1875 Italianate – Madera, PA

Added to OHD on 7/24/12   -   Last OHD Update: 4/12/20   -   34 Comments
SOLD / Archived Post
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2655 Main St Madera, PA 16661

  • $30,100
  • 5 Bed
  • 1.5 Bath
  • 3552 Sq Ft
Turn-of-the-century Victorian mansion stripped to the walls - needs 20th century upgrades and loving care to restore its grandeur. Special appeal to historians and architects.

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34 Comments on 1875 Italianate – Madera, PA

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  1. Debbie says: 8 comments

    This house has so much potential. Why the incredibly low sticker price?

    • Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 11869 comments

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      The way it sounds, it needs everything. I’m guessing that includes plumbing, electrical, etc. But without more information from the seller, I’m speculating.

  2. John C. Shiflet says: 5357 comments

    Good old house bargains can be found in Pennsylvania’s smaller towns especially in the western half of the state. I speculate as already mentioned that the house needs considerable work and upgrades-maybe its even gutted as the listing mentions “stripped to the walls”. The photos showing furnishings could have been taken earlier. In any event, houses of this kind require a careful, in-person inspection along with estimates for how much it would cost to make it suitable for a home again. Location seems to matter a lot in Pennsylvania; this same house might be priced much higher in another part of the state. Same situation just to the west in the State of Ohio.

  3. JSM says: 27 comments

    No mention of it but looks like a good roof is in order.

  4. kenny says: 82 comments

    There seems to be little here to identify or distinguish this house as Italianate. Typically, there would be a low slung hip roof (this one has a gable), with supporting corbels or pairs of corbels supporting a projecting eave (none to be found here), and perhaps even a campanile tower (again, none here). There is some nice detailing on this house but it doesnt’t visually read as Italianate (IMO).

    Madera is not much of a town, situated in central PA, it is not far from State College. It maybe be close enough to State College for a B&B. I have heard that B&B’s do well there.

    It is difficult to assess the condition of the house here, but it appears that someone did not have a tall enough ladder to finish painting the brick on the house. The ext. woodwork needs some help and the porch columns need straightening. Possibly some rotted wood, but without close inspection, its hard to say. My guess is that there is no A/C, sparse plumbing probably requires replacement, electrical probably needs to be rewired, kitchen and baths probably need gutting and remodeling, and a good heat source would be nice as Central PA gets pretty cold. There may be enough to work with here, but seems like a lot of work, and the cost of improvement may be cost prohibitive.

  5. kenny says: 82 comments

    I am happy to say that Zillow has posted several additional pics which help paint a broader picture of the house. They seem to be flattering.

  6. Christina N. says: 1 comments

    As someone who lives in the area and has recently went in and looked at this house, I will say, it is breath taking. However, it needs A LOT of work, alot more than I was hoping for. According to the neighbors and the paperwork, it has not been lived in (other than the occasional visit) for over 50 years. It needs new heating sources, wiring, plumbing, etc. It also needs a whole new roof and there is a spot where it has completed rotted through the roof down into the one bedroom and has cause a large amount of damage. The front porch, that is visible in these pics is in solid condition, but the back porch in another story. It’s a shame, such a large beautiful house that could have so much potential but it is in really bad shape. I was really hoping to be able to consider this, as my husband and I have been looking for a “project home”, but this one is just too much work. πŸ™
    Oh, and as a reply to the gentleman for the B&B, it is about an hour or so from State College.. πŸ™‚

    • Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 11869 comments

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      Thanks for the info on the condition of the house. 50 years is a long time for a house to sit with no one to look after it. I can imagine it’ll take a lot of money to get it in proper shape. Maybe someone will take it on soon. πŸ™‚

    • kenny says: 82 comments

      Christina, Thanks alot for the info. Since I still believe this may be one of the best values of all the houses here, I am still somewhat interested. Can you share any additional detail of your visit. Other than the damage you described, was the rest of the house in good condition? Plaster walls? Straight and level wood floors? Is the exterior wood trim in fairly good condition? – I didnt see any rot. Did you pay any attention to the windows? They also look to be in good condition. It looks like the front porch columns are crooked – do you remember about that?

