Selling a historic property that needs work can be both challenging and rewarding for real estate agents.

The same goes for buying one.

In September 2010, four Kingsway Realty agents purchased the 18th-century Konigmacher House at 830 Martin Ave., Ephrata, with the intention of turning it into a Kingsway office.

Six months later - after extensive improvements to the 5,900-square-foot, mostly stone structure dating prior to 1778 - Kingsway relocated its Akron branch there.

"We tried to leave the integrity of the building," said Carol Musser, a partner in 830 Associates LLC, which paid $470,000 for the two-acre property that includes the house.

At least that much was spent on renovations, landscaping and a 30-plus-space parking lot, said Roger Kline, another partner. Joining Musser and Kline in the acquisition were Randy Kline (no relation) and Rob Hess.

In addition to its historic appeal, Musser said, Konigmacher House is about 20 percent larger than the space Kingsway Realty occupied at 112 S. Seventh St. in Akron.

Having two acres also will permit expansion, Roger Kline said.

Among the 30 people who work at the Ephrata office are 25 Kingsway agents and two employees of Reliance First Mortgage.

The location is ideal, Musser said, because it's just off Route 272 (Academy Drive) and better situated in the market area that the agents serve, which is northern Lancaster County and parts of Berks and Lebanon counties. Plus, traffic is easier to navigate than it was at the Akron office, she said.

The land on which Konigmacher House rests was once part of a 180-acre tract deeded by William Penn's sons to John Miley in 1739. The existing house was built by Heinrich Miller sometime before his death in 1778.

In 1804, it was sold to Jacob Konigmacher, a prominent member of the German Seventh Day Baptist congregation in Ephrata. His son William - listed in tax records as a farmer, storekeeper and tanner - inherited the property.

It stayed in the Konigmacher family until it was purchased by Martin and Mary Zimmerman in 1914.

More recently, a portion of the residence housed Sandstone Manor Gift Shop, operated by Polly Gainer and Bonnie Wike. They sold the property in 2003 to Bryan K. Sweigart, who sold it to 830 Associates LLC almost seven years later.

To accommodate a real estate office, the 2 1/2-story house required quite a few upgrades, Kline said.

"We did everything," he said. "There's all-new wiring and plumbing," as well as energy-efficient windows and insulation, a metal roof, central air conditioning, and a handicapped-accessible entrance and rest room.

A section of the second floor was rebuilt, he said, and some siding and Flexlite were added to the exterior. Much of the stone, however, is still exposed.

Middle Creek Builders, Ephrata, was the general contractor, and Tom Weaver, also of Ephrata, was the architect.

A summer kitchen just behind the house - which Musser calls "the eBay department" - is being used to store old shutters, hardware and other leftovers from the renovation that "we hated to throw away," she said.

The house also has a "never-ending spring in the basement," Kline said, and a well out back that's been covered with a grate.

"It looks like a wishing well," Musser said.

Another notable detail is the small Plexiglas window exposing the original interior, in which the plaster is made of straw rather than horsehair. "It's like a time capsule," Musser said.

Kingsway didn't have to change the inside configuration, but walls were painted and the random-width, wide-plank floors were cleaned.

Eighteenth-century details - hardwood floors, a spiral staircase and original doors - were retained as much as possible, Musser said.

Perfect examples are in the conference area, which features a built-in antique corner cupboard and one of the house's six fireplaces.

Contact Sunday News staff writer Paula Wolf at

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