Description of the Knauss Homestead as it was in 2008

Constructed in 1777, the Knauss House is an example of a Continental House, a distinctive building type once common within the 18th century German building tradition in and around Pennsylvania. The plan is centered around the internal chimney and includes a kuche (kitchen), stube (parlor) and kammer (bedroom), the three primary rooms emblematic of the building type. The resource is situated on a 15.39-acre community park that was once part of a two hundred acre parcel purchased by Sebastian Knauss, the father of Heinrich Knauss, the builder of the house, in 1747. It is located in the Borough of Emmaus and is sheltered from the public viewsheds by mature landscaping and its setback from the main thoroughfare of East Main Street. The two-story corner post and plank house features a pointed rubble stone foundation, clapboard covered walls, and a steeply pitched slate roof that is penetrated by an internal brick chimney. A restored gable hood protects the primary entrance on the south façade and an early twentieth century door hood shelters the north entrance. The Knauss House retains integrity with a majority of sashes, partitions, doors, plaster walls and flooring dating to the original construction of the house. As a result of age, many of the less durable features such as siding, shutters and foundation pointing have been replaced with accurate replicas of the original features. The modem slate roof replaces an earlier slate roof from the 19* century. Minor alterations consist of the removal of plaster ceilings in several rooms, the installation of a mid-20th century kitchen, a new window in the east façade and a second floor bathroom, all of which were installed in an easily reversible fashion. A non-contributing late nineteenth century Pennsylvania bank barn, constructed on the footprint of an earlier barn, is located approximately seventy-five yards south of the house.

The main (south) façade of the building rises two full stories from a pointed rubble fieldstone eighteen-inch high foundation to the gabled slate roof (Photo 1). The building's log and plank structure is covered with painted 19th century ship lapped clapboard siding, which is accented by vertical corner boards. This façade exhibits an unusual pattern of fenestration with paired sets of windows penetrating the south half of the wall and a single doorway topped by a window centrally located in the northern half of the façade. The windows are composed of original 6/6 single hung sashes set into heavy frames with applied moldings. Nineteenth century shutters supported on cast iron hinges with cast iron holdbacks flank each window opening; the ground floor shutters are solid two panel shutters while upper floor features operable louvered shutters. The four-paneled door topped by a three light transom arks the main entry to the house. The doorway is accessed by a large cut stone step and is protected by a door hood reconstructed based on physical evidence in 2003.

The east façade displays six-over-six single-hung windows flanked by shutters placed slightly to the north of center marking the first and second floors and a single 6/6 shuttered window providing light to the attic (Photo 2); An eight-over-eight window with only simple trim was added to the north of the original first floor opening to provide additional light when the kitchen was upgraded in the mid-20th century.

As typical in 18th century houses, the rear (north) façade is sparsely fenestrated with a first floor door topped by a shuttered window to the east and first and second floors shuttered windows to the west (Photo 3). The rear door is protected by a modem eight-light storm door and contains two vertically oriented panels below fixed four lights. The doorway is fronted by a concrete deck with two built in wood benches and is sheltered by a broad gable hood supported on squared wood brackets. The entrance features appear to have been added in the mid-20th century.

The west façade is symmetrical with two shuttered six-over-six single hung windows providing light on the first and second floors with a single window marking the attic level (Photo 4). On both façades, plain bargeboards of simple stock trim mark the line of the gable.

The interior of the house, particularly its plan, is reflective of the Germanic building tradition in Pennsylvania as evidenced by the Continental House floor plan organized around an internal chimney. The house is organized with four rooms on each floor that surround an internal fireplace and chimney. On the first floor, the main (south) entranceway opens into a small hall with a closet built into the northeast comer (Photo 5). The hall provides access to the second story via an enclosed winder stair in the southeast comer, the kitchen (kuche) to the north, and the living room (stube, or main parlor) to the west. The closet door and the door to the stube are constructed with six raised panels, while the stair door and the main entry door are constructed of four raised panels. Original wrought iron hardware includes strap hinges and decorative open locks. Original random width pine floorboards are typical to that seen throughout the house.

To the north is the kuche, featuring a large masonry fireplace with extended brick hearth, warming niche and original surround and mantle (Photos 6 and 7). With its original baseboard and exposed and chamfered ceiling beams, the kuche retains many original features and detailing. Mid-20th century knotty pine cabinets and contemporary appliances and countertops have not affected the material integrity of the room.

