MHT File Photo
Woodlawn Road, Ridge, Saint Marys County
A Federal-style, two-story, five-bay frame house with brick ends, Woodlawn is two rooms deep and has a gable roof. Each brick end contains a large double exterior chimney with two-story pent. The house is set on a raised brick foundation and has a watertable capped with molded bricks on the north and south ends. A modillioned cornice circles the building. The east and west facades of the main block hold 12/12 sash windows, while the single window in each attic gable is 6/6. Wrought nails were used in construction of the exterior, and cut nails on the interior. The joints of the frame are numbered with Roman numerals. The east facade has a central doorway with two windows on each side and five windows spaced evenly across the second story. This symmetrical arrangement, the modillioned cornice, and the window and door trim are all typical of the Federal style. The windows have simple architrave trim; the door trim is more elaborate with a three-part architrave and a reeded band with a curious "x" shape in the center just above the door. A c. 1930, one-story, five-bay porch has been removed. The north end is brick laid in Flemish bond with a row of closers at the corners. Most of the end is covered by the huge double chimney and pent. The west facade is similar to the east, except the center bay of the second story contains a door; this probably led onto a porch originally. In the foundation between the two north bays is a small basement window, between the south bays is a basement door reached by a set of outside steps. These openings are additional as the basement does not appear to be original. The south end is similar to the north end, although vestiges of a later wing (now demolished) are still visible. There are three doors to the wing and an original door in the first story on the east side of the chimney. The balanced exterior belies the asymmetrical floor plan. The first floor consists of two rooms of unequal size across the front (west) and two rooms with a central stair in the rear. This basic plan is a common one in St. Mary's County throughout the 18th and into the 19th century. The two rooms in the south end are of equal size. All walls, both interior and exterior on both floors, have brick nogging up to chair rail height. The original floorboards have been covered with later floors. Most rooms have original six-panel doors; all windows and doors have architrave trim. Every room (except the first floor southwest) has a fireplace in the end wall with a wooden mantel, each of a different design.
Woodlawn is a large and fully developed Federal period house exhibiting one of the most important characteristics of Southern Maryland's 18th century architecture: brick ends with frame facades. This concept allowed a measure of fire-resistance to the structure. While such a concept would seem to have been valid in any region, its occurrence is particularly characteristic of Southern Maryland. This example is one of the largest of this type, and its four chimneys are especially noteworthy. Here the chimneys project and are linked by two-story pents, a very early feature which persisted in rural Southern Maryland into the early 19th century. Woodlawn is a finely crafted, well preserved structure retaining almost all of its original detailing, far more than most houses of its age. These details are typical ones for the period, adapted from English pattern books of the 18th century, of a class commensurate with the class of this house, which is one of the largest in the region. Particularly noteworthy is the abundance of fretwork on the mantels and the overmantels of the two river front parlors. Unusual features include brick nogging in the interior walls and the contrast of an asymmetrical interior with the very symmetrical exterior.