SHICKSHINNY HOME OWNER RECEIVES HISTORICAL AWARD
The George Washington Search Homesteadas it is called in the Deed Book at the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Courthouse is located at 56 South Main Street, between Butler and Furnace Streets in Shickshinny, Pennsylvania. The Federal style structure which now measures 25 feet X 53 feet was located on a parcel of land 50 feet X 232 feet X 259 feet X 142 feet. First visual impressions of the home from South Main Street are deceiving as to its size, character, and uniqueness. A closer look from the Butler Street side gives the observer a clearer picture as to the massiveness of the home as well as its charm.
The homes foundation is built with faced stones purchased in the 1840s from the local stone quarries located in and around the town. The foundation supports main beams of 8 inches X 10 inches in conjunction with beams of 3 inches X 10 inches. The home was built with double-plank construction and has redwood siding.
This two-story structure features a balcony on the second level off of the back bedroom and a walk around porch on the first floor, front side of the house. The roof of the house is shingled and shows two chimneys; one chimney for coal, which is the central heating source, and the other chimney for wood burning in the sitting room.
Upon entering from the rear of the home, one feels a step back into history. An interesting feature is the seven doors leading from the kitchen to other areas of the home. The kitchen acted as the main artery of the home to channel people to different rooms. A remarkable, still functioning, black and nickel Beechwood coal stove is located prominently in the corner of the kitchen. The ashes from the stove drop through the kitchen floor into a collection bin located underneath in the cellar.
The home contains two stairways from the second floor. One stairway leads down to the foyer, which was used as a Reception area for Dr. Miron Briggs(prior owner of the home) patients. The other staircase leads to the kitchen so as not to disturb the other members of the household. This kitchen staircase is somewhat narrower and steeper than the foyer staircase.
The decorative interior wood of the house is milled chestnut finished with tung oil or linseed oil. The floors are finished oak.
Another interesting feature of the house is that it has one of the first intercom systems. The intercom was installed and used by Dr. Miron Briggs to converse with his patients. The intercom is still operational and runs from the outside front door to the second floor hallway.
In the sitting room is located a beautiful, functioning Keystone Style fireplace. This fireplace is exceptionally efficient and easy to maintain. All of the ashes and wood fall through the fireplace base into a collection bin in the basement. The fireplace draws air from the basement and not from the sitting room.
One of the most beautiful features of the home is the leaded, stained glass leaded windows that adore the rooms. They are truly unique and give each room a charm of its own.
Other notable interior features of the home are: a total of 13 rooms, the separate nursery off of the master bedroom, plaster walls, 10 foot high ceilings, a medium-sized pantry with floor to ceiling storage, and brass plumbing located on the outside of the walls.
The first major modification to the home was when it was lifted and moved back 11 feet to accommodate a two-lane highway / Route 11. The original one lane narrow road that ran in front of the house was called The Warriors Path.
A detached livery stable was destroyed by fire in the late 1800s. In 1995 the Carriage House was completely destroyed by a fierce snowstorm that caused it to collapse under the weight of the snow. Francene had the Carriage House rebuilt on the same foundation to the exact dimensions and details of the collapsed structure.
George Washington Search Homestead one must not only look upon the uniqueness of the structure, the year it was built, the style of the home, etc., but also one must look more closely at the history of the area at the time so as to better understand the importance and significance of the Homestead.
By 1800, Shickshinny was rapidly becoming a thriving business center. The chief cause of this growth was the fact that the town offered the only access to the river for 16 miles along its length. This specific location made it most favorable to establish a trading and commercial center. Mr. Lot Search, one of the towns founders, reported that Shickshinny was the commercial point for 10,000 agriculturists back of the mountain.
The original proprietor of Shickshinny, including the entire valley and reaching back on the hills, was Ralph Austin. Austin was the first permanent settler in 1782. His remains rest on the hill overlooking the town. It is said that there was a family by the name of Crossley that had accompanied Austin and who had fled back to Connecticut with him after the massacre. Austin and his family returned as soon as it was safe to do so and rebuilt their log house and established a small farm. In addition to farming, Austin was known to take in travelers and strangers and thus became a hotelkeeper. In the terrible days of contention between Connecticut and Pennsylvania, Austin was juggled out of his land.