      Thanks again for your first hand insight.

  7. kenny says: 82 comments

    Also Christina, I just found 110 photos of the house on http://Maderamansion.shutterfly.com/
    They are very helpful in assessing the condition of the house. It all looks better than I thought mostly because it appears that someone protected the wood floors with linoleum and carpet. Christina, If you get a chance, can you take a look at these pictures and indicate whether your visit was consistent with the pictures shown? Was the staircase solid? Thanks again.

  8. OldHomeLover says: 3 comments

    I didn’t jump in here sooner because I didn’t want to skew anyone’s opinions either way on the house since we were considering buying it, but it looks like we are signing tomorrow so I thought I’d post.

    This house is in pretty terrible shape. All the plaster and lathing was ripped out of the ceilings and many of the plaster walls are damaged though not beyond repair. The back side of the porch is literally collapsing onto the ground and the roof has been leaking into just about every room in the place.

    Nevertheless I was in love from the minute I saw it on Zillow! There are many solid points in the house’s favor, but I guess my main motive was it seems like one of those neglected beauties that can be saved now but not for much longer.

    Please wish us luck, I have wanted all my life to restore something like this and we can’t wait to get started… WITH A ROOF! Lol! The worst part I suppose will be all the months of doing the ‘necessaries’ (for this place: roof, porch, electric, plumbing just to name a few) before getting to the fun stuff like the pressed tin ceilings I picture when I daydream!

    • kenny says: 82 comments

      Congratulations!! What a wonderful project house, and I wish you the best with it. Once I found out the home was in Probate, my interest waned and I live nowhere close to Madera. The Executor was kind enough to send me pics of the attic roof leaks so I could see what was going on much better. It seems fairly obvious that the wood floors are the best feature of the house. The layout of the house seems very workable with the possible exception of the rear stair into the kitchen.

      The back porch rebuild is probably of little significance in the overall scheme of things. Assuming that you plan to live in the house while you renovate it, good luck this winter with the heat!! I assume you would try to get the wood burning fp going if you can. Perhaps connecting to the city sewer may be the first priority though. In my last renovation, I chose to go with the city sewer right away rather than paying to pump the septic tank. Also, please be careful as you bring back heat and humidity (RH%), since the house has been used to being without it for that past 50 yrs. The wood may swell, and additional plaster may fall. The house will have to reacclimate itself.

      Although I agree with John that patience would be a virtue here, it would be nice to do so without an umbrella. I would definitely get the roof recovered prior to winter setting in if you can, which means re-framing and resheathing where necessary. The only other advice I would have would be to watch your budget like a hawk. Plan out the most infinite detail on a spreadsheet, and separate the wish list from the must do list. Since the house seems to need everything, this will become your greatest challenge, I think. Good luck again with this terrific house!!

  9. John C. Shiflet says: 5357 comments

    “Old House Lover”, congratulations on your decision to take on this project! The most important ingredients in old house restoration are common sense and patience. Without a generous supply of both the best made plans can fall apart. Priority one, as you have already correctly concluded, is having a sound roof over your heads. In old houses, structural repairs always come before cosmetics. Fix the roof, foundation, replace or repair rot/damage to framing, and the rest will be off to a great start. Ignore these basics and no matter how talented an artist or designer, the house will not sustain you over time. This is a great old house with potential (which many have already commented on) but like many old houses that have endured years of neglect, it needs attention to the basics. Be very patient…better to take your time and do it right the first time than rush to get things done and have to redo them a few years later. Having said all of that, to keep the enthusiasm and the vision going, its ok to allow yourself to do some smaller “cosmetic” repairs or projects that can be done in a reasonable time at a reasonable cost. Many successful restorers have taken a one room at a time approach beginning at the entry, the downstairs public rooms and then the upstairs private quarters. But patience really is the key and it took many years for this house to get in its current condition and unless you have an unlimited budget, realize that it will take a few years to bring it back. Best to assume a respectful custodial role for owning this tangible piece of history and remembering that you are but one in a continuum of owners that came long before you and if fortunate, may come long afterwards. I applaud your willingness to take on a project of this magnitude and wish you the best. Hopefully, you’ve either done some restoration work in the past or at least have looked into what’s involved in it. Please feel welcomed to post any questions you may have as a number of people here are “serial” old house restorers or have worked in the restoration trades professionally. Enjoy the new experience and may this home serve you and your family well.

