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The Scott Township Farm

The Charter Oak home
"Charter Oak" The Sanford home from 1920-1943

Due to the success of the coalmines, Jesse was able to retire from his active career, and he purchased 160 acres with a vine covered, 150-year-old brick house (with one barn) in the South

Hills country. It was about 8 miles from Pittsburgh in Scott Township, (at 135 Central Square), on Green Tree Road, near its intersection with Cochran Road, (in between Mt. Lebanon and Carnegie).

The bricks of the house were said to have been made from the earth right where the house stood. Around 1920 the Sanfords had the big brick house completely renovated and professionally decorated (with all new furniture). They had two front parlors opened up and turned into one big living room to fit Helen's piano. This grand room had two, original fireplaces at opposite ends; one was wood burning and the other was a gas fireplace. The gas was provided by a natural gas well that was in the pasture. The remodeled house was equipped with all the latest technology, including an unusual (for its day) built-in centrally (ducted) vacuum system, and they had the areas first electric refrigerator! The kitchen had all the latest, greatest equipment because Jesse loved to cook. When they moved in, instead of a housewarming party, they had a wedding there for Armide, Jesse's eldest daughter. It was an open-house, and about 300 people came.
On the property there also was a natural spring, like a swimming pool, an apple orchard, and there was an old Native American Indian trail. It led to an old oak tree, which is where they were supposed to give charters to the land--hence the name: Charter Oak.

Charter Oak Dairy Turret closeup
Charter Oak Dairy, designed by Benno Janssen.
Close up showing silos made to look like castle turrets.

Mr. Sanford decided he wanted a complex of dairy house and barns so he hired the famous architect, Benno Janssen (Kaufmann's architect -and much more) to create his vision. Mr. Janssen designed a four car garage with two apartments over it, an incredible dairy house with an office and an apartment over it, and a new barn with silos designed to look like crenellated turrets. All together it was supposed to look like a castle. Jeanne, during construction, even pressed her little hands into the wet concrete floor to leave her mark. It took about two years to complete construction of the barn-complex and do the landscaping.
When the dairy farm, which was known as "Charter Oak Dairy" finally opened it was around 1922, but it was not a long-lived venture. Cows, the best milking short-horns, and unique breeds, were J.H.'s special hobby. Every fall the Sanfords would go to a big cattle fair in Springfield, MA, to look/purchase fine specimens, like a beribboned stud-bull. There Jesse would visit his friend, Mr. Crane, of Crane & Co. (the famed paper making business) of Dalton, MA. They shared their interest in fine animals. The dairy business was all handled on the farm- pasteurization, bottling, refrigeration/ice-house, and delivery. It only lasted about six years when, around 1928, some of the cows contracted TB and had to be put down. J.H. had an auction to sell the rest, and that was the end of the dairy.
While they had the dairy, Mr. Sanford's dairy manager lived high up on the nearby hill, another of Mr. Sanford's properties, with 45 acres to grow (corn and wheat)crops to feed the animals. The view from the hill was so spectacular, they used to joke about moving the house there. Aside from the cows, there was a pony named Bessie that pulled a cart, and there was one beautiful horse, named Lucy, for the amusement of the three children and plenty of space for them to ride.

Jeanne and her horse"The thing Jeanne remembers best about the horse is the way her brother would help her to mount it, and then whack the animal's flank to send him off at a wild gallop. 'He wanted to train it to be a real Wild West horse,' she explains. 'I guess he just took for granted I'd manage to hold on somehow.' " -- Excerpt from Young Faces in Fashion by Beryl Williams.

[A little while after Jesse Sanford passed away in 1937, Mrs. Sanford rented out the house. She either stayed in one of the apartments or stayed in a house in Vienna, PA. The Charter Oak house was sold around 1943. It became an upscale furniture business by the name of "Beck's Charter Oak". The house was demolished in the '50's or '60's. The dairy house was converted into a restaurant at some point, but it no longer stands either.]

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