The 14-inch-thick stone walls of the McGinley House kept those who lived there warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
“There was no insulation because the stone itself acted as an insulator,” Monroeville historian Louis Chandler said.
Built in the mid-1800s, the McGinley House is the longest standing stone home in Monroeville.
The house, which rested on 30 acres of farmland, was known to locals as a mansion; most homes during that time did not have two stories. The house is named for Isaac McGinley, and the Tinsley and Solomon families were later owners.
In 1967, Westinghouse Electric Corp. bought the land for its proposed Nuclear Research Center, and council member James Mirro stepped in to prevent demolition of the house. The Monroeville Historical Society restored the home and uses it as a community museum.
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.
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.