    • OldHomeLover says: 3 comments

      Thank you for your wise and kind encouragement. I have done some work restoring my mother’s Victorian but nothing of this magnitude. I am, however, a chronic researcher and already have a folder full of research that grows every day. I’m not afraid to ask for advice and expect to update this site from time to time.

      Speaking of which, what a wonderful site this is! Everyone here who rescues these homes is a hero in my book. Coming from the Austrian perspective economically speaking I am no fan of government spending tax dollars for it and won’t seek any historic registry grants even if available ( though I don’t judge those who do, it’s a personal thing), but I am a huge fan of the private investors who lovingly maintain these pieces of history. This site is fabulous for getting the word out and attracting those who have a heart for restoration. Thank you!

  10. HomeSmythe says: 1 comments

    Madera is my hometown, and since childhood i have looked on helplessly as this historic manor fell deeper and deeper into dispair. Rumor and research alike claim (unconfirmed) that it was one of the first Hegarty family settlements in this area, and when compared with other well-known “Hegarty mansions”, this appears to ring true. For example, the ornamental woodwork and stained glass are (or were) identical to the neighboring mansion, which is well-documented. I’ve been watching this post for any updates because i would very much love to see this house restored to its former glory, but as of yet, the only visible difference is that the “for sale” sign has been removed. Any additional information/updates would be greatly appreciated, and i will continue to keep an eye out for any progress on the restoration.
    Good luck OldHomeLover! we’re all pullin’ for ya!

    • OldHomeLover says: 3 comments

      HomeSmythe –

      We closed on the house on November 15th and we are so excited to get started. I can completely understand you sentiments, the place touched me and I have never even lived there! Rest assured our goal is to restore as accurately as possible.

      The day we closed we got the keys and raced back to explore before the sun went down. Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that the delicate decorative carvings which had been missing from the front doors (leaving just chunks and shadows to indicate they had ever been there) had been salvaged as they fell off the door and were stored in a box! Also the four finials missing from the main staircase were tucked away just awaiting restoration!

      It really is not as bad off (mostly) as it appears and structurally it is still quite sound. It will be an expensive and lengthy project but it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for so we will try very hard to do right by this beautiful place.

      I was wondering if there is a Historical Society or something comparable in the area, do you know? I am hoping to find old pictures of the place and any info on local legend, rumor, history of the family and house would be of great interest to us as we embark on this massive endeavor. I would love for you to email me at mjhlandsolutions@yahoo.com and we could talk more. We will be complete newcomers there and would love to meet someone experienced with the local area.


      Jessica Hughes

  11. George says: 1 comments

    Good luck on the restoration. I don’t know if it’s true but my 93 year old grandmother from the area said the the Lee’s used to live in that house. Of course that was 50+ years ago. Supposedly one of my Aunt’s Aunt’s lived there. Anyway good luck on the restoration.

    • OldHomeLover says: 6 comments

      Treasures in the Trash!
      When I went up to check for any damage from the hurricane a few months back I was shocked when the realtor told me the executors had scheduled a dumpster to haul away all of the ‘trash’ left behind, even though our contract clearly stated that everything on the property was to remain intact. Luckily I caught it and put paid to that disaster!

