Photo credit: V.J. Trescott , 01/1989

Property Name: Choate House
Date Listed: 7/20/1989
Inventory No.: BA-15
Location: 9600, Liberty Road (MD 26), Randallstown, Baltimore County

Description: Built in 1810, Choate House is a 2 1/2-story gable-roofed stone building with a porch and dormers added in the 1880s. The uncoursed rubble granite stone walls are augmented by stone jack arches over all openings on the four-bay-wide street facade, which faces south towards Liberty Road. As viewed today, the exterior ornamentation is Italianate in style and was probably applied in the 1880s. These changes include a full-length porch, broken into four bays, with chamfered posts topped by scroll-sawn brackets and joined post-to-post by open fretwork brackets and drops. All window sash viewed from the street are 2/2 lights; those on the first floor are considerably taller than those above, reaching nearly to the floor. The principal entrance is in the second bay from the west, and is topped by a transom. Wide overhanging eaves were added to the front and rear, with a bracketed cornice topping the principal facade. Three round-arched dormers break the roof in front, with two in the rear. The central facade dormer is double-arched with 1/1 windows and is flanked by single-arched 2/2 dormers. Two corresponding 2/2 dormers project on the rear. All five dormers are topped by a turned finial, and the side walls of each are covered with varying imbricated shingles. The north facade presently exhibits an enclosed shed-roofed porch and a flat-roofed stone appendage which once served as a garage. The second floor of the north facade, above the shed-roofed frame addition, contains a 2/2 sash window in the east bay, no opening in the next bay to the west, and windows in the next and westernmost bays which each contain 8 lights over 2. The east and west facades are three irregular bays wide. The gable-end brick chimneys rise flush against the stone walls, slightly in from the projecting eaves. The east facade has 15-light doors in both the southern and central bays of the first floor, and a 2/2 window in the north bay. A second-floor 2/2 sash window appears over this window, and represents the only other opening on this facade above the basement level. The west facade has two small 2/2 sash windows in the attic gable, one small 2/2 sash window on the second floor, slightly center of the north bay, and two windows in the north and south bays of the first floor. The north window, topped by a stone jack arch, is 2/2 sash, while the other is a smaller replacement 1/1 sash. The interior has a blend of influences from the first quarter of the 19th century to the Craftsman style of about 1920. The main floor has four rooms with a closed stair. The second floor plan is similar, with the exception of the division of one room for a bath. The attic floor is presently divided into three rooms and a broad hall, most of which has been stripped of plaster. No early period trim survives on the first floor. This floor has Craftsman period decorative detailing including a stone mantel, window box, and flanking columns in a major doorway. The second floor is a mixture of 1880s detailing and a few original elements, such as window trim and the survival of a simple Federal period mantel with a shelf supported by ogee and cove molding. The majority of doors on the second floor that survive from the early period are six-panel, having raised field panels. To the west of the house, an early-20th century landscape feature survives in the form of a stone retaining wall, which projects from the house at a 90 degree angle for approximately 30 feet. Close to the east elevation is a dilapidated shed-roofed well house.

Significance: Choate House is an important example of rural 19th and early 20th century domestic architecture of southwestern Baltimore County. Throughout the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century, this area and most of Baltimore County remained rural expanses of farmland with development limited primarily to the suburban regions around Catonsville and Towson, and to town and crossroad areas like Reisterstown and Hereford. Scattered along the roadways were farm houses, the occasional business establishment, and places like Choate House which began as a tavern, but by the middle of the 19th century became a dwelling. A number of such rural dwellings reflect the development of the county in their own history with waves of remodeling responding to periods of prosperity. Choate House is one of the few examples remaining in this section of Baltimore County. It retains a high percentage of its original character (primarily configuration, decorative detailing, materials, and location) which conveys information on the architecture of the period. The Italianate renovations of the c. 1880s, particularly to the exterior decorative detailing, are some of the finest examples of that influence in the area. The Craftsman interior work added in the 1920s reflects the last period of major change in the region before the mass building that began in the mid 20th century and ended the rural character of southwest Baltimore County.




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