Photo credit: Paul Baker Touart , 10/1985

Property Name: Captain Leonard S. Tawes House
Date Listed: 4/5/1990
Inventory No.: S-327
Location: Somerset Avenue, Crisfield, Somerset County

Description: The Captain Leonard Tawes House is a frame two story house begun in the second quarter of the 19th century and extensively altered in the Late Victorian mode through the rest of the century. The property evidently originally contained a modest, two-story side hall/parlor frame house with a single-story one-room plan kitchen attached to the north gable end. After his purchase Captain Tawes initiated a building program which extensively altered the existing house. The old kitchen was given an added story, and a new roof was stretched across the entire house. In addition, Captain Tawes attached the two-story rear service wing, which included a summer kitchen. In later years another section was attached to the back of the service wing. Currently the T-shaped frame house and its additions are supported by a brick pier foundation, and the house is sheathed with plain weatherboards. The steeply pitched roof has extended eaves and is covered with asphalt shingles. The east (main) elevation is a symmetrical three-bay facade with a central entrance and flanking 2/2 sash windows. The Victorian door is glazed above the lock rail. Framing the door is a molded door surround with a bold cyma curve crown molding across the top. Each of the windows is flanked by louvered shutters. Covering the first floor is a single-story turned-post front porch trimmed with decorative eave and corner brackets. The second floor is lighted by three evenly spaced 2/2 sash windows, and the cross gable has a single 2/2 sash window. The north and south gable ends of the main block are detailed in a similar manner with 2/2 sash windows on both the first and second floors, while four-pane attic lights pierce the gable and flank the interior end brick chimney stacks. The eaves are extended with short returns at the base of the roof. A two-story two-bay service wing extends from the main block and is lighted on both floors by 2/2 sash windows. The north side elevation has a single-story enclosed porch. Extending from the back of the T plan is a slightly shorter two-story, one-bay by one-room frame winter kitchen with a gable end brick stove stack. This section is lighted by 2/2 sash as well. Attached to the gable end of the winter kitchen is a single-story bathroom finished in a consistent manner with the rest of the house. Finally, the summer kitchen extends from the south side of the winter kitchen and is attached by an enclosed breezeway. The salt-box shaped summer kitchen is lighted by 6/6 sash windows, and a tall, slender brick stove stack rises from the west gable. Standing near the house are several utilitarian outbuildings including a garage, a storage shed, a stilted frame dairy, and a gable-roofed frame privy. Surrounding part of the house is a picket fence.

Significance: The Captain Leonard S. Tawes house is a significant 19th-century survival in the Crisfield area of Somerset County. Comprised of two 19th century sections, the original house, dating from the 1840s, is one of the oldest frame houses located near the bay-side town. After Captain Tawes' purchase of the property he reworked the extant frame house and substantially enlarged it. While reusing some of the old woodwork such as the Greek Revival mantels and four-panel doors, the carpenters rebuilt the center stair in popular late-19th century appearance. This architectural contrast is not unusual in conservative Somerset County where materials were often reused. Also significant is the regional use of both a winter and summer kitchen. The semi-detached summer kitchen, originally connected to the main house by an open breezeway, was used during the hot months of the year in an effort to reduce the accumulated heat. In addition the summer kitchen was usually better ventilated. By contrast the winter kitchen, used during the colder months helped to increase the warmth of the main block. The stilted dairy is one of two in Somerset County located during the survey, and the property is one of only a few to retain to retain a picket fence that surrounds the immediate yard.




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