A very old house ~ Restoration. Who says it can’t be done?

Sometimes the proof is in the pudding. However, in this case it is in the photos. This is another home we saw along the Roanoke Valley pre-Civil war tour and though it wasn’t open for touring inside the home, we walked away pretty impressed..

The Back Story

The oldest portion of the home, constructed of stone. was built in 1797 by Samuel Harshbarger who moved to the area from Pennsylvania as a group of Swiss or German Brethren or Dunkards.  His parents had moved to Pennsylvania in 1754 from Holland after fleeing Basil, Switzerland to avoid religious persecution.

Due to this heritage, the stone structure of the home has European influences. It has been found that there are few homes of the eighteenth century, where stone has been used following the German tradition of building, still survive in the area..


In 1825, Mr. Harshbarger built a brick addition in the Federal style.  Its first floor is 1 1/2 feet higher than the original stone portion.  When added, four brick walls were erected, rather than only three, and was butted up to the older stone house.  This makes for a very thick door way between them as seen in this floor plan.  (floor plan via Virginia Department of Historic Resources)


Taken from the National Registration of Historic Homes nomination of this property,  this explains the necessity of the addition:

“Traditional sources say a three-room  frame section  was added  to the  house  by  Harshbarger and  was  later replaced  by  a brick wing in  1825, in order to alleviate overcrowding.~  The house is said to have contained ten  persons,  Samuel and Elizabeth Harshbarger, his mother,  their six children,  and a  black  nurse.’  census of 1810 Samuel is shown with a household of eight; in  1820, nine; and in  1830, only two, himself and his wife.”

At its saddest state.

These are photos the homeowner had displayed outside the day of the home tour.  The current owners purchased the home in 1988 and as noted, these photos reflect what they were up against.  As you can see, by 1989 they were well into taking this historic home back to her former glory.  Neglect, rot, required updating to today’s standards and additions not reflecting the original styles of the house, were likely just the tip of what was addressed. 

Had I purchased this home, I too, would have removed the large addition.  History has its place, but sometimes things don’t fall (or are built) properly into it. 



Seeing Progress

Another, non-original to the home was the Bungalow style porch on the brick portion of the house.  It was said to be early nineteenth century. 


This is the current owner’s photo of the removal phase of the porch.



The front façade as original owner Samuel Harshbarger likely would recall it.


The smaller brick building to the rear of the home once housed the kitchen.  When the late twentieth century addition was removed, remnants of a an earlier breezeway was found to once link the kitchen to the main house. The new owners added what is called a hyphen;, a connected link between two larger elements. In this case, the kitchen and the main home. I find it much more appealing and more in keeping with the architecture.  It also does not detract from the original buildings as the other addition had.  I admire any homeowner that strives to keep the integrity of a buildings style and character.  It is not always an easy thing to accomplish when trying to add modern conveniences and the desired square footage.



Following are photos taken as you would find the property today.  This home lovingly built by Mr. Harshbarger for his family all that time ago, seems to have fallen into the hands of some owners that respect the toils of his labor. They have, after all, placed their own blood sweat and tears into it.  For that, I am grateful.  I’m sure he would be, too.











Interested in digging further? Here you can find the Harshbargar House Nomination Form for the National Register of Historic Homes.  They are always filled with great  information about the building.

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