The stube occupies the southwest comer of the building and features original flooring and plaster walls (Photos 8 and 9). The entrance doors from the hall to the east and kammer to the north feature six paneled doors with original hardware. One of the most interesting material aspects on the first floor is the mix of door hardware. Strap hinges, box locks, H-hinges, HL-hinges and decorative open locks complete this wide array of door hardware. Windows to the south and west walls retain original features including splayed wood jambs and unusually wide molded surrounds. The room is fully encircled with a broad chair rail composed of beaded stock topped by a cap rail supported on a wide molding. Based on microscopic observation, all wood trim and doors on the first floor has been stripped of the original bright yellow paint and are currently natural unfinished wood. Mid-20th century radiators and metal covers are fit below windows, as they are in most rooms of the house. Ceiling joists within the stube are also rough and unplastered, suggesting that the ceiling was once plastered. Twentieth-century plaster covers the second floor flooring between the joists.

The kammer also retains important 18th century features including flooring, chair rail, baseboard, doors, windows, door trim and plastered walls (Photo 10). Ceiling joists are roughhewn and not chamfered with plaster covering the flooring between the joists, suggesting that the ceiling was originally plastered as elsewhere on the first floor with the exception of the hall and kuche. Both sashes within the kammer appear to be original, containing original lights, rails, sills, and muntins.

Within the hall, the doorway to the southeast provides access to the original winder stairs leading to the second story (Photo 11). At the second floor, the stair leads to a small hallway that facilitates access to the modernized bathroom, untouched bedrooms, and the attic (Photos 12 and 13). The fireplace in the hallway contains a small mantel placed around a foot and half above the fireplace opening.

The bedrooms occupy the western portion of the second floor and retain original windows, trim, floorboards, doors and hardware of the same design, materials, and craftsmanship found on the first floor (Photos 14 through 16). They are separated by a painted wood feather-edged partition affixed to the south side of the summer beam into two distinct rooms, one to the north and one to the south. In the south bedroom, a fireplace with original mantel is located on the east wall. An original pegboard for hanging clothing is located on the feather-edge partition to the east of the door accessing the north room. This bedroom contains identical features to the first bedroom, minus the fireplace and mantel. All wood doors, partitions and trim remain painted with no more than two or three coats of paint thereby retaining a complete paint history of the second floor. 

To the east of the north bedroom and north of the hall, a smaller bedroom has been converted into a modem bathroom (Photo 17). This room was a part of the original floor plan as is evident by the same feather-edge paneled partition seen through the remainder of the second floor. All the doors on the second floor are of six panels and mostly utilize strap hinges.

The entrance to the attic is gained from a six-panel door to east side of the hallway (Photos 18 and 19). A beaded handrail and simple winder stair access the attic. The original chimneystack rises through the center of the attic which features wide board flooring, exposed purlins and rafters and the underside of the recently installed slate roof The roofing system of the house utilizes a principle rafter system, supporting common rafters. Rafters are mortised into the ends of the floor joists that project though the masonry walls, while the principal rafter is mortised and pegged into the joists inboard from the exterior walls.

The house's cellar is completely excavated except for the area below the kuche (Photo 20). Accessed from a door in the southeast comer of the kuche, the basement is defined by whitewashed uncoarsed rubble walls and a concrete floor. All windows in the cellar feature original horizontal three light glass sashes. Ceiling joists appear to be original. A modern iron support brace has been placed directly underneath the dividing wall of the kammer and stube to support the weight above. A large wooden slab covering the doorway, with partial remains of the original door bar, has blocked the bulkhead entrance to the cellar. A modern day oil heating system is also visible in the cellar.

The property's non-contributing resource is the stone Pennsylvania bank barn located approximately seventy-five yards south of the house (Figures C and D). Constructed on the footprint of an earlier barn, the current bam was built in the late nineteenth century and has been extensively altered. The barn is typical of later Pennsylvania bank barns and is constructed of stone with an enclosed forebay on the southeast façade, a gable roof, and an earthen bank on the northwest façade. The building is punctuated by a number of six-over-six, four, and nine-light wood windows and wood doors, both pedestrian and vehicular, in both the ground and threshing floor levels.

Few changes have occurred with the Knauss House since its construction in 1777, possibly because the house was occupied for 158 years by the family of the builder and used for many years only as a summer residence. Many of these changes have been minor and have been sensitive and non-damaging to the original design. Overall the Knauss House retains a remarkable assemblage of original features and features. The most visible qualities of integrity seen throughout the building include workmanship, materials, and design evident through the surviving original materials on both the exterior and interior. Location, setting, and feeling are also retained by the building, despite the loss of associated outbuildings and a large part of the original parcel of land.