The Elizabeth Furnace Plantation in Lititz, PA is a Registered National Historical Landmark and archaeological treasure trove, with 13 colonial-era buildings dating back to the 18th century. Elizabeth Furnace was a charcoal burning furnace, originally constructed by Jacob Huber in 1746. He owned and operated the furnace until 1757 when his son-in-law Henry William Stiegel and two Philadelphia merchants the Stedman brothers, Charles and Alexander purchased the furnace. The furnace produces a wide variety of steel and iron works, including cast-iron stone plates, and later cannon shells and shot in support of the Revolutionary War effort.
Until recently, when ninth-generation owner Craig Coleman and his brother Bruce repurchased the property and decided to open it to the public for the first time, you might not have known Elizabeth Furnace was there, in a beautiful wooded area north of Brickerville.
“There were a lot of considerations,” said Coleman, in regards to making the decision to transition the property from a private residence to an event venue. “We knew we had to do things right.” Today, the property has been lovingly and meticulously restored, combining era-appropriate architecture and style with modern convenience, comfort, and amenities. Lead designer and project manager James Bubb worked with JK Mechanical team members Fred Bentley, Dave Harnish, and Casey Blackwell to design customized HVAC and Plumbing solutions for the historical building restorations as well as a new bridal pavilion and catering suite.
On a tour of the site, Bubb explained that their #1 priority was to care for and preserve the historical elements of the property throughout the update. In the Stiegel stable, Bubb pointed out the high ceilings, which give the space an open, welcoming atmosphere and highlight the large iron chandeliers. The original hayloft was removed in order to open the space, but the original rafters and trusses were kept and restored.
In order to make the event space comfortable while working with Bubb’s design, JK Commercial estimator Fred Bentley designed a radiant-floor system, which provides even, comfortable heat throughout the entire space without relying on registers, venting, or other unwanted design elements. For cooling, however, an additional solution was needed. Working with Bubb, Fred Bentley proposed two long ducts running the length of the room. These ducts were specially designed with side wall registers and a painted lattice cover to help the ducts blend into the design of the room.
Dave Harnish, JK Commercial HVAC Project Manager, commented on this challenge, saying, “The most challenging aspect was to incorporate a mechanical system into a historical building in a way that it would not be see or detract from character of the building. Providing controls for the various stages of conditioning for the air system with integration of the floor heat was challenging but I believe in the end very successful. The radiant floor will maintain a very comfortable environment while sitting at tables in the heating season while the overhead ducted air system will enable four stages of heating and cooling to match the load requirements as groups of people enter and leave the building.”
In other buildings on the property, such as the smaller Groom’s building, these same concerns were met by using mini-split technology and placing indoor units above hidden lofts, while outdoor units are tucked behind a stone wall or partition to maintain the sense of historical immersion.
Adjoining the stable is the newly constructed Pavilion, the only “new” building on site and home to modern restrooms, catering facilities, and the bridal suite. Rather than try and imitate the historical style of the other buildings (which is not permitted by the National Historical Landmark association), Bubb designed a low, modern addition that provides interest and contrast to the existing architecture without
For this facility, JK Plumbing Manager Casey Blackwell recommended installing two Navien Tankless Water Heaters. Because of the nature of event venues, with large hot water demand during the event and then little or none in between, using on-demand water heaters “just made sense,” in terms of both ensuring that guests would never run out of hot water, and saving energy when not in use.
As Casey said, “Craig and Jim were easy to work with, and took our suggestions and expertise seriously. It was a demanding job, because of what was at stake. Everyone on the project truly cared about the history.”
JK Director of Commercial & Residential Construction Doug Bomberger appreciated the personable nature of the project. “We had the opportunity to work with the owner as well as the rest of the team, and build a relationship. It’s great chemistry, and it’s why we’ve been successful.”
As Spring turns into Summer and the local event economy fully bounces back from COVID shutdowns and postponements, Elizabeth Furnace is looking forward to a fun-filled wedding season and hosting a wide variety of events, from corporate parties to family Thanksgiving. The JK Commercial team is proud to be part of a piece of local history, and help Elizabeth Furnace staff, family, and their clients stay comfortable while they make new memories for years to come. For more information about Elizabeth Furnace including their history and event booking, visit them online at https://elizabethfurnace.com/ .
Elizabeth Furnace Professional Team:
Design Director/Project Manager: BubbDesign, Principal, James D. Bubb.
Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Engineer: Moore Engineering Company.
Interior Designer: BubbDesign.
Preservation Tax Specialist: Delta Development Group.
Additional Team Members: H. L. Wiker, Inc. (site work), JK Mechanical (HVAC/plumbing), Lapp Electric, Prestige Painting, MR Roofing, DHK Slate Roofing, Zimmerman’s Landscape Service, LLC, Howell’s Glass, Nolts Floor Covering, Inc., Iron Art & Design (handrailing), Acoustic Distinctions, Doug Fahnestock’s Wood Shop (columns), Heirloom Metals (copperwork).