Manokin Historic District
Manokin, Somerset County
Both architecturally and geographically, the Manokin settlement forms a unique and visually interesting area of great historical significance on the Lower Eastern Shore. These structures, Clifton, More and Case It, Almodington, Elmwood, and Homewood are most strongly linked together visually, culturally, and historically, although architecturally they span the period between the early 18th through the mid 20th centuries.
The Manokin Historic District is an extant historic environment with associations dating from the 1660s through the depression. Situated on the mouth of the Manokin River, this waterway unites the district. For until the advent of the automobile, the broad rivers were the thoroughfares of the tidewater. The vista from the district to the Chesapeake Bay or from the mouth upstream remains unchangeable from the 17th century. Architecturally the district offers a mix of styles from the oldest building Almodington to the 20th century alterations to Holly Hurst (More and Case It). Almodington with its high, narrow proportions and glazed headers represents Early Georgian design. Elmwood is a study in architectural history in itself. A late-18th century wing telescopes into a more refined and transitional connector and finally to a well executed Federal townhouse. The interior especially the woodwork floor plan and general room dimensions place the wing at Elmwood among the state's best Federal buildings. Homewood, a deceptively plain building, interprets the Federal into Greek Revival in space and woodwork. The presence of Greek Revival is unusual on the Eastern Shore and indicative of the continued sophistication of the Elzey family who built Almodington which originally contained paneling now in the Metropolitan and the Federal wing of Elmwood. Clifton began as a c. 1800 brick farm house. (Probably the work of the Elzeys again.) Its architectural significance derives from the alteration of the structure in the 20th century to fit a colonial ideal. The present five-part composition, for example, indicates a conscious effort to emulate 18th century precedent when additional space was required. Period woodwork remains, indicating a sympathy for original fabric. Clifton's alterations are minor compared with the rebuilding of Holly Hurst (More and Case It) after a fire. The unusual 6/1 sash reveal a dichotomy between the early, even 17th century style, form of the walls and the 20th century treatment of window and door openings and the interior. Although diverse architecturally, a strong present and historic relationship exists between the extant buildings. Historically the structures are united by a tangled web of family interconnections. The continuous use of the properties for agriculture adds to the continuity of the intertwined historic associations. The vista from the district to the Chesapeake Bay or from the mouth of the Manokin River upstream remains unchanged from the 17th century.