Historic Schaefferstown seeking state grant for Schaeffer House fireplace restoration

2 min read8 views and 243 shares Posted February 27, 2019

The historic Alexander Schaeffer House in Lebanon County will be the focus of further restoration efforts, assuming a proposed grant from the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission goes through.

Historic Schaefferstown, Inc (HSI) has identified the next phase of its restorations to the Schaeffer House, once owned by Schaefferstown’s namesake, Alexander Schaeffer.

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HSI has already gotten estimates for the work and is requesting a $32,500 matching grant from PHMC.

At this past week’s Lebanon County Commissioners meeting, the commissioners voted to “strongly” support the effort at obtaining grant funding. (See their full letter below.)

The work will stabilize the house’s massive fireplace and chimney structure as well as repairing and replastering the cellar floor and laying period-authentic brick.

The building is a two and one-half story Swiss bank house characteristic of Rhine Valley architecture. It was constructed about 1736 and expanded to include a distillery in 1771.

Archaeological research has been conducted on the brick and tile firebox bases located next to the fireplace.

These bases would have once held up to 100 gallons of whiskey in copper sills. The cellar work room was connected to a nearby spring head by wooden pipe. In 2011, HSI acquired two stills that could be incorporated into the site once restored.

In 2015, with an earlier PHMC grant, the windows at the site were replaced in a $50,000 project that incorporated 18th-century techniques and design.

The Schaeffer House is on the National Register of Historic Places and was named a National Historic Landmark on July 25, 2011.

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HSI was founded in 1966 to spread the culture and history of Schaefferstown and the Pennsylvania German and Swiss cultures that lived here.

The PHMC proposal is due in Harrisburg by the end of the month. HSI has solicited multiple letters from local authorities in support of its work.

The Alexander Schaeffer House is open for tours from April through October, find more information at the Historic Schaefferstown website.

Here’s the full endorsement from the Lebanon County Commissioners.

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