Growing a Farmhouse
by Frank Shirley
The 1829 Jacob Yoder farmhouse in the rolling hills of eastern Pennsylvania is crafted from the materials that surround it: fieldstone, pine, and oak. The patient hands of time have turned the pine floors amber and the stone walls a color wheel of earth tones. The house is one with the land and history, which is precisely why the owners, two refugees from Manhattan, bought it.
The Federal-style house Jeff Gorrin and Susan Fetterolf found was small: three rooms on the first floor, a kitchen the size of a pantry, and three bedrooms upstairs. One bathroom served the entire house. They needed a library to hold their book collection, a contemporary kitchen, a family room more intimate than the original parlors, a home office, and a master suite. They entrusted architects Peter Zimmerman and John Toates to find a solution that balanced their practical needs with their aesthetic sensibilities.
Making New From Old
The first decision Jeff and Susan made was to use natural materials, especially salvaged materials of the era. All of the timbers for the addition were taken from one 18th-century house. As in the original house, ceilings are framed of exposed oak timbers, some as big as 8 inches by 11 inches (20 by 28 centimeters). Other than being cut to length, the old timbers are unaltered, preserving their darkened faces and axe and saw markings. Roof sheathing and sub-flooring, commonly of plywood today, were made of reclaimed pine boards because their surfaces are visible in the unfinished ceiling.
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This article is excerpted from New Rooms for Old Houses: Beautiful Additions for the Traditional Home by Frank Shirley, copyright © 2007, with permission of the publisher, The Taunton Press. Joint imprint with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The materials of the summer kitchen have required only occasional maintenance over 200 years.
Photo: Randy O’Rourke
The original house and summer kitchen were separated by a connector, a relationship that Peter Zimmerman Architects worked to preserve.
Photo: Randy O’Rourke
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