Matthias Hollenback came into possession of the Austin lands under the Pennsylvania claim, and by descent it became the property of his daughter, Mrs. Cist. Chester Butler married Mrs. Cist and after her death in 1857, the property was sold to a company of proprietors for $20,000. These proprietors were: Nathan B. Crary, George Washington Search, Lot Search, and Nathan Garrison, who plotted, planned, and partially laid out the Village of Shickshinny. The members of that firm survive today, except for Garrison, who died in 1862, survived by Mrs. Rachel Garrison and her children.
Shickshinny was formed from Union and Salem Townships. Union Township had been carved from Huntington Township in 1813. Three-fifths of the towns land came from Union and the remainder was taken from Salem. The petition for the incorporation of the Borough of Shickshinny was filed on August 1, 1861. 48 prominent and influential citizens signed this petition on November 30, 1861. Shickshinnys first officers were: Burgess, Jesse P. Enke; Council: George W. Search, B.D. Boons, John F. Nicely, and Tom Davenport; Secretary, George W. Search; Supervisor, Samuel Slippy.
The Methodist Protestants and Presbyterians built the first building constructed as a church in 1860. The cost of the church was $600 equally shared by both congregations.
By 1865, George Washington Search and Lot Search were wealthy businessmen. They were proprietors of a valuable gristmill that made flour, buckwheat, and feed. By 1873, they owned a brickyard and a plaster mill. In 1884, they established a water company for the town with George Washington Search as its president.
George Washington Search married Anna Elizabeth Nicely on May 24, 1849. They had three children: Hendrick, Mary Amanda, and F. Adele. George Washington Search passed away on September 17, 1905.
The George washington Search Homestead is located at 56 South Main Street, Shickshinny, PA. This home not only depicts the era when prominent homes were built with chestnut wood, double-planked walls and redwood siding, but also represents a strategic time in Shickshinny's local history.
The original owner and builder of the home, George Washington Search was one of four wealthy businessmen who purchased the surrounding lands back in the mid 1800s in order to develop the Borough of Shickshinny. George Search later surveyed the land, developed the village by lots and sold the individual properties. In addition to his business enterprises, George Washington Search still found time to contribute to the growth of the community. George was an active member of the town council and was one of the trustees for the first building constructed as a church, which was used by all faiths for several years. George Washington Search was not only a well-respected citizen, but also a prominent businessman and idealistic visionary as well.
His home, better known as the George Washington Search Homesteadhas been meticulously restored and preserved by Ms. Francene Tearpock Martini over the last 20 years. In her endeavors she has adhered to details: period construction methods, building materials, and architectural design. As an example, when the rain gutters needed to be replaced, Francene sought out a craftsman that was capable of installing copper gutters and piping in the period manner. Francenes love of the home can be viewed by all in her on going preservation and restoration so as to maintain the integrity of the home and the memory of its builder, George Washington Search.
The George Washington Search Homestead is a historical site that is extremely worthy of Recognition by the Luzerne County Historical Society. Mr. George Washington Search was a prominent businessman who played a major role in the founding and developing of the Borough of Shickshinny. The George Washington Search Homestead, Circa 1840s, stands as a testament and memorial to this idealistic visionary.
Not only is the George Washington Search Homestead worthy of recognition but also Francene Tearpock-Martini. Francene has meticulously preserved and restored the Homestead so as to maintain its historical integrity and significance for over the last 20 years. Francene is uncompromising when it comes to the preservation of the Homestead. She adheres to the highest standards of period details, material, and workmanship.
Francenes effort to preserve the George Washington Search Homestead has also had a positive effect on the town. Neighbors and towns people have started to take pride in their homes and property and maintain them to a level, which has not been seen in decades. In addition the Borough has raised distressed and abandoned dwellings and made monumental efforts to clean up and beautify the town.
It seems as though Mr. George Washington Search is reaching out from the past to provide a positive influence on the town that he helped to found through the endeavors of Francene Tearpock-Martini to Historically Preserve the Homestead.
From the Times Leader
A keeper of the past
Owner of historic home in Shickshinny awarded for preservation efforts
By MARY THERESE BIEBEL
Walk into Francene Tearpock-Martini's house, and you might want to dance across the hardwood floors.
