Oakhurst Cottage: Optimizing A Timeless Mount Gretna Hideaway

Nestled among the towering trees, mountain laurels, and rhododendron, Oakhurst Cottage welcomes visitors with a bright wrap-around porch and a dormer window rising from a hip-style roof. 19th-century details abound throughout this quaint two-story home, from original windows and doors to the finishes inside.

In 2020, the Schroeders purchased this property, located right in the heart of South-Central PA’s favorite summer escape: Mount Gretna. Originally constructed in the 1890s, the Schroeders were drawn to the home’s historic charm. “We were trying to keep as much of the character of the house as possible,” shares Stacy Schroeder. But to transform it into the comfortable and functional getaway the family was looking for, they needed to do some renovations.

Horst’s 3R Team Joins the Project

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Renovating this 130-year-old home wasn’t without its challenges. “When you have an 1890s cottage, there are quirks; there are things that are not aligned — things that make a project more complicated,” Stacy reflects.

Renovation work began soon after the home was purchased, but was not completed. Then, in the summer of 2023, Horst Construction’s 3R Team came on board to help the Schroeders bring this project to the finish line.

While Horst Construction does not typically do residential renovations, the 3R Team rose to the occasion. Customizing the property to suit the owners’ needs was a key motivator, but so too was preserving the historic charm and whimsy of this cottage tucked into the woods.

At times, this required out-of-the-box thinking. “One of the things I’ve been pleased about are some of the creative solutions,” reflects Stacy.

The Whimsical Window

One example of this is the aptly nick-named “whimsical window.” Original to the home, this small, curved adornment sat above the second floor and let light into the attic. While not essential, it was one of the many small details that gave the cottage its unique character.

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However, during the installation of the siding, it became clear that the curved window wouldn’t fit properly with the cedar shingles. Instead of getting rid of it altogether, the team filled in the window hole, painted the glass, and reinstalled it in its original place. “Now that the window is back up, you cannot tell that it does not open into the inside,” shares Stacy.

Not only does it retain the charm of the home, but it enhances protection against leaks and moisture. “We were able to get a safer, better house while retaining the character.  That window is emblematic of the project as a whole.”

The Full Transformation

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In addition to the whimsical window, Horst’s work included recladding the home with board and batten and staggered cedar shake siding. Five new windows were added to let in more light, and an upper-level porch was closed in to expand the space inside. A new thermal roll barrier was installed throughout the home, and a writer’s porch was updated with an architectural glass wall.

New horizontal composite boards were installed under the porch, replacing the existing lattice. The porch and roof were extended, creating the perfect atmosphere to enjoy the beautiful nature that surrounds the home.

The Horst 3R Team worked alongside some great contractors on this project. This includes Horst Excavating, who completed a water main repair and new entry pad, as well as Key Painting & Decorating, who helped to bring the home to life with fresh paint. Throughout June and July, Horst and our partners plugged away on the project to meet the project’s goal of an August 2023 completion — just in time for the Mount Gretna Outdoor Art Show.

“One thing we’ve been really pleased about is that since Horst got involved things have been moving very quickly,” reflects Stacy. “I have been very appreciative of Horst’s willingness to hop into the project and help us get it to the finish line.”

Click here to learn more about Horst Construction’s 3R Team and how they can help on your next project.

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