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Unison Houses, Businesses, and Churches

The buildings and residences of Unison past

"Mary Phillips House"


Built ca. 1810 with later additions, this charming 1 Ĺ-story was constructed of stone, now overlaid with stucco. The house originally had an exterior-end stone chimney that was later replaced with the current semi-exterior-end brick one. Details include 6/6 windows, a 1-bay pedimented portico with square posts and a 2-rail balustrade, and a 6-panel front door.

The house was originally a 3-room plan but an interior partition was removed creating a hall-parlor plan. The woodwork, including double-architrave trim framing 6-panel doors and chair rail with a pattern of alternating reeding and X motifs, is fairly sophisticated for such a small and unpretentious dwelling.

It is always interesting to note features of a house that incorporated elements necessary to the time - especially those that related to the farming customs at the time. Before our modern livestock laws demanded fencing in of farm animals it was common practice to allow them freedom to wander and graze on common lands. Thus, the owners of nearby houses would erect fences to keep the livestock out, and their gardens safe. The elevated entry with steps up was a common construction in rural towns to prevent this ever present wandering livestock, most notably pigs, from making a sudden appearance in the parlor, as most houses had open doors during the warm months to allow better air circulation. Since pigs cannot climb steps or walls, just two or three steps leading up to the dwelling entrance was enough to deter the most determined porcine, cow, or sheep. This dwelling shows that classic raised entryway, along with a covered entrance porch.

A shed-roofed rear brick wing (also stuccoed) appears to date to the mid-19th century, while the exterior-end stone chimney on its west side is modern. The large 2-story rear wing with semi-exterior-end chimney is also a modern addition.

The property also has c. 1880's Blacksmith Shop - a single-story, frame building with the classic Virginia tin roof and an interior-end brick flue. Henry Saffel owned the property in 1894 and was listed in a state gazetteer as a coach and wagon builder.

The shop was converted into an artistís studio by the current owner who uses the facilities now to make decorative tile.

Description excerpts from the National Park Service OMB No. 1024-0018.
Photos courtesy of F. Hillman
All photographs by Flora Hillman. All Rights Reserved.