Poconos bungalow exudes 'charm of simple, old things'

Penny Antrim (left) and partner Tip Golden on the front porch of Bon-Pen in Tobyhanna Township in the Poconos.

Saturday, June 19, 1926: “Came to cottage with machine (car) with clothing, etc,” wrote Emma Heilman in a journal she started just after her family’s two-bedroom bungalow was built in Pocono Pines.

By the following Monday, she and her husband, Llewellyn, were settled in sufficiently that she “took a hike around lake and picked wildflowers.”

For the next four months, Emma would not have much leisure time. She listed 240 visitors and 54 overnight guests. Some stayed as long as 10 days in the bungalow with electric lights but no indoor plumbing. Water had to be hauled from a nearby stream.

Emma’s last entry was Saturday, Oct. 2: “There ended the summer vacation in the Poconos, 1926.”

Camera icon CHARLES FOX
The front exterior of Bon-Pen in the Poconos. The cottage is named for an owner’s daughters, Bonnie and Penny.

Penny Antrim, the bungalow’s present owner, inherited the journal — along with the house — from her parents, Mary and Russel Peters. Mary had found the journal in an old bureau when the Peterses bought the bungalow from Emma’s estate in 1956.

At the time of the Peterses’ purchase, one bedroom had been converted to a bathroom. It was replaced and another added, along with an enclosed “eating” porch and an enclosed sitting porch. A double porcelain sink was installed in the kitchen, so guests no longer had to hike to the spring for a drink of water.

“I think the beverage of choice was beer,” says Penny’s partner, Tip Golden, who found an old case full of empty bottles in the garage.

Tip and Penny live year-round in Chester County and vacation at the Monroe County bungalow from May to October. When weather gets chilly, they fire up the propane-fueled stove. Though they don’t have as many guests as Emma had that first summer, they enjoy visits from family. The bungalow, with three bedrooms and two queen-sized pull-out couches in the living room, sleeps 10. Also, Penny says, the green metal glider with the red print cushions on the screened-in porch is good for sleeping on a rare hot night in the mountains.

Penny, 79, and Tip, 82, were both previously married and divorced. She has three children and six grandchildren. He has a son and grandson. The couple, who have been together since 1997,  met years ago at a Poconos resort and dated when they were teenagers. She is a retired school psychologist. He was a manager for J.C. Penney.

Camera icon CHARLES FOX
Though the cottage now has indoor plumbing, the 1926 bungalow still has a functional two-seat outhouse.

They have taken care to preserve the Poconos property, even keeping the two-seat outhouse. “The grandsons love it, but the granddaughters want nothing to do with it,” Tip says.  Over the front porch is a sign, “Bon-Pen.” The Peterses named the place after their two daughters, Bonnie and Penny.

Tip and Penny have retained such fine features as pine paneling on walls and ceilings and pine floors. Rotted wood flooring in the kitchen had to be replaced with linoleum. A large hot-water heater crowding the kitchen was replaced with a 40-gallon tank enclosed in wood cabinetry to match the rest of the kitchen. Wainscoting was installed in the eating porch and bathroom. Skylights now brighten the master bedroom. Renovations can be challenging because, in the 91-year-old dwelling, “nothing is square,” Tip says.

Most of the furniture on the porches, a jelly cupboard in the dining room, and the Hoosier cabinet and the utensils on the kitchen wall belonged to the Heilmans. The dining room table and chairs belonged to Penny’s grandparents.Vermont walnut side tables in the living room came from Tip’s family. Penny purchased an antique cabbage cutter, now a coffee table in the living room, from a local flea market for $25.

Three generations — Penny’s great aunt, her mother, and her daughter, Marnie — made the colorful bed quilts.

Camera icon CHARLES FOX
The main bedroom at Bon-Pen. Quilts were made by family members.

Tip and Penny planted perennials around the bungalow and are “extremely fortunate to have many old rhododendrons and pines,” she said.

Much has changed in the Poconos since 1926.  Massive houses in a nearby development feature multi-level decks, central air, hot tubs, and other amenities. So it took five years of coaxing by organizers of a house tour benefiting the local library to persuade Penny to include the bungalow on last year’s tour.

“I thought our home was too modest and was a bit worried about its reception,” she says. Visitors, though, loved the tall pines, the outhouse, and vintage furnishings.

“I was quite amazed at the glowing reactions to our little bungalow,” Penny says. “It makes me happy to know that people still value the charm of simple, old things.”

Camera icon CHARLES FOX
Many of the bungalow’s furnishings have been handed down through the generations.

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