MARCUS HOOK — A home that once may have been a stop for the famous pirate Blackbeard is one step close to preservation as crews are putting the finishing touches on a new roof at the historic Plank house, located at 221 Market St..
“We’ve been working on it for three months and we only have two weeks left,” said Robin Johnston, owner of CRJ construction. “We’ve repaired the chimney, rafter ties and the roofing.”
A crack in the basement level of chimney went through the entire structure causing it to lean and put pressure on the roof. If not repaired it would bring down the house, Annamarie Glisson, Marcus Hook Preservation Society member told Delaware County council when they requested funding for the project. In August 2018 council approved approved $40,000 in funds for the chimney and roof repair.
Legend has it that the famous pirate Blackbeard was known to have visited a mistress named Margaret who lived at the home. The “Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania” published by John Watson in 1889, mentions that Blackbeard and his crew used to visit and revel at Marcus Hook, at the house of a Swedish woman. “A History of Delaware County,” published in 1884, also mentions the pirates connection to the town.
Johnston, whose Wayne company has worked on a number of local historic sites including the Newlin Grist Mill in Concord and Charlestown Woolen Mill, said what makes the home unique is the plank construction of the walls. The planks, stacked on top of each other much like a ship, are pegged and finger jointed. The17th-century Finnish plank log house construction is unusual in Pennsylvania. The perfectly hewn, 7-foot-by-11-foot rectangular logs are flush and connected by full dovetail corner joinery. The building has hand-beaded, ship-lapped siding and eaves supported by hand-carved brackets which is part of what was repaired.
Standing in the front of the fire place, a reporter noted the low ceiling and cramped conditions.
“That is what makes you realize how good we have it today,” Johnston said. “The things people had to do to survive like cooking over a fire or using an out houses. We are lucky.”
This is the first stage of preservation to the home which was saved in 2004 for restoration by the Marcus Hook Preservation Society. The society sponsors archaeological digs on its grounds and in the foundation of the home.
“They have to raise more money,” Johnston said. “It’s an endless project. That is the case with these old houses.”