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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: K. Dixon, 10/2004
Whiteford-Cardiff Historic District
Inventory No.: HA-1748
Date Listed: 11/15/2005
Location: Whiteford, Harford County
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: 1850-1942
Description: The Whiteford-Cardiff Historic District encompasses portions of two communities in northern Harford County that were historically associated with slate production during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The strong Welsh ethnic identity of the area is reflected in the historic district through examples of residential designs that document traditional Welsh vernacular architecture and the adaptation of popular American domestic design. The district extends from the Maryland/Pennsylvania state line south to Whiteford Road and comprises 140 contributing resources. The earliest development in Cardiff was concentrated at the crossroad of Green Marble Road and Main Street. Four vernacular Welsh cottages in this location date to c. 1850. The simple masonry buildings are two-story gable-roof dwellings that occupy a three-bay by one-bay ground plan. The primary entrances are centered in the facades. Windows are located directly under the eaves. Gable-end masonry chimneys are found at each gable. Of the four, two are single-family stone dwellings, one is a stone duplex, and one is a wooden building with transitional characteristics between Welsh cottage design and Victorian period house styles. A detailed 1888 bird's-eye drawing of the area depicts a concentration of two-story dwellings and duplexes in the area. The majority of these dwellings survive. Development north of the crossroads was encouraged in the 1890s by the subdivision of eight residential blocks by the South Delta Land Company northeast of Green Marble Road. This subdivision broke the informal pattern of linear development of individual lots along established roads. Unimproved subdivision lots were sold through the 1940s. Dwellings reflect popular architectural styles, including Queen Anne, Eastlake, and Colonial Revival styles. Infill development focused on Main Street in Cardiff and extended south to encompass linear development in the community of Whiteford. Lots along Main Street immediately south of Green Marble/Slate Ridge Road vary in size and become more uniform south of Slate Ridge School (1557 Main Street). Development in Whiteford is less dense than in Cardiff; a similar pattern of low-scale, single-family dwellings and duplexes was noted. Whiteford dwellings employ a similar Victorian-era and simple Craftsman-style architectural vocabulary; a greater number of mid-20th century ranch dwellings were constructed in Whiteford. The district as a whole is distinguished by the use of slate as a construction material. Slate is used on almost every building in the historic district and is particularly evident on buildings constructed during the district's period of significance between the mid 19th and mid 20th centuries. Character-defining features of the Whiteford-Cardiff Historic District include slate roofs, foundations, window sills and lintels, steps, sidewalks, and hitching posts and fence posts. Cardiff conglomerate, a unique type of stone associated with the Peach Bottom slate deposit, was used for retaining walls along several Main Street addresses and for two of Cardiff's Welsh cottages. Granite was also used in the construction of retaining walls. The sites of several quarries--slate quarries west of Quarry Road and south of Slate Ridge Road and a serpentine quarry at 4610 Green Marble Road--also are significant landscape features of the historic district. Significance: The Whiteford-Cardiff Historic District comprises two unincorporated residential communities located in northern Harford County that historically were associated with the region's slate quarry industry. The two towns were among five towns in northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania that were occupied by Welsh slate workers. This region is noted for its cohesion and Welsh ethnic identity from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century. The architecture in the district is significant because it represents the evolution of domestic architecture from the traditional Welsh cottage form to early-20th century American architectural forms. The district was constructed between 1850 and 1942, a period that coincides with the peak years of Welsh immigration and regional production of Peach Bottom slate.
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