Historic Schaefferstown Inc. is concluding a round of grant-funded restoration work at the Schaeffer House.

The two-and-one-half story Swiss bank house at 213 S. Carpenter Road was constructed in 1736 and expanded in 1771 to include a distillery. Once owned by town founder Alexander Schaeffer, the property was the focus of a $32,5000 grant HSI received from the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission.

Read More: Historic Schaefferstown seeking state grant for Schaeffer House fireplace restoration

The work included laying new brick floor, rebuilding the chimney stack, and re-plastering one and a half rooms upstairs. The chimney stack was a major part of the project, with the bottom of the stack nearly in danger of collapse when work began.

HSI president Lynn Wenger said that the bulk of the project was completed in 2021. Wenger said the project left the house looking better than it was previously.

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

“What we’re trying to do is take the different parts of the building and show the different stages that it went through over the years,” said Wenger. “So we’re not going with any one period, but with the period that would be appropriate for different rooms.”

The distillery, for example, got the brick because it would have been brick when in use as a distillery, according to an archaeological analysis based on the fill, the technical term for material that has accumulated on a site.

The goal is to show the archaeological changes that took place over the years.

Unfinished southeast corner before the plaster was replaced.
Finished southeast corner after the plaster was replaced.
Northeast corner of the same room. Note the area of original paint kept for later analysis. Wenger said that dark blue or black paint appears to have been used under the chair rail at some point.

Wenger said that HSI was able to find brick appropriate for its age and size, with slight rounding on the top, through the Water Street Mission in Lancaster, which was tearing down some buildings that happened to have brick that fit HSI’s criteria.

“The trick to something like (laying the brick) is getting it straight and not a bunch of squiggly lines, and getting it level” said Wenger. “Since nothing in that house is level, you make it as straight and gentle a curve as possible.”

Wenger said that much of the work was done through volunteer efforts by him, his wife, and his son.

HSI plans to apply for another round of funding to finish plastering the upstairs parlor or “stube” as it would be known in German, but there’s plenty more that Wenger envisions for the building, including eventually getting one of the stills to be operable. The other still will be kept as it was found. Wenger said that effort could be five to six years down the road.

If you want to check out the finished product (for now), head over to the Schaeffer Farm during the Harvest Festival on Sept. 17 and 18, when tours and demonstrations will be offered.


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