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John and Phineas Hough House

Lower Makefield Twp, Bucks County, PA


Amos Palmer House

Photo: John and Phineas Hough House, circa 1801, located at 20 Moyer Road, Lower Makefield Township. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. Photographed by User:Shuvaev (own work), 2012, [cc-by-3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed July, 2022.


The John and Phineas Hough House [†] embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction. This house is a vernacular Federal style with the unusual feature of an arcade of two Roman arches in its facade, a feature peculiar to Bucks County.

Although the Federal style embodied a five bay center hall construction few of these.were built all at once in Lower Makefield and vicinity. A center hall house could be constructed by adding a three bay side hall Federal style section to an earlier existing house and unifying the two structures with a common roofline and cornice, this method prevailed in Lower Makefield. The Federal style is usually dated between 1785 and 1820 but in Bucks County it persisted until about 1840.

The John and Phineas Hough House, known as "Twin Arches", follows the three stage type of development of the vernacular Federal style in> this area. The original stone house built about 1700 by Richard Hough was arcaded with two Roman arches in 1801 by Richard Hough's great grandson, John Hough, who had claimed the estate by right of entailment which remained in doubt until after his death.

In 1801 there was entry in the accounts of John Hough that the house was re-roofed. This was certainly to accommodate the extension of the second floor when the arcade of two arches was added to the front of the house. Two windows were added to the west wall of the garret and the east gable was clapboarded and fitted with a window. The second story south wall was removed and rebuilt over the arches. The second floor was divided into a large chamber, a small chamber and a hallway. The expansion of the second floor resulted in moving the ridge of the roof to the centerline of the chimney and several feet higher than the original ridge.this also necessitated raising the height of the chimney which can be seen from inside the garret (Photo 9).The abutment of the east and west walls of the arcade tc the original house can be seen at certain exposed points in the structure.All windows in this part of the house are without counterweights and must be held open with pegs.

The first use of Roman arches in Colonial America would appear to be in New York where the old City Hall (1699-1700) had an arcade of three Roman arches. Other examples can be found throughout the eighteenth century in public buildings in Virginia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Their use continued into the Federal period as exemplified by Bullfinch's New State House in Boston. The use of Roman arches in private houses appears to be very rare. A search of the literature reveals that Colonel John Taylor of Richmond County, Virginia, built a large stone house, Mount .Airy, 1758-1762, which had an arcade of three Roman arches on its south facade.George Washington used two double arcades of wooden columns to connect the outbuildings to the main house at Mount Vernon.Other examples are difficult to find although they may exist.

In Bucks County and within a few miles of each other are six houses with Roman arches.The arches of the Hough house, known as "Twin Arches," have been dated at 1801. The arches on the Sotcher house in Falls Township, known as "Three Arches," have been dated in the period 1783-1820.These houses are not mansions of the sort found in big cities or plantations.No architect is known to have practiced in Bucks County to account for this cluster of houses with arches.It was probably the result of one owner copying another in a local area.Two of these houses with arcades, "Three Arches" and "Dolington Manor," have been listed in the National Register.

John Hough died in 1807 intestate without having settled his father's estate.His brothers and sisters had been contesting his claim to the estate by entailment.An inquest was held and the Orphans Court determined the estate was not entailed and that all should share under Pennsylvania's laws of inheritance.As a result, Henry Hough the Younger, as executor for both estates, sold the property and divided the proceeds under court supervision,

John Stewart, a schoolmaster, bought the estate and died in 1835 intestate.His widow sold the estate to Phineas Hough, only son of John Hough, and at this point the estate returned to Hough family ownership.Phineas Hough, a minor at his father's death, was the beneficiary of a trust provided by his grandfather, Richard Yardley, and administered by his his uncle, William Yardley.He was therefore in 1836 a man of independent means.About 1840 he added a new wing to the east side of the existing house.

The new section was two bays wide, twenty-five feet deep, two and one half stories high and with stone walls one and one half feet thick.On the first floor it had two parlors and a hallway with stairs leading to the second floor and basement.The parlors each had a corner fireplace vented into a central chimney.The second floor had two large chambers and a small one and a hallway which connected to the hallway of the old stone house.The garret of the old house was connected to the new garret by removing the window in the clapboarded gable and converting the opening to a doorway. The basement of the newásection had a workroom under the front parlor.

The front door entering upon the first floor hallway was a typical Federal style (Photo 5).The old and new sections of the house were unified by a common roofline and cornice and matching brick chimney tops (Photo 1) on each end.In 1845 the house was described in an insurance policy issued by the Mutual Beneficial Association of Bucks County as consisting of "a two story stone house twenty-five by twenty-two feet and old two story stone house building adjoining twenty-two by seventeen feet and a stone shed adjoining twenty-five by eleven feet." These are the same dimensions that exist today.In 1859 Phineas Hough sold the property out of the family and went to live with his son in New Jersey.