Or visit long enough to gaze at a stained-glass window while soaking in a clawfoot tub.
Or maybe just see if you can guess where the seven - yes, count 'em, seven - doors lead from the kitchen.
Shickshinny community leader George W. Search built the historic home in the middle of the 19th century, and Tearpock-Martini has spent the past 20 years lovingly renovating and furnishing it with an eye toward retaining its old-time charm.
The Luzerne County Historical Society honored her efforts last night at its annual dinner by presenting her with its Historic Preservation Award for Restoration.
When someone works hard to maintain the integrity of such a building, historical society director Jesse Teitelbaum said, the entire community benefits.
"We can touch history," he said. "We can physically see what people saw years and years ago."
The historical society also honored the Conyngham Branch of the Hazleton Public Library, the Anzalone Office Building and First Presbyterian Church, both on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre, the Brainerd Church and School complex in the Sybertsville section of Sugarloaf Township and the Wyoming Monument Association.
Tearpock-Martini's home is the only private residence to be highlighted this year. The owner, a rehabilitation counselor who works with the disabled, says she doesn't really want any acclaim for herself but agrees the Federalist-style house with chestnut doors and redwood siding deserves attention.
"This is a treasure, this house," she said. "I feel honored to have it."
When Tearpock-Martini was growing up across the river in Mocanaqua, she and her parents often drove by the imposing, 13-room home, which faces directly east from a vantage point on South Main Street, Shickshinny.
Even as a child, she felt drawn to the place. She bought it at an auction 25 years ago - she prefers not to discuss the price - when she was working as an adjudicator and putting herself through King's College.
Other people purchased and took away most of the furniture, but Tearpock-Martini's mother bought the sturdy black Beechwood coal stove so it could continue to lend its character to the kitchen.
Though she has a modern range, too, Tearpock-Martini still enjoys cooking on the old model, from which ashes drop through the floor into a collection bin in the cellar.
"It's slow cooking," she said, and that seems to make food taste better.
The house has such modern amenities as television and central air conditioning, but other aspects add to an ambience of yesteryear.
When she needed to replace rain gutters, for example, Tearpock-Martini waited until she could afford copper piping similar to what had been installed decades earlier. "I won't compromise when it comes to my house," she said.
When she wanted to install a security door in the basement, her contractor found chestnut from the former Soviet republic of Georgia so it would match other woodwork throughout the home. The United States does not produce chestnut anymore, since a blight from Asia destroyed the trees in the early 20th century.
And when the carriage house collapsed under the weight of winter snow in 1995, Tearpock-Martini had it rebuilt to its exact octagonal shape and size.
Back in the main house, thick rugs protect the hardwood floors - but show enough of the gleaming boards for a visitor to appreciate. They're quarter-sawn oak, distinctive because they're cut on a diagonal.
When it's time for a shampoo, Tearpock-Martini rolls up the rugs and sends them to a professional cleaner. That's more expensive than having someone come and clean wall-to-wall carpeting, she said, but the old-fashioned beauty is worth the trouble.
"I want to enjoy my floor," Tearpock-Martini aid.
A tour of her home reveals pantry cabinets that extend to the 10-foot ceiling, an intercom system installed by former owner Dr. Miron Briggs, a second-floor balcony and a built-in gate designed to prevent any tumbles down the back staircase.
The decor includes such notes of interest as a delicate bouquet of dried roses on one of Tearpock-Martini's many antique desks, a wind-up phonograph that belonged to her grandparents, and an afghan adorned with pictures of golden retrievers - her favorite dogs.
As for the many doors of the kitchen, they lead to the pantry, dining room, living room, porch, a powder room, basement and the second floor. All those places are connected to the cozy cooking area, because that was the center of family life back in the 19th century.
But there's something else that makes the house remarkable - an almost indefinable sense of mystery.
"Living in an older home, you get to know its secrets," Tearpock-Martini said.
Does that mean there's a trap door?
Not to her knowledge.
How about a secret passageway?
Tearpock-Martini answers with a smile. "Maybe."
Congratualtions goes out to Francene for a wonderful job in preserving the rich history and heritage of our area.