The narrow valley of Simpson's Creek, confined by the North and Brushy mountains, is home to one of the region's most important late-nineteenth-century iron industry communities, Longdale Furnace. Two cylindrical brick smokestacks and a brick machine shed, with gable roof and corbeled wall panels, are among the few industrial structures still standing in the once-booming community. In the 1890s, the Longdale Iron Company operated two state-of-the-art coke-fueled iron furnaces, a narrow-gauge railroad, an assortment of support operations, and iron ore and limestone mining camps on the flanks of the surrounding mountains. Now Dean House, the former Longdale Iron Company Office (1827, John Jordan; c. 1880) at 6118 Longdale Furnace Road, incorporates the two-story frame house of the furnace manager that was associated with the pre-Civil War operation of the property's first furnace (John Jordan and John Irvine's Lucy Selina).
In a departure from the norm for industry executives, Longdale Iron Company president Harry Firmstone's grand twenty-seven-room mansion (now Longdale Inn; c. 1880, John Johnston) at 6209 Longdale Furnace Road was within view of the furnace operations. Designed by the iron company's manager, the house is a picturesque Queen Anne composition with projecting wings, a wraparound porch, decorative rooftop treatments, and a conservatory. The interior has a grandly scaled stair hall, and imported marbleized slate mantels, incised with delicate floral designs, adorn each of the major first-floor rooms. As in most company towns, housing was provided for workers, clerks, managers, and such professionals as a doctor. The company also provided a nondenominational chapel, now Longdale United Methodist Church (121 Church Road).
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