- November 18, 2021
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Photo by CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary Julie and Dan Ehrgood pose by their covered patio it’s construction inspired by a trip to Peru. Note the boulders taken from the former Danville-Riverside Bridge. Now retired, the Moreland couple turned their four-plus acres into a family hide-a-way.
MORELAND – Although Moreland Township is well known for rocks, typically they are slate or shale, and flat. So, when those traveling Gardner Road seeing banks held in place by mammoth boulders of one size, most take a second or even third glance.
The various land levels, now terraced, are held by boulders which had undergirded the former Danville – Riverside bridge. Dan and Julie (Bennett) Ehrgood are the current residents in the 1871 William Gardner farmhouse occupied overtime by four generations of Gardner families.
As Dan explained, “The boulders are two-feet deep, and four feet high and wide. We hauled them here, stacking the first ones with a fork lift before hiring an operator and larger fork lift with claws from Myers Lumber Company.”
Wed in 2004, and with two years spent in searching for a home, Dan happened on the site telling Julie, “If it’s not haunted, we’re buying it.”
Since then, the retirees have turned their home and four-plus acres of land into a personal sanctuary. Both are former town dwellers, Julie of South Williamsport, a special education teacher in her hometown; and Dan of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a lawyer turned carpenter, “A step up in careers,” he said.
Early on during house improvements, the couple found a closet door on which a resident school marm had written her schedule. Teachers rented rooms in family homes, and as Raymond Gardner (Wm’s son) was a school director for Eight Square School, the Ehrgoods’ donated the door to the Muncy Historical Society.
Obviously, both Dan and Julie have creative talents as proven by changing the semi-rundown property and buildings from their original uses to fit the couples hobbies and lifestyle. The house is now more than twice the size, once having just two bedrooms. The former beauty salon attached to the rear of the house was operated by Mabel (Gardner) Groom, Crist. The shop was dismantled and replaced with a two-story addition.
As visitors approach the entryway, they are welcomed to an area where slabs of rock define a patio. Inside, Julie painted a tree on the door, the posts, having the appearance of tree trunks, are refurbished beams taken from the salon. Many elements of the original buildings were recycled including planed floor boards placed in a horizontal run on a living room wall.
To the west of the addition, double doors lead to a pavilion, its design inspired by the couples trip to Peru. Set against an embankment, one side holds a pizza oven atop a brick fireplace. The thickness of the load-bearing posts are also Peruvian style.
Done in increments, improvements to the buildings and landscape are almost complete. “For next year, we’ve ordered 20 quaking aspen trees for reforestation. We are re-wilding (turning back to nature) the bank along the lane as we can only do so much,” Dan said.
Dan also said, “We put together a greenhouse kit with more than 50 pages of instructions and thankfully pictures. It was a bonding experience and we’re still married.”
The vegetable garden is one of Julie’s favorite places. “It reminds me of how we met. Dan and I were in the same apartment building with a backyard garden plot. Helping each other plant tomatoes Dan once looked up and asked, “For the sake of the tomatoes can we be friends.” Its now an annual shared tradition,” she said.
Other terraces feature ‘the upper orchard’ with fruit trees and berry bushes, while others are set aside as green spaces.
Up an incline to the barn once housing animals and their required provisions, spaces have been revamped to accommodate Dan’s woodworking shop, and Julie’s painting and pottery studio. “I’ve gotta be making something and my favorite is creating pottery masks inspired by the Philadelphia Mummers parade. I also grow, dry and paint gourds. We hang them on trees and watch them swing while lying on my hammock,” she said.
On the upper barn floor, an entertainment stage was built which recently served as a family member’s wedding reception destination. In lieu of signing a guest book, attendees affixed their names to the silo.
Atop the silo, an octagon shaped room has ample space for a queen-sized bed for the six grandchildren to romp. Being the highest point on the farm, it also serves as a deer lookout. Dan said that, “Julie is the one who taught me how to skin and butcher a deer.”
When looking over the acreage from it’s highest point, Dan’s son had said, “Dad, this feels right, it’s a great place for the family.” In jest, the place is often referred to as a B&B, or the Country Club.
Being in Moreland nearly sixteen years, the couple agreed they have great neighbors. Surnames referenced having longevity to the area were Farnsworth, Ritter, Snyder and Wertz.
Fortunately, the Erhgoods preserved most buildings so when current generations of the Gardner family pass by, familiarity has been retained. Dan concluded by saying, “We have been stewards hoping to have made it a better place than when we came, to pass on to whomever future owners may be.”
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