Restoring the Spangler Farmhouse
By The National Park Service
When the historic Joseph Spangler farmhouse and buildings were purchased and donated to the Gettysburg National Military Park in 1991, all of the buildings were in a deplorable state.
The 1850s two-story brick farmhouse had been poorly heated, and the weight of a heavy slate roof had caused numerous stress problems in the attic section of the structure.
The masonry was in poor condition and at least six inches of standing water covered the cellar floor. Paint was peeling, boards were rotted, and the windows were in poor condition.
The summer kitchen was not much better. This building, which probably pre-dates the house, had quite a bit of rot in the lower sections of the siding and frame. The foundation was in very poor condition.
Of all of the farm buildings, only the barn was in good condition. That was painted in 1994-95, but the other buildings had to languish until extra funding could be found.
Temporary preservation efforts took place in 1996 when the old slate roof was stripped away and a temporary asphalt shingle roof was applied. This helped preserve the house until 1999 when funds were available to perform more intensive work.
The crews began by closely studying the historic fabric of the house and the interior alterations that had taken place. Plumbing, electrical wiring, and some flooring had all gone bad, and much of it had to be removed. The cellar was pumped dry and the walls sealed with mortar to prevent any seepage into the foundation and interior. Hazardous materials were removed and a new floor installed in the rear of the house so that it was stable enough for foot traffic.
In 1999, the park's preservation and maintenance crews tackled the historic restoration of the Joseph Spangler Farm House and buildings.
The Spangler farm is located on the Hanover Road, Rt. 116, and sits across the road from East Cavalry Battlefield, the site of the climactic cavalry battle on July 3, 1863.
Built in the 1850's, the Spangler home was originally a two-story brick farmhouse. Family growth and a change of owners altered the farm and its buildings.
A wood-frame addition with an interior kitchen was added to the southern elevation of the original brick house. An L-shaped porch was also added and a slate roof applied over both the house and porch. The pre-Civil War summer kitchen was saved, but other buildings were added to the site, as it was active as a working farm up until the mid-1970's.
The exterior of the house needed the most work. The porches were in such poor condition that they had to be almost totally removed and new joists and decking installed.
The porch roof framing was salvaged and repaired and the posts scraped and primed for paint. Color samples were retrieved from all elevations of the house, including the doors and windows, and the hazardous lead paint was stripped away and removed.
A fresh coat of paint worked wonders and helped preserve the older wood siding and porch details. After mortar repairs were made to the brick gables and chimneys, a new slate roof was installed to match the old roof.
New gutters, spouts and drains were put in place and the house had miraculously returned to the way it probably appeared at the turn of the century.
The Spangler Summer Kitchen was also repaired and preserved at the same time.
The summer kitchen had many structural problems. The interior floor and joists were in such poor condition that little of it could be saved, though most of the floor decking was salvaged and reused.
The porch decking was in such disrepair that it all had to be removed and replaced with treated floor joists and new fir decking. The old slate roof was removed and new slate installed. Poor siding was replaced or repaired and the foundation was repaired with fresh mortar.
A coat of primer and two new coats of paint has brought back the summer kitchen and re-established the building's historic integrity.
Gettysburg National Military Park is located at 97 Taneytown Road
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 17325.
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