Restoration in home stretch Stoner House could see grand reopening in November
BY DAVID O'CONNOR, Staff Writer
It's clear as he looked around the 250-year-old house's inside that "the polished jewel is coming out from the rough nugget we found three years ago," Roy Baldwin said.
He could see the results of all the hours of volunteer labor, and all the community support, that has the Stoner House nearly ready to be unveiled as a crown jewel for Manheim Township.
Manheim Township's Historical Society, headed by former state representative and township commissioner Baldwin as its president, wants to use the 1750s-era house in Overlook Community Campus as a community center and site for both its offices and public events.
The effort to restore the house is now in its home stretch.
And if all goes well, the refurbished Stoner House could hold a grand reopening in November.
"The community has stepped up, and we are on the final push to complete the house," Baldwin said.
"This is going to be a very big year for the restoration of the Stoner House and for the historical society," he said. "This is the year we're going to finish the project!"
First, however, leaders of the house-restoration effort need to raise another $68,000 so volunteers can complete the heating/air conditioning, plumbing and electrical work over the next several months.
Chris Peris, a local HVAC contractor who specializes in such projects, is installing the duct system of the house's geothermal heating and cooling system, Baldwin said.
And the historical society is looking for volunteers and donations from Manheim Township residents, clubs and businesses to complete the restoration.
The society, now in its sixth year, has led the charge to restore the house, "a labor of love" that's been boosted by a grass-roots effort of volunteers and contributors, Baldwin said.
Manheim Township hasn't contributed money to the effort, while the Overlook Community Foundation has donated $13,000.
The Manheim Township Commissioners in September gave the Stoner House the go-ahead to use parking at the site.
The historical society will be on the first floor of the house, with society offices on the second. It also will serve as a site for private and public gatherings.
The reworking of the exterior of the Stoner House was completed in 2012, thanks to volunteers and in-kind contributions from several local companies.
The once-neglected farmhouse in the suburban park just north of Lancaster survived a demolition plan in 2004.
It sits near Manheim Township's nearly 3-year-old library and Barny's Grill, among other sites in Overlook.
"We've been very lucky we've been able to save it and to keep it and preserve it for future generations," historical society member Jeff Owen said.