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Downsville Pike house being restored by Allegheny Power

May 27, 1999

Editor's note: This is the 115th article in a series on the architectural and historical treasures of Washington County.




By PAT SCHOOLEY | Terms to know

The stone house sits well back from Downsville Pike down a curved gravel lane, behind a metal farm gate, surrounded by cornfields and pasture. A new exit from Interstate 70 will soon bring traffic by the old house, and new businesses will be springing up along the route. The area will change rapidly.

[cont. from lifestyle]

The house faces northwest and has five bays with a central entrance sheltered by a one-story porch. The entrance is broad and has a double door, each with two raised panels. Above is a two-light transom. On this faade, the first-floor openings have segmental arches, and another arch, now filled in, appears at ground level, showing there once was a window into the cellar at that point. The central opening on the second level is a floor-length window that may have been a door at one time. A simple water table defines the foundation on both this faade and the southwest elevation. A date stone in the opposite (northeast) gable is inscribed "J.F. 1780," and all openings on this face, except the two small attic windows, have segmental arches above them.

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There are four rooms on the first floor, with the main entrance opening into the largest of these. A hall separates the two rooms at the back of the house, leading from a door into the large front room to the back door of the house. The stairs rise gently to the second floor from this hall.

Balusters are turned and quite short, with the balustrade only about 20 inches high. The spandrel beneath the stairs has raised panels. A door to the cellar opens beneath the stairs. Originally there also was a door opposite this one that gave access to the cellar stairs from the southeast room, which was at one time the kitchen.

There are corner fireplaces with matching mantels and tall firebox openings in the large room and the room behind it. Fireplaces do not appear to have been present in the other two rooms on the first level, but chimneys in these areas would have accommodated stoves. Upstairs are two more corner fireplaces in the front bedrooms. These have no mantels, and the walls are plastered to the arched lintel above each firebox, which has stepped-back shoulders on either side of the opening.

The partial cellar has two entrances: the inner stairs, and a bulkhead at the rear of the building. This entrance itself probably is original but the door once was wider. The ceiling reveals close-set beams, logs that have been flattened on the upper and lower sides, with stones and clay filling the spaces between as insulation. A great, triangular stone mass on the gable end supports the corner fireplaces above it. One side of this mass has a tall, narrow arch and the other a cubby. There are several other cubbies in the cellar walls. This insulation and the diagonal fireplaces are typical features of 18th-century architecture in this area.

Brothers Jacob and Henry Funck came to this area in 1749 to purchase land. Their children changed the spelling of the family name to Funk.

Henry's son Joseph received part of his father's "Marsh Head" land grant in 1779. Apparently Joseph built this stone house the following year. A few years later, Joseph traded homes with his brother John, who was a minister in the nearby Marsh Church, so that each brother could be closer to his work. Thus, in 1785 John Funk received a deed to a 145.25-acre parcel of land from Joseph Funk. This parcel contained parts of eight land patents including "Marsh Head" and "Resurvey on Marsh Head," and the deed included "all houses, buildings and improvements." On Oct. 28, 1796, John Funk patented 147 3/8 acres as "David's Friendship," probably the same land he had received from Joseph Funk 11 years earlier. There was a David Funk, but, as with most patents, there's no way to tell who this one was named for.

Louise Funk Beachley says that Downsville Pike is the result of easements giving rights-of-way that allowed access to Elizabeth Town (Hagerstown) and Jerusalem (Funkstown) to members of the family on adjoining farms who lived farther away.

Potomac Edison purchased this home and its more than 147 acres in 1960. The deed stated that the parcel was part of land patented as "David's Friendship." For the next quarter century, the land was rented as a farm, with the farm family living in the house. In the late 1980s, a Washington County Historical Society member contacted the company with her concern that the house was deteriorating. Spurred by this visit, the company took a closer look at the property.

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