- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

LINVILLE, Va. (AP) - Sitting on the eastern side of Va. 42, just north of Williamsburg Road, is a piece of American history, waiting for its next chapter to begin. The Lincoln Homestead - a circa-1800 house and cemetery - is for sale, and the owners are eager for an offer.

The property once belonged to John and Rebecca Lincoln, great-grandparents of the 16th U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln, and has been owned by the Shank family since the 1970s. Brothers Richard and Randy Shank put the home up for sale last year, with an asking price of $449,000.

“It’s big enough to be a decent bed and breakfast,” said Randy Shank, formerly the owner of the recently closed Shank’s Bakery in Harrisonburg. He thinks lodging is the most logical choice for the property, other than for use as a private home.

The Lincoln family bought 600 acres along Linville Creek and settled in the Shenandoah Valley after moving from Pennsylvania in 1768. Jacob Lincoln, Abraham’s great-uncle, built the house in 1800, according to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

The property, a registered Virginia Historic Landmark, is now only 9.4 acres. It also includes a garage and the family cemetery that also contains the remains of two slaves, identified as Queenie and Uncle Ned. Richard Shank said this was especially unusual due to the number of Anabaptists, who opposed slavery, that had settled in the area by then.

“It’s somewhat ironic that among the few slaves in the Valley, they were owned by Lincolns,” he said.

The family left the property in 1874, according to Phil Stone, president of the Bridgewater-based Lincoln Society of Virginia. The society conducts an annual ceremony at the cemetery - voluntarily maintained by the Rockingham Ruritan Club - to mark Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on Feb. 12.

The Lincoln Society applied for a grant to acquire the property in the mid-2000s but could not gather the necessary funding.

Randy Shank said the two-story structure is solid, but its hardware needs some upgrades. Electrical wiring is minimal, the plumbing needs improvements and there is no heat aside from a wood stove added about 20 years ago.

Above the front door and on the side of the main staircase are carvings, and the kitchen cabinets are painted red. Some rear rooms on the second floor, accessible from a short hidden staircase, still have scraps of old flowered wallpaper.

The federal-style house has 3,900 livable square feet, according to the listing from Kline May Realty, and no original furniture remains inside. Randy Shank said he could not confirm when all the rooms were constructed, with some being newer than others. The home has one full and one half bathroom, four bedrooms and a new roof.

The front porch is not original, and neither is the faded yellow-green exterior paint, which Randy Shank said he wished was not added. Although, he admits, it does make it easy to tell people how to spot the house.

The brothers say they no longer have a need to keep the property, which is in a family trust.

“For estate purposes, we need to sell it,” said Richard Shank, a Charlottesville architect. “We don’t really know how to value (it).”

Randy Shank lives in Broadway across the road from the property. He uses a greenhouse adjacent to the structure to grow produce he sells at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market. The greenhouse is not for sale, he said.

The Lincoln Homestead’s address is 7884 Harpine Highway. For property information go to www.klinemay.com/83989# .

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Information from: Daily News-Record, https://www.dnronline.com

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