Retired Delaware Co. man restoring historic 17th century Harford Hall for future generations

HAVERFORD TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- When Tony Morinelli left teaching in 2018, he found a retirement project that brought him back to his roots. He purchased a 17th century house near where he played as a child and renamed it Harford Hall to give new life to the area's old name.

"On the old maps, this was called Haverford Mountain," said Morinelli.

He adds that Haverford was the proper Welsh name, but in common language, it was slurred down to Harford.

Morinelli says he remembers the house always being in bad shape.

"I like to do things, so I took this on. I want to put this house back together," he said.

And for Morinelli, returning this house to its original glory has been a labor of love.

He had to scrape the paint down to find the original colors that were used in the house. While trying to match the paint on a door, Morinelli says he discovered it is the same color that was used on the inside of Independence Hall.

"I'm addicted to history," said Morinelli. "The oldest part of the house dates from around 1698."

The house is one unit, functioning as part residence, part Airbnb for now, but there have been three additions over time.

The well house is one addition. It will be the kitchen once it is finished. The second house that was added on dates to about 1720 and the third and most recent house addition dates to about 1740.

"The rooms are kept exactly as they were," said Morinelli.

The Airbnb section of the house is located on the second floor of the 1740 addition and helps to cover the cost of the restoration work.

Morinelli does minor repairs himself, but relies on contractors and help from volunteers, like retired engineer Dennis Whitaker, for the bigger jobs.

"There was a lot of work here," said Whitaker, who did a lot of the electrical work, among other repairs.

"I'm very happy with it," said Morinelli. "You would not even remotely recognize this room from what was here before. He credits Whitaker for doing much of the work upstairs.

"I'm fascinated by the old things in the house and being able to share the same space as people did 300 years ago," said said Whitaker.

Morinelli wants to pay these preservation efforts forward and hopes to offer a glimpse back in time by opening his first floor to the public, free of charge, this summer.

"I own it by deed, but it's beyond me. It does not just belong to me. It belongs to history. It belongs to everyone," he said.

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