Major Luke Miller

Historical Documents

History Channel DVD


Archaeological Research

The Tunnel

Landscape Study


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Extreme Makeover - 18th Century Meets 21st Century

The restoration, conservation, and renovation of the historic Luke Miller
House and its scenic grounds began in January 2006, shortly after the
pre-Revolutionary War homestead was purchased at auction from the
Borough of Madison. The 18th owner’s ambitious 2-year, privately
funded, $500,000 restoration endeavor encompassed the entire 1.6 acre
site, including the home’s interior and exterior, the exteriors of all
outbuildings, and the 1.6 acre wooded grounds. The project was
successfully completed on schedule in January, 2008. Summaries of the
work completed (and special projects that remain to be completed) follow


Landscaping - 100% Complete

Projects completed:

- Removal of over 900 bags of leaves and five dump trucks full of sticks
  and branches from the 1.6 acre site during initial winter 2006 clean up
- Extensive weeding and mulching of sunken garden and embankments
  with generous help from Cheryl Munkel and many May Day volunteers  
- Extensive pruning of trees and reshaping and trimming of hedges
- Removal of historically inappropriate shrubs and garden decorations
- Removal of historically inappropriate dog cage and critter hutch
- Removal of three dilapidated sections of fence from the north side yard
- Restoration and painting of shed, including replacement of rotted wood
- Addition of stone masonry foundation around base of red shed
- Extensive re-seeding, fertilizing, and weed control in lawn areas
- Planting of historically appropriate trees, shrubs, flowers, and pumpkins 
- Changing landscape lighting to 18th century iron farmhouse style fixtures
- Cleaning of pond; addition of aerator and 18th century spitter fountain
- Removal of clusters of very large stones from the driveway entrance 
- Removal of over 250 rocks from the area between the sidewalk and fence
- Addition of over 250 rocks to the retaining wall behind the red shed
- Replacement of wood fence along Ridgedale with nearly identical copy
- Restoration of fence to right of driveway, as seen in 1894 photo of house
- Addition of new fencing to obscure central a/c unit and electric meter
- Application of 1 coat of primer and 3 coats of white stain to new fencing
- Planting hundreds of flowering periwinkles in front of new fence along
  Ridgedale Avenue, thanks to the generosity of the Madison Garden Club
- Mending of horse fencing around the lower sunken garden area 
- Power washing the slate patios, walkways, driveway, and parking areas
- Applying a protective coat of sealant to the driveway and parking areas
- Addition of hand forged iron sign hangers and interpretive signage
- Addition of a handmade wooden box on a tree next to the sidewalk
   along Ridgedale to hold copies of The Luke Miller House Newsletter
- Addition of new wireless security devices around the 1.6 acre grounds  


Blacksmith Forge - 50% Complete

Projects completed:

- Cleaning cedar roof shingles; removal of leaves and debris from gutters
- Pruning of tree branches and forsythia bushes growing over roof
- Installation of gutter guards and new water drainage pipes 
- Removal of historically inappropriate storm door from entryway
- Addition of 3, battery operated, flickering candles in windows
- Upgrade of security system’s motion and fire/smoke detection sensors
- Removal of modern floor surfaces in forge interior to expose the ground
- Archaeological dig for artifacts inside and around forge and privy area,
  in part, to help determine the true age of the forge building
- Exposing and clearing forge entrance to the secret “Indian raid tunnel”
- Ground-penetrating radar scan above the 60-foot-long “secret tunnel” 
   connecting the forge building to the Luke Miller House underground  

Projects remaining:

- Stabilize the stone wall above the tunnel entrance to permit removal of
   sand presently blocking entry into the tunnel
- Continued search for artifacts and evidence to document past uses of the
   “secret tunnel,” including: a cistern, an Indian raid escape tunnel, and/or        
   as a secret passageway within a station on the Underground Railroad


Garage - 100% Complete

Projects completed:

