The Null House, 1763


1. The Null House restored at Hart Square

THE BLACKBURN-SUMMEROW-NULL-HARTZOGE HOUSE, 1763

20images

Please click on the thumbnail for a slideshow of historical images and the restoration. The oldest structure in the village and one of the oldest in Lincoln County, the Blackburn-Summerow-Null-Hartzoge House is further distinguished as the second to last house moved to Hart Square (as of 2015). Becky says that “A patient of Eric’s [one of Bob’s two sons] called him and told him about this wonderful log house they thought Bob would like to have and move to Hart Square. They wanted to donate it. But Eric knew I would say ‘no way.’  So almost every day Eric would call and say this and that about the house, reiterating that it is thought to be the oldest surviving log house in Lincoln County. He researched the history and would call with a new fact, adding ‘It needs to be moved before something happens to it’ and that it really wasn’t that far from the farm. And every day I would say ‘no.’ But finally, a few days before Christmas, I threw up my hands and said okay. The history is just too good.”

Bob didn’t know the house had been offered to him. On Christmas Day 2009, he shook a gift from Eric and Keith, his sons. A box of Lincoln Logs concealed a note that read, “Mom says you can have one more log cabin.” Becky recalls that “When he opened the box and read the note, he was giddier than any of the children that day. He clenched his fists and shook them together squealing. He didn’t even know the significance of the house yet.”

Brother and sister Rick Hartzoge and Susan Hartzoge Stewart donated the house located on Null Road, in Lincoln County, approximately twelve miles from Hart Square. John Carpenter, thought to be the builder, sold the house in the early 1800s to John Blackburn. James Summerow later bought it, and his daughter, Sarah, and her husband, David Null, reared their four children in the house, including Catherine, who married Robert Hartzoge. Their children, Mary and Wade, would live in the house until their deaths in 1995, when Rick and Susan inherited it.

Gaither Shrum, Chairman of the Lincoln County Historic Commission, noted in his research the presence of a chimney brick inscribed with “1763.” Before pulling down the chimney, Bob and others located the brick, but in the rubble that ensued, the brick could not be found. “We looked for it a long time,” Bob says. “I was heartbroken, believing the brick had crumbled.” Back at the site the next day, Rick came up to Bob and said, “You forgot the inscribed brick,” and handed it to him. Rick had arrived early that morning to continue the search and has since spent a lot of time helping restore the house. Confirming the date on the brick, Bob discovered “1763” chalked on a timber to the left of the fireplace when he removed the front room’s paneling and wainscoting.

Chris Blaj, who volunteered to help Bob take off the roof, “didn’t stay up there long,” Bob says. “We were around thirty feet in the air on a fairly steep pitch. Everyone else knew better than to volunteer for the roof. I ended up taking it off myself.” Tony DeAngelo, Joe Weaver, and Bob’s grandson Robert helped with the dismantling, as did one of Eric’s friends, Jeff Eddins, who suffered the consequences as if by rite. Jeff found himself on a stepladder, on the first floor, helping remove a long ceiling joist. “A whole bunch of joists fell on Jeff, taking him off the ladder and pinning him down for a moment,” says Bob. “He was bruised fairly well, but nothing broken, and he came to the farm to help reconstruct the building,” as did another Hart grandson, Luke, along with Rich Herington. Tony commemorated Jeff’s fall – and the fates of many others – by presenting Bob with a hard hat. The front reads “Doc” and the rear “Stay back 50 feet.”  Bob says he received this “about forty years after it was first needed.”