Cedar Grove

August 06, 1999|By PAT SCHOOLEY

Editor's note: This is the 118th in a series of articles about the historical and architectural treasures of Washington County.

Old houses and rural farmsteads dot the landscape along Dellinger Road as it winds its way near the Potomac River.

On the south, a red brick house turns its gable end toward the road and slopes a saltbox roof to the west.

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A small, hooded portico shelters the door that looks toward the road. A broad, one-story, hipped roof porch stretches across three bays of the eastern facade.

Irregularly placed windows have six-over-two sashes with heavy, plain, wooden lintels. Outbuildings are scattered around the house, and flowerbeds decorate the yard. A brick summer kitchen stands to the right, and a low, two-part stone springhouse nestles into the earth beside a small pond on the left. At the back is a great stone bank barn with two silos and modern additions substituted for its western half. The farmstead seems little different from its neighbors. Only its saltbox shape is out of the ordinary.


Things aren't always as they seem. Inside, the house is finished with finely molded early 19th-century woodwork around both doors and windows.

One of the exterior doors has six raised panels and paneled jambs. Chair rail decorates most rooms, and a lovely mantelpiece finishes the stone fireplace in the living room.

Larry Younker moved into the house at Cedar Grove in 1976 and purchased it four years later. The barn and additional acreage were acquired in 1982, bringing the total parcel to 8.91 acres.

Tons of debris were removed, and he set about restoring the buildings, replacing roofs, shoring up walls, cleaning the spring house and clearing the pond. He treasures the original fabric that is left, and makes sure that it is kept, while mourning some of the changes that have been made.

A lifetime of projects remains, but one of the most important things the Younkers have done for their house is to have it thoroughly researched and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

A 1928 photograph of the house shows a log structure being clad in brick.

Logs are round, and several distinct construction periods are displayed.

The earliest section is a four-sided log crib that formed a single room with a loft, now the south half of the main block of the house.

A large stone fireplace and chimney column on the north wall of this crib has no seams, indicating that it was built all at one time. This masonry column has two fireplaces, a large fireplace in the original crib (now the living room), and another larger cooking fireplace on the opposite side of the column.

When the first log crib was built, this fireplace would have been outside.

Next came a three-sided log addition on the north built around the large cooking fireplace. The third building period raised the south log crib to a full two stories. Then the roof line of the north addition was raised to the same height as the south, using logs of a much greater diameter. A lean-to addition, which raised the slope of the roof and extended its length, was connected to the west side of the log sections.

The 1928 photograph shows narrow, parallel strips of wood on an upper corner. These could be vestiges of lath for stucco. Stucco often was chosen to cover log houses in Washington County during the early and mid-19th century. The stucco might then be struck to resemble cut blocks of stone as an elegant finishing touch.

Charles Calvert, Fifth Lord Baltimore and proprietor of Maryland, issued a proclamation opening Maryland's frontier for settlement in 1732. Four years later, he established His Lordship's Manor of Conococheague to generate revenue by leasing land to tenants. This was one of 23 proprietary manors in the state, with only Conococheague Manor and Monocacy Manor in Western Maryland.

Generally, leases were for the life of the tenant and for the lives of two other individuals, usually sons. This arrangement allowed the lease to run for two generations if one of the sons survived the father. At the end of the lease, the land and all improvements reverted to the proprietor.

By 1767, Lord Baltimore decided to sell Conococheague Manor. An inventory of tenements on the manor, State of His Lordship's Manor Conococheague 1767, is one of the earliest documents describing settlement-period buildings in Western Maryland. Here the 80 tenants were named, and their improvements were described in the following manner: "99 acres. Christopher Plunk ... Dwelling House 30 by 20 round logs, shingled. 1 ditto 30 by 18 hewn logs and shingled. Barn 60 by 28, round logs, shingled. 2 out houses, round logs. 8 acres meadow, a good spring. Orchard 200 trees. 40 acres woods. Land level. 1/10 rocky."

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