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Farmstead changes with families

The stone house has been rebuilt and restored

The stone house has been rebuilt and restored

July 08, 2007|By PAT SCHOOLEY

HARROD'S PROFIT: This is the 165th in a series of stories about the architectural and historical treasures of Washington County

Just south of Interstate 70, Black Rock Road goes east from Md. 66 following a small stream that was called Branch Run or Black Rock Run in early deeds and now is known as Black Rock Creek. A stone farmstead stands on the left, about a half-mile from Md. 66. Tucked in a fertile wedge of land between the road and the small creek, this farmstead was originally 150 acres patented in 1762 by Michael Funk as Harrod's Profit.

Highland cattle graze in the pastures on either side of the house and the great stone barn. Beyond, three small outbuildings, two stone and one frame, scatter around the imposing stone house. A Victorian porch stretches across its four bays, with a stone wing with a small porch entry at the rear to the west, and a frame wing on the east. Picket fencing runs along the road from the eastern pasture to the barn on the west. A large garden plot shares the space between house and barn with lawn and flower and herb beds that line the stream.

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The farm eventually passed to Jacob Funk, who was born on this farmstead in 1793. A hand-colored map dated Aug. 9, 1825, shows the boundaries of Harrod's Profit and identifies it as land belonging to Jacob Funk and adjoining the lands of David Funk and Henry Funk. Jacob Funk fathered Jacob Myers Funk in 1838. There was also an earlier Jacob Funk who was party to dozens of land transactions between 1777 and 1791 in Washington County. It is not clear how this third Jacob was related to the other two or to Michael, who originally patented the property. Nor is it known what structures they built. One of them might well have built a stone house and barn during those years, but no tangible evidence supports this theory. Land records do show that Jacob M. Funk bought out his siblings' interest in the family home April 7, 1874.

About 1900, when Laura M. Burger married Frank Funk, the son of Jacob Myers Funk, the newlyweds moved into the family home with his parents. The frame wing was added around 1905 to accommodate a larger family. When Laura Burger Funk was interviewed in her 95th year, she stated that her father-in-law had built the stone house in 1882, and she thought he had started from the foundation up. She said that the family moved down to live in another house in the meadow while the stone house was being built, and she believed that an older house was torn down, but she didn't know if it had been frame or stone. She thought this older house had been near the stone wall running beside the present house; however, there is no physical evidence of another structure having been on that site. She also thought that Jacob M. Funk's grandfather had been the recipient of the original land grant. Laura came from Pennsylvania about the time of her marriage; so it is clear that her information of the Funk family home was secondhand and might not be accurate.

The present owners, Tom and Norma Heaton, invited an expert to determine when the house was built when they first acquired it. He declared that he had never seen a house so hard to date. He said the barn, on the other hand, was earlier than the house and probably dated to the 1820s. Physical evidence about the age of the house is conflicting. Windows are two-over-two, some with arched tops in the upper sashes, indicating a construction date of around 1880-1900. Indeed, Thomas J.C. Williams reports in his "A History of Washington County, Maryland" that in 1881 Jacob Myers Funk "rebuilt the house and has made other improvements." However, a date stone located to the right of a window on the west wall of the house reads 1846 with the initials D.K. (a David Kretzer owned the adjoining property during the mid 19th century), and some interior woodwork suggests this period as well.

A set of bills from Jacob M. Funk's rebuilding efforts in 1880-82 includes new windows, roofing lath, yellow pine flooring, hemlock flooring, doors and door jambs, No. 1 heart cypress shingles, hinges, locks, panes of glass, linseed oil, putty, joists, crown molding, scotia and white pine pickets. However, no cement, lime, stone or masonry tools were included, suggesting that these renovations were placed in an existing stone house.

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