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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Paula S. Reed, 05/2002
Joseph Fiery Homeplace
Inventory No.: WA-V-101
Date Listed: 12/27/2002
Location: 15107 Hicksville Road , Clear Spring, Washington County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: c. 1760s or 1770s
Description: The Joseph Fiery Homeplace, once a farm of 320 acres, now include a 3.01-acre tract with a small cluster of buildings. The main dwelling is a limestone Germanic central chimney house, probably dating from the 1760s or 1770s, with a 1 1/2-story log addition. The two-story, three-bay limestone house, measuring approximately 30 by 36 feet, faces south with its front entrance in the east bay. An unusual feature of the house is the absence of any openings at all on the rear elevation. This phenomenon occurs occasionally with settlement period houses, but is indeed rare. Windows have segmental limestone arched openings, a characteristic of pre-1780 dwellings in the Cumberland Valley limestone belt. The window sash, however, have been replaced with late-20th century single-pane windows. The windows do retain their original massive mortised and tenoned framing beneath aluminum wrapping. Vinyl shutters have also been added to the windows. The front door retains original framing and its transom. A late-20th century porch spans the front of the building, replacing an original porch which appears to have covered most of the first story front of the building. It is the only exterior door in the main section of the house. There was originally a cellar entrance in the front elevation to the west of the main floor entrance. In the mid 19th century a new log kitchen was built against the west end wall of the house. This 1 1/2-story three-sided structure has one room on each floor, and functions as the current kitchen. It is offset to the south slightly, however, extending out ward from the south facade of the stone section. Its entrance to the exterior is in the short east elevation, which partially encloses the front porch of the house. The interior of the house retains its original three-room, central chimney Germanic plan. The front entrance opens into the original küche, the German kitchen or hall. The stairs are located just inside the door in the southeast corner of the room. The large kitchen fireplace remains, although plaster has been removed from the chimney wall. Opposite the chimney wall are two rooms, the traditional stube and kammer. These spaces are intact, each with 18th century doors leading to the küche. The door from the stube, the southwest room, has six steeply raised panels within a massive mortised and tenoned door frame with molded ovolo trim. It shows evidence of having had strap hinges replaced in the 19th century with butt hinges. The door from the kammer to the küche is less formal, but equally old, being a two-plank board-and-batten door with molded battens and long strap hinges. At the second floor, the most significant feature is the staircase to the attic. Covered with modern materials on its outer surface, the original structure is fully in place. The inner surface retains original planning marks and a set of steps leading to the attic with unusual molded edges. The attic has its full framing and flooring system. The central chimney passes through the space, but was removed above the peak of the roof when a brick furnace flue was added to the west gable end of the house. The roofing system has pairs of major rafters with diagonal bracing and collars. These carry purlins, which in turn carry pairs of common rafters. The cellar retains portions of its original puncheon work, although the original mud and plaster infill has been removed. The puncheons are hewn and are the full width of the log on the bottom surface, while the sides are hewn at a taper, causing the log to narrow to the top surface. To the west of the house is a limestone Swisser-style barn. It had an arch-topped date tablet in its east gable end, but if any inscription remains, it is illegible. The arched top, however, is consistent with 18th century style date stones. However, it appears to be later than the main house and probably dates to the 1790s. Its walls are constructed of coursed limestone with vertical ventilator slits in t Significance: The Joseph Fiery Homeplace is significant for its architectural expression as a rare example of settlement period housing in Washington County. Following the traditional German three-room, central chimney plan, it is one of only a few such buildings in Washington County, nearly all of which date from the 18th century. According to analysis of the 1790 census, Washington County had the highest number of German residents in Maryland, at 31% of the population. This house, dating from approximately 1768, represents the first period of effective settlement in the county following the end of hostilities of the French and Indian War. Despite alterations to the house made in the late 20th century, it retains key elements marking it as a first period house in Washington County. These include the three-room central chimney floor plan, roof framing system, exterior masonry finishes, significant interior elements such as two original doors and the attic staircase with fine molded finishes, and puncheon work in the cellar. The companion limestone Swisser style barn, although dating from somewhat later than the house, in the late 18th or very early 19th century, also reflects the German heritage of Washington County. The property therefore represents a rare survival of early Germanic architecture in Washington County, constructed from the trademark limestone characteristic of the Cumberland Valley.


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