Franklin County Couple Rebuilds Civil War Era Home | Leisure, outdoor activities and travel

When Stephanie and Cyrus Lehman of Long Lane Livestock in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania began modernizing their 150-year-old brick farmhouse, they knew they wanted to keep its charm.

“We wanted to keep parts of the house that would speak to its character,” Stephanie said.

Since 2020, the farming couple have been working piece by piece, slowly adding modern concepts while preserving elements they find appealing, like the kitchen’s rustic red brick backsplash.

The original layout had several rooms divided on the second floor, where the kitchen and living areas are located. The couple preferred an open-floor concept, so they knocked down the walls and replaced the home’s main support beam. This original beam had been in place since 1860 and was showing its age. Some of it was rotten and bent, which had a negative ripple effect on work done by previous contractors, said Cyrus, who happens to be a general contractor.

“It wasn’t very favorable for one end of the house,” he said. “We just had to cut that.”

Cyrus cast a footer to replace the original beam with laminate veneer.

Cyrus Lehman preparing the hay loft beams of the barn for display inside the house.

“There’s enough support to carry the weight of the roof down and the weight upstairs,” he said.

Additional support included posts from the hayloft of the original barn. Cyrus cut and cut up the posts and took them to a sawmill where they were sawn to fit the dimensions of the second story. The Lehmans wanted to preserve unique 19th century structural techniques, such as mortise and tenon joints, but most had to be redone.

“It’s smart for the time with what they had to do, but it doesn’t last very long,” Cyrus said.

The Lehmans spent days remodeling every wall on their farm. They peeled off the wallpaper, scraped off layers of paint, chiseled the horsehair plaster down to the bare frames, and replaced those layers with drywall.

“I wanted the walls to be nice and smooth,” Stephanie said.

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A before photo of the kitchen. Stephanie and Cyrus Lehman removed the layers of wallpaper and plaster that covered the walls.

Drywall has also improved the efficiency of home insulation, which can mean big savings on an old farmhouse. The kitchen was central to their renovation plans. This was also the most time consuming part as the room required electrical and plumbing work. Stephanie said they expected to redo the kitchen walls with drywall, but those plans changed when she discovered rustic red brickwork behind years of concealment.

To spruce up the brick color, the Lehmans added custom steel gray cabinetry at floor level and white cabinetry against the brick backsplash. Stephanie also found a 10-inch-deep white fireclay farmhouse sink to put it all together. The Lehmans are happy with the improvements, but they know that a centuries-old farmhouse is a lifelong project.

Stephanie said she looked forward to the day when most of the renovation is complete so she and Cyrus can enjoy the fruits of their labor before making any further adjustments for the children.

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Stephanie Lehman works on the walls and ceilings of the farmhouse.

But enough has been accomplished for the Lehmans to welcome Easter this year.

“Ultimately, throughout this process, we’ve been extremely blessed with very few setbacks,” Cyrus said.

“I think we’re finally getting to the Instagram reel part of this process,” Stephanie added.

You can follow Lehmans’ home renovation journey on Instagram at @longlanelivestock