The house was owned by a succession of nine owners from 1859 to 1939 when the house and surrounding forty-one acres were sold to the Hall Development Company.World War II postponed development of the land and razing of the house which was in poor condition and had no central heating plumbing or electricity.In 1946 Charles Lovett bought the house and 1.14 acres of land from the Hall Development Company and proceeded to restore the house and introduce modern amenities.

The Lovetts installed electricity, plumbing and central heating which required using one of the flues in the original chimney to vent the heating boiler.This led to closing the fireplace in the large second floor chamber.The two small chambers on the second floor were converted into modern bathrooms.The shed was enclosed by triple windows on the south end and a new doorway was made connecting the shed and arcade.The shed was converted into a modern kitchen and breakfast room with a raised floor.At the same time the door from the arcade to the former great chamber was removed and a nine over six window was fabricated to match the other original window in the arcade and was installed where the door had been.The partition separating the two parlors was removed along with the corner fireplaces to form one large parlor. A new reproduction Federal style fireplace (Photo 10) and mantel were installed to replace those removed.The window to the right of the fireplace was converted into a doorway and a covered porch was added to the east end of the house.The entire outside stonework was patched and pointed and then painted white.The modernizing was achieved while still retaining the vernacular Federal style achieved by Phineas Hough when he enlarged the original house a century earlier.

The house is a tribute to the Hough family whose first member is credited with giving the township the name of Makefield.The progression of the various changes from 1700 to the present time are clearly shown on the accompanying floor plans and elevations.

Other houses embodying the vernacular Federal style in Lower Makefield and vicinity which serve as typical examples are described below for comparison.

The David Barton Taylor House built about 1837 in Upper Makefield is one of a small number of five bay center hall vernacular Federal style houses constructed all at once in this area.Known today as "Longmeadow" it retains many of the distinctive characteristics including a semicircular fanlight over the front door, large well balanced windows and matching chimneys at each end.However the center hall has been opened up.Also at a later date a kitchen wing was added at the rear of the house.

The Benjamin Taylor House, "Dolington Manor," in Lower Makefield, now on the National Historic Register, is an example of the vernacular Federal style created by adding a three bay side hall section to an existing older structure.The original section, dated in 1738, had had an arcade of two Roman arches added to the front and before 1830 a side hall three bay Federal style section was added to the west end.Harold Donaldson Eberlien is quoted that "Dolington Manor was obviously built at three successive times." About the middle of the 19th century another two bay section was added to the east end and the arcade was enclosed with windows in the arches.Modern plumbing, heating and lighting have been added to the house for modern living.

The David Palmer, Jr. House, formerly known as "Old Shade" but now called "Edgewood,"located in Edgewood Village in Lower Makefield, the entire village is listed on the National Historic Register, is another example of an older house having a three bay side hall Federal style addition made to it.The original house was built in 1765 and had the Federal style addition with a doorway having a large fanlight and sidelights made in 1803.The windows in the older section have been replaced and a long modern dormer added to its roof.A modern kitchen wing has been added to the rear of the 1803 building.Modern heating, lighting and plumbing have been installed in the entire structure.The two sections of the house have not been unified in appearance.

Because of intensive research on the "Twin Arches" we have been able to describe this property in more detail than was used previously for the National Historic Register nominations for the other properties above described.However it is possible to make a number of valid comparisons.

All of these vernacular Federal style houses above described are owned currently by caring owners and are well maintained.All have been modified to provide modern plumbing, electrical and heating facilities which have been installed unobtrusively.Unfortunately those houses not owned by caring owners have fallen on hard times and the wreckers.The above mentioned houses are lived in homes and not museums. Powderpost beatles and dry rot have made it necessary to replace some wood both structural and trim but replacements have been made with care to preserve the original character.Due to the desire of present day owners to favor larger rooms s.ome internal partitions: have been removed in all of the houses described.

"Twin Arches" deviates from the traditional five bay house in that it has only four bays but the fourth bay on the east side of the house is somewhat larger which results in an uneven spacing of the windows. In this respect "Dolington Manor" deviates from the traditional five bay Federal style in that two additional bays were added on the east end in the mid 19th century placing the front door off center but giving the building an imposing facade. Also the arcade has been enclosed with windows which loses some of the effect of the Roman arches. In "Old Shade" no attempt was made to unify the old section with the Federal style addition resulting in an unbalanced appearance. However the detailing in the woodwork of the 1803 section may be superior to that in the other described houses. All in all "Twin Arches," the house of John and Phineas Hough, is an excellent example of the vernacular Federal style containing Roman arches.

† Ralph M. Thompson, Lower Makefield Historic Commission, John and Phineas Hough House, nomination document, 1992, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Moyer Road