Stone House Tour

Ethnic heritage reflected
in stone homes around Madison

Driving tour is free, and
reservations are not necessary

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(October 2010) – When George and Tanya Schnell moved into their historic home a little over three years ago, they never dreamed they would one day be included in a home tour. Even though they are still in the process of restoring their stone home, it is well worth the drive to see it.

Schnell Stone House

Photo provided

George and Tanya Schnell are still
in the process of restoring their
stone house on Pleasant Ridge
Road in Madison, Ind.

“We’ve never even gone on a home tour ourselves,” said George Schnell. The couple was asked to be on the tour and showcase their circa 1852 home on Pleasant Ridge Road.
The Schnells’ home is one of three to be featured on the upcoming Stone Houses of Jefferson County tour taking place from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23. The driving tour is sponsored by the Jefferson County Historical Society.
Schnell believes the stone home was originally built by Mathias Wolf and was a 168-acre land grant. Wolf was an immigrant from the Bavarian region of Germany and his wife from Austria. “The home stayed in the same family for 125 years,” said Schnell.
The last Wolf descendant to live there was Bernard Wolf, who continued to farm it until he sold the property in the mid 1970s. After that, it changed hands a few times until the Schnells bought it in February 2007.
They moved into the home in March and “started renovating it two days later,” Schnell said. The result is “our interpretation,” he said of the home in which he and his wife and four children live.
The house is still under major renovation inside and out. The Schnells are replacing windows in the front of the house. They will be historically accurate wood windows, he added. They have also changed the roof material, which began as woodshake shingles and is now metal. They have added a post and beam front porch
From pictures found at the local library, Schnell thinks the porch was added in 1919. The couple has done a lot to “enhance the details of the house,” he said. It contains joists underneath the house made from trees with the bark still on them.
The home contained some oddly-shaped rooms and exposed stone walls when the Schnells purchased it. The property still contains some post and beam barns, one of which is used as a garage. A double layered brick outdoor kitchen contains a stone foundation and a smokehouse that is topped with a very unique concrete, rounded roof.
“It’s a very difficult thing with an old home,” said Schnell, “to keep it historically accurate and make it livable, especially with a large family.”
Those interested in taking the driving tour must meet and leave together from the Madison Railroad Station, located next door to the Historical Society, 615 W. First St.
“For some reason, people just love stone houses,” said Joe Carr, the society’s executive director. “You just don’t see them elsewhere in the country like you do here in Jefferson County.”
Carr added that “no other county in Indiana or Kentucky has so many rock houses. They reflect much of the early ethnic immigrants – Irish, Scotch Irish, Scots and German pioneers.”
The tour is free and reservations are not necessary. Contributions are welcome to help support the society. Other homes on the tour include Howard Breeden’s home on U.S. Hwy. 421, and Dale and Liz Sides’ home, located on Taits Ridge Road.

• For more information, contact the Jefferson County Historical Society at (812) 265-2335.

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