News and Tribune

February 11, 2013

BUILDING A SOLID FOUNDATION: DAR asking for help to repair foundation of Scribner House

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — To the naked eye, the oldest house in New Albany appears sturdy and sound. 

The Scribner House is still setup in 19th-Century style, and welcomes hundreds of Floyd County students annually for tours. 

However, the guardians of the historic structure — the Daughters of the American Revolution — want to ensure the Scribner House remains an asset to New Albany for another 200 years, and are asking for the community’s help to address foundation issues for the building. 

Built in 1814 by one of the founders of New Albany, Joel Scribner, the Scribner House was the first clapboard home constructed in the city. Typical housing consisted of log cabins prior to this advancement, and four generations of the Scribner family would live in the home. 

In 1917, Harriet Scribner sold the house to the Piankeshaw Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR, and the organization has tended the house since. 

In 2010, the gardens of the Scribner House were constructed between the home and the Floyd County branch of the YMCA of Southern Indiana. The project was funded with a grant from the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County. 

Now DAR officials are pushing for serious repairs to the Scribner House that go beyond its aesthetic appeal. 

A recent building inspection uncovered damage to part of the foundation known as the sill at the Scribner House. Due in part to the inability to remove interior materials inside the house, the repair project is estimated to be “costly and difficult.”  

Carlene Price, regent of the DAR Piankeshaw Chapter, said the exact cost for the foundation work isn’t known, but that the organization wants to start fundraising so that the Scribner House can remain open when repairs begin.

She said the plan is to refurbish all of the house in phases beginning with the foundation work, which is the most pressing need. 

“We are really pushing to get some funds so we can get it started during the bicentennial,” Price said. 

In addition to the foundation repair, a contractor told the organization restoration work is needed on the windows, clapboard siding, shutters, soffit and gutters of the house. 

The name of the fundraiser is A Scribner House Historic Preservation Drive, and Price believes the community will support the project. 

“Sometimes if you get something started, and people see it happening, they’ll be more apt to get on board,” she said. 

Much of the Scribner House is still in its original form and consists of original material. People have donated garments, dolls and pictures from the time period when the Scribners settled in New Albany to be showcased in the home. 

Third-graders in Floyd County tour the Scribner House each year as part of their curriculum. DAR member Nona Bell is one of the women who guides the tours. 

She said children are often fascinated by the items they see inside the house, and to Bell providing tours is a way of passing along the legacy of the oldest home in New Albany. 

“It’s history and it’s education for the children and the upcoming generations,” she said. 

DAR operates the Scribner House on a volunteer basis, and many times the women of the organization donate their own money to pay utility bills and other expenses associated with the upkeep of the structure. 

Price said the Scribner House it too valuable in terms of its historical significance to allow it to fall into disrepair. 

“It’s a symbol of the beginning of New Albany,” she said. 

For information on donating to the cause, call Price at 502-456-2869. Checks can also be mailed to Piankeshaw Chapter DAR, P.O. Box 881, New Albany, In., 47151-0881.