There is a house in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania that is over 300 years old. This farmhouse, set back from the street stands on a heavily wooded lot of several acres.
Because of the changing demographics of the area, an out-of-state owner, and the location of the house on the property, this significant influence on our locale has been forgotten. This architectural time capsule may be the only one of its kind in this area, due to its extraordinary and unique blend of styles. It has been altered considerably over the three hundred years of use and what now exists is a complex structure built and rebuilt as demands upon it changed and expanded. The growth of the family in size, wealth, and prominence has been significant. By shifting attention from purely architectural evidence to the history of the families who owned the house, clues to the size and use of the house might be found.
Architectural evidence alone is sometimes conflicting and it is not the purpose of this report to affirm indisputably certain dates of construction and physical appearances. Rather, the purpose is to coordinate the architectural evidence at hand with the historical evidence that has been researched up to now, in order to gain a clearer picture of the history of the house as a whole. Comprised of the original section and three separate additions, the house represents four different architectural eras.
The original 17th century section built by Everard Bolton, a Founding Father of Cheltenham, is a Quaker Plain style. The first addition was built c. 1790 by the Jones family, who later became activists in the Hicksite schism. The second addition a Second Empire style, was built in 1850 by the prominent Haines family, as well as the fourth and final addition built in 1891 in a Late Victorian style.
This property is part of the Haines family’s trilogy of historic sites, two of which, Wyck and Grumblethorpe, are located in nearby Germantown. At the time of the Civil war the site was significant to local commerce as the family, who were prominent horticulturalists, established the Cheltenham Nursery here. Several historically recognized rare plantings still thrive on the property today.