- Cleaning cedar roof shingles; removal of leaves and debris from gutters
- Installation of gutter guards and removal of invasive ivy from exterior
- Restoration and repair of wooden window shutters and iron hardware
- Repainting of exterior and disposal of debris in outdoor storage areas
- Replacement of garage door springs and initial cleaning of interior
- Addition of 4 custom window treatments and a battery-operated candle
- Replacement of 20th century lighting fixtures with 18th century
  farmhouse fixtures


House Exterior - 100% Complete

Projects completed:

- Cleaning cedar roof shingles; removal of leaves and debris from gutters
- New hand-split cedar shingles on roof above covered porch on east wing
- Installation of gutter guards and new water drainage pipes
- Restoration of all exterior doors and their hand forged iron hardware
- Restoration and repair of wooden window shutters and iron hardware
- Restoration of wooden bases of pillars supporting patio overhang
- Restoration of exterior wooden frames around widows in east wing
- Restoration of antique wooden storm window latches on ground level
- Re-leveling of slate slabs on the main patio and repair of grouting
- Removal of storage hutch from stone exterior and repair of trellises
- Removal of invasive ivy from the stone foundation walls
- Repair and repainting of exterior air vent cover for kitchen range
- Replacement of clothes dryer and fan vents to blend with house
- Concealing dangling cables and electrical wires by adding wire clips
- Removal of historically inappropriate decorations and ornamental items
- Restoration of the iron and wood bench using pressure treated wood
- Replacement of 10’ wide 1950s sliding door with double French sliders
- Replacement of over 2 dozen cracked windows with hand blown glass
- Washing and polishing of all exterior windows and storm windows
- Addition of genuine fieldstone to cinderblock foundation of west wing
- Addition of loose antique bricks under the water pump stone slab
- Sanding, caulking, spackling, and priming of cedar siding shingles
- Repainting of entire exterior with historically appropriate colors
- Addition of handmade interpretive signage hung by old iron chains
- Restoration and painting of old iron water pump, bell, and gate latches
- Replacement of 20th century lighting fixtures with 18th century
  farmhouse fixtures
- Replacement of security lighting, upgrade of exterior security system
  sensors on house, and upgrade of fire/smoke detection sensors on house


House Interior - 98% Complete

Projects completed:

- Installation of distressed hardwood flooring in east and west wings
- Replacement of 1950s industrial tile with stone pebble tile in 4 rooms
- Removal of 1950s pine paneling and other inappropriate modern items
- Complete restoration of wainscoting and wood moldings on all 3 floors
- Addition of elaborate custom baseboard molding in east wing office
- Extensive restoration and conservation of exposed wood ceiling beams
- Cleaning, repair, and polishing of all wide plank wood and stone floors
- Cleaning/servicing of all 4 fireplace chimneys and 1905 cast iron stove
- Extensive plaster repairs and addition of new plaster, stone, and brick
- Two new kitchens featuring custom maple Shaker style cabinets, rough
   iron handles and drawer pulls, rough surface granite counters, stainless
   steel farmhouse and bar sinks, Jenn Air stainless steel appliances, red
   and white wine refrigerators, stainless frontload washer and dryer, new
   under-counter xenon lighting, and halogen lighting inside cabinets
- Four renovated full bathrooms with river stone floors in showers, 
  tumbled travertine marble tile, hand forged iron sink stands with stone
  bowls, native wood vanities with vessel sinks, carved wood medicine
  cabinets, premium fixtures, and a wooden bathtub in the master bath
- Custom closet shelving and drawers on all floors, professionally installed
- Addition of over 30 reproduction 18th century style lighting fixtures,
  handmade by Amish craftspeople in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
- Addition of 11 custom-made wooden radiator covers throughout house
- Installation of custom, seeded glass double French door in laundry room
- Custom made interpretive artwork signage added throughout house
- Wine cellar renovated and restocked with hundreds of bottles
- Reinstallation of original “cat door” on 2nd floor, thanks to Nelson Dane
- Replacement of panes of cracked glass in windows with restoration glass
- Repainting every room, hallway, and closet, top to bottom, on all 3 levels
- Upgrade of security and fire/smoke/carbon monoxide detection system

Projects remaining:

- Reopening of the Luke Miller house entryway to the “secret tunnel”

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