By David Enscoe, Advertising Department
George Eckhardt could park a jetliner in his barn if he wanted to. And not just because his barn is the size of an airplane hanger. George spent 30 years as a pilot for American Airlines. He knows how to maneuver an aircraft around tight spaces.
"Sure, I could get an airplane in there if the doors were big enough," he says.
George doesn't fly big jets anymore. He retired in 2003 and now spends most of his time tending to his 85-acre horse farm in the Borough of Folsom in western Atlantic County. In addition to the supersized barn, the farm includes a 4,500-square foot log house, a separate six-stall horse barn, several corrals and a renovated 3-bedroom rancher. The property has been in George's family since 1875, when his great grandfather came over from Germany. It's where George was born and raised.
"My grand pop used to have a butcher business here and my father raised fruit, vegetables and hay," says George, who grew up in an old farmhouse on the property that dated to the early 1800s.
George and his wife, Pam, a former American Airlines flight attendant, lived in Connecticut for 18 years before moving to Folsom nine years ago. The horse farm was Pam's idea.
"I told him I wouldn't move here unless he got me horses," Pam recalls. "That was the carrot to get me down here."
George came up with the idea for the log house.
"I've always liked log homes," he says. "In fact the first time I had dinner with Pam we talked about log homes."
Custom built by Kuhns Brothers of Lewisburg, Pa., the two-story log house off Mays Landing Road has four bedrooms, 4½ baths and a fully finished basement. It bears a resemblance to the Ponderosa, the homestead from the 1960s TV western Bonanza. The exterior walls are made of kiln-dried eastern white pine and the interior is strictly natural wood, with exposed beams and knotty pine tongue and groove walls. The doors are made of southern yellow pine and the floors are a hickory composite.
The house is entered through double front doors that George salvaged from the old farmhouse, which has since been demolished. The open floor plan includes a great room with a wood-burning fireplace and a chimney made of Jersey sandstone. The kitchen has amenities the Cartwrights never could have dreamed about. It features two skylights, a 6-burner gas range, a walk-in pantry, an enormous center island, granite counters and a free-standing floor-to-ceiling sandstone chimney connected to a wood burning cook stove. Pots and pans hang from rafters on meat hooks from George's grandfather's butcher shop,
A bayed window above the kitchen sink overlooks a wraparound covered porch and an in-ground swimming pool.
"We'll sit on the porch and in the afternoon, around 4:30, you'll see the deer come out," George says. "Then the turkeys and geese come out. The turkeys like to chase the geese."
The first floor also includes a half bath, George's office and a master bedroom suite. The bedroom has a corner gas fireplace with Jersey stone chimney, a vaulted ceiling and French doors to the porch. The master bath has a skylight, a corner shower and a Jacuzzi tub.
A staircase made of half logs leads to the second floor, where there are three carpeted bedrooms, all with private baths, cathedral ceilings and skylights.
The finished basement has a game room and sitting area. The two-car garage, the only part of the house with sheet rocked walls, has under-floor radiant heat.
Other interior amenities include a hot water baseboard heating system that runs on both natural gas and wood. Paddle fans hang from the high ceilings in nearly every room. There's also a central vac system.
The immaculate horse barn has a tack room and six stalls, three of which are home to a pair of Arabian horses and a pony. As for the hangar-sized barn, George uses it to park his hay bailer, vintage tractors, wood splitter and a front end loader. It's also used to store hay that George grows and harvests on his property.
The Eckhardts don't have to depend on the electric company for their power needs. They have a 30-kilowatt generator with a diesel engine that George says can provide power for the whole farm.
"We're trying to be self reliant," Pam says.
With one daughter, 21-year-old Ashlyn, in college and another, 17-year old Lauren, at boarding school, George and Pam have put the farm on the market and are preparing to be empty nesters. Well, not really. Even when the girls move out they'll still have Boeing, their yellow lab, and Ottawa, a Jack Russell Terrier. Not to mention the horses.
"The horses don't know it yet but they're coming with us," Pam says.
Plans aren't finalized but the Eckhardts are contemplating a move to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, where they have family.
"We're going to downsize a little bit," George says. "There's a lot of emotion. My family has lived here since 1875. But it's time to move on."
For more information on this property, which is listed for $2.29 million, call James Boyle of Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors, 609-226-0678.
What: Horse farm
Lot Size: 85 acres
Price: $2.29 million