It was time for fresh paint, new roofs, and the next step of evolution for the farm to fit the needs of the family. Once again, the Three Kings Farm was transformed to meet the needs of the times. It was about time for the farm to get a garage since cars have been around for over 100 years. And the field stone that became the cornerstone of the farm needed a re-birth to its original splendor. And horses once again grace the fields framed with solid fences pounded into the rocky soil underneath.
Let’s start with the before and after photos of the three main buildings (early 2012 vs 2013).
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The prior owner, the Cookes) started the big process of restoration about 5 years ago. The house got a new addition, a kitchen and master bedroom suite, and all new vital components. The electrical, water, heating and plumbing systems were replaced. A new water well was dug. And new floors and walls were installed in the fashion of the past.
But the job of restoration of the entire farm was not complete. In 2012 the rest of the farm received a much needed restoration starting with the big Bank Barn. Barn roofing, flooring, electrical and plumbing was replaced. In addition, the stone walls were “pointed”, a messy process of grinding out the old mortar and installing new waterproof mortar. The wooden exterior received 2 coats of paint for protection for the next 20 years. The Bank Barn should not need much attention for another 50 years or more.
The property did not have a garage. Imagine that! A large three car garage was added to the front of the equipment barn on the side facing the house, and the chicken coop was replaced with a large room with a nice wood-burning stove.
The old barn needed attention after years of serving as a corn crib. Barn roofing, flooring, and electrical were replaced. The dirt floor was replaced with reinforced concrete to support the weight of the tractor. The stone, inside and out, was restored as well. Finally, the attached garage and extra room were built in such a way as to support and counterbalance the leaning of the stone wall on the south side. This barn should not need attention for 50 years as well.
The old barn needed one last improvement. Barn stars, painted by Eric Claypoole, were placed in the eves on both sides. Eric learned the trade from his dad, and together they have painted hex signs for over 60 years. The barn stars in Pennsylvania Dutch heritage represent goodwill, marriage and the fertility that is extended to the farm. The initials JH and JH signify the new tradition of the current owners.
The exterior of the farmhouse was completely restored. The whitewash and concrete on the stone were removed and now the splendor of the local fieldstone shines. A new front porch greets visitors and provides a wonderful place to sit on cool days and nights. A two-story side porch was added to extend the outdoor living space as well as to give needed access to the top floor of the house. Ever try to lift a bed up a narrow twisting staircase of an old farmhouse? It can’t be done!
The orange and black fieldstone rock that gives the distinctive color of the fieldstone walls in the house and barn glistens with iron ore. It’s beautiful, but with iron you get RADON! It’s really very common in the area. A full venting system was installed in 2012 under the entire poured concrete basement floor. A large fan blows upwards into an unused chimney dispelling the radon gas harmlessly above the roof. The latest test for radon was perfect!
The 2012 restoration also tackled the tough job of restoring four fireplaces. The large kitchen fireplace in the main living room was restored to perfect working order. A stainless steel top adorns the chimney, The internal sides were lined with stainless steel covering the original mud and straw mortar that would have been a fire hazard. Concrete was poured down the sides and around the damper area. The rusted damper was refinished and painted with heat resistant black paint. And finally the back, sides and floor were painted with heat resistant paint. Topping that off, local metal workers fabricated a large custom fire back to protect the back wall. This fire back includes symbols from the farm: the date stone on the bank barn, the crown and several hex stars.
The other fireplaces were restored as well. A large wood-burning fireplace insert was placed in the living room. This has a heating capacity for the entire house. The fireplace in the dining room now has a propane stove insert providing convenient and attractive heat that extends into the kitchen on a cool morning. Upstairs, the fireplace now has a pellet burning insert that has heating capacity to warm the entire upstairs. Walking up a bag of wood pellets is much easier than toting dirty wood. Finally, a wood-burning stove was installed in the summer kitchen to provide heat on a cold evening. The farm now has 6 working fireplaces and stoves.
And we did not forget the Summer Kitchen. Roofing, walls and electrical were replaced. A new door was built for the wood shed opening. The wood stove was inserted into the chimney, and the big fireboxes with large kettles will be restored shortly. It is a fine example of a summer kitchen.
The horse pastures needed fences. 14 acres were divided into 6 pastures and 3 small corrals, all with new matching gates. Two more pastures are in the early stages of their restoration. The split rail fencing, along with two large pasture entrance overhead gates, added significant presence to the property tying all the land together as one horse farm.
Finally, the whole farm transformed one afternoon when pavement replaced the gravel drive. Black top was not only laid around the drive and garage area, but also a 4 car parking area was created for the barn area. The dirt and dust associated with a gravel and dirt road became history.
We hope you enjoyed seeing the before and after photos of the 2012 restoration. It was hard and expensive work, but it was worth it! Three Kings Farm has emerged from the past to a new future as one of the finest old farms in Chester Springs, as well as Chester County.