|The McKennan-Klair House|
The land on which the house sits, like most of Mill Creek Hundred, was originally granted by William Penn. In 1706, John Ball, a blacksmith by trade, purchased the property from the original grantee. Ball had several land holdings, and according to Scharf, operated a bloomary (a furnace for the production of iron from ore) somewhere "near St. James Church", probably on White Clay Creek. It is not known exactly when Ball erected his home, but is thought to date to the 1720's. This oldest part of the house, the left side as you're looking at it, is made of brick covered in stucco, and has two windows on each of its two stories and a centered door. There is a kitchen wing on the rear. After passing through the hands of a John Robinson (and being the subject of a court-settled land dispute), the property was purchased in 1765 by Reverend William McKennan.
|From the Pennsylvania Gazette|
If the name sounds familiar, it's probably because the road not far behind the property, McKennans Church Road, was in fact named after him. The church, of course, is Red Clay Creek Presbyterian, where McKennan served as pastor from 1758 until his death in 1809. McKennan, who despite his religious positions owned several slaves on his property, was a pillar of the community for over half a century, and I'm sure will be discussed in more detail another time in a dedicated post. A year after Rev. McKennan's death, the property and home were sold to a farmer from Montgomery County, PA -- Frederick Klair. It was Klair who would soon expand the house and upgrade the farm.
In 1818, Klair built the fieldstone half of the house, which, like the brick section then almost a century old, is two stories high and one room deep. Because the lot slopes gently to the east (right-hand side), Klair's section of the house has a walk-in door to the basement on the side. A few years later, in 1823, Klair built a large stone, Pennsylvania-style bank barn on the opposite side of Limestone Road. This replaced an older frame barn that dated to the McKennan residency or earlier. The stone barn was torn down in 1978 to make room for a housing development, but it stood close to the road in what is now the backyards of two of the houses. There are also several late 19th century wood-frame sheds and shop buildings on the property, as well as a stone springhouse that I would guess dates to the early 19th century, contemporary with the other Frederick Klair additions. Finally, two 20th century additions were added to the rear of the house, but neither compromises the historical integrity of the earlier parts of the home.
|Springhouse behind the McKennan-Klair House|