@Styles.Render("~/Content/css2") Penrose Strawbridge Restoration Update
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Horsham Preservation & Historical Association

...the Future of Horsham's Past

Penrose Strawbridge Restoration Update

Restoration Updates

This page includes periodic progress reports on the restoration of the Penrose-Strawbridge House and other structures on the property. Most of the topics listed below also have their own pages with much more detail and additional photos.

Foyer

The front door to the house opens into the entry foyer. Like most of the house, the plaster here was either cracked, falling off, or missing. We also had to redo some of the plumbing in the 2nd floor bath immediately above the foyer so we removed most of the plaster and some of the lath in order to do the plumbing. The foyer was then replastered and painted in 2011..

Foyer Ceiling showing Exposed Lath

1721 Dining Room

Ironically, this almost 300 year old room did not need much work. We had the plaster repaired on the ceiling and walls and then repainted it. read more...

photo ceiling in 1721 room

1920s Sun Room

The sun room has been in poor condition since we began the restoration. It was added to the house by the Strawbridges in the 1920s and therefore really doesn't fit our goal of restoring the house to the 1890s. But it has utility while we do the rest of the restoration: storing firewood and equipment, painting shutters and doors, etc. At this point we have not yet decided whether to restore this room, tear it down, or remake it into something else... stay tuned. Read more about the sunroom.

Basements/Foundation

The basements under the Penrose-Strawbridge House are where most of the mystery of this old house begins. The current thinking is that the basement under the Penrose Library dates back to c1722 and is associated with what was likely one of, or the first structure built by Sir William Keith. The basement under the dining room was built shortly after (1722-37) and contains a mysterious arch and cistern which could be evidence that this building was at one time used or designed to be a distillery. Read the full story on the basements here.

photo of Cistern 1721 Basement

Despite being nearly 300 years old, these basements remain pretty much as we found them. Margaret Choate excavated several feet of rubble stone from the cistern but we found nothing significant. We added steel beams to support the floors above in 2005, did some pointing of the stone work in 2013, and also added a second oil tank in 2013. We presently have no further work planned for the basements.

photo of Main Steel under strawbridge room

Pent Roofs

Two pent roofs were added to the house probably c1875 on the east and west elevations above the first floor. The pent roof on the eastern facade was torn off by Horsham Township in 1997. The roof on the western facade was reshingled when Mrs. Strawbridge's executor replaced the roof on the house in 1996. HPHA replaced the roof on the eastern facade in 2008 with a new cedar-shake roof.

photo of New Pent Roof East Facade

The pent roof on the western facade is in bad shape and needs to be replaced as soon as we can raise the funds. Read more on the pent roofs.

photo of Pent Roof Support

2nd Floor

The 2nd floor of the structure was remodeled as a caretaker's apartment early in the project. All work, with the exception of the main stairway and the room above the Strawbridge Library, was completed by 2005.

The bathroom, above the entrance foyer in the 1810 section of the house, was remodeled into a modern bathroom. The entrance door was moved from the stair landing to opening into the room above the Penrose Living Room. The window on this room was not replaced since it is on the front facade.

The room above the Penrose Living Room in the 1810 section of the house has been converted into a bedroom. Renovations to this room mainly included painting.

The room above the 1721 Dining Room was added by the Penroses in 1830 and was probably originally constructed to be 2 rooms with a small hallway, as it was while the Strawbridges lived here. We removed (but saved) the interior walls and converted these rooms to a single living room for the caretaker. The original ceiling beams have been left exposed. We replaced the windows on the western facade in this room with historically accurate replacement windows. The windows on the eastern facade were repaired.

The back room was probably originally a closet that was converted into a servants bathroom by the Strawbridges. This was remodeled into a modern kitchen/laundry as part of the caretaker's apartment.

Work on the stairway and walls leading from the main floor to the upper floors is complete up almost to the 3rd floor as of May 2015.

The bedroom above the Strawbridge Library had a very serious sag in the floor. We removed the ceiling in the library in December, 2013 and reinforced the original rough hewn beams and then replaced the ceiling. This room still needs some work but is now being used as the office for HPHA' s executive director.

3rd Floor Bathroom

The third floor bathroom, located at the top of the main stairs and above the entrance foyer, was remodeled in 2010. This room had originally been a closet during the Penrose era and was converted to a bathroom by the Strawbridges, possibly before they moved it. The Strawbridges retained the clothes pegs on the wall and so did we. We replaced the commode and sink with modern pieces, and the tub with a vintage claw-foot tub.

photo of bathroom

This room has one window on the front facade of the building so we did not replace it.

This room is considered remodeled as of 2010.

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Foyer Ceiling Exposed Lath
The entry foyer to the Penrose Strawbridge House really needed a lot of plaster work
Foyer Ceiling showing Exposed Lath
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1721 Room Plaster Repair Ceiling
Ceilng of 1721 room in Penrose Strawbridge House
photo ceiling in 1721 room
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Cistern 1721 Basement
Cistern in the basement of the Penrose Strawbridge House. This is an unusual feature and may have been used to store water that was later used in a distillation or malting process
photo of Cistern 1721 Basement
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Main Steel under Strawbridge Library
Steel beam and column that we added to reinforce the floor in the Strawbridge Library at the Penrose Strawbridge House
photo of Main Steel under strawbridge room
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New Pent Roof East Facade
New Pent Roof on the East Facade of the Penrose Stawbridge House added in 2008.
photo of New Pent Roof East Facade
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Pent Roof Support
old pent roof on the west side of the Penrose Strawbridge House. Pent Roof is being supported due to it pulling away from the house.
photo of Pent Roof Support
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3rd Floor Bathroom
The 3rd floor bathroom was recently renovated
photo of bathroom
Horsham Preservation and Historical Association
The Future of Horsham's Past
900 Governors Rd | Horsham, PA USA 19044
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