This little gem is an original cottage designed by Will Price in the Arts & Crafts enclave of Arden, Delaware. My husband, Rodney Jester, and I were so taken by it, we joined in its restoration, along with our friend Dink Pompper, who lives next door to the cottage.
Built ca. 1912, the cottage was basically all still there, quite neglected but un-changed. Rodney says that the best thing about the house was that it was untouched—which was also the worst thing about it! The original, main house is a mere 18′ x 18′. During the 1930s or ’40s, a 10′ extension was added at the back for a small kitchen and bath. Features that make the cottage unique include carved stucco, inlaid Moravian tiles, original Arden Forge door hardware, and leaded-glass windows made by Arden artisan Elena Darling. The fireplace has local fieldstone and handmade brick. The name of the cottage is Rest Harrow, which had been carved into wood over the front door.
All of these details are mentioned in Will Price’s book Model Homes for Little Money (Curtis Publishing, 1898).
We made the cottage habitable, replacing or adding mechanical, heat, and electric systems. Rodney is a retired custom-kitchen contractor who has contacts with fine craftspeople. Dink and I scrubbed nicotine-stained plaster walls, then taped, primed, and painted. The original pine flooring was long gone, so we tore up the later concrete and carpeting and laid new pine flooring that matches what remained upstairs. We had to rebuild the later rear extension—its floor had been below grade and suffered from flooding—and added modern amenities. It was in any event not original.
The village of Arden, in Delaware, is an intentional community founded in 1900 by architect Will Price and sculptor Frank Stephens, on the philosophy of William Morris, on the 19th-century economic reform principles of Henry George, in tandem with the American Arts & Crafts movement and with the landscape designs of the Garden City movement. Arden is in North Wilmington, about 23 miles from Philadelphia.
During our work on the cottage, we all decided that we wanted a scholar to live in the cottage, our labor of love, and not treat it as a general rental. (Rodney and I live in another wonderful Arts & Crafts house.) Our first tenant was a graduate student at Winterthur, who was studying intentional communities after earning a degree in architecture.
Its leaded-glass windows are a signature feature of the Will Price cottage. They were made by Arden artisan Elena Darling; both men and women, of all backgrounds, were welcome in the community. Darling became well known as a stained-glass maker, and her work is in many of the early houses in Arden.
All of the cottage windows were saved and restored as needed. The first step was removal to allow work to proceed. Restored leaded-glass panels were fitted into new, replica sash, then primed and painted. The restored windows were then fitted into their original frames.