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Dogstreet Farm

July 16, 1998

photos: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Editor's note: This is the 105th in a series of articles on the historic and architectural treasures of Washington County, an area with more listed sites than any other in Maryland.




Dogstreet FarmBy PAT SCHOOLEY

The little farm at the edge of Keedysville on Dogstreet Road had been neglected for a number of years.

Its fields grew tall with weeds.

Its vast barn sagged, then slowly collapsed.

The three metal cupolas were sold.

Windows in the house were broken, then stuffed with clothing.

Trash accumulated in the yard and in all the dilapidated outbuilding foundations.

--cont from lifestyle--

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At the end of 1996, this sad property was purchased by Larry and Karen Matson, both employees of the National Park Service. Beyond the debris, they saw charm and potential, and they began the effort to show the property at its best. It has proved to be a tremendous job.

Evenings, weekends and vacations have been spent clearing and grading the land. Debris from the fallen barn had to be burned or disposed. Some beams and boards were salvaged, but not many.

The more than 13 acres of fields were mowed with a used bush hog on Larry Matson's tractor, taking out broad patches of scrub trees, thistles and nettles. Hidden rocks, trash and nails took a toll on tires.

The barn foundation was cleaned, and the stone fence behind it was repaired.

The house is built close to the road, with the ground falling steeply away to a gully. The slope behind the house is covered with rock outcrops, and one of these supports the stone fence behind the barn foundation. Close to the house is a retaining wall that is divided by a central set of stone stairs. The last four steps were covered with fill and ashes that were tossed over the wall, and this too had to be excavated. A dry, hand-dug well was filled because someone might fall in it, a cistern next to the house was removed, and the silo was taken down.

It is unclear who built this log and stone house with its tall ceilings and stylish mantel. Emory Pry's 1913 will describes this parcel as the "Keedysville Farm" when the property passed to Charles Dudley Pry. Some believe that it was Simon Geeting (Keedy), a son of George Adam Geeting, who made his home here, but a real answer to whom and when awaits more research.

The house was built in two sections. The front part is log covered with asbestos shingles and faces the road with three bays and a central door.

Where they still exist, the windows have nine-over-six sashes on the first story with six-over-six sashes on the second story in the gable ends. This section of the house has a one-room basement under its rear half.

Behind this block is a large, stone wing, also two stories, with a double porch on the south side.

Many of the stones are quite large, and the corners are quoined. Because of the slope of the hill, this wing has been connected with its ground floor at the same level as the basement of the log part.

There is no basement under the stone section.

The log block of the house has three rooms on both levels, but the floor plans of the two floors are not the same.

FireplaceThe elegant six-panel front door opens into a large living room with a batten ceiling more than 10 feet high. There is wainscot of horizontal boards and a mantelpiece over an interior chimney, but there is no firebox behind the mantel. On the right, north, side of the room is a smaller room with a shallow fireplace in a deep chimney column. This mantel is a charming folk piece with applied, scroll-cut vines and swags.

Upstairs, two of the bedroom doors have hand-wrought strap hinges with rattail pintles. Both these intricate hinges and the tapered battens that brace the door indicate an early construction date. This single entry into the stone wing is off a hall at the back of the living room, and it leads to the bedrooms of the stone section.

The ground floor of the stone section is divided into two rooms. The smaller is about 12 feet wide and has exterior doors on either side. The south door enters off the porch. The other door, opposite the first, opens to two stone steps that rise to ground level.

On the gable end is a massive service fireplace with a huge hand-hewn lintel. To its left is a steep winder stairs, and to its right the framing for a cupboard. Its doors were found in the basement and the cupboard restored. The larger room is entered from this kitchen and has windows on either side and a door onto the lower porch. There is a chimney with a hole for a stove pipe on the north wall. In the northeast corner is another steep winder stairs that leads to two rooms upstairs. In the attic, the gable end of the log house can be seen with a few pieces of original clapboard still in place.

Utilities were clumsily added and have been removed.

The wainscot in the front room is crumbling because some of the logs behind it are deteriorating, and some will need to be replaced.

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