HAVERFORD — Anthony Morinelli grew up Haverford and now his life is coming full circle. Last summer, he bought a historic stone home on Mill Road that dates to the late 1600s and is lovingly renovating and restoring it.

Morinelli, 70, retired this past June from The Shipley School in June, where he was the theater director and a humanities teacher. Formerly an Ardmore resident, he bought the house from Wells Fargo Bank in August 2018, and lived in only two rooms with heat from space heaters and fireplaces over the winter. The house, which he is calling Harford Hall in honor of the early Welsh settlers, had evidently sat empty since 2017 when its previous owner died.

The date of the original log cabin at the site is unclear. But the first field stone house built over the cabin dates from about 1698, according to Morinelli’s research. That was followed by an addition around 1725 and a third addition that features a large parlor was built around 1740.

The property near Cobbs Creek or Karakung Creek, as the native Americans called it, was once the site of a grist mill, followed by saw mills, and then cotton mills, said Morinelli. These mills were powered by the creek and the area of Haverford was known for manufacturing with at least six mills, including some for gun powder.

Morinelli has tracked down old deeds, finding that Jonathan Miller owned the property from 1790 to 1800. Before that the deed records are vague, he said.

He looked at census records, as well. Before the 1800s, the census only listed the names of male heads of households, with women and children listed as only check marks.

Samuel Leedom took over mill operations in 1827, purchasing the mills in 1844. Indeed Morinelli showed a partially charred beam with the name “B. Leedom” inscribed. And George Dickinson took ownership in 1879. The Haverford Historical Society refers to the house as the Leedom-Dickinson Mansion.

The house has no basement and was built on logs, he said, lifting a wide, pine floor board to show the original logs. And is also a “bank house” built into the side of a hill, called Haverford Mountain.

“Every inch of this house has a story,” Morinelli said. He pointed out the two-foot thick stone walls, the mortise and tendon beams, and handmade square iron nails used by the colonial builders. He showed the ends of the wooden beams that were hewn with an adze.

“The craftsmanship is remarkable,” he said. “Every inch of this house has a story.”

The house was listed on the 1994 Historic Resources Survey of Haverford Township and is protected by the township’s Historic Preservation ordinance.

Morinelli, who holds a Ph.D. in medieval history, taught at The Hill School before coming to Shipley.

One of his latest projects was to translate Depression-era interviews with former slaves into standard English. He compiled the interviews into a textbook called “The Slave Narratives” that he hopes to publish.

He’s also a playwright. His play, “When Lilacs Last,” was featured at the New York Fringe Festival in 2010 and his play, “Tea at Four” was also performed there in 2016. Another play, “Sins of the Mother” was performed at the Montreal Fringe in 2013. And if that wasn’t enough, the talented Morinelli is a visual artist whose oil paintings have been displayed in various galleries. He paints traditional still life scenes, which he said sell well and also dabbles in nonrepresentation paintings.

As if these activities were not enough, Morinelli has formed a civic group to help rid Karakung Creek of invasive plants and vines. He has fond memories of playing in and around the creek when he was a child and wants to restore access to it.

Morinelli, who earned scholarship to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, also obtained degrees from St. Joseph’s University, Villanova University and his doctorate from Bryn Mawr College. He grew up in the Brookline neighborhood the oldest of four children. His father owned a deli in Manoa and his mother was a housewife. Morinelli graduated from Monsignor Bonner High School.

Once the renovations are completed, Morinelli plans to open part of the house to the public. To that end he is collecting period items and has an old spinning wheel set up near the fireplace.

He is the father of two daughters, Emlyn, an actress, voice-over artist and comedian, and Ryan, an executive at GlaxoSmithKline and the grandfather of Adelaide, 4, and Isabelle, 1.

He shares his home with several small, mixed breed dogs.

Check out Morinelli’s website: http://iliveinharford.com/harford-hall.html.

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