Town­ship pre­serves 18th cen­tury log house

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill Ret­tew Jr. bret­tew@dai­ly­lo­

UWCH­LAN » With a nod to the past, the town­ship has pre­served three struc­tures at the Ship Road Ad­min­is­tra­tive Build­ing dat­ing to the 18th cen­tury.

A replica log house was ded­i­cated on May 8.

Minis­cule by to­day’s stan­dards, the planks of a fam­ily home were moved and as­sem­bled on a small knoll just north of the po­lice sta­tion.

Some of the logs came from a home where Fos­ter Field town­ship park now stands on Route 113, about a half-mile west of Route 100.

Joe Hof­fecker do­nated his 21- acre prop­erty to the town­ship and lived in the house un­til his death.

In a bid to cre­ate more park space, the town­ship was sur­prised when de­mol­ish­ing Hof­fecker’s home.

Hid­den, en­closed within the mod­ern day home, were the wood logs for the walls on three sides of a 1700s home.

De­mo­li­tion was tem­po­rar­ily halted. The logs were trans­ported across the town­ship to the ad­min­is­tra­tion com­plex and re­assem­bled for pos­ter­ity.

Much like the chil­dren’s toy, Lin­coln Logs, the logs are notched at the cor­ners, with chink­ing placed in be­tween to keep out the cold. Trees were prob­a­bly cut at the prop­erty.

“We had al­ways heard that there were logs in there,” Town­ship Su­per­vi­sor Pa­tri­cia D. Gaines said. “They kept adding on; they dry walled over them.”

Door­ways were built low, and win­dow frames are small, to pre­serve heat. Gaines said it’s a myth that peo­ple were shorter in the Colo­nial era than to­day.

While vis­i­tors point to the height of the door­ways, she said that diet of­ten de­ter­mined height, and that Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton stood over 6 feet tall.

Two flags fly out­side the log house. An orig­i­nal 13star Betsy Ross flag flies high.

A Uwch­lan Town­ship flag, with a red dragon sim­i­lar to that of the Welsh flag, also com­ple­ments the build­ing.

Many of the area’s early res­i­dents were orig­i­nally Bri­tish. Uwch­lan is de­fined as “up­per land” in the Welsh lan­guage.

The Hugh Pugh Room is lo­cated within the ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing. Pugh was the orig­i­nal owner of the struc­ture built in the early 1700s.

While much of the joints are pegged, an orig­i­nal beam with dozens of nail holes graces the ceil­ing. Vis­i­tors can hold an orig­i­nal nail.

Gaines pointed out a

“They were not stupid peo­ple. They had a great back­ground for do­ing things by them­selves. They knew how to build.”

— Town­ship Su­per­vi­sor Pa­tri­cia D. Gaines

“square peg” that was de­signed to snugly fit into a “round hole.”

There was lit­tle pri­vacy in the home. The whole fam­ily likely lived in the same room, close to a fire­place, with chil­dren some­times sleep­ing in a loft.

Typ­i­cally, early homes were built near a wa­ter source, with an out­house not far away.

Most res­i­dents did not re­ceive a full for­mal ed­u­ca­tion.

“They were not stupid peo­ple,” Gaines said. “They had a great back­ground for do­ing things by them­selves.

“They knew how to build.”

Many early Amer­i­cans were in­den­tured ser­vants who traded a ship ride for sev­eral years of work.

“In or­der to get here, they had to work off their pas­sage,” Gaines said.

A stone barn, c. 18th Cen­tury, at the site has also been re­fur­bished to pre­serve the ex­te­rior.

Su­per­vi­sor Joe Toner said the gift of the log house and park is a “real trib­ute” to Hof­fecker.

“We can’t just keep bull­doz­ing ev­ery­thing,” Toner said. “The whole world wants to put ev­ery­thing in a dump­ster.

“It’s a won­der­ful legacy that this house here is based on (Hof­fecker’s) gen­eros­ity.”


Su­per­vi­sors Joe Toner, left, and Pa­tri­cia D. Gaines pose in front of the log house in Uwch­lan Town­ship that they both had a hand in pre­serv­ing.

Win­dows were small and well pro­tected to pre­serve heat in the 18th cen­tury log house in Uwch­lan Town­ship.


Vis­i­tors don’t have to get close to ex­am­ine the notched logs in the 18th cen­tury log house in Uwch­lan Town­ship.

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