Charity V. Davidson
La Vale Toll Gate House
National Highway (US 40), La Vale, Allegany County
The La Vale Toll Gate House, built in 1835-1836, is a common bond brick, two-story structure has seven sides--a basic polygon plan. The five northern sides, of equal length, form equal angles, one to the other. The two south adjacent sides are longer, and they meet at a right angle. A one-story gable-roofed brick addition with a flush chimney in each outer gable end is appended to both of the longer sides. A later frame one-story wing at one time filled in the square space between these additions. It was demolished in the mid 20th century and a reconstructed structure for utilities will again fill in the "square space." The polygon portion of the building contains one unheated room on each floor. The stair winds upward from the west wing. A one-story Tuscan-columned porch extends around the five outer sides of the polygonal portion, and a decorative, non-functional cupola tops the peaked roof. This cupola appears in a 1905 photograph, but not in photographs dated to 1907 or 1949. It has likely been reconstructed based on the original photograph. The one-story porch is also missing from the 1949 photograph, and is also likely a replacement. Each outer side of the second floor of the polygonal portion of the building contains a 6/6 sash window with louvered shutters, which also appear in the outer face of each wing, and the first-story polygonal faces adjacent to the wings. The north side of the polygonal section contains the entrance, originally consisting of double doors. For each adjacent diagonal side, at the first story level, stuccoed panels, the size of window masonry openings, provide space for the toll rate sign.
The Cumberland or National Road was constructed, using federal funds, to link Cumberland, Maryland, with the Ohio River (1811-1818). It became the principal transportation artery to the trans-Appalachian West. Ownership of the road was turned over to the individual states, and shortly after accepting its portion, Maryland's legislature established a rate schedule and began building toll-houses. The La Vale Toll Gate House was the first such structure to be erected.