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The site sits in western PA on a country road, two and a half miles off Rt 119 in Marchand. The 26 acres are divided between farmland, a homesite and about 600 pine trees. It slopes gently from farmland to a valley about where the old house used to sit. This view is from the road and you can see the mini barn we put on the land in 2004 to be able to camp and store tools.
There is a gas well on the property that provides enough free gas to heat a home and fire a kiln now and then. It is quiet, peaceful and, at night, the Milky Way sits overhead.
The original 1836 farmhouse burned to the ground in 1998. This picture is taken from where the new building will be built. It looks back to the driveway and to the mini-barn.
We struggled with the decision to build a studio and/or a house. We finally decided to build a building that would accomodate both.
Before we could build, we had to design the building, get water, prepare the site and find a crew to build it.
For water, we chose to use the old spring instead of drilling a well. We decided to renovate it to accommodate a 1200 gallon holding tank. To accomplish that, we dug a tee across the spring to install perforated pipe to catch the water. Then we dug a hole to hold the tank. This picture is of the spring after the backhoe was done digging.
We then emptied the water, put sand in the hole, lowered the tank into the hole, hooked up pipes to have the water flow into the tank and covered it up. A submersible pump was put into the tank to pump the water to the house.
Other than the spring work to get water, we had to trim the pine tree branches that hung down over the driveway. We knew that cement and gravel trucks could not get in the driveway without hitting the branches. It was a difficult job trying to use a chain saw up 12 feet or more. We got the job done, thanks to my son, Chris who helped most of a hot summer day and the neighbor who picked me and my chain saw up with his backhoe. Also, thanks to my wife, Rita, who helped clean up the branches after they were cut down.
Now, the lumber, stone, and cement trucks can get in the driveway without trouble.
The interior will be post and beam, cut from hemlock logs. We found a local Amish sawmill that we purchased the timber from. Every week I made a trip with the trailer to haul a load. Each load was about 3000 pounds of hemlock timbers. I started in June and by September I had made 12 trips.
The Amish don't believe in having their picture taken, so I have to describe the gentleman who owns the saw mill. He is known as 'red beard' and is built like an ox. The 10"x10"x12' timbers weigh about 400 - 450 pounds just after they are cut. He can lift one end of a timber and set it on the trailer. I help by placing pipes under them to role them up on the trailer. When I reach our building site, I use old iron window weights as rollers to roll the logs off the trailer onto a stack and sticker them to dry out. I initially solicited help from friends, but soon found they got busy the evenings I unloaded the hemlock. Rita and I unloaded most of them ourselves. Here are some pictures of them after they are stacked.
Of course we couldn't start bulding without moving dirt around. One of the reasons we selected the location we did was that it was the most level place on the land. However one side was about seven feet higher than the other. That meant we had to hire an excavator to level the site.
While we had the bulldozer on site, we decided to bury the old house steps.
Rita had always wanted to drive a bulldozer. She got the chance. Here she is getting a lesson.
She went up the hill of dirt and almost turned the bulldozer over!
We also had to put in a septic tank.
To see the building progress, click here.