John E. Nelson
Laurel Run Cemetery Road, Barton, Allegany County
The Shaw Mansion is large brick dwelling constructed with a modified, asymmetrical cruciform plan. It is 2 1/2 stories high on a full stone foundation, with a combination of hip and pitched gable roofs. The principal facade is three bays wide, and the center bay projects forward and is surmounted by a cross gable. All of the 2/2 sash windows and the principal entrance in the center bay have segmentally arched lintels. The windows also have decorative stone keystones and stops and dressed stone sills with corbeled "brackets" below. The entrance door consists of paired paneled doors set in a paneled opening. A jib window is centered on the second floor, flanked by larger 2/2 windows. The brickwork is an unusual bond consisting six-course common bond with alternating headers and stretchers in the bonding row. The foundation is dressed stone with a beveled watertable. The cornice consists of a broad overhanging molded soffit with ornately scrolled brackets widely spaced below, and a band of molding creating a brick "frieze." A one-story hip-roofed entrance porch protects the center bay on the front facade. The interior consists of a central stair passage with two rooms to the left and three to the right. The principal staircase is a grand open-string Victorian stair with a massive walnut newel post, a heavy walnut rail, turned balsuters, and decorative stair brackets. The area below the carriage is paneled with chestnut panels set in walnut stiles an rails. All of the interior doors on the first floor are four-panel doors with the same contrasting panels and rails, and Eastlake hardware. All of the interior woodwork survives, including the mantels, molded baseboard, architrave trim, picture rails, and paneling beneath the bay window sills. Two outbuildings remaining consist of a 1 1/2-story frame quarter on a stone foundation, and a small brick outbuilding.
Architecturally, the Shaw Mansion is significant as one of the finest and most completely preserved Italianate houses in the George's Creek Valley. The exterior is notable as an unusually large and sophisticated composition that employs decorative stone trim, an unusual brick bonding pattern, a pilastered facade, and numerous smaller details. Evidence survives of the painted and stenciled finish applied to the brick walls. The interior remains almost untouched and includes some of the finest decorative detailing in Western Maryland. In particular, the doors, stair paneling, and bay window paneling consist of chestnut panels set in contrasting walnut stiles and rails. Other interior details include a grand Victorian stair with massive Eastlake newel post, perfectly preserved architrave and baseboard trim, and most of the original interior shutters. Of particular importance are a series of marbleized cast-iron mantels and an original radiator with reeded columns made in Baltimore and patented in 1871.