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Greystone Farm

July 30, 1998

Editor's note: This is the 106th 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.

Greystone FarmBy PAT SCHOOLEY

photos: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




Just south of Sharman's Run on Mills Road, two great maple trees stand sentinel before a farmhouse, shading and partially obscuring it from passersby.

The house is built of roughly coursed fieldstone with quoined corners and a later, one-story entry porch over the central door. Five bays are evenly spaced across the facade.

--cont from life--

Windows have nine-over-six sashes and simple frames. In the center bay, the six-panel entry door opens beneath a four-light transom; and the entry jambs have a single, hand-planed, raised panel on either side of the door. To the rear is a long wing with now-enclosed double porches on its north side.

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Terry and Vicki Karn purchased this house and a little less than 12 acres of land in 1981. The house had been on the market over a year and had been empty for quite some time.

Paint peeled from the walls in sheets, mold grew in the corners, and pigeon droppings carpeted the attic floor. There was no water, and a well had to be drilled before they were allowed to move in. In spite of all this, Terry Karn was excited about the house because so much original fabric still remained.

With the move finally under way a blizzard started; and possessions were stacked in the garage and house as the Karns rushed to avoid the weather.

Terry, Vicki and their daughters, Traci and Tiffany, camped out in their new home as they set about making it their own.

First they cleaned and removed the debris, then they started restoring the house. Raised German pointing was replaced on two facades, and the job will be completed this fall. Failed plaster was removed and replaced, windows and frames were repaired and sometimes replaced. The kitchen and the enclosed porches remain to be done. As in many old-house projects, the spaces that function as they are are left until just the right plan is conceived.

The Karns saved all the original fabric of the house that they could and duplicated features that couldn't be saved. Five of the seven six-panel interior doors still have their original two-color paint scheme. Vicki Karn chose her colors carefully to match and blend with these original paints.

Once part of the vast Antietam Iron Works holdings, a farm containing this parcel was transferred from the owners of the iron works to David Showman (also spelled "Sharman" and "Sherman") in 1842 and remained in that family until 1933.

The house was built in three sections. The lower floor of the wing was built first, while the property was owned by the iron works. Shortly after the Showman purchase, the front block was constructed. About 10 years later, the second story of the wing was added. The building had evolved around the changing needs of its owners.

The entrance door of the main block of the house opens into a broad hall with a single room on either side. Originally the door at the far end of the hall opened onto the lower level of the galleried porch.

An earlier owner enclosed the porches and added a small bath at the end of the entrance hall. Floors are random-width pine throughout the house. Chair rail, most doors and woodwork are original. An enclosed stairs at the rear of the hall leads to the upper floor.

dining roomOn the left, east side of the entrance hall is the library, now Terry Karn's office and the nerve center for the his real estate business. Two windows look out toward the road, and another views the back yard. On the gable end wall is a fireplace with a parged firebox and a simple but elegant mantelpiece. Beside the fireplace, in the shallow alcove created by the chimney, is a large cupboard with eight paneled doors and simple moldings. It still has its beautiful original grained painting as does the door to the hall.

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