      So now that the place is officially ours, I spent Saturday doing a small inventory of what was left behind and found some pretty neat stuff. Firstly, 4 of the 5 bottom newels were missing from the stairway but I found them in a box, along with what seems to be all of the filigree pieces missing from the exterior front doors! Then, in a box of broken old aquarium supplies I found about 30 photo negatives from the 40s along with a tintype (unfortunately not from the house) and some letters including one from Kenneth Powell home to his folks from Sicily in WWII. I am really looking forward to identifying the folks in the photos and finding out where they fit into the history of the home.

  12. LovetheMaderaMansion says: 1 comments

    OldHomeLover, I hope you find info relating to the house, but I was at the auction on July 14th and it looked like the Rodkey’s were collectors. The pictures from the auction website had stuff everywhere and nothing at the auction seemed to go together. Alot of odds and ends. We arrived after it had started and the helpers were still carry things down the stairs from the attic.

    I heard 2 stories about the house that came from one of the neighbors. The Hegarty’s first house is across the street from this one and this was either built for their 2 daughters as long as they didn’t marry or (the second story) it was built for 1 daughter as a wedding gift. The Hegarty’s (parents that lived across the street) moved from Madera and built the victorian at Hegarty’s Crossroads. I started looking into the house when it did not sell at auction. The Clearfield County Historical Society is located in Clearfield. I think it reopens in April.

    I can wait to watch it come back to life!!

    • OldHomeLover says: 6 comments

      Thanks for the info! Can’t wait to delve into the historical society. I research old documents for a living so I think I may have some luck at tracing the home’s history. I’ll be sure to share anything I find.

  13. OldHomeLover says: 6 comments

    Just wanted to let folks here know that I have started a Youtube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/maderamansiondiy to document the restoration process. Right now there are a bunch of short videos from the day we first looked at the house. Since then I’ve ripped out all of the carpet, linoleum, and faux panelling in order to deal with some mold issues. This weekend I’ll be re-plumbing the basement, and God-willing we will have running water by Sunday!

    • kenny says: 82 comments

      I am honored to be the first to view your videos. Thanks for posting them!! The house is much bigger than I thought. In fact it seems huge, which can make you feel overwhelmed I’m sure. I am astounded at all the wood left in the basement. What a stash! There seems to be so much that was left behind, it could take weeks just to go through it all, and another few weeks to find all of the hiding places in the house. I suppose you have already done a lot of that.

      Aside from livability issues, it seems that the front porch would be the first priority. Is that the case? That is assuming that the main roof is holding up. How are your plaster skills?? It looks like the plaster is in fairly decent shape and only needs patching. A lot of patching that is.

      The woodwork is well preserved and should be a joy when it comes time to shine it up. I am very jealous.

      Goodluck with the plumbing this weekend!

      • OldHomeLover says: 6 comments

        Thanks so much! The roof is in pretty bad shape, but we felt the porch should be fixed and set level before a new roof. We will probably get some patching done on the roof in the meantime. I am thinking we should sister all of the posts first, then begin at ground level replacing what needs it, leveling, and working our way up. I really feel lucky to have found this particular place. As much remuddling as was done in some areas, they seem to have not thrown ANYTHING away. I even found the window they removed from the kitchen, a mantle they pulled out, and some of the curved pieces of wood missing from the corner of the porch πŸ™‚

    • Kelly, OHDKelly, OHD says: 11869 comments

      1901 Folk Victorian
      Chestatee, GA

      Awesome! I subscribed, looking forward to updates. Good luck on the plumbing and with the rest of the restoration. πŸ™‚

  14. Mary ann Shoff says: 1 comments

    Congratulations on buying that wonderful old house! I was born and lived in the area, married a Madera man and still enjoy visiting the area. I have been admiring and been interested in that property since the ’40s and am delighted to know I can watch your progress as you restore a “gem” thank you! Good luck with your project and perhaps one day you will allow me to see your work.

