Photo: Edgemont (also known as the Jenks Homestead), circa 1820-1823, located on Bridgetown Pike 1/4 mile east of Route 413, Middletown Township. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Photographed by Jack Boucheher (Historic American Buildings Survey), 1989, [public domain], accessed January, 2023.
The Jenks Homestead
Edgemont [†] (also known as the Jenks Homestead) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
"Edgemont" is a very fine example of the early Federal period of architecture. The house expresses much of the best qualities of the style.
The genealogy indicates that the house was built by a Quaker, Charles Jenks. In general, it is felt that the Quakers held on to building styles somewhat longer than their contemporaries. This (might) explain why the house was built at a somewhat later date than what is usually considered the early Federal period.
After reviewing the historical documentation, there is not much doubt that Charles Jenks (ca. 1823) built the present house soon after he inherited the farm in 1820. He built the structure in an early Federal style. Joseph Jenks, his brother, acquired the property in 1831 and made minor changes which are presently observable. He is responsible for the Greek Revival style mantel and the first floor doors, as well as the two porches and dormers. (Letter from Albert F. Ruthrauff, A.I.A. to Robert S. Miller, April 21,1975). In 1971 Mathew Weaver sold a 4 acre lot to Joseph Jenks, Sr. completing his assemblage of 51 contiguous acres of land. The four acre plot contained a house that was located at the same point, or within several hundred feet of the present location of Edgemont.
The Jenks Family of Bucks County trace their descent from Thomas Jenks of Shropshire, England. Thomas Jenks was one of the earliest converts to the principles of George Fox. Thomas Jenks, II, embarked for America with his wife and son, Thomas III, but died en-route. The wife and son arrived ca. 1700. Thomas III settled in Wrightstown, Bucks County. Thomas Jenks IV was a member of the Colonial Assembly; delegate to the Constitutional Convention and member of the State Senate. Thomas IV's brother, Joseph, was a major agriculturalist in Bucks County and owned the land where Edgemont is located. Joseph Jenks' grandsons (of son, William) Charles and Joseph built and lived in Edgemont.
The Jenks Family is an early family of Quakers to settle Bucks County. They have been involved with agriculture in Bucks throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
Edgemont is a 2-1/2 story five-bay stucco over stone house. It has a symmetrical floor-plan with a central hall and stair opening onto a parlor room to the north and one to the south. The exterior facade has 9/9 sash windows on the main floor and 6/9 on the second. An arch entrance with fanlight and simple fluted pilasters frame the door. A porch, added in the 1830's and remodeled several times, extends from the entranceway. The dormers carry arched pediments with returns that cap pilasters on each side of the dormer windows.
In 1830 the homestead was "modernized" by replacing the south parlor mantel with a Greek Revival marble mantel, replacing the first floor doors with solid cherry raised panel doors and the addition of two porches and dormers. These features all remain.
"Improvements (to the land) are a well-planned and finished two story stone house having two parlors and an entry on the first floor with an open staircase; three rooms on the second, and an L-kitchen adjoining. Its location is on a commanding elevation, surrounded by a handsome yard planted with ornamental trees..." (Bucks County Intelligencer & General Advertiser, December 5, 1831)
The most significant alteration to the structure occurred in the 1870's. At that time the roof line of the kitchen was modified to the existing two story single pitch Shed roof. The old kitchen was further modified at that time moving the location of the cellar stairway to the pantry (SE corner). The old cellar stairway was floored forming a closet. The walk-in kitchen fireplace was closed and turned to face into a rough summer kitchen which extended to the east of the original kitchen. In 1972 the old kitchen was restored, stairs relocated, walk-in fireplace restored.
Holmes Plan, 1682 showing William Penn Land grants on Neshaminy and Core Creeks.
Map of Bucks County from Surveys. W. E. Morris, about 1850, Pub. H. P. Smith, Philadelphia.
Atlas Man of Bucks County, J. D. Scott, 1876.