Jennifer K. Cosham
Bowlus Mill House
8123, Old Hagerstown Road, Middletown, Frederick County
The stone house known as the Bowlus Mill House is part of an early 19th century farm complex which includes the house, a frame bank barn on a stone foundation, and a small frame shed. The house is a 2 1/2 story 3-bay stone structure with an exposed basement. Its bank siting and three-room plan reflect Germanic influence typical of the region in the period. The coursed rubble masonry exemplifies a distinctive local building tradition, featuring narrow courses of stone without keystones or arches at the window and door openings. Windows have 6/6 light sash. The house has three front entrances and one rear entrance. Two of the front entrances are at ground level in the exposed basement, and one is at the main story level, accessed by a two-level porch which spans the facade. The main entry has a four-light transom. A brick interior chimney rises from each gable end. The interior retains its original plan and detailing nearly intact, and features an array of well-crafted woodwork reflecting the stylistic transition from 18th to 19th century design, including a collection of Federal-style mantels with gougework and carved ornament. Also on the property is a c. 1950 concrete block dairy which tradition holds is located on the site of an early 19th century flour mill, and a deteriorated frame wagon shed.
The Bowlus Mill House is significant as a well-preserved example of a type of dwelling characteristic of the region in the c. 1800 period, with noteworthy features of construction and detailing. Its stone masonry exemplifies a distinctive local building tradition, employing narrow courses of flat cut stones; this technique is distinctive to the east slopes of South Mountain. The house is also significant for its outstanding architectural detailing representing the stylistic transition between 18th and 19th century design preferences. Elements from the 18th century include the traditional three-room floor plan, the segmentally arched fireplaces, the raised panel doors, pegged mortise-and-tenon window and door frame construction, and the detailing of the stair. Features from the 19th century show the influence of the Federal style, particularly evident in the mantelpieces with delicate reeded trim in swag patterns and applied floral decoration and oval medallions. The building retains a high degree of architectural integrity.