The Calder House

If you stand at the crossroads of Pennsylvania Route 191 and Pine Mill Road in Equinunk and then turn to face an old white house with a green roof, you will be looking at the headquarters of the Equinunk Historical Society. This same house was once the farmhouse of H.N. Farley’s Equinunk Manor Dairy Farm and later the Earl and Ethel Lord boarding house. When the Lords purchased the house in 1915, they knew it to be over 100 years old but no documents existed to absolutely prove it. A very early parchment map owned by Ann Preston Vail shows two structures, one of which may well be this house. This map, known to be authentic, was handed down in the papers of Samuel Preston (land agent, manager for Henry Drinker of Philadelphia, and great-great-great-grandfather of Ms. Vail). Henry Drinker was a large land holder in northeastern Pennsylvania. The land, amounting to 2222 acres, was originally surveyed as of December 8th, 1773, for the Proprietors (or William Penn family) as Equinunk Manor. Preston acquired the land from Penn’s heirs in 1812. It then passed to his sons, Paul and Warner, in 1831. They then sold it in 1833 (recorded in 1834) to Alexander Calder and Israel Chapman. This was the last sale of the entire tract. These two divided it the same year, Calder retaining land on both sides of the creek in Equinunk, and Chapman taking the land up-creek.

H.N. Farley bought the Calder lands and buildings from the estate of Joseph Calder in 1879. The next sale was to the Lords in 1915. They sold it to Martin Perrone in 1949, when it was converted into a barbershop and beauty parlor. Scott and Donna Eldred bought the house in 1969 and this was followed by the Christine and Ross Hessberger purchase in 1971. The Equinunk Historical Society bought the house in 1983.

The original part of the house exhibits the Greek Classic Revival style of architecture. The asbestos shingles, put on by Martin Perrone, were removed and the hidden old clapboard siding was newly painted in July 2003. Following a generous bequest from the estate of Thomas Seccia in early 2008, the Board of Directors decided to build an addition to the Calder House. This had come up for discussion years before, but no one could agree on the plans nor was there enough money to build at the time. Michael Chojnicki from Calicoon, New York, was selected as the architect and in collaboration with architect Elizabeth Davidson from Hancock, New York, a design was finalized.

Local builders Alan and David Haviland, of Haviland Building and Remodeling, won the bid for construction and ground was broken in November of 2009, after the old summer kitchen was razed. Their excellent work produced a building, completed in early 2011, that flows seamlessly from the old to the new. Many folks who have seen it for the first time thought it was always that way. Another generous bequest from the estate of Curator, Floyd Schnakenberg, generous support from members and friends, and a loan, provided the funds to finish the building. The new addition makes the Calder House a state-of-the-art handicapped accessible facility with an elevator, new meeting room (Calder Hall), permanent space for our Indian Canoe exhibit, new exhibit space, kitchenette, new bathroom, storage space, and more.

There is much more information on the house contained in books and papers available at the Museum.