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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Sherri Marsh, 05/2006
Inventory No.: AA-2358
Other Name(s): Cheston; Robert Murray House; Thanksgiving Farm
Date Listed: 12/26/2007
Location: 195 Harwood Road, Harwood, Anne Arundel County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1893
Architect/Builder: Architect: William Churchill Noland (Noland and de Saussure)
Description: Richland is a 2 1/2-story, frame, hipped roof dwelling with clapboard-sheathed walls resting on a brick foundation. The south-facing house, encompassing an area of approximately 3,000 square feet, is visually and functionally divided into two original sections; specifically a principal front block and a rear service wing. A wrap-around porch distinguishes the main section from the rear service wing to the north. A two-story, bay window projects from the east and west facades, near the intersection of the building's two section. Three massive corbeled chimneys pierce the steeply pitched roof and rank among Richland's most distinctive features. Two stacks are associated with the main block and one with the rear section. The overhanging eaves are open and expose simply decorated rafter ends. A gable-roofed dormer window, located on the east and west side of the roof, illuminates the attic and further embellishes the roofline. The principal entrance is in the east wall, near the driveway, while the west door leads to the garden. The north door is located in the service wing and provides convenient access to the barn. The principal entrance is located in the east facade, beneath the porch and immediately south of the bay window. In a stylish practice commonly associated with Picturesque dwellings, the main entrance, while handsome, is not the building's primary focal point. Richland's main entrance features an elegant pair of glazed and paneled oak doors, which do not open directly into the dwelling's living space but into a small vestibule. Another second and more elaborate door is located at the end of the vestibule. This highly decorative, glazed and paneled, oak Dutch door provides access into the dwelling's foyer. The west entrance is narrower and fitted more simply with a single glazed and paneled door with a transom. Original 6/6 and 6/1 sash windows, accentuated with wide surrounds, appear throughout the house. Single openings are used in the upper story of the main section and throughout the service wing. Windows are grouped in pairs in the north and west walls of the main block's first floor. Exterior window and door surrounds feature a drip cap, but are otherwise unembellished. Richland's interior is remarkably intact and carefully maintained. Original trim work and doors remain in place throughout the house, and are of the type commonly found in building catalogs in the late 19th century. Window and door surrounds are molded and feature bull's-eye corner blocks. The Colonial Revival style mantel in the front foyer is a replacement and the only obvious non-original feature. Original plaster walls are repaired and in excellent condition. Oak pocket doors separating the parlor and dining room are restored and glide easily to divide the two formal living spaces. The parlor and dining room display identical mantels. The mantels appear to be original to the house. The parlor fireplace now accommodates a wood stove, but the dining room fireplace remains intact. A wide, open-string staircase located in the north corner of the foyer provides access to the second and third stories. Jig-sawn decorations embellish the stringboard. The square, oak newel post is deeply fluted and the attenuated balusters turned. The steamed and bent banister gracefully negotiates turns as the stairs ascend to the upper floors. Stair landings are situated adjacent the bay window. This arrangement provides a source of light and sense of spaciousness to an otherwise confined area. Also on the property stands a mid-20th century barn, located north of the house. The barn has a gambrel roof covered in standing-seam metal, with a small cupola centered on the ridgeline. Significance: Built in 1893, Richland is the elegant rural dwelling constructed for Anne Arundel County gentleman farmer Robert Murray Cheston (1849-1904) and his wife, the former Mary Murray (1859-1943). Richland is significant for its architectural merit as the work of a recognized master, and remarkable as the only known late-19th century rural Anne Arundel County dwelling definitively associated with a specific architectural firm. The house was constructed according to plans prepared by the Roanoke, Virginia based architectural firm of Noland and de Saussure. The firm's principal and founder, William C. Noland, later became one of Virginia's most celebrated architects. Richland's design freely mixes elements from both the Colonial Revival and Queen Anne styles. Nineteenth-century architects and builders frequently combined these two contemporaneous styles, and Richland is an excellent example of this architectural hybridization. The property derives additional significance for its historical associations with agricultural practices in Anne Arundel County during the late 19th century.


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