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Friday, July 8, 2016

The "The Remarkable Edward Hand: Part II - Rock Ford: The Exterior" Story

Rock Ford, the home of General Edward Hand and his family.
This is the rear of the home where I entered on my tour.
It was an ordinary day. I parked the car in the lot right off Rockford Road and walked the long brick walk to the rear of a remarkable brick building with a beautiful white porch wrapping around three sides. Checking the time on my phone and the signs posted on the door, I noticed that the next tour was to begin in a few minutes. I found a spot on the wooden black porch bench and waited until the door opened. Soon the head of a woman, dressed in 1790s garb appeared. She looked at me and said, "I think I know you."  
The rear porch or colonnaded piazza. This porch was
built in 1966, after the original one rotted over time.
I replied, "Yes, and I recognize you, also." 

Seems my tour guide today for my trip through Edward Hand's House and Rock Ford Plantation, Debbie, lives in the Grandview Heights neighborhood where I once lived when my family was growing up. We talked about the old neighborhood and a few friends we had in common. Seems I was her only visitor for the trip, so we began the tour by walking around the beautiful porch, also known as a "colonnaded piazza," toward the front of the house.
Looking from the porch toward the 1780 Bank Barn.  In the
foreground is a garden while on the right of the garden are
two plots were an archaelogical dig is taking place.
The original porch rotted over the years and wasn't replaced until the house was restored in 1964, soon after the house was restored in the late 1950s. We talked about why it was known as a plantation.  Really doesn't refer to an expansive property as you might find in the South, but instead, to a large farm under cultivation that raised wheat, corn and barley. At the time the Hand family lived on the property, Rock Ford included about 177 acres of land on both sides of the nearby Conestoga River.
This is the tenant's farmhouse that
sits close to the main house.
 Initially Hand bought land in 1785, but didn't build the house until about 1792-1794.
The property was known as Rock Ford before the Hands bought it. It's name refers to the "ford", a place where the water was shallow enough to cross, as well as the "rock" from the rock outcropping on the property. Today Rock Ford Plantation encompasses 33 acres of land and sits within Lancaster County Park, although it is a private entity. While on the west porch, Debbie pointed out the two former archaeological sites close to the house. It is believed that buildings such as an ice house, bake oven, carriage barn and spring house were located there.  I learned of the buried artifacts that had been recently unearthed by a group of nearby Millersville University archaeological students who had been excavating the grounds. They had recovered thousands of artifacts such as cream ware from 1762 to 1780, buttons from men's coats and hand-blown bottles.
The front of the house which displays the Georgian Style of
 architecture with it's symmetrical exterior appearance. 
Front door with the semi-circular fan transom
 and decorative pilasters.

The artifacts will be catalogued, digitized and put on the Internet for all to view. Beyond the excavation was a 1780 fore-bay bank barn that was not original to the property, but disassembled in nearby Columbia, PA and reassembled on Rock Ford. Then Debbie pointed out a nearby tenant farmer's house from 1800 which, too, was moved to the Rock Ford Plantation from Soudersburg, PA in the 1960s.  It is an example of a typical farmer's house that would have been on a plantation. We then walked to the front of the house that was built in the Georgian Style of architecture.  Structurally, the building is ninety percent intact, due to the slate roof and shuttered windows that protected the home from the elements for many years. The name "Georgian" came from the Hanoverian Kings named George who reigned from 1714 to 1830.  The style is marked by a taste for symmetry and proportion. In this case the front of the house has five evenly placed windows on the second floor which have 12/8 window placement (12 panes on the top panel and 8 panes on the lower panel), four windows with shutters on the first floor with 12/12 pane configuration and a door with a triangular, pediment supported by decorative pilasters and a fanlight; semi-circular window with 13 panes.  
One of my altered Polaroids that displays
the side of the house facing the Bank Barn.
The roof is slate with two chimneys equi- distant from the center.  The brick on the upper part of the house is done in Flemish Bond style with the lower part done in English Bond. There is a belt course of bricks between the first and second floors and the bottom of the house has a water table feature which is a projecting course of bricks that is to deflect water from running down the wall and going into the lower level. With the exterior part of my tour now complete, we return to the southern entrance. Debbie opens the rear door and leads me into life in the 18th Century. Tomorrow I will take you on a visual journey of the interior of this beautiful home along the Conestoga River in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.    

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