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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: MHT Files, n.d.
Plumb Grove
Inventory No.: WA-V-015
Other Name(s): Nesbitt-Warner Farmhouse
Date Listed: 12/7/2011
Location: 12654 Broadfording Road, Clear Spring, Washington County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: c. 1831
Description: Plumb Grove, a c. 1831 Greek Revival-style brick farmhouse, sits on a .95-acre property enclosed on three sides by a white picket fence and on the fourth side by a post-and-rail fence. The property and the large adjacent parcel now owned by the Washington County Board of Education were once a part of the Plumb Grove (Nesbitt) farm. Aside from the school buildings and athletic fields on the former farmland, the landscape retains its agricultural character. Plumb Grove faces southeast toward Broadfording Road. Plumb Grove is a two-story L-shaped brick dwelling resting on limestone foundations. The front (east) elevation is formal with five bays and a central entrance. Bricks are arranged in Flemish bond at the front elevation, with splayed brick jack arches over the openings. Sawtooth brickwork and corbelling finish the cornice at the front elevation. Side and rear walls are laid in five-course common bond. Double inside end chimneys joined with a parapet complete the masonry work. The rear L-extension continues seamlessly from the south end wall of the main block. On the north side a recessed double porch spans the length of the L. The porch side of the L has two bays, a door and a window on the first story, and an upper level with three bays, two windows and a central door. Doors also open onto the lower and upper porches from the font section of the house. All of these doors have six panels. The absence of a window at the west end of the L's north elevation is the result of an interior boxed stair in that corner. The porch has square posts and is enclosed with a balustrade. A Greek Revival-style entrance porch dominates the front elevation. It has a low hipped roof with a plain entablature below and four large Doric columns, two pair, one pair each placed on either side of the three steps leading to the porch deck. A balustrade links each pair of columns. Plumb Grove has a trabeated entrance with a broad transom and sidelight. These surround an eight-panel door with a vertical molding suggesting that the door is bi-fold, but no evidence is present to suggest that the door was ever hinged in the middle. Engaged columns flank the door. Windows have 6/6 light sash within narrow rounded frames with mitered corners. At the front elevation replacement paneled shutters have been added to the windows. Windows in the rear extension are smaller than those in the front section, but all have six-pane sash. The wide south gable end of the main section of the house has three windows at each level, one at the forward side of the chimneys and two to the west of the chimneys. This arrangement allowed two windows in the southwest rooms of the front section of the house. The north gable end is arranged more symmetrically with one window on each side of the chimneys at each level. The west elevation of the front section, within the angle created by the extension has one window at each level. Thus the northwest and southwest rooms each have two windows and the northeast and southeast rooms each have three. The roof is currently covered in wood shingles. On the interior, the front entrance opens into a formal stair and entrance hall with two rooms on either side. The floor plan layout has large rooms diagonally opposed in the northeast, a parlor, and in the southwest, the dining room. The northwest and southeast rooms are significantly smaller. The same is true of the second floor. At the first floor, wide doorways separate the front and rear rooms. While the mantelpieces, door and window trim are very bulky and heavily molded, the staircase has a graceful, delicate round railing that sweeps in a single curving form from the top to the base of the steps where it bends in a scroll to alight on top of a narrow turned newel. Balusters, two per step, are turned and tapered. Scroll carvings decorate the spandrel along the edge of the stairs. Each mantel is different, but the two most prominent are very elaborate. The northeast parlor mantel has Doric Significance: Plumb Grove (Nesbitt-Warner Farmhouse) is locally significant for its architecture, as a particularly fine example of a vernacular adaptation of the Greek Revival architectural style, significant for its degree of stylistic elaboration not commonly found in rural examples. Built c. 1831 at the marriage of Jonathan and Ann (Meixsell) Nesbitt, the large five-bay house with its elegant Greek temple-form porch and soaring paired chimneys gracefully represented the status of the successful Nesbitt family in its rural setting. Though Plumb Grove was located on the edge of the western Maryland mountains, the nearby town of Clear Spring was a booming National Pike town active with artisans and regular deliveries of merchandise from the port at Baltimore. The Nesbitts had ready access to the state-of-the-art Greek Revival moldings and mantelpieces found throughout the interior of Plumb Grove.

 

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