MHT File Photo
Stephen Decatur Road (MD 611), Berlin, Worcester County
Built in 1792, "Henry's Grove" is a 2 1/2 story brick house with all walls laid in Flemish bond. Three bays in length and two rooms in depth, it has a gable roof with a chimney flush at each end. All facades are laid in Flemish bond with queen closers at all corners and at some jambs of some masonry openings; the joints were struck with a grapevine profile. The high foundation, also laid in Flemish bond with queen closers at the corners, is expressed by a two-step, unmolded watertable, and a three-course belt marks the second floor. Principal doors are approximately centered in the west and east facades and 12/12 windows are in flanking bays; second-story windows are 12/8. The north and south ends are expressed as three structural bays, each with similar windows except for the westerly bay of the north facade which has a doorway formerly leading to a kitchen which disappeared long ago. A cellar entrance in the north wall just east of the door, is the only access to the cellar; the watertable steps up over its segmental arch. The masonry above all first-story openings is supported by a rubbed and gauged brick jack arch. Second-story windows in the west and east facades have similar jack arches but the second and attic story windows of the north and south ends have segmental arches. A basement window is in each bay and no arch nor lintel is expressed above. In the south gable, between the attic windows, is a brick plaque having a molded brick border in an ovolo profile. It is inscribed "JNF 1792". This feature is of great significance for it provides a positive date of construction, very rare for domestic structures, and thus established it offers a reliable guide in the dating of other historic structures in its region. On the interior are four principal spaces in each story, one being the entrance and stair hall. The house retains virtually all its original interior detailing. The staircase and first story mantelpiece are outstanding examples of late-18th century woodwork, including paneling and a lavish use of gouge carving. Original paint finishes remain exposed on most interior surfaces. The second story appears not to have been completed. Also standing on the property are a 20th century frame tenant house and four frame outbuildings.
Henry's Grove is important as a substantially intact example of late-18th century domestic architecture of the lower Eastern Shore. Built for a planter, John Fassitt, whose initials and the date 1792 are inscribed on a plaque in the south gable, Henry's Grove has Georgian-influenced interior woodwork with drilled and gouged carving and an unusually tall ogee finial on a square newel on the second floor. The house was tenanted through much of the 19th century and well into the 20th century. In spite of neglect and a missing roof for some years, the interior wood, which shows signs of only two layers of paint, remains intact and as such is a valuable tool for studying the area's architecture.