This was another request made from the same reader who was intrigued about the house on Cathcart Road. This time, he was curious about this particular area in Whitpain Township with the horse farm around Morris and Cathcart Road, and wanted to learn more about it before the housing development occurred on Brentwood Drive.
So far in my research, I've been finding a lot of farms in the Whitpain Township area. Usually they are still standing and being used as residential or commercial properties. I think this was the first time I research a farm I didn't know it existed!
The first step in researching this property is to research the owners of the property. I took a look at the historic maps I saved on my computer, and it looks like this property was owned by the Rile Family before the turn of the 20th century.
Somewhere during the early 20th century a man named Stuart H. Heist (1875-1936) purchased the property, and expanded it more to raise his farm. There wasn't much about him except being a farmer, and raising lots of farm animals based on the ads on the Ambler Gazette. He was president of a pencil company called, "Blaisdell Paper Pencil Company" while owning the farm.
Regarding to the farm, there's nothing much to find except when Stuart Heist sold the farm.
The large acres of land Stuart Heist owned is currently spilt into 2 separate properties: The west side of Morris Road is now a developed neighborhood while the east side of Morris Road is now a horse farm and also one of the Wissahickon Trails.
The horse farm is actually the Blue Bell Equine Assisted Therapy who helps with your mental health issues by using therapy horses. This part of Stuart Heist's former property use to be empty until this place came about.
The Crossways Preserve came into existence before the Blue Bell Equine Assisted Therapy. This Wissahickon Trail is used to hike, observe wildlife, dog walking, and horseback riding.
"Crossways was originally a privately held farm by the Harris family. In 1997, Wissahickon Trails worked with Saly Glassman, who owns the neighboring Kindle Hill Farm, to acquire the land and turn it into a preserve."
- Wissahickon Trails
In terms of where Stuart Heist's house was, it's now gone due to housing development. As my reader had recalled, he thought there was a farmhouse that existed on what's now Brentwood Drive before it was torn down. Indeed, there was a farmhouse that existed during the late 19th century, and early 20th century including a barn and a garage, but there were no clues on what the house looks like. But it wasn't until I looked into the Whitpain Township Historical Sites & Properties page where I've been looking up surveys of these old homes I found from my past researches.
According to the Pennsylvania Historic Resource Survey Form, this home's former address was 956 Morris Road, and it perfectly aligns with where Brentwood Drive is currently located. This home was a Victorian-style home, but it didn't specify what kind of Victorian home it was, and there are MANY types of Victorian homes: it could either be a Queen Anne-style, a Stick-style, or a Folk Victorian-style home.
In order to determine the architectural style of this home, we have to look at the architectural features the house has:
Front-gabled, moderate pitch roof
Hipped dormer (possible addition later in the 20th century)
Physically, it doesn't look very elaborated. If this home was either a Queen Anne or Stick-style home, then this home would've had more elaborative decorations around the porch supports, included decorative trusses, a steeper roof to represent the Victorian-style home, etc. Right away, this home doesn't scream to me that this home was a Queen Anne or a Stick. This home fits more with the Folk Victorian-style (1870-1910):
"The style is defined by the presence of Victorian decorative detailing on simple folk house forms, which are generally much less elaborated than the Victorian styles that they attempt to mimic. The details are usually of either Italianate or Queen Anne inspiration; occasionally the Gothic Revival provides a source."
- McAlester, 398
It's always interesting to know what use to be there. Particularity this home that was gone due to housing development. To be honest, I never even knew this house existed until my reader told me about it.
So far, while researching these kinds of homes in Whitpain, I found that almost all of these homes don't really have any kind of historical significance. The architecture of these homes are very stunning, but with alterations and additions, they lost their integrity from its historical significance. That would explain why homes like this home in this post was torn down.
It was just a home. But it's not just a home to me.
To me, this home told a story of its existence during a particular time period. People love living in these homes because they want to be part of the community's history. Unfortunately, people just don't understand.
"Crossways Preserve." Wissahickon Trails. Accessed December 26, 2020. https://wissahickontrails.org/explore-the-watershed/find-your-trail/crossways-preserve.
"Distance Calculator." DaftLogic. Accessed November 24, 2020. https://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-distance-calculator.htm.
Hopkins, G.M. Atlas of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Page 031, 1871.
McAlester, Virginia Savage. A Field Guide to American Houses. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017): xv-xvi, 333-343, 345-370, 397-405
Mueller, A.H. Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., Plate 29, 1916.
Scott, J. D. Montgomery County 1877, Whitpain, Rahn Sta., Grater's Ford, 1877.
Smith, J. L. Montgomery County 1893, Whitpain and Worcester Townships, Bethel Hill, Fairview, Cedar Hill, Washington Square, Broad Axe Left, 1893.
Tariff Schedules: Hearing Before the Committee of Ways and Means House of Representatives: Volume 5 Schedules M and N. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1913): 5719.
"Wissahickon Valley Public Library's Ambler Gazette Collection." POWER Library: Pennsylvania's Electronic Library. Accessed November 24, 2020. http://digitalcollections.powerlibrary.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/wivp-gazett.
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