217-year-old Delaware farmhouse comes on market: ‘Your home isn’t like other homes’

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A Delaware County farmhouse, one of the oldest homes in central Ohio, has come on the market.

But potential buyers take note: This isn’t a modern, Chip-and-Joanna-Gaines farmhouse.

“The owners have really brought it up to date, but tried to maintain the original character of the times, modernizing it without turning it into the trendy farmhouse look,” said Tom Farwick, the Keller Williams Classic Properties agent listing the Olentangy River Road home for $950,000.

“This is a real working farmhouse, not one of the new ‘farmhouses’ everyone’s trying to build.”

The oldest part of a newly listed Delaware County home dates from 1807.

The core of the home dates from 1807, but the home has been expanded three times to its current size of 5,700 square feet with five bedrooms and six bathrooms. The result is a quirky assortment of rooms, some of them connected via hidden passages or cabinet doors (in addition to conventional doors).

For the owners, Alaina Shearer and Seth Gray, the home has been a one-of-a-kind place to raise their four children.

“Our kids have had the most magical childhood living here,” Shearer said. “Now that they’re going off to college and we’re downsizing, we have to explain to them, ‘your home isn’t like other homes.’ “

A den occupies the oldest part of a Delaware County home recently listed for $950,000.

Shearer and Gray bought the home at the end of 2013, drawn by its history and character. With the help of the Delaware County Historical Society, they learned that the core of the home, a stone, brick, and log cabin, was built in 1807 by Revolutionary War veteran Seth Case on land he received via a federal program to reward soldiers for their service.

Such vintage makes the home an extreme rarity in central Ohio. The oldest continuously occupied home in the Columbus area is thought to be the Beers Cabin, built in 1804 on the Olentangy River and later moved to its current location in the University District.

The original three-story home, with low timber ceilings, a massive brick fireplace, and 24-inch-thick walls, sits in the front of the nearly 2-acre property, which also includes a horse barn. Three additions from the early 1900s, 1960s, and 1980s added considerably to the house and gave it an unconventional layout.

The owners of a newly listed Delaware County home updated the kitchen soon after moving in a decade ago.

Shearer and Gray started work on the home as soon as they moved in and have spent much of the past decade updating the property.

“Not an inch was spared except for the original hardwood flooring and beams,” said Shearer, vice president of marketing for Sage Sustainable Electronics in Columbus and a 2020 Democratic candidate for Congress.

The couple, both 44 years old, installed four new heat pumps and a propane tank, added new windows, upgraded the electrical service, installed a new roof and added two full bathrooms.

A 1,200-square-foot top-floor space in a newly listed Delaware County home has been used as a playroom and a guest room.

Some cosmetic changes proved to be more challenging.

“There were three layers of wallpaper in every room,” Shearer recalled. “We kept some, such as fabric wallpaper, in the front room, where we thought it was a beautiful style. But it took a full year to get through every room. We’ve got four kids and a day job, and we spend nights steaming wallpaper. We tried to get someone to do it. One wallpaper guy came out to give us a quote. He said he didn’t know how to start. He walked through the house and never called us back.”

The work exposed them to the home’s many quirks, such as vents in the bedroom floors that open directly to rooms below, an 18-inch-wide hidden corridor that connects upstairs bedrooms, and cabinet-size doors high on the wall of one bedroom that open into an enormous playroom, now converted into a guest suite.

Hidden doors and passages can be found in a Delaware County home recently listed for $950,000.

While working in the den, Gray discovered a plank held by magnets above a cabinet that opened to a hidden cubby.

“We think a previous owner hid his tobacco there,” said Gray, chief marketing officer for Paradise Mobile in Bermuda.

With one child at college and two more on the way, the couple is ready to downsize.

Owners of a newly listed Delaware County home have sought to keep its historic character while updating it.

A recent open house for the property drew 70 or 80 visitors, said Farwick, who expects the buyer will be someone with “a love for old homes.” Farwick notes that the furnishings, many of them period pieces, are also negotiable.

“We feel grateful for the memories this house has given us,” Shearer said, “but it’s definitely bittersweet to leave.”