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Swetland Homestead


The Swetland Homestead (885 Wyoming Avenue) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.

Description

The Swetland Homestead is a two and one-half story frame structure whose overall dimensions are 54'3" by 88'4". This L-shaped structure was constructed in four stages.

The original two-room house with a central chimney was built in 1797 and is now the rear kitchen wing. Windows in the original section are four-over-four.

In 1803 a separate two-story, gable roof house was built to the front of the 1797 section. Windows in this three-bay by two-bay house were twelve-over-twelve which can still be seen in the rear (west) elevation.

In 1809 a two-story, three-bay section was added to the north of the 1803 house making it six bays by two bays. In 1850 the front facade windows of this six-bay structure were altered to two-over-four. All windows in the house have louvered shutters. Doorways with fanlights are located in the second and fourth bays. In 1850 a four column portico was added to cover these doorways. Also at this time paired brackets and dentils were added to the cornices.

In 1813 a two-story connecting section was added between the 1803 and 1797 houses.

Significance

Abstract: The Swetland Homestead is a fine example of an early New England type homestead which has been adapted and enlarged over succeeding generations reflecting the growth of the family and area from first settlement to mid 1800's.

The earliest part of the Swetland Homestead is one of the oldest surviving examples of Connecticut architecture in Wyoming Valley. The only other residential structure dating to the same period is the Nathan Denison House in Forty Fort. The two rooms built around a central fireplace, and the few, narrow 4-over-4 windows show the building style settlers first brought from New England.

The Swetland House is also a classic example of the way a family adapted and updated an existing structure to keep pace with changing styles and needs for additional space. The second and third additions to the house included Doric pilasters, fanlight windows and Georgian dentils. The columned porch, Italianate brackets on porch and roof line and modified front windows added ca.1850, and the alteration of the original section to include a carriage house reflect growing family prosperity and, again, changing style. That the modifications were made some years after style changed in larger cities shows how new tastes took some time to spread to outlying areas from metropolitan districts.

The Swetland House is clearly associated with exploration and settlement of Wyoming Valley. Luke Swetland was one of the first settlers arriving here from Connecticut under the auspices of the Susquehanna Company. He was a participant in the Battle of Wyoming in 1778. He later joined Sullivan's Expedition against the Indians after having himself been an Indian captive. Although he built his home in the same style as Nathan Denison, it was a much smaller, more modest structure, probably more typical of ordinary farmers in Wyoming Valley. Luke Swetland helped build Forty Fort Meeting House, and is said to have introduced apple tree culture to the region.

Swetland Homestead belonged to the same family from 1797-1958. The histories of the house, the family, Wyoming Valley, its institutions and its economy are intermingled. Luke Swetland's son Belding was a blacksmith who expanded the house to accommodate a family of 12 children. His son William was a merchant who took advantage of a growing population and expanding economy to enhance the family fortune. He operated a store across the road from the Swetland house starting in 1815. He was a local entrepreneur, becoming a partner in a carding and fulling mill in West Wyoming in 1813. He was later associated with a 2nd fulling mill (1823), a grist mill and distillery (1835), a foundry and plaste mill (1839) and a tannery (1840). He was a director of the Lackawanna & Bloomsburg Railroad (1852) and a trustee of Wyoming Seminary, where he built Swetland Hall. The embellishment he made in the Swetland Homestead in mid-century reflects the prosperity the third generation of the family achieved.

References

Williams T. Blair. The Michael Shoemaker Book. Scranton: International Textbook Press, 1924.

William Brewster. History of the Certified Township of Kingston, Pa. Wilkes-Barre Smith-Bennett Corp., 1930.

Oscar Jewell Harvey. A History of Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pa. Wilkes-Barre Readers Press, 1909. Vols. II & IV.

Horace E. Hayden, et al. Genealogical & Family History of the Wyoming & Lackawanna Valleys, Pa. N.Y.: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906, Vol. I.

F.C. Johnson. The Historical Record, Wilkes-Barre: The Record Press, 1886-1908. 14 Vols.

Edward Merrifield. The Story of the Captivity & Rescue from the Indians of Luke Swetland. Scranton, 1915.

Charles Miner. History of Wyoming, Philadelphia: J. Crissy, 1845.

  1. Siener, William H., Wyoming Historical & Geological Society, Swetland Homestead, nomination document, 1978, National Park service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Swetland Homestead Map

Street Names
Route 11 • Swetland Lane • Wyoming Avenue

**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
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