Paul Baker Touart
Downs Road, Ironshire, Worcester County
Simpson's Grove is a two-story, five-bay, double-pile Federal-style frame house constructed c. 1800-1810. The building is supported on a raised brick foundation, and the steeply pitched gable roof is covered with asphalt shingles. Original beaded cypress weatherboards remain in place under a layer of asbestos shingles. The north (main) facade is symmetrical, with a central entrance with four-light transom flanked by 9/9 sash windows. The second floor is lighted by 6/9 sash windows, and the base of the roof is finished with a bold modillion block cornice. Interior end chimneys rise from each gable end. Covering the three central bays of the front facade is a mid-19th century pedimented portico with a modillion cornice. The house is a wide two bays wide, with a window in each bay of the same type as on the front facade, and 6/6 sash windows in the attic gable flanking the chimney. Organized in a four-room plan, the interior is finished with Federal-style woodwork including raised paneling and neoclassical mantels. Chair rail, cornice, and baseboard moldings are found in many rooms. A common bond brick dairy stands at the west side of the house.
Simpson's Grove is significant as a distinctive example of an early-19th century (c. 1800-1810) Federal-style frame plantation dwelling. The wrought-nail construction and raised-panel woodwork date the house to the first decade of the 19th century. The exterior siding is cypress, indigenous to Worcester County; this material was prized for its durability, and cypress building elements were widely used in the county in the historic period, and were also exported to distant markets. The four-room plan and well-executed interior finishes of Simpson's Grove characterize a type of dwelling erected by wealthy planters in Worcester County during the late 18th century and early years of the 19th century. The house retains its original 9/9 and 6/9 sash windows as well as nearly all of its original Federal-style woodwork, including the scroll decorated stair with fluted balusters, mantels with fluted frieze blocks and rope bed molding, and the parlor cornice with vertical gouges alternated with five-point stars, all indicating a high level of craftsmanship. Particularly fine in design and execution are the exterior front and rear modillion block cornices and the gable end bargeboard moldings with their unusual dentil row. This attention to fine exterior craftsmanship is rare among surviving plantation dwellings in Worcester County. The period of significance, c. 1800-c. 1850, encompasses the construction dates of the house and outbuilding.