I often drive past the house and stare into the master bedroom windows and wonder if we are going to have ” guests” lurking around the house. There is so much history associated with our property I can’t help but think a few people have left their souls behind in the house. While I prefer to only cohabitate with my family and really have no idea what I will do should I wake up and see a figure in my bedroom doorway, I know it is totally not out of the question.
We have had a lot of fun researching the property to find out what, if anything, could be lurking behind the walls. One of the “fun facts” about the property is that it served as the first stop for slaves seeking freedom on the underground railroad. Below is some information from a write up on the farm.
“The Mendenhall farm, Springdale, is part of a thousand acre grant purchased in 1703 by Benjamin and Anna Pennell Mendenhall and is the only property in the state of PA owned and lived on by descendants of the original owners. The original portion of the house is believed to date back to 1718 with a new wing added in 1836.
The farm lies within the area of the Battle of the Brandywine and family history tells of Private Joseph Mendenhall who was drafted into the Chester County Militia and fought in that battle. Later, the farm was the “coat holder” for the neighboring farm which was an important station on the underground railroad. Fugitives had to cross Springdale Farm to get from Delaware to the first station in PA and pursuers either needed permission to chase the slaves or had to take the long way round, either way the farm was a way to buy time for fugitives.”
The “new wing” of the house, or what I refer to as the main house has a date stone that validates the 1836 time frame, we haven’t found anything that validates the 1718 date for the original portion.
When we purchased the house it was so covered in vines that I didn’t even know there was a date stone on the side of the house. After the guys cleaned off the side stone and pulled out all the old grout the stone was finally visible. They cleaned it off and power washed all the stacked field stone so that they could repoint the whole side. The third picture is the refinished west side. Every stone was repointed and cleaned up and as you can see the result is pretty amazing.
By the time we purchased the house it had sat vacant for 8 years. There was a rumor that a homeless person took up residence in the house, and there was definitely evidence to corroborate that rumor. In the attic there was make shift bedroom and bathroom built between the rafters. When the prior owners were in the midst of trying to save the farm they built make-shift apartments in the the house to generate some income. I can only guess that the attic room was built with that intention. However, I’m not completely sure because of what my husband and his partner found when they were doing the demo work in the attic.
We were previously told that the house had been cleaned out by vandals over the years and that there wouldn’t be much if anything historical left on the property. However, there was 1 thing that was left behind for us to find. Imagine my husband’s surprise when as he was pulling drywall down from the rafters in the attic a book literally fell out of the ceiling onto his head. The book has a copy write of 1836 and is titled France. It is so cool! The pages are very brittle and every turn of a page results in it coming undone from the binding. So right now we have it tucked away where it won’t get touched or exposed to sun. Below are a few pictures.
One of the accessory barns on the property was a weigh station. When the property was in it’s prime and operating as a proper farm one of the sources of income was to sell cattle and hay. The original scale from the weight station is still there. I will attach picture shortly.
I hope you enjoy this little history of the farm!