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Bald Barrons

April 16, 1998|By PAT SCHOOLEY

photos by Richard T. Meagher / staff photographer

see enlargements by clicking on images

Bald Barrons

Editor's note: This is the 102nd in a series of articles about the historic and architectural treasures of Washington County.

The stone farmhouse at the corner of Old Forge and Beck roads dates from 1812, a time of transition from the Colonial to Federal styles of architecture.

It is set angled at the corner of the two roads, facing them with a cross-gable that is dominated on the attic level by a large, oval window with radiating muntins and two slender side lights, each with three panes of glass.

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On the first level, a modern, enclosed porch obscures two identical entrances in the second and fourth bays of the house. Pairs of narrow doors fill these four-foot-wide openings. Above these doors are fan lights, one still retaining its radiating muntins. A small lean-to frame kitchen wing recently was attached to the back of the house.

The main doors have broad stone sills and open into the two front rooms of the house. The room on the left (west) has no fireplace and no chimney for a stove. A tall, narrow, arched opening on the wall opposite the entrance leads into a rear room on that side of the house.

The east room extends the depth of the house. This formal parlor is dominated by an elegant mantelpiece with paneled side cupboards that rise to the ceiling on the eastern wall. Large windows with six-over-six sashes are on either side of the door. The jambs of the windows and doors are finished with fine, paneled woodwork. The windows are finished with cavetto moldings, typical of early architecture, while the cupboards have simple turned corner blocks, a transition to the Federal period.

stairsBetween the rear room on the west and the back of the formal parlor is an enclosed stairs.

Here, curved walls surround a spiral staircase that rises to the third level. A window with curved moldings opens over the stairs between the first and second floors. The round handrail is held on delicate rectangular balusters that are reeded on one face. Scroll-cut brackets decorate each step, and this scrolling is repeated along the curved edges of the floors on both the second and third levels.

At the top, a tiny balcony overhanging the stairs was intended to open onto a hallway in the attic; but this third level never was finished. Three rooms were framed out, but the hand-split laths hold no plaster, and the baseboards are attached to unfinished stone walls. The delicate, curved balustrade of the balcony is now framed by rough timbers and insulation, closing the attic off from the staircase. It seems unlikely that this elegant staircase was intended to be walled away from the formal first-floor rooms, but rather that the present wall configuration is the result of some later effort to conserve heat.

There is a full, deep cellar under the house. A bearing beam runs from front to back holding mill-sawn joists. A central stone wall running from gable to gable may have been added later. To the east of the house is a stone wash house; and behind, a stone smokehouse.




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