Michael O. Bourne
7909, Airy Hill Road, Chestertown, Kent County
The house at Airy Hill is a two-section dwelling consisting of a 1 1/2-story frame wing and a two-story Federal-style brick house. Evidence indicates that the old kitchen at the east end of the frame wing was originally a small, freestanding house, and that the Federal brick section was built in the early 1790s, together with a middle section that now connects the two. Facing north, the brick main block of the house is three bays wide with an entrance in the east bay. This entrance, holding a six-panel door with a five-pane transom, has architrave trim with a denticulated pediment and fluted pilasters with triglyphs on the capitals. Windows, with rusticated stone jack arches, are 6/6 sash throughout. The side-passage, double-pile plan house retains a high degree of integrity, and exemplifies the Federal style in its Flemish bond brickwork with rusticated jack arches, molded watertable, and belt courses; pedimented frontispiece; and fine interior decorative detailing including an elegant stair, early mantels and paneling, crossetted door architraves, and enriched cornice, chair rail, and baseboard moldings. The 1 1/2-story frame wing to the east is five bays long with a central entrance, and holds three 6/6 sash gabled dormers on either side of the roof. This entrance door has six raised and beveled panels and a four-pane transom. The chimney back is exposed on the gable end, and is flanked by two small attic windows. One of the rear entrance doors on the wing is paneled, the other batten. Also on the property is a brick smokehouse, probably contemporaneous with the house, and an early-19th century cemetery.
Airy Hill is significant for its architecture. Constructed at the turn of the 19th century, during the peak of the Federal style in Maryland, Airy Hill is the finest example of this style in rural Kent County. It is comparable in the refinement of its design and workmanship to River House (1784-87), a National Historic Landmark located in the early port of Chestertown. On the exterior, Airy Hill features such Federal-period details as a well-executed modillion cornice and rusticated jack arches over the windows on the north and west facades, which are laid in Flemish bond above and below the ovolo-molded water table and have a three-brick-deep string course between floors. The entry architrave on the north facade is exceptionally fine. The interior is laid out in a side-passage, double-pile plan, and features an elegant stair, early mantels and paneling, crossetted door architraves, and enriched cornice, chair rail, and baseboard moldings. The house retains a high degree of integrity and has benefited from a careful and accurate restoration.