bought this place 28 years ago ,” Murphy says , “ and I never
“ I really had the time to do it justice . But there was something so special about it that I just couldn ’ t let it go . So I kept patching it and I kept hoping that one day I ’ d be able to bring it back to life . Then I met Jone , who just happens to be an interior designer , and she immediately saw what this old place could be . Together , we ’ ve renovated every single element of the house by hand — all the while living in plaster dust and paint . But it ’ s been a labor of love and we ’ re immensely pleased with the outcome .”
The house was built back in the early 1930s by Henry Ford for one of his workers , Marvin Leroy Harn . Marvin was a crane worker . It resembled another Harn family house , also acquired by Ford , that stands to this day at Kilkenny . But that , as they say , is a story for another time . As this story goes , the house at Belfast Keller came about because of a fire . It seems that Marvin ’ s daughter , Freida Marie , accidentally burned the Harn family home at Hardwicke to the ground after leaving ashes from the wood stove on the back porch to cool . In a show of kindness not uncharacteristic of Marvin ’ s wealthy
employer , Ford built Marvin a new home on the Belfast Keller lot . Not lost on Mr . Ford — one can only surmise — was the fact that he himself was living in a mansion built on land originally granted to John Harn back in 1748 by King George II .
hen you stand in the Ford mansion and look to the
“ Wwest ,” says Linda Harn , wife of James “ Cookie ” Harn , who was born in the Belfast Keller house back in 1939 , “ you can see that the oak trees form the letter ‘ H .’ It was a Harn who planted those trees and they still grace the landscape there to this day .”
I had the privilege of dining with Linda Harn ( and eight other strangers ) in the newly restored dining room of the Belfast Keller house last month . We were gathered at the invitation of Patrick and Jone to admire the impeccable restoration of the floors , walls , ceilings and fixtures . Or so I thought . At the suggestion of Paige Glazer , publisher of this magazine , the other dinner guests were none other than members of the original Harn family , all of whom had ties to the old house .