  15. says: 3 comments

    I have a picture of this house taken during WWII when my father’s uncle rented the right side. The house was not divided, exactly, but the Moore family owned it and lived in the left side. There was a carriage shed/barn on the left side, a faded red at that time, on the same level as the house, but on the left side of the drive that went up a small grade from the street. Inside the house, the main stairs had a nice rise to them, as I recall, and the carpet, a soft wine red with a design, I think, was held to the risers with brass rods set into brass holders. The front room on the right had a brass ceiling fixture, not fancy but curved pipes and nice. The draperies between the hall and the Moore’s living room on the left, were wine velvet. My father’s uncle’s family used the right back room as the kitchen, and it looks as if the sink is still there, next to the doorway to the sunporch, where they had a gas stove to the front, and a rocking chair to the back, I believe. The bedroom over the kitchen had a door to the bathroom on the landing, and the door from the bath to the landing had a frosted glass upper half. The claw footed tub sat along the back wall and next to the bedroom door. The window was one that swung toward the inside, hinges on the left. The coal furnace sat under the kitchen, Mrs. Moore kept the house comfortable all winter long, and the winters were colder and longer then, I believe. Her kitchen had a coal stove to the right of the door from the dining room, a large gray stove where she sometimes would open the oven for me to get my feet warm after playing in the snow. There was a large closed in porch, glass from almost floor to ceiling, as I recall, attached along the kitchen wall and extending to almost the window of the room my father’s uncle and aunt used as their kitchen. In the summer, the windows were opened between the kitchen and that porch.

  16. OldHomeLover says: 6 comments

    Thank you so much for your beautiful description of the home! I fear you might be saddened by the work happening so far, as much of it is unravelling some work done in the years after Mrs. Moore left the home. A lot of it has been deconstructing ‘updates’ that I felt interfered with the true character of the original house, and then much of it has been structural repairs. Just as we were getting close to being able to work on the interior cosmetics, we were transferred all the way to Idaho for an indeterminate the for our jobs. Luckily we were able to find a gentleman willing to stay and keep the coal furnace running this winter while doing some of the work that is much needed.

    You can find some pictures and video at our Facebook group. If you request to join I’ll approve you right off. There is also a youtube channel but it has less information. I’ll post both links below.

    By any chance was your uncle a Powell? I ask, as I discovered a WWII V-Mail letter from a Sgt. Ken Powell to “Mom and Pop” from his station in Sicily. It struck me as strange since I’d no knowledge of a Powell family living there, but the time frame you mention made me wonder if the mystery had been solved. The text of the letter follows, and you can see an image of it at the Facebook Group:

    “Dear Mom and Pop: (From) Sicily

    Your letter dated August 27 came today and was so nice hearing from you both again. I sure do hope you can stick it out on the job; you will get to like it as you work longer at it. Am glad you are looking after my [insurances?] and everything. I am feeling fine. Received one package of candy + soap, is there another? Did not receive any peanuts. Thanks for the clippings but I wasn’t in any invasion I came a few days after. I hope you do send me the studio picture soon. I had a swell letter from Bess and a fellow from the office today. Glad you heard from Phyllis. I suppose Edith is very busy these days. Got a letter from Cousin Richard today in Sicily but still we can’t locate each other. We had all the good steak we wanted tonite to eat. Our food is getting lots better now. Will write later. Getting dark now. We have a movie tonite too. ”

    Thanks again, and you can check out progress on the home at these links:

  17. Arnold says: 3 comments

    I looked at the videos, and you do have your work cut out for you. I last drove by the house in 1977 or so, and it appeared at that time to have an older couple working on it. However, when I look inside, I find that over 60 years makes a difference. I hope you can undo the mistakes. I see the back porch is no longer closed in but is still there. I am sure you can find the foundation posts for the outbuilding, garage/whatever, that would have been visible from the kitchen and dining rooms if you looked across the driveway. The floor was dirt, so it must have stood on stones and been a post and beam construction, or my best guess. It was not large, a couple car garage, perhaps.

    I don’t remember crown moldings or anything like that. My aunt and uncle slept in the bedroom to the left in the front, with oak furniture, more square than wonderful. The bedroom to the right in front had a big brass bed and a feather tick to sleep on, and there was a fainting couch on the side wall. They used the center room as a closet for everyone.

