Photo credit: C. Owens , 11/1973

Property Name: Chiswell's Inheritance
Date Listed: 9/10/1974
Inventory No.: M: 17-19
Location: 18200, Beallsville Road (MD 109), Poolesville, Montgomery County

Description: Chiswell's Inheritance is a two-story, five-bay brick plantation house with an attached kitchen wing on the south end. The foundation, visible on the exterior only from the west, is of local pink sandstone. The roofing is slate shingle. The main (west) facade is laid up in Flemish bond (all other facades of common bond) with a water table of quarter-round profile about two feet above ground level. The central doorway, which is flanked by two large 12/12 windows, is topped by a five-light transom. The second story has five 9/6 windows. All openings have jack arches. The north end has a flush gable chimney with a corbeled cap. Inlaid in glazed brick near the peak of the gable is the inscription "C S" with the date "1796" below. There are small four-light windows flanking the chimney near the top of the gable. Two windows at the east and west extremes of the first floor have been bricked in. The west facade has a central rear door with two 9/9 windows to the north and two 6/6 windows to the south on the ground floor. On the second floor are three symmetrically spaced 9/6 windows and an additional, small, 4/4 window with a single shutter. The south end had an external chimney with a two-story base tapering to a stack. Small single-light windows pierce the gable on either side of the stack with two larger 4/4 windows below. A door opening exists on the south as well as on either side of the kitchen wing. The western door opening into a recently added porch. The eastern door opens into a walkway to the kitchen wing which was formerly exposed, but was enclosed at some point. The kitchen wing rests on a stone foundation, with a corbeled external chimney on the south end. The 1 1/2-story base has tapered weatherings, the east part of the base projecting outward about 1 1/2 feet less than the rest. Dormers on either side of the roof are later additions. Both the main block and the kitchen wing have boxed cornices covering the rafter ends.

Significance: Chiswell's Inheritance is significant for its association with the Chiswell family, one of the earliest in this part of Maryland. Chiswell's Inheritance is an elegant compromise of the rugged demands of 18th century farm life and those of the well-to-do gentlemen planter's family. The house is one of the earliest in Western Montgomery County to be built with a conscious attention to architectural style. At a time when most of the neighboring houses were of log with little attention to symmetry and detail, Joseph Chiswell built a house with symmetry on the main facade and highly stylized interior detail. The carved woodwork throughout the house has a character that differentiates it from other Montgomery County buildings. The origin of the designs is unknown, but of particular significance are the intricately decorated north wall of the living room; the window in a closet on the north wall of the living room (which may be the only example of its type in Maryland); the main staircase with its carved decoration and variety of balustrades, including one run of a Chinese Chippendale trellis pattern; the paneling throughout; and the carved chair rail in the dining room. The farm as a whole, the house together with supporting outbuildings, and the land itself preserve a representative example of 18th and 19th century plantation life in Maryland.




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