Property History

 
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The land on which The Talking Teacup now stands was part of an original land grant made to William Penn by Chief Tamany of the Delaware Nation in 1683.    In that same year, William Penn subsequently granted 5000 acres of that original land to Thomas Hudson.  

 Sometime around 1715, the land changed hands for the first time in the eighteenth century when it became part of one of the “Great Lots” owned by Andrew Hamilton; speaker of the Provincial Assembly.   Andrew Hamilton, during this same time period, also owned the ground now comprised within Independence Square in Philadelphia and he created the drawings for Independence Hall.

 In 1741, the “Great Lot”, upon Andrew Hamilton’s death, was conveyed to his son James Hamilton.   During the time period this land was under his ownership, James Hamilton was elected and served in the Provincial Assembly and for one year served as mayor of Philadelphia.

 In 1745, while Mr. Hamilton was mayor of Philadelphia, the “Great Lot” passed from the Hamilton family to Simon Butler.  Mr. Butler then began the process of dividing the “Great Lot” of land among the early settlers to the Chalfont / New Britain area.  

 In 1748 Mr. Butler sold a 67-acre track of land in New Britain, PA to Griffith Owen who used the land to supplement his 300-acre farm in Hilltown.

 In 1752, Mr. Owen sold all his New Britain land, including a 50-acre tract of land, to William James, who then built the original house on the property.    This original house still stands today and comprises the right front portion of the building, which today houses the main tearoom, front entrance, stairs and the upstairs private party "Little Tea Room".

 In 1761, the house and farm was conveyed to Mr. James’ oldest son John.   At the time of this conveyance the boundaries were written as follows:

 “Beginning at a post by the great road, and by land of Simon Butler’s; thence southwest 107 ½ perches to corner of line of Joseph Thomas; then along said line northwest 97 ¾ perches to the corner of land of Henry Lewis; then northeast 53 ¾ perches by line of Simon Butler, Jr.; then southeast by same 38 perches; then northeast 53 ¾ perches to another corner of Butler’s land, then by said land again, southeast 59 ½ perches to the beginning, containing 53 acres.”

 The referenced “great road” is now called West Butler Avenue, or Rt. 202, and a perch is an Old English linear measurement equal to 5.50 yards or 16.5 feet (5.03 meters); a rod.  So, while the “post by the great road” is long since gone, measuring “southwest 107 ½ perches” would give a “great road” frontage, in the year of 1761, onto West Butler Avenue of 1773 ½ feet.  Today, the “great road” frontage of the property onto West Butler Avenue measures a mere 160 feet.

 In 1773 John conveyed the property back to his father, William.   William passed away at the age of 86, in 1778, “leaving during her lifetime” Rebecca Butler as heir to the property.  Four years later, in 1782, Rebecca passed away and the property, as per William James’ will, was put up for sale. 

In 1797, Abraham Lapp purchased the original house and 53-acre property.   Through the years he purchased additional adjoining land and made improvements to the property.   It is suspected that Abraham added the first addition to the house.   This addition, still standing today makes up the front left side of the building which today houses the Gift Shoppe, entrance and the upstairs children’s Dress Up Room.   Records, from 1811, show that the property consisted of ”… sixty-seven acres of land, two horses, five horned cattle and a dog”!   The same records indicate the first reference to the existence of a wooden barn on the property.    Mr. Lapp holds the distinction of owning the property for the longest period of time, having lived here for 61 years!

 In 1856 the property changed hands for the first time in the nineteenth century when James Andrews purchased the homestead from Mr. Lapp’s estate.   Shortly thereafter, in 1859, James conveyed the property to his daughter, Isabella.   Records show that in the next year, 1860, Isabella paid a Bucks County tax of $6.85 and a PA state tax of $8.56.   Perhaps it was the high taxes that prompted James to convey the property to his daughter!

 In 1867, on the forefront of the Bucks county real estate boom, Charles Massinger purchased the 67 acre property, house and barn for $439.37!  He was able to afford this property having made a fortune in gold mining at Pike’s Peak the previous 7 years.  Charles purchased an additional adjoining 7 acres; bringing the property total to 74 acres.   It is suspected that Charles also added the second major addition to the house to support his growing family.   This addition, still standing today, comprises the the back of the building which today houses the kitchen and upstairs office spaces of The Talking Teacup!  Additionally, the porch was added, however it was not enclosed at this time.

  Charles Massinger's sons, and their trusty dogs, enjoyed life on the farm.  They also enjoyed hunting as captured by this vintage photo.  In the background, on the right side of the photo, we suspect is the outline of our small outbuilding/barn.  This would indicate the photo was taken in what is today our parking area, just outside the main entrance to our gift shoppe / tea room  
  This is a picture of one of Charles Massinger's sons, along with his wife.  You can click on each of these pictures to see a larger view.  
  Here's a vintage picture of the other son all grown up.  Note the photographer's mark in the lower right corner indicates this photo was taken just up the road in Doylestown, PA.  

 In 1885, Michael Martin purchased the property from Mr. Massinger for $8,000 and successfully farmed the land for 37 years, interrupted only by a 2-year stint as township supervisor.

 In 1922 the property changed hands for the first time in the twentieth century when brothers William and Herman Deknatel purchased the homestead.   The brothers and their families lived together on the property for one year and then Herman and his family moved to Florida.  It was during this period that the porch was enclosed.  During the Depression, the Deknatel’s herd of cows was wiped out by mastitis and, like many during those hard times, they almost lost the farm.  However, with the outbreak of WWII, William found work supporting the war effort.   Each morning, after milking the cows, he would take the 5:30 AM train to the Philadelphia Naval Yard to work as a riveter.   His wife, Martha was a professional singer in the Trenton Opera company and very active in community affairs.   Martha also started the first commercial business on the property.   In the downstairs left side room, in what is now the Gift Shoppe, Martha gave music lessons!

 In 1965, three years after William’s death, Martha sold the property to Clyde and Joan Derstine.  At this time, the property consisted of 59.5 acres of land.   Clyde was a developer and combined this property with his other 100-acre farm and out of this combined property he developed what is now the Oxbow Meadows residential development.   The Derstines never lived in the house; rather, they rented it out for 5 years.

 In 1970, Jack and Patricia Edwards purchased the property, now sitting on only a 1-acre parcel, from the Derstines.   Jack, who worked in a barbershop in Elkins Park, was looking to open his own barbershop and find a nice home to raise their family.   Shortly after purchasing the house, they converted the room that Martha Deknatel used for music lessons into the Oxbow barbershop.   

In 2003, the property changed hands for the first time in the twenty-first century when Eric and Kathy Heck purchased the property for use as a commercial business.   Kathy, along with her business partner Roberta Adam, renovated the house and property, and opened their business, The Talking Teacup, Ltd in the 250+ year old Farm House on November 1st, 2003.

The Talking Teacup … steeped in history, warmed with friendship!