York County Builder's Association Award:

2001 HONORABLE MENTION (Restoration Under $100,000):


Biesecker Mill Inn Farmhouse

History of the Building
Located six miles west of the town of York, Pennsylvania, established in 1741, is now a quiet place known
as The Biesecker Mill. Until recently, mills were the hub of rural communities. There have been mills operating
here from the 1700's until 1994. The Biesecker's owned and operated the mill from 1920 until 1994. This was a
very long time for a family to continue this operation.

The story of the mills, of which there were about 250 in York County, is not one of just buildings and machinery,
but of the lives of people. It is the story of romance along the mill race, of fishing, swimming, and ice skating at the
mill pond, of the good wheat and corn meal ground on the stones; it is sometimes, too, the painful accidents in the
mill, fights over water rights, and of bankruptcy.

The farmhouse we worked on was part of the Biesecker Mill complex. It was a Germanic Georgian Style built by John
and Ann Stauffer in 1792. In 1796, the kitchen addition was added to the main house. There were many locals employed
at the mill. the kitchen we remodeled apparently fed many of the people who worked at the mill. It was a very busy
operation at one time.

The house was constructted of stone with 12" thick walls. The couple that purchased the property has a tremendous
appreciation for historic buildings, and spent many hours researching homes from the 1700's era. The customers
provided us with sketches of how they envisioned this kitchen restoration. Many of their ideas came from their
research and observations of other homes from that time period.

Goal of this Project
The goal of this restoration project was to return this 1770's farmhouse kitchen back to it's original roots.

Existing Conditions
The original kitchen was a colonial style with an open-hearth fireplace for cooking. The original room had a
dirt floor, stone walls, and a pine plank ceiling with chestnut beams.

Over the years, the room had been remodeled several times. The hearth had been boarded up and drywall covered it.
The remainder of the walls had been furred out and drywalled.

Job Overview
The first part of this job was demo work, which was just plain dirty, and not particularly hard from a
technical level. However, when the renovation started, it required the skills of a master carpenter.

One of the many challenges of this renovation project was to maintain the integrity of the original
structure andn still give the customers an "up-to-date" end product. Because the customers had
researched 1700-era design and structure, they wanted attention to detail so the end product
would be sensitive to the farmhouse's original purpose.

Budget was a concern for the customers. Both the customers and we knew that there would be issues
that would have to be addressed as the renovation project moved forward, so we agreed to do the project
on a time and materials basis. The customers were happy with this, so cost could be controlled and they
could stop the project if costs got above what they had planned. For an example, none of the millwork
was going to be stained or polyurethaned so wew were able to use #2 grade materials to help cut costs.

Fortunately, the fiinished look was exactly what the customer wanted and it was delivered to them within
a reasonable remodeling budget.

Attention to Detail

WALLS: The walls were composed of several layers. Beneath the layers was the original plaster, which had
been parged over the stone walls. The stone wall adjacent to the main house was the original exterior
stone wall with rope mortar joints. We decided to preserve this wall. The two walls that encased the
stairwell were removed and rebuilt.

We milled random width pine boards with a beaded edge. Then we constructed the new stairwell enclosure
using this pine planking. The remaining walls were wire lathed, a brown coat of plaster was applied, then a
finish layer of plaster was added.

DOORS / WINDOWS: Due to their condition, two original windows from the kitchen were
removed. Replacement windows had been installed in the farmhouse in the 1980's. These were,
of course, removed and Kolbe and Kolbe double-hung all wooden windows were installed into
the openings.

The original framework utilized a mortise and tenon joinery system on the corners. The condition
of the framework on the interior and exterior was poor, and thus we had to recreated the framing
system to match the existing framework on the rest of the farmhouse. This was all field milled.

The original doors had to be removed from the kitchen. For one of the doors we removed, we had
a custom Kolbe and Kolbe door built with a transom above. The door was a 6-panel reproduction
of the original.

The rear door was a plank-style. The fram was still intact, but some of the original hardware was
missing. The owner had removed a 150-year-old black walnut tree from the front of the old building.
He had the tree sent to a sawmill, ripped into random planks, then kiln-dried. We recreated the plank
door using this material.

A local blacksmith was used to forge the hinges for this door. To connect the hinges to the frame,
the hinges had to be driven into the doorframe with a hand sledge. The hinges are attached to the
plank door by small rods that go completely through the door and both sides of the hinges on
either side of the door. These pins measured 2-1/2" long. The carpenter then takes two ballpeen
hammers, one in each hand, and has to hit both ends of the pin on each side of the door with equal
force simultaneously about 30 times to create a forged rosette to fasten the doors to the hinge. the
door had 14 pins. This 1700's technique was researched to help create the accuracy of the restoration.

The slide bolt for the door was field milled out of the same black walnut used for the door, and the
trim on the interior of the plank door was custom-milled out of oak to match existing molding.

CEILING: As stated earlier, the plank and beam ceiling was discovered after renovating the lath
and plaster from the ceiling. The planks had to be replaced due to their poor condition and the new
planks were 1" x 10' T&G poplar boards.

FIREPLACE / MANTLE: After the original fireplace was uncovered, we saw that the mantle was
sagging and in need of support. We reinforced the mantle with steel plates behind the mantle, and
used a 12" x 12" hickory post for support. The hickory post was located in Lancaster County from a
barn dismantling.