Beaver Creek House

December 02, 1999|By PAT SCHOOLEY

Editor's note: This is the 122nd in a series of articles about the architectural and historical treasures of Washington County.

Beaver Creek Road is an ancient route, part of the early 18th-century Monocacy Trail. It is labeled "the Greht Waggon Road to Philadelphia" on Fry's 1751 map of the area. This was the path generations of immigrants followed from the port city to the lands they would settle in the Cumberland and Shenandoah valleys.

cont. from lifestyle

Candlelight tour

Beaver Creek House will be open tonight from 4 to 8 as part of Washington County Historical Society's Christmas tour of Beaver Creek National Register District and associated sites. Each of the buildings open for the tour will be decorated for the season.

The tour starts at Beaver Creek Christian Church, 9711 Beaver Creek Church Road, where tickets may be bought for $10. Refreshments will be served.


Nearby Beaver Creek School and St. Matthew's Lutheran Church will be open and decorated as well. A bus will transport visitors to the Christian Newcomer home, Doub's Mill, Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren and Beaver Creek House. A brief history of the sites is available.

Terms to Know

Porte-cochere: A covered entrance or porch that extends over a driveway so vehicles may pass through.

Gothic Revival: An architectural style popular from 1830 to 1880 characterized by steeply pitched roofs with cross gables, often with ornamental boards, and gothic (pointed) arches.

German siding: horizontal board siding with a concave top that forms a tongue overlapped by a groove in the bottom of the next board up.

Toward the end of the 18th century, a community developed along the "Waggon Road" near the stream. Generations of Newcomers, Funks and Doubs lived here, farmed and built sturdy homes and mills. The community grew over the centuries but never was large.

In 1936, work began on a new U.S. 40. This road would cross South Mountain at Orrs Gap as the "Waggon Road" had and would replace the National Pike by becoming the main highway between Frederick, Md., and Hagerstown. This new road roughly followed the trolley line that ran between Hagerstown and Myersville, Md., from 1902 to 1938. This new road ran just to the south of the Beaver Creek community, allowing the small village to remain virtually unchanged.

Near the road just to the west of Beaver Creek stands an imposing brick house. A delicate iron fence and grand old trees surround and shade it, creating a quiet enclave set off to itself beside the public way. This is Beaver Creek House, built by Martin Newcomer in 1905.

Newcomer was a landowner and a farmer, one of that family which settled the community in the 18th century. In his middle years, Newcomer built this fine, new home for himself at the edge of his farm. He chose a Gothic Revival type, with its dominant central cross gable, which was popular here for some 50 years; but he added elements from other architectural styles as well.

Gingerbread trim so often associated with Gothic Revival was omitted.

Just four families have owned the house. In 1932, the mortgage held by Bettie Newcomer, Martin's widow, was foreclosed, and two physicians, Gifford and Evelyn Luke, purchased the home. Another doctor, Edgar Thral Campbell, and his wife bought the place in 1947. This was their home until 1988, when Donald and Shirley Day bought it from Marjorie Campbell after her husband's death.

The house is painted white with two-story bay windows flanking the central door. A one-story porch supported by simple columns wraps around the building.

Rough-textured stone sills and lintels finish window and door openings. Sidelights and a transom surround the front door that opens into the entry hall. The staircase on the right side of the hall has a square newel post and turned balusters rising to the second floor.

An ample sitting room to the left opens into a small office at the back through a pair of double doors. These doors have early hardware and appear to be original. The back wall of the office is filled with arched-top bookcases, a later addition; for earlier residents tell of the pool table that once occupied this small space.

The parlor to the right of the hall has the main house's only fireplace centered on the gable wall. A door to the right of the fireplace opens onto the screened section of the porch, and an archway at the rear of the room opens into a small desk alcove that was once a pantry. The Campbells added a new window here and closed the original door to the dining room at the back of the parlor so that the dining room is now entered through the alcove. This long, narrow room has two built-in corner cupboards, also added by the Campbells.

The kitchen is beside the dining room in the wing at the rear of the house, and it is entered both from the back of the dining room as well as through a butler's pantry off the office at the end of the sitting room.

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