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Historic Monroeville houses getting some TLC

| Monday, July 10, 2017, 1:33 p.m.
Louis Chandler, with the Monroeville Historical Society, stands by the fireplace in the main room of the McGinley House, believed to be the oldest existing stone house in Monroeville.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Louis Chandler, with the Monroeville Historical Society, stands by the fireplace in the main room of the McGinley House, believed to be the oldest existing stone house in Monroeville.
Louis Chandler of the Monroeville Historical Society, by the fireplace in the main room of the McGinley House in Monroeville.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Louis Chandler of the Monroeville Historical Society, by the fireplace in the main room of the McGinley House in Monroeville.
Windows that are in need of repair and restoration at the McGinley House. The McGinley House is believed to be the oldest existing stone house in Monroeville. Lillian DeDomenic  |  For The Tribune Review
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Windows that are in need of repair and restoration at the McGinley House. The McGinley House is believed to be the oldest existing stone house in Monroeville. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune Review
Louis Chandler, with the Monroeville Historical Society,  talks about the room full of miniature houses on display in the McGinley House. The display was inspired by Pittsburgh resident Diana Caplan and acquired by the Monroeville Historical Society for preservation. The McGinlley House is believed to be the oldest existing stone house in Monroeville.  Lillian DeDomenic  |  For The Tribune Review
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Louis Chandler, with the Monroeville Historical Society, talks about the room full of miniature houses on display in the McGinley House. The display was inspired by Pittsburgh resident Diana Caplan and acquired by the Monroeville Historical Society for preservation. The McGinlley House is believed to be the oldest existing stone house in Monroeville. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune Review
The McGinley House is believed to be the oldest existing stone house in Monroeville.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
The McGinley House is believed to be the oldest existing stone house in Monroeville.
The McCully Log House, built in the early 1800s, is among the oldest structures in Monroeville.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune Review
The McCully Log House, built in the early 1800s, is among the oldest structures in Monroeville.
The main living quarters in the McCully Log House, built in the early 1800s. The house is one of the oldest structures in Monroeville.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
The main living quarters in the McCully Log House, built in the early 1800s. The house is one of the oldest structures in Monroeville.
Louis Chandler, with the Monroeville Historical Society, conducts a tour of the McCully Log House, pointing out section of the building that need repairs.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Louis Chandler, with the Monroeville Historical Society, conducts a tour of the McCully Log House, pointing out section of the building that need repairs.

More than 20 years ago, the Monroeville Historical Society played a game of real-life Lincoln Logs.

A log cabin known as the McCully House was stripped of its wood, piece by piece, and moved from its location on Queen Drive behind Monroeville Mall. The cabin was rebuilt to stand next to a local landmark counterpart, the 19th century stone McGinley farmhouse.

Both historic homes — The McCully House dating to the early 1800s and the McGinley House to the mid-1800s — are tucked away on McGinley Road and represent a piece of Monroeville history.

But years of deterioration have created a need for work at both properties.

Louis Chandler, a Monroeville historian, said the two centuries-old homes need maintenance and upkeep just like any modern building.

“There's a lot of problems, but simple solutions,” Chandler said.

The Monroeville Historical Society is doing work to the houses as funds allow, said maintenance coordinator Donna Ciarcinski, but membership in the society is dwindling and money has been lacking.

“Repairs need to be done no matter what the age,” Ciarcinski said. “We do that while trying to keep it to have the look and feel of the time period.”

At the very top of the society's to-do list is a major project scheduled to start this month. Roofs on both houses are to be replaced, beginning with the McGinley stone house.

The McGinley roof hasn't been redone since the historical society took the building under its wing more than 40 years ago. Ciarcinski said the job is long overdue.

Another major project is to tackle water runoff that causes flooding in the McGinley House basement and erosion of the path previously built to deter the water. This has been an issue in the past, Ciarcinski said, and she hopes that an Eagle Scout will consider the volunteer work as a project.

In addition, window trim is flaking heavily, and needs to be repainted.

Because of a lack of volunteers, work on the herb garden outside the houses has been overlooked, so the group is downsizing it in order to make it easier to maintain. The group is seeking a consistent volunteer to maintain the garden.

The McCully House has its own list of projects. Logs and beams need to be repaired, and chinking throughout the two floors needs to be replaced after years of critter and weather damage.

Chinking, the sealant placed between the logs to keep them together, used to be a mixture of mud, straw or whatever was at hand, Ciarcinski said, but today there is a more permanent solution.

“Now, they have products that have the look and feel of original chinking but holds up a lot better,” Ciarcinski said. The floorboards on the upper deck also need to be replaced, and work on the exterior of the house will follow the immediate demands once money is available.

McCully House

Since it was built in 1810, the McCully Log House has been added onto, renovated, taken down and put back together.

But the two-story log cabin still is considered one of the longest-standing buildings in Monroeville. It now is a neighbor of the McGinley House and was restored to its original condition.

The house was built by John McCully, a block away from his brother James' log cabin. James McCully's cabin also stands today as a family home on James Street.

When John McCully's house was scheduled for demolition in 1992, the Monroeville Historical Society intervened and eventually moved it to its new location on McGinley Road.

How to tour

Tours of both houses, as well as other historic landmarks, are available upon request. To schedule a tour of both the McGinley and the McCully houses, contact Louis and Lynn Chandler at 724-327-6164.

Christine Manganas is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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