A piece of Orange history may wind up in Nashville if the bones of the home on the former Finer Farm are right for a Tennessee couple putting an addition on their 1780 house. If not Nashville, there’s also interest in New Hampshire—but the final destination could be anywhere in the USA for the old Orange homestead.
Ed Oberg, owner of Ashford Restoration, and his team are carefully dismantling the Turkey Hill Road home, salvaging floorboards, framing, sills and posts from the property which was once the site of the Finer dairy farm and cannery. Built sometime in the 1700s, the house sits on a five and a half-acre parcel that adjoins Turkey Hill School.
The town purchased the property from descendants of the original owners in July of 2016 for $325,000 with the intention of preserving it for possible future use. According to First Selectman Jim Zeoli, the property is in a desirable location given its proximity to Turkey Hill School. “We don’t have any use for it at this time, there’s nothing we’ve identified if for, but we wanted it for possible future needs,” he said. “If we didn’t buy it, it would be gone and no one who follows me would have it for town business.” At one time or another the old house had ties to several of the town’s fathers including the Woodruffs and Treats. Though he would have liked to preserve it, Zeoli pointed out that like other historical homes in town, the Finer house “is in the wrong location for now, in poor condition,” and prohibitively expensive to refurbish.
Through contacts from the Orange Historical Society, Oberg’s company was selected to handle removing the home. The town provides Oberg with dumpsters for debris removal but doesn’t pay any costs associated with dismantling the home. When Zeoli informed Oberg that another colonial home was days away from being demolished on the Post Road in front of Orange Fence, Oberg rushed over to salvage what he could from that home as well. “We salvaged some lumber and chestnut boards which are in really high demand,” Oberg said.
In the Finer home, when Oberg removed the kitchen cabinets, sink and sheetrock, he found the original plank wall and doorway leading upstairs still intact. “It had the original doorway with its blacksmith-made door latch, so that was really neat,” Zeoli said. “I asked that if they find anything of historical significance they return it to the town and Mr. Oberg agreed.”
According to Oberg, there’s a significant demand for the wide planked wood floors of yesteryear and the unique architectural panels and touches in colonial homes. “Floor joyce typically ends up in either new homes or restoration projects,” Oberg said. “Flooring is a desirable part of older houses, especially chestnut and oak. It has the right patina coloring and texture that new floors don’t. The boards are generally much wider. It wasn’t an option in the 1900s to cut it into smaller pieces like today.”
By Laura Fantarella – Orange Town News Correspondent