    I believe I told you about the glass door for the bathroom, but should mention that it was frosted. At that time, there was an oilcloth material that could be bought in many different designs, one of which was something resembling tile. I believe that was in the bathroom, but am not certain. The sink was at the head of the tub, and was a large one, but not huge.

    The carpet went up the stairs and along the hall, not to the walls, of course, but must have been pretty good carpet.

    I don’t know much about the Moore family, although there was a son and his family, who had a son about my age, who lived to the left of the house on a street of some sort. It was a rather common house, as I recall.

    I don’t know about the Powell family. My family’s name was Stinard. I am not sure how long they lived there, but prior to 1953, I believe, moved to Curwensville. They had a son and son-in-law in the war. Their daughter lived there with her baby son while her husband was overseas. My father’s cousin, the son, and his wife lived there for awhile, too, until after their daughter was born. They then rented another house, and I can find it on Google maps just up the street.

    I’d be very concerned about termites until that wood is removed from the basement. The furnace looks similar to the one there at that time. Could it possibly be the same? I see what looks like a Warm Morning stove in the furnace room. I don’t remember that basement as cool or damp, but I was very young.

    There was a swing, I believe, on the front porch, to the left. I could be wrong, though.

    The house was gray at that time, the inside comfortable. I hope you can make it as much of a home as it was then.

    Oh, do you have any idea of how many tons of coal it will take to heat the house? We had other friends there in Medera in another house, and later I remember that they said that they burned an amazing amount of coal. Coal was delivered frequently, and the ashes removed on the coal truck. Your place will require a set of lessons in coal firing. Fun lessons, though.

    I don’t remember any thing about the wall paper, but as I recall there was nothing wild or gaudy, but perhaps more neutral colors.

    If there is anything that I might remember, please ask. I don’t promise much, but possibly something may pop up.

    Enjoy Idaho until you get back to Madera.

    This is bringing back many memories. Thanks for the journey.

  18. Joseph Pesch says: 1 comments

    My wife’s aunt, Mary Louise Rodkey, and her husband, Robert, were the former owners of this home! They were both natives of Brisbin, PA. They were married in 1955 while Bob was working for GM in Buffalo, NY. They bought a small home in Buffalo, but always planned to return to the Brisbin area when Bob would retire.
    Mary Louise always wanted a large white home, they bought this home to be their “summer” home and eventual retirement location. Since this was the home of their dreams, they set about to painting it white as Mary Louise had always wanted.
    Bod died in May,2001,and in the decade between Bob’s death and Mary Louise’s death, she seldom returned to Madera, and the home fell into disrepair. We attended the auction in July, 2012, and were very disappointed at the poor turnout as well as the poorly run auction! We had relatives suggest that we should buy the home and remodel it into a b&b! Sorry, but that project is far beyond my capabilities!! We are so pleased to see you have the vision and energy to restore this once magnificent home to its former glory!!
    You mentioned Kenneth Powell. He was Mary Louise’s cousin, while Richard Williams mentioned in his letter was Mary Louise’s brother! They were both serving in the Army and were trying to meet in Italy! I would hope you plan to return the letters and photos to family members.

    We would enjoy it if we were able to meet you in the near future.

    Our warmest regards to you for caring enough to restore a family memory.

    Joe & Dolores Pesch
    Sheffield Lake, OH
    440 949-7562


  19. Kimberly Thounhurst says: 74 comments

    Hello…I wonder if this house is not more Romanesque than Italianate? If so I believe this is fairly rare for a residential structure, in PA at least? Those might be deliberate chevrons on the porch posts, which could be an important clue rather than a random geometric motif. Some of the other features made me think of a much earlier house as well.

    Most of the Romanesque I have seen in person is in medieval Irish stone churches. If this style turns out to be correct for the house, you might be interested in the inventory of Romanesque sculpture being done for Britain and Ireland: http://www.crsbi.ac.uk/

    Looks like a house with a very interesting history in any case. What has turned up at the Registry of Deeds?

    Very best of luck to the new owners!


    Kim T.

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