|Old Manse was built in 1868 by Reverend Dr. Isaac W. K. Handy in his role as Pastor at Orange Presbyterian Church. Of frame construction over a brick foundation capped with a standing seam metal roof, this is a lovely center hall Colonial situated on 46 acres inside the town boundaries. The architecture has Federal elements with prescient Revival features including a front porch supported by Tuscan columns, transome and side-light windows around the double panel door and simple entablature. The curtilage is defined by boxwoods now at the century mark and mature perennial gardens and trees.
The formal entry hall terminates with the ascending staircase. There are 10’ ceilings on the entry level and the red oak and heart pine floors are complemented by warm, mellowed woodwork throughout. There are 9 rooms of gracious proportion including a grand dining room and four bedrooms with two and one-half baths. There are lovely porches, screened and open. The rear porch descends to Rev. Dr. Handy’s porte cochère.
The land is predominantly hardy pasture on deep, fertile soils. There are two springs, one of which feeds a large pond. Mountain views are available to the Southwest Mountains as well as to the Blue Ridge over the Town of Orange.
Isaac W. K. Handy (1815-1878) grew up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore where the Handy family had been among the earliest English settlers. Their ancestral home, Pemberton Park, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Isaac held a Doctorate of Divinity from Princeton University and was Pastor of a Portsmouth Presbyterian Church in 1863.
Portsmouth was then an area under Union control and Handy received a pass from Federal authorities to visit family and friends in Delaware. While in Delaware a newspaper reported that Handy made disparaging remarks about the American flag. While his remarks were later discredited and shown to be taken out of context, in July of 1863 Handy was arrested as a political prisoner and sent to Fort Delaware Prison on marshy Pea Patch island. Because Lincoln had suspended the writ of habeas corpus, Handy was held in prison for 15 months without a hearing. Handy kept a detailed daily diary and smuggled it out of prison to be re-published as "United States Bonds; or Duress by Federal Authority: A Journal of Current Events During an Imprisonment of Fifteen Months, at Fort Delaware" and later republished as “Prisoner of Conscience”. It is an acclaimed historical record of Civil War prisons and soldier and civilian prisoners.