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Rural Renewal

Rural Renewal

  • This sprawling stone farmhouse is one of 14 buildings on 640 acres of land in Pennsylvania. The reconfigured main house blends existing structural elements with salvaged and regional materials.

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    This sprawling stone farmhouse is one of 14 buildings on 640 acres of land in Pennsylvania. The reconfigured main house blends existing structural elements with salvaged and regional materials.

    600

    Lara Swimmer

    This sprawling stone farmhouse is one of 14 buildings on 640 acres of land in Pennsylvania. The reconfigured main house blends existing structural elements with salvaged and regional materials.

  • A two-story skylit entry hall announces the public entrance. Slicing through the house from front to back, the atrium holds an open staircase and bridge leading to second-floor bedrooms. The living room is on the right; kitchen and orangery on the left.

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    true

    A two-story skylit entry hall announces the public entrance. Slicing through the house from front to back, the atrium holds an open staircase and bridge leading to second-floor bedrooms. The living room is on the right; kitchen and orangery on the left.

    600

    Lara Swimmer

    A two-story skylit entry hall announces the public entrance. Slicing through the house from front to back, the atrium holds an open staircase and bridge leading to second-floor bedrooms. The living room is on the right; kitchen and orangery on the left.

  • The north-facing wing's first-floor library and second-floor master bath focus views across the gardens to the dairy barn and farm animals. The stone steps are on axis with the living room opening; beyond is the orangery.

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    The north-facing wing's first-floor library and second-floor master bath focus views across the gardens to the dairy barn and farm animals. The stone steps are on axis with the living room opening; beyond is the orangery.

    600

    Lara Swimmer

    The north-facing wing's first-floor library and second-floor master bath focus views across the gardens to the dairy barn and farm animals. The stone steps are on axis with the living room opening; beyond is the orangery.

  • A ridge skylight floods the master bath with light. Sunlight plays up the soft finishes of salvaged and found materials.

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    A ridge skylight floods the master bath with light. Sunlight plays up the soft finishes of salvaged and found materials.

    600

    Lara Swimmer

    A ridge skylight floods the master bath with light. Sunlight plays up the soft finishes of salvaged and found materials.

  • Casework was made from oak reclaimed from a 100-year-old barn.

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    Casework was made from oak reclaimed from a 100-year-old barn.

    600

    Lara Swimmer

    Casework was made from oak reclaimed from a 100-year-old barn.

  • The worn blue door, found in a local warehouse, marks a service entrance between the kitchen and orangery.

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    The worn blue door, found in a local warehouse, marks a service entrance between the kitchen and orangery.

    600

    Lara Swimmer

    The worn blue door, found in a local warehouse, marks a service entrance between the kitchen and orangery.

  • Seventeeth-century French oak floors, some original to the house, were planed down and given a velvety finish rather than a hard sheen. The master bedroom's walls re-create the existing house's old wood lintels and white parge coating.

    http://www.residentialarchitect.com/Images/tmp4F02%2Etmp_tcm48-1457570.jpg

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    Seventeeth-century French oak floors, some original to the house, were planed down and given a velvety finish rather than a hard sheen. The master bedroom's walls re-create the existing house's old wood lintels and white parge coating.

    600

    Lara Swimmer

    Seventeeth-century French oak floors, some original to the house, were planed down and given a velvety finish rather than a hard sheen. The master bedroom's walls re-create the existing house's old wood lintels and white parge coating.

  • Light, materiality, and reuse are common themes throughout the house.

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    Light, materiality, and reuse are common themes throughout the house.

    600

    Lara Swimmer

    Light, materiality, and reuse are common themes throughout the house.

Building a new house on the bones of something very old raises the question: What does it mean to peel away a structure’s layers, reveal their inherent value, and put the bits and pieces back together in a modern way? That was the intent of this sprawling stone farmhouse, which grew organically from a hunting lodge dating to the mid-1880s.

The house, on 640 acres in eastern Pennsylvania, is more than a nod to the area’s agrarian vibe. It is one of 14 buildings—most of them old and smartly refurbished—that transform the farm into a small-scale manufacturing facility and entertaining space extraordinaire. There are stables, a dairy barn, and milking parlor; three food-production greenhouses from the University of Maryland; and a building where cheese is made from the owners’ 20 or so cows and a clutch of sheep and goats.

The reconfigured main house was an ad-hoc process of blending existing structural elements with salvaged and regional finds. Though it grew from 1,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet, “the original house was long and extended, like it is now,” says Matthew Kruntorad, project architect at Minneapolis-based Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle. “We started stripping away, then found a point where we had a good-quality skeleton to work with.”

Builder Howard Weldon of Burdg, Dunham & Associates in Hamilton, Mo., skillfully executed that improvisational vision. Parts of the stone walls and timber framing were preserved, along with a wood-paneled library. But it is sunlight, softly washing the patinaed materials, that sets up the alchemy. A grand glazed entryway, lit by a ridge skylight, opens the house to broad terraces in front and back. A large kitchen serves the steel-tube-framed orangery, which doubles as a dining hall. Upstairs, light also floods the glass-capped master bath, where a large window focuses a bucolic view of the dairy barn and farm animals.

“The challenge was finding the right components to add and using craftsmanship to incorporate all the materials the owners found,” says Weldon, who hired local Amish masons to re-create old finishes. Fitting new I-joists into old framing pockets was a piecemeal affair that involved grouting, shimming, and sometimes building a new wall in front of an existing one. A Philadelphia-based fabricator made the steel tube glazing systems for the orangery, entry hall, living room, and master suite. “The sharp corners of a standard aluminum storefront system didn’t fit the owner’s vision,” he says. Casework was made from planed oak timbers from a local barn.

“When you clean up sagging materials and put them back together with sharper joinery, you’re adding a modern sensibility while respecting what’s there,” Kruntorad says. Most of all, he adds, “the way the light comes in gives these worn elements a texture and quality that would be hard to draw.”


Project Credits: Builder: Burdg, Dunham and Associates, Hamilton, Mo.; Architect: Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Minneapolis; Living space: 12,000 square feet; Site: 640 acres; Construction cost: Withheld; Photographer: Lara Swimmer / Lara Swimmer Photography / Resources: Bathroom fittings: Baldwin, Chicago Faucets, Newport Brass, Sonoma Forge, WaterWorks; Bathroom fixtures: Duravit; Dishwasher: Jenn-Air; Dryer: Whirlpool; Garbage disposal: Insinkerator; Kitchen fittings: Chicago Faucets, Rohl; Microwave: Wolf; Range: Blue Star; Refrigerator: Sub-Zero; Trash/recycling: Hafele, Wall oven: Wolf; Washer: Whirlpool