Three Arches

Falls Twp, Bucks County, PA

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Three Arches (335 Trenton Rd.) is located on Trenton Road, short distance east of Oxford Valley Road. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.

"Three Arches", the John Sotcher Homestead, is an early documented stone house of Bucks County. The first owner of record is Thomas Atkinson who received the patent in the early 1680s. In 1712, John Sotcher, the chief steward to William Penn's manor, Pennsbury, from 1687 until 1709, bought the property. If a stone house wasn't built before that time, it is certain the Sotchers built a one story stone structure. The original section of the house would be evident from an archeological investigation and may form a portion of the wall behind the arches. Certainly the foundations to this first section date from ca. 1712. Robert Sotcher, the son of John, added the first stone addition circa 1760. This section is the first section that is entirely extant. It is a 3 bay, 2 story stone house with enclosed brick chimneys at either end. It has large, regularly cut stone quoins at the four corners of the house while the walls are of randomly laid fieldstone. The windows are simple wood frame with no formal articulation of the frame in stone. The rear of the 1760 structure has been badly altered with two doors cut from window openings and thickly laid plaster placed over part of the stone surface. The roof is wood shingle with a simple cornice molding. Two windows in the gable end lit the attic story while a third window stood adjacent to the rear entrance. In the 19th century an inappropriate Greek Revival entranceway porch was added to the center bay.

The distinguishing architectural feature of the house, the three arches, was probably built by John Brown, subsequent owner of the property, before 1806. This section of the house, from architectural evidence, appears to have enveloped the 1712 stone section in a larger ( 2 1/2 story) stone shell that included the side wall, the second story, and the framing arched entranceway. In its general size and details the circa 1806 addition is somewhat higher and "fuller" than the 1760 house. It carries the same sized door and window openings and maintains a fairly simple detailing (with) the cornice. The arched section has a large chimney on its outer wall, suggesting the continuance of the brick cooking fireplace from the earlier structure. The whole circa 1806 structure is 4 bays wide and 2 1/2 stories high (no dormers) of fieldstone with impressive stone work describing the arches and its posts. Again the rear of this section is heavily plastered and in a deteriorated condition.

The Sotcher Farmhouse is a fine example of a rural Bucks County farmhouse, with its several stages of growth through the 18th century still in evidence. In its present state, the farmhouse by and large maintains a late 18th century character without any exterior intrusions post-dating 1806. An interesting architectural detail is the three large arches that patch the original 1712 structure. Particularly noteworthy to the early 19th century date is the incorporation of the arched porchway within the body of the newer section. The Sotcher farmhouse, although in a deteriorated condition, maintains most of its original fabric and character. In its overall proportions, the solidity of the stone walls, the slight protrusion of the arched section with its dark, cavernous openings, and those subtleties that point to an understanding of architecture, the Sotcher farmhouse maintained a high level of quality craftsmanship throughout its periods of building.

John Sotcher, the probable builder of the 1712 section, was the chief steward for William Penn at Pennsbury from 1687 to 1709. It appears that John Sotcher came to America with Penn as his friend as well as his servant. Penn speaks of Sotcher in his correspondence with James Logan. (Genealogical Society, 1910). Sotcher was married to Mary Lofty at Pennsbury Manor in 1701. This wedding is probably the only one Penn and his family attended while in residence at Pennsbury. When Penn was making arrangements to return to England in 1701, he proposed leaving Pennsbury in Sotcher's charge. Sotcher stayed on as chief steward until 1708. After Sotcher gave up his stewardship, he established a ferry across the Delaware to Burlington, New Jersey. By 1712 Sotcher was chosen a Bucks County Representative in the Provincial Assembly; again in 1715 and continued thereafter until 1722. The house represents the period in Sotcher's life and subsequently in the life of his son, Robert, when the family found its own roots in Bucks County.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Trenton Road

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