The Meredith House

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Some history of the house.
 
This house is one of several unique and historically significant houses in Gwynedd.
It is called "the Meredith House," named after Dr. Joseph Meredith, who owned it in 1814.
It was built in 1715 (or before) by Owen Evans and began life as a log cabin.
 
THE OLD HOUSE OF OWEN EVANS (LATER THE RESIDENCE OF CALEB
FOULKE, AND DR. MEREDITH). ETCHING BY MISS BLANCHE DILLAYE
 
"It was very old, Margaret Meredith says, when her father, Dr.Joseph Meredith, bought it in 1814."
- from "Historical Collections Relating to Gwynedd" by Howard M. Jenkins. Copyright 1884       
 

There is a bit of mystery about the above rendering, in that the house is reversed in the original plate.
(page 71 of "Historical Collections Relating to Gwynedd")

A close up of the drawing shows a shutter that doesn't open fully because it strikes the back of the fireplace. The same situation exists today but the picture doesn't agree with the house unless it is flipped horizontally.
 
The name "Meredith House" on the rendering shows it wasn't just printed backwards in the book. Why draw the house in reverse? In all likelihood it was made with a "Camera Obscura," which would project a reversed image onto the drawing paper, due to the arrangement of the lens and mirror. A larger image of the house is available here.

When Andrea purchased the house, the real estate agent (Jane Douglas, a member of several historical societies) referred to it as "the Meredith House." Using the Jenkins book and some old maps and atlases, we have verified that the house is indeed the "Meredith House."


It's not possible to take a good picture from the same angle as the drawing because there is a magnolia tree in the way.
 
The upper roof was replaced in 1999. The chimneys were rebuilt at that time, using hand made bricks.
 
The house as it may have looked in the 1700s. A stone house has been built directly against the Welsh log cabin.

 
Wm. E. Morris 1848 Map of Montgomery County

This portion of an 1848 map shows that the house is still in the Meredith family, 28 years after the death of Dr. Joseph Meredith.


There are seven references to this house in Jenkins' book. We found this odd until we realized that Jenkins could see the Meredith house from his own house! Looking at the above map, Jenkins' house is located approximately where the letter "t" in the words "Friends Meeting H" are written. Jenkins' house was built in 1885, so it isn't on this map.    

The caption under the plate in "Historical Collections" reads in part, "THE OLD HOUSE OF OWEN EVANS." On page 71 Jenkins writes, "Owen lived on the Meredith place, and I think the old house there, still standing, was built by him."

     In 1698 Thomas Evans, one of the two men who purchased Gwynedd Township for the "North Wales Company of Friends", selected 1049 acres in the center of the tract as his own. While still living, he split his land up into four parts and gave it to his four sons, Evan, Owen, Robert and Hugh. In 1715 Owen received 306 acres. Andrea's house is on the land given to Owen. (Thomas Evans moved to Goshen, PA in 1722 and died there in 1738, being 87 years old. In his will he gives Owen the remainder of his land, which was probably the area where his house and barn were located. By the 1750s Owen's son Samuel is living in his grandfather's house.)

     Owen was 12 years old when he arrived in the forest of Gwynedd. When his father deeded him the land he was 28. Owen's house was a short walk through the woods from his father's house. Both houses are on high ground with a small valley between. In the valley is a creek named "Evan's Run". The creek is still there today. According to records, "Owen was a Quaker of honest and sincere disposition." In addition to being a Justice of the Peace, he was a church Elder for 14 years. He was married twice, his first wife having died after giving him four children. He raised a total of five children in this house, and died here in 1757.

     When the Welsh settled Gwynedd they built log houses. A general plan was followed pertaining to the dimensions and layout of the house. Once they were situated they then built more permanent stone houses. The stone houses were built in close proximity to the log houses. One may surmise that none of the log houses have survived to the present day. Of the dozen or so original families that settled Gwynedd, we (Andrea and I) have so far discovered only the homes of Thomas Evans (Owen's father) and Robert Evans (brother of Thomas). Both are beautiful houses made of stone.

What is the historical significance of the Meredith house?

    
The Welsh log house built by Owen Evans still exists under the stucco!  Also under the stucco is the stone house built as an addition to the cabin. In the attic is the top of the stone house before the roof was tied together to make them one building.


Inside the log house.
 
View of the interior of the log house. (2014)
 
Log house fireplace. It is 7 feet long and 4.5 feet high.

Inside the stone house
 
Front interior of the stone house.
 
Stone house fireplace. The mantle and facade seems to be a decorative addition, though it is still a functioning fireplace.
 
Doorway from the stone house to the log house. Each house has its own front door.
 
Front of the stone house as seen from the log house.

 
The log house was found by accident while running a wire through the wall to power an outside light.
Under the stucco and lath board were found hewn chestnut logs 12 inches or more thick (difficult to see in this picture).

There is no bark on the logs. Owen's father, Thomas, also had a log cabin of "un-barked" logs.
These cabins were superior in construction to other settlers' cabins, and both were incorporated into the larger stone houses.


 
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