History in the Unmaking
From University Avenue, passersby would have never guessed what was hidden under the pale green siding and black-shingled roof of the house that, in recent years, was home to Susquehanna’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI), the international music fraternity for women. No one could have imagined the history and culture buried beneath the 1970s façade—no one except Frank Stroik ’75, owner of the Kreamer, Pa.–based historic restoration firm Country Homestead, who was hired to dismantle the 200-year-old structure this past summer to make way for a new $7 million admission house and welcome center, funded by gifts from university trustees.
Stroik—and the university—learned just how old the structure was last spring when he made his first site visit to the house. Exploring the basement, he discovered the floor joists were made of hand-hewn, half-round logs. In the attic, he found double tongue-and-groove craftsmanship on the floor boards.
“That’s an early-to-late 18th-century technique,” Stroik says. “It’s amazing what people could do with a sharp-edged tool,” he adds. “This house and so many others like it would have been built using axes and saws.”