Daniel C. Church
North Beckford Avenue, Princess Anne, Somerset County
Beckford, a fine late Georgian dwelling on the west side of Beckford Avenue, in Princess Anne, is five bays wide by three bays deep, two stories with a hipped roof and two large interior chimney stacks. The Flemish bond dwelling rests on a raised basement of common bond, three rows of stretchers to one of headers, with a molded brick watertable. The windows on the first story are 9/6 sash and on the second story, 6/6. Above each window is a flat, white stone, triple-key arch. Instead of a belt course there are slightly trapezoidal-shaped plaster panels between the first and second story windows. The center door is framed by finely reeded semi-circular, pilasters with an entablature of carved diamonds. A twisted rope molding surrounds the opening. A large screened porch of 20th century date, covers the center three bays. A white wood cornice with paired brackets surrounds the roof, centered upon which is a 1920s dormer. To the north is a two-story, two bay wing of common bond and white clapboard with a hipped roof which was constructed in the second half of the 19th century. The east side is all brick with nine courses of stretchers to one of headers. The north end is part brick and part clapboard and the west side is clapboard.
Situated on the crest of the slope rising from the eastern bank of the Manokin River, Beckford derives architectural significance from several sources. It is primarily a good example of late Georgian domestic architecture, especially noteworthy because its exterior and interior features have remained largely unchanged since its construction early in the 19th century. The interior is marked by particularly fine plasterwork and carved moldings, ornamenting the two principal rooms of the mansion. In addition, Beckford has architectural importance because its appearance gives support to the concept that new architectural styles spread rapidly in pre-industrial America. Located in one of the more remote areas of 19th century Maryland, the mansion utilized architectural elements which were just coming into favor in more populous areas of the state. The plaster panels at the belt course level, for instance, are similar to those found at Homewood, in Baltimore, constructed at approximately the same time. The contemporaneity of Beckford's architecture reflected the growing economic importance of the town of Princess Anne, a busy port on the Manokin River.