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Stone house stands tall

July 09, 2006|by PAT SCHOOLEY

Barnes Road is part of an old route that runs generally north and south between Lappans and Wagaman roads, changing its name as it moves north, first to Roxbury then Garis Shop Road. Houses along this rural way are widespread among woodlots and farmsteads.

Beaver Creek circles through an 18th-century farmstead in a small hollow and then dips under the road beneath a lovely 1906 bridge. The farmstead spans the road.

A small stone springhouse stands on the west, tucked into the earth not far from the edge of the stream. On the east, past low stone walls, stand two stone houses and a collection of fences and outbuildings.

The larger of the two houses has three bays with an entry door, sheltered by a small gable-roofed porch, in the south bay. The first-floor windows have nine-over-six sashes, with wide frames secured by wooden pins. The upper windows have the same wide frames with six-over-six sashes. All the sashes have wide muntins. These windows and the gentle stone arches above them indicate an early building date.

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Between the upper windows are two panels set in arched recesses that once must have proclaimed the date and the initials of the builder, but these inscriptions were long ago obliterated.

John Ridout of Annapolis patented Jerrico Hills Resurveyed in 1776. According to the National Register nomination for the house, on Feb. 26, 1791, Michael Taylor purchased 256.5 acres of land, part of Jerrico Hills Resurveyed, for 641 pounds. He probably built the house shortly after. Jacob Keedy purchased about one-fourth of this parcel in 1842 and sold it 21 years later as part of an expanded tract.

Between the upper windows are two panels set in arched recesses that once must have proclaimed the date and the initials of the builder, but these inscriptions were long ago obliterated.

John Ridout of Annapolis patented Jerrico Hills Resurveyed in 1776. According to the National Register nomination for the house, on Feb. 26, 1791, Michael Taylor purchased 256.5 acres of land, part of Jerrico Hills Resurveyed, for 641 pounds. He probably built the house shortly after. Jacob Keedy purchased about one-fourth of this parcel in 1842 and sold it 21 years later as part of an expanded tract.

The house has three rooms arranged around the central chimney in the simple German flurkuchenhaus floor plan. The main entry door opens into what was once the original kitchen, a narrow room dominated by a huge stone fireplace with a firebox about 7 feet wide and more than 3 feet tall. An arched recess is built low in the brick back of the fireplace. Winder stairs, enclosed with hand-planed, beaded boards, lead to the second floor. To the left of the fireplace, a door opens into the other half of the house. The dining room fills the front half of this space, with the modern kitchen in the area to its east. Ceilings throughout the house are a bit taller than 8 feet, giving the space a welcoming, ample feel.

At some point early on, another stone room, about 12 feet square, was added at the back of this house at the end of the original kitchen. Apparently the builder needed more room and felt that a smaller kitchen would allow the larger room to be used as a living area. Although not as large as the first, this smaller kitchen has another large fireplace with another hand-hewn lintel spanning its firebox. It is now used as a den. Doors with stone sills open on both its north and south walls. The space between this room and the end of the modern kitchen became a porch with a roof and flagstone floor.

Upstairs, a wide hall accesses two bedrooms, a small one at the head of the stairs and the larger one to the north. A small firebox is set in the corner of the larger room's south wall. The small room at the end of the hall has been converted into a modern bath. At the other end of the hall, above the stairs, is another set of steep winder steps leading to the attic. This space has been finished, but the original collar beams are quite low and make the space better used as storage.

The smaller stone house, a tenant cottage, grows from the gentle slope leading to Beaver Creek. Originally a single room with a loft above, The main door, on the east, has four window panes in the top, with a sliding wooden panel that can be pulled up to cover this glass in case of danger. Another door opens on the west wall opposite the first.

In 1972, George Maharay and his wife, Janet, came from Washington, D.C., to look for a weekend place; they happened on the house on Barnes Road. Then run down, it became the source of many projects over the years. The Maharays removed the garage and built a two-story structure with an office above in its place. They rebuilt the cottage, which had suffered a fire, with a wide brick swath running between the two doors in front of the fireplace. The living area then got new wood flooring, and a small kitchen was built in the southwest corner. Upstairs, the loft became a large bedroom with a closet and a bath on the south wall.

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