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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: James T. Wollon, Jr., 06/1970
Gunpowder Meeting House
Inventory No.: HA-357
Other Name(s): Building #E-5715
Date Listed: 6/5/1974
Location: Magnolia Road (MD 152) , Edgewood, Harford County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1773, 1810-1825
Description: The building is a one-room structure, 26'2" x 35'4", built of common bond brick with every 6th course being headers. The cornice consists of several corbeled courses of brick. Jack arches over all openings are unbonded. All windows and door openings, except one of the latter, are boarded up. Brickwork near the ground is deteriorating; many soft bricks are in evidence, and the pointing is falling out. A few bricks at the corners, and under doors, have fallen out. Oyster shell is evident in the mortar. A door is centered between the windows on the south end and on both the east and west sides. Two windows flank the former pulpit on the north end; a window in the south gable lit a former balcony, evidence of which may be seen inside. A small arched recess, which may once have been stuccoed and contained founding and erection dates of this church, is high in the south gable. Inside, walls are plastered directly on brick. Trim was applied directly to the brick and the former pulpit platform is outlined on the north wall. A ceiling is covered with bead-center-bead boarding, and follows the roof pitch a short way to the ridge and then follows the level collar beams. No entry exists to the attic. Double doors, probably original, still exist in the east and west openings, each set of double doors contain eight panels--six square panels above two vertical rectangular ones. The floor is of modern rough sawn 2" lumber installed by the military to convert the building to a storehouse. The stairway to the balcony was removed. The balcony floor sloped and had very little headroom. The profile of stair, balcony floor, and its front rail can be seen in the plaster. The chimney in the north gable appears original. The roof is covered with granulated rolled roofing. Significance: Attempts have been made by the United Methodist Historical Society of Baltimore, Maryland, through church records and the land records of Harford County, to establish for certain whether this structure was the "lately erected" structure mentioned in a deed of one acre from Joseph Presbury to Methodist Trustees March 31, 1773. While they have not been able to demonstrate with absolute certainty that the existing building is the original 1773 structure, neither was evidence found that it is not, and they learned that the relatively unique door arrangement is copied from the building of Old St. Paul's Church in Baltimore erected in 1731. If, in the future, the 1773 construction can be conclusively demonstrated, then the building may well turn out to be the oldest surviving structure in the country built as a Methodist Church. The matter of dating this meeting house may also be influenced by the observation that the trim elements that remain inside on the window and door frames are characteristic of the Greek Revival style, and as they appear to be original, may properly indicate this was not the meeting house of 1773 built on this site, but a structure of a later date, possibly of the period 1810-1825.
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