Seven Gates Farm

November 09, 2000

Seven Gates Farm

By Pat Schooley

Editor's note: This is the 133rd in a series of articles about the historical and architectural treasures of Washington County.

Candlelight tour set for Dec. 10

Washington County Historical Society's third annual candlelight tour will showcase Keedysville Sunday, Dec. 10, from 1 to 8 p.m.

Sixteen properties along Main Street will be open. The public is invited. Buses will carry visitors from parking at South Mountain Little League field to town. In town, shuttle buses will be available to transport visitors from site to site.

Advanced tickets may be purchased for $15 from local merchants. The day of the tour, tickets, if available, will be $20. Children younger than 12 will be admitted free with a paying adult.

For information, call 301-714-4664 or go to or on the Web.

Terms to know:

Bay: A space along a wall defined by an opening, window or door.


Hip roof: A roof formed by four pitched-roof surfaces that slope toward the ridge or come to a point.

German siding: A flat-faced type of horizontal siding with a concave top and a tongue overlapped by the grooved bottom of the board above.

Chamfer: A beveled edge at the corner of a post.

French corner: A method of securing a log addition to an existing structure.

At the western edge of Keedysville, on the north side of Main Street, a small farmstead is settled behind a wooden fence. Large trees shade grounds divided into gardens by hedges and boxwoods. Paths lead from quiet spaces to small, formal areas and accessory buildings.

Decorative pieces of architecture and antique garden tools catch the eye throughout the farmstead. Two original outbuildings, a German-sided washhouse and a log smokehouse, stand behind the house. Just to the west of the house is a cistern with a pulley hanging from the protective roof above.

The four-bay house is log and cased in brick. It has a front-sloping roof and windows with six-over-six sashes. Chimneys rise inside either gable end, and a three-sided bay window expands the west side of the first floor. A shed-roofed porch supported by chamfered posts crosses the first story of the front facade. A transom with 12 small lights tops the five-panel front door, both probably date from around 1840. A two-story wing with double porches on the west extends to the rear of the house. It is a simple house, without pretension, built to shelter a family.

This small parcel was part of an 80-acre farm belonging to Jacob Hess, builder and owner of the mill around which the town grew. This milling operation dominated the community well into the 20th century. Early deeds state that the farm was part of original land grants called "Resurvey of Fellfoot Enlarged" and "Hills and Dales and the Vineyard."

In 1833, three Hess heirs, two of whom moved to Ohio and Virginia, sold this farm to George Geeting Sr. for $2,800. The deed "grant(ed) unto George Geeting the privelege (sic) of making and using a road to Little Antietam Creek" indicating that the parcel did not include access to the waterway.

To protect his millrace and tailrace, the owner of the mill probably retained control of the creek for some distance both above and below the mill. Twenty years later, Geeting's heirs sold the farm to Simon Wyand for $6,758.56 and 1/4 cents. As the generations of Wyands divided the land, the farmstead finally was left with a little less than an acre of land.

In 1984, after sitting empty for two years, the property passed out of the Wyand family's control for the first time in 131 years. Dean Johnson, who was looking for a quiet place to live, saw possibilities in the little home in Keedysville and purchased it. Dean and his partner, James Cramer, have been editors of Country Garden and Country Home, contributing many articles to these magazines. They brought their creative genius to the task of restoring the neglected house and its grounds. Their efforts not only restored the property, but also resulted in two books, "Seasons at Seven Gates Farm" and "Window Boxes Indoors and Out."

The house was originally laid out with two rooms, side by side, on the first floor. Box locks hold most doors, and one is marked Eagle Improved Lock #60. The front door opens into one of the original rooms, now furnished for dining. The bay on the right expands this narrow room. A simple mantel decorates a fireplace that is now closed with a wooden cover. Beyond the fireplace, the last three steps of a closed stairs to the second floor enter the room. Woodwork is simply molded with plain corner blocks. Interior doors have four panels. First-floor ceilings have been stripped of their plaster to reveal the joists above. Floors have been stripped and left bare of finish. Laths that held the plaster were hand split.

Simple furnishings

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