Cleora Barnes Thompson
5100, Dorsey Hall Drive, Ellicott City, Howard County
Dorsey Hall is a six bay by one bay, 2 1/2-story stucco structure with a gable roof covered with asphalt shingles. This comprises the center and east sections of the house. Facing south, the house has a three bay by one bay, two-story stuccoed wing on the west. The first story of the main block has large 6/6 windows in the two west bays. The west-center bay has a six-panel door flanked by Greek Doric columns separating the door from 16-light sidelights. There is a 10-light transom above the door and a 4-light transom above each sidelight. Soffit and jambs are also paneled. There is a one-story porch with a brick deck, paired Greek Doric columns at each corner with a single pilaster on each wall, and a full entablature with pediment. The three east bays have 4/4 sash windows on the first story. The second story has 12/8 windows in the two west bays, while the four east bays have 9/6 windows. The south elevation of the west wing has 9/9 sash windows in the end bays of the first story. The second story has three 6/6 sash. There is a wooden box cornice with an ogee bed mold on both the main block and the wing. A flush brick chimney rises from both the east and west gable ends, and an exterior brick chimney on the east abuts the flush chimney. The roof has three gable-roofed dormer windows on the south side. On the interior, the first-story floor plan has an off-center passage with one room to the east, two rooms to the west of the passage, in the center of the whole house, a wing on the west side with one room and a stairway, and a wing on the north side of the center rooms with two rooms in it. There are no outbuildings to the property, and the ground has been re-graded so that it slopes away from the house at a greater angle than originally. The house is now surrounded by two-story office buildings.
Dorsey Hall is significant architecturally, as it embodies the distinctive characteristics of a well-preserved and detailed example of the vernacular dwellings of the early 19th century in Howard County. Where some buildings were constructed in one period in a typical center-passage Georgian mode, others, like Dorsey Hall, evolved into that pattern over many years, often resulting in a less-symmetrical building. Dorsey Hall is a good example of this kind of development. It is also significant for its association with the Dorsey family, one of the "first families" of Howard County.