Plans are underway for the 39th Annual Christmas House Tour. The Governor Wolf Historical Society will open six private historic homes and four early buildings on Saturday, Dec. 7. The homes will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. This year’s theme is “Artistic Dates and Documents,” featuring dated frakturs, early birth certificates, old family bibles, dated quilts and more. The Home News will feature one of the homes each week until tour day.
This home on Newburg Road has been a work in progress for at least 200 years.
The property’s first owner, George Palmer, purchased the land from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1797. Palmer sold the property to John Dech in 1814, and it remained in the Dech family until mid-twentieth century. It has been the current family’s home since 1983. Although they have been unable to document when the original house was built, construction techniques point to 1780-1820. Neighborhood lore suggests that the house was originally the home of the Newburg Road toll keeper.
The house was constructed in four separate stages, and the interior has undergone numerous renovations. The original house is the section closest to Newburg Road. Constructed of stucco-covered fieldstone, it was built in the traditional Dutch farmhouse style. The brick rear half was constructed in two separate phases. Unfired brick was used for the first floor while fired brick was used for the second. The difference between the two floors is clearly visible since the unfired brick is softer and darker. The most recent expansion occurred during the winter of 2013-14 when they added two extensions that include a mudroom, bathroom, laundry, pantry, and screened porch. During the spring and summer of 2019, the aluminum siding was removed, the brick repointed, and the stucco reapplied.
They have been renovating the interior of the house one room at a time, attempting to preserve the house’s original workmanship without turning it into a museum. One of their favorite restorations is the dining room’s plank wall and walk-in fireplace that they didn’t even know existed until several layers of past alteration had been removed. They also gutted and rebuilt the kitchen, a process that revealed additional secrets of the house’s history.
On the same day, the Annual Historic Christmas Family Day will fill the GWHS campus from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Historic craftsmen will demonstrate, the 153 Civil War Coddington Reenactors will be encamped. Taste and watch hearth cooking, spinning and weaving, iron crafts, early powder horns and flintlocks, and more. There will be arts and crafts for children. Make this a yearly family destination. There is no parking or admission fee. A free-will donation may be dropped into our preservation jars if you wish. There will also be quality crafters selling their wares and fresh greens for sale. The Daily Grind in the Schoolhouse Café will offer food to take with you on the tour, or to enjoy there.
Ticket books are available- $25 advance and $30 day of tour. Booklets will be sold at S. Seem Antiques in Bath, Miller Ace Hardware on Rt. 329, Curt’s Cyclery in Nazareth, Country Capers in Bethlehem and Bath Drugs on Rt. 512.