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2nd annual Groveville & Yardville Reunion Saturday, September 10 at 1:00pm at Alstarz Sports Pub (alstarzsportspub.com), Bordentown, NJ 08505

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Owl House

Much of this information gathered and written in 1914, The Owl House is located on the East Side of Route 156, then the Yardville - Bordentown Road, at the intersection of the Yardville – Allentown Road.  The top photo was taken in 1914, the bottom photo is the house today.
Visitors to Yardville have an opportunity to see two of the most unique homes in the State of New Jersey, homes that are virtually hand-carved.  They are the properties of William H. Mount, the Postmaster and George DeVennaville Keim, a nephew of Joel Middleton.  The last named did the carving in both instances.

The Keim home is the more extensively carved because it was the homestead of the Middleton who died about 10 years ago.  Middleton a cabinet maker by trade, was a very handy man and spent all of his spare time in carving, painting and drawing, although he was never taught the arts.

The Keim Home, the picture of which is picture here, was an old fashioned homestead, without any veranda or front porch, Middleton, conceiving the idea th4 idea that the house would be greatly improved by the addition of a carved veranda and cornice, set out to do the work.  Days and nights were consumed by his carving wood by hand and in piece-meal style.  When he had completed his labors, he erected the porch and placed a new cornice around the building.

When finished, the exterior o0f the house presented a fine appearance.  In fact his work was so praiseworthy that it attracted the attention of the residents of the vicinity.  As a result Mr. Mount had Mr. Middleton do some work on his property?  Over the center of the Keim home is carved an owl, surrounded by bunches of grapes, acorns, and leaves.  Directly above the owl or on the angle of the roof is carved a Sea Dragon.  The cornice of the house is carved with leaves.

In the interior, the skill of Mr. Middleton is illustrated.  On the walls are numerous color painting of scenes in that vicinity and also of gunners with their dogs in the field.  One view, in particular, a view of Lakeside Park, in two parts, showing the mansion house and the old barn, that was recently torn down to make way for modern improvements, this attracts the favorable attention of visitors.
Having been a cabinet maker, Mr. Middleton constructed many pieces of furniture.  A Parlor Table, Book Case, and a Bedroom Suit are evidence of his skill in that line.  In addition to having been talented in the art of painting and carving, Mr. Middleton was somewhat of a cartoonist.  His drawings found a ready market.

He was also an Undertaker and years before he died he made his own coffin.  Before his demise, however, it was destroyed and Mr. Middleton was buried in a more modern casket.

For some reason Mr. Middleton never named his homestead.  At one time he started to carve some words on the side of the house, but after he had “The” finished, he quit.

Edmond Middleton, a relative and Episcopal Clergyman, spent many of his younger days at the house and found enough material for a fiction story from among the charters in the vicinity.  The title of his story was “Gaskill’s Gold Mine”.  The story of a Yardville resident, believing he had found a gold mine in the rear of his house, had employed an expert mining engineer from New York to make soundings.  The near-discoverer had a golden haired young woman in is house and the engineer decided that she was the only gold mine in the village.

In carving the piece for his home, Mr. Middleton was assisted by his nephew, Mr. Keim, then a boy.  Mr. Keim has a number of paintings about the home that he has executed himself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this!! we always admired the unique exterior carvings and wondered what the story was behind them.