Historic house to be moved

People driving up or down Beaver Valley Road likely wouldn't notice it. But, even looking for it, they might miss it. It is the Newlin Log Home, which dates to somewhere between the late 1690s or to the mid-1700s. Members of the Newlin Grist Mill Foundation aren't 100 percent sure yet.

But they are sure they want to save the house, and to do so, they'll have to dismantle and move it from 40 Beaver Valley Road to the grist mill property.

Michael Knight, a member of the Board of Directors of the Newlin Grist Mill, said the first significance of the house is "It's old."

"We don't have many surviving log structures. Second, it was built by a Newlin. Therefore, it has a family connection to the folks who built the Newlin Grist Mill," he said.

Each beam has been numbered and cataloged for later reconstruction.

Knight added that there's a third significance, but that's still being investigated.

"We suspect this may be the location of the Nine Tun Tavern. That was a Newlin establishment and was a center for travel back and forth in the area," he said.

His best guess estimate on when the house was built in the early to mid-1700s, but he acknowledged it could have been earlier. The director at the grist mill, Tony Shahan, agreed, thinking it may be closer to the mid-1700s.  Both agree that more research is needed. The Newlins arrived from Ireland about 1686, Knight said.

Colleen Morrone examines the detail of an interior window with the help of Michael Knight.

Shahan added that while it could have been one of the locations for the Nine Tun Tavern — it had several locations — it might have had other uses that still need to be determined.

"It screams either something like a tavern or something like a workshop. It may have been a business. I don't know what that is," Shahan said. "I haven't done the documentary work yet."

He went on to say the township was considering tearing it down but then offered it to the foundation for possible restoration and preservation. The structure will be in storage while the foundation does research and fundraising for the restoration.

The foundation's first goal is to see the building "doesn't go to the trash heap," Knight said.

He added that the foundation will remove anything from the structure that isn't original, then dismantle it and move it to the grist mill property farther north on Route 1, where it will be reassembled. Each beam has been numbered and cataloged for later reconstruction.

Shahan said he hopes to have it rebuilt in time for the 250th anniversary of the country's independence from Britain. However, he doesn't yet know how much the project will cost, but current estimates indicate tending to just the building will cost upwards of $70,000.

Concord Township Councilwoman Colleen Morrone said the township would never have known about the property to preserve it had its last resident not died, which led to the property being put up for sale. The township bought the property for $110,000.

Fellow Councilman John Crossan called it "an unconventional open space purchase because it's so small, just over an acre or acre and a half. It's not the size we look for [for open space] but it's nestled right in the heart of the Brandywine Summit neighborhood. We've talked about pocket parks, and there aren't many places where that makes sense, but this is a place where it makes sense. And we knew this was an historic resource even though from the street it looks like a 1970s mess."

The draw would be the addition of a playground for the parklet and adding some sidewalks connections. Crossan said even though it's a small property, it's a good location because it's in the vicinity of Brandywine Summit, Conestoga Farms, the Penns Woods Winery, and The First State National Historic Park area in Beaver Valley.

"There are so many things we can connect here. Even just the simple act of putting a sidewalk in is going to allow us to connect these communities in ways they haven't been before," Crossan said.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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