing up-date.