|John Bishop House|
The Bishop House is one of those wonderful old homesteads that's tucked quietly away from all of the noise and hubbub that is much of New Castle County these days. If it weren't for the train, in fact, very few people would probably even know it was there. And though it was never a particularly prominent or important property, the Bishop House (and its accompanying barn) is a great example of one way old structures can last for two hundred years or more -- by growing. The oldest part of the house, in the center around the middle chimney, was built by John Bishop probably not long after he purchased the property from Charles Springer in 1805. Springer had erected first a log, then a frame house on the property, but it was Bishop who had the core of the current house constructed. Bishop's original home (built sometime between 1805 and 1816) is a two-story, fieldstone house of the one-room plan common in the eighteenth century. It has a full basement which, because the house is built on a hillside, is accessible through an outside door on the rear of the house.
The next part of the house added on was a two-story frame addition built on the east end of the stone section. With this addition, the original one room home came more into line with the nineteenth century Georgian style of having a symmetrical facade and a central staircase. This addition was in place by the middle of the century, but it's not clear who built it. It may have been Bishop, it may have been J. Dilworth, who is shown as owning the home on the 1868 Beers map, or it may have been an intermediate owner. Whoever the builder, this is how the house stayed for more than a century, until the last addition, a frame section on the west end, was put in place in 1970. Currently, the central stone section is covered in white stucco, while the frame sections have aluminum siding.
As the Bishop Farm's piece of the national register entry shows (it is one of seventeen sites grouped together in a thematic nomination of agricultural buildings in MCH), the house was not the only structure enlarged over the years. The barn, too, started out rather small and was enlarged several times over the years. It's likely that the barn needed to be enlarged to keep up with the changing needs of the farm, which started as a general, mixed farm but converted to a dairy operation. With increased livestock comes the need for increased feed storage.
|Bishop Barn and possible second dwelling|
In addition to the main house and barn, there are a few other structures of note on the property. First, there is a small stuccoed stone spring house at the base of the hillside. Also, a stone retaining wall, apparently contemporary to Bishop's home, runs behind the house and probably helps to shore up the foundation. Lastly, a fieldstone building now covered in siding (seen to the right of the barn in the picture above) may be as old as the stone section of the main house. It seems to be an auxiliary building now, but clues like the windows and the interior end chimney suggest that it might be the second stone dwelling listed for John Bishop on a 1816 property assessment. Taken all together, the John Bishop Farm is a beautiful piece of history in the scenic Red Clay Valley.