Photo: Merestone (John S. Reese IV House), ca. 1942, Yeatman's Station Road, New Garden Township, Chester County, PA. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. Photographed by User:Smallbones (own work), 2010, [cc-by-1.0 (creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons, accessed June, 2013.
Merestone (1610-1620 Yeatman's Station Road) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.
The property at 1610-1620 Yeatman's Mill Road (Yeatman's Station Road) contains a five unit complex comprised of Merestone House, a guest house/garage that incorporates the ruins of an 1806 barn, a milk house, a stone shed, and a machinery shed with several attached sections. All of the buildings except the machinery shed contribute to a Colonial Revival style landscape instituted in 1941/1942 and used for agricultural purposes as part of a larger farm until 1987. The buildings today are located on lot numbers 62 and 63 in Merestone, a residential development named after the house and currently under construction.
The property is located on the south side of Yeatman's Mill Road, which becomes Yeatman's Station Road in Pennsylvania. Both lots straddle the arc-shaped state boundary line just northeast of boundary marker number three. The house is actually located in both states; the outbuildings are all in Delaware. The fast flowing White Clay Creek is a short distance to the west.
The topography is characteristic of the Piedmont region with many streams draining the nearby hills and the elevation rising steadily to the north. The topography is an important aspect of this property as the house and most of the associated outbuildings are placed to take advantage of the hillside site. They are bank buildings with the south elevations having an exterior ground level access to functioning lower level areas.
Merestone was named by John S. Reese IV, the man who commissioned the Colonial Revival redesign of the buildings. The word Merestone is an Anglo-Saxon term which means boundary or marker of stone. It is an appropriate name for the property since, after the Hodgkins boundary resurvey of the Delaware-Pennsylvania line in 1892, the house has been located in both states: Mill Creek Hundred, Delaware, and New Garden Township, Pennsylvania. Anne G. Copley, the present owner, calls the dwelling "Merestone House" to differentiate it from the surrounding residential development, also called Merestone.
Merestone House represents a four generation accumulation of domestic architecture and construction, climaxing in the 1941/1942 renovations and the final addition designed by R. Brognard Okie. Contained within this accumulation are four distinct connected sections. Three sections are built into the side of the hill with two stories on the north elevation, or front, and three stories facing south overlooking the valley. The one story service wing is also built into the hillside. Three massive stone chimneys accommodate the six working fireplaces.
Although initially built in the 18th century, the house is significant for the 1941/1942 Colonial Revival style redesign accomplished by Philadelphia architect Richardson Brognard Okie (1875-1945). As one of Okie's final commissions, Merestone represents his mature style, a combination of historic restoration and modern adaptation on an authentic Colonial period farmhouse. Okie spent his career working in the Philadelphia area. He was a notable restoration architect who undertook several major commissions including projects associated with Betsy Ross and William Penn. But, he is best known for his unique interpretation of the Colonial Revival style, especially in the design of country houses. His work was admired by both his clients and fellow architects for the creative and artistic expression of colonial design themes. His body of work constitutes a recognizable style that preserves elements of 18th century design while introducing 20th century amenities. Throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware, Okie left a lasting image on the landscape.
Both the extant physical evidence and documentary evidence for Merestone support the dates of the two oldest sections. In 1734, John Evans, Jr. purchased 1000 acres of Stenning Manor, a 14,000 acre tract owned by William Penn. Merestone stands on this land at the southern tip of New Garden Township, Pennsylvania and across the State line in Mill Creek Hundred, Delaware. Settlement of the Stenning Manor land began in 1710-1720. The house appears to have been built by early Welsh settlers. John Evans, Jr. may have been the builder. It appears that construction began around 1720 to 1734. Many early settlers lived on property for quite some time while waiting for warrants, surveys, and deeds to be completed. It is possible that this was the case with the transfer of land for Merestone.
In 1701, John Evans, Sr. purchased 100 acres in Mill Creek Hundred and in 1714 he purchased another 100 acres in Chester County. The Evans were a prominent Welsh family that owned important local mills. John Evans, Sr. donated the land for the nearby London Tract Baptist church." The Merestone property stayed in the Evans family until 1776 when George Evans, son of John Evans, Jr., sold it to John Beeson, grandson of Edward Beeson who came to America with William Penn. Mary Beeson, widow of John, was taxed for a log house in 1799.
In 1802, William Beeson, the son of John and Mary Beeson, bought the land from the other heirs. Since he had recently married Elizabeth Mansel and was settling down, he is believed to have added the stone wing about the same time he built the barn, which had a datestone bearing 1806 and their initials." William Beeson was also the proprietor of the nearby Corner Ketch Tavern in 1829.
Later owners of Merestone were members of prominent local families. In 1865, Halliday Hoopes sold the property to Thomas G. Seal, a member of an old Quaker family in the Unionville-Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania area. He is probably the one who made the Victorian changes to the house. Other owners were Thompson McCormick, Leslie McCormick, and John S. Reese IV, for whom Okie did the renovation. John S. Reese IV was a son of the head of the chemical division at E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company, and a brother of Charles Lee Reese, Jr., former editor and board chairman of the News Journal papers in Wilmington, Delaware.
Mr. Reese signed a contract in 1938 to buy the property, but a hurricane destroyed the barn before settlement. The contract was renegotiated and settlement occurred in 1941. It is interesting to note that the deed is recorded in both Delaware and Pennsylvania. In 1987, the Reeses sold 97.74 acres to Willkinson Partnership "A" on March 16, 1989. Mr. and Mrs. Copley have replaced the roof and have remodeled the kitchen during their ownership.
Yeatmans Station Road