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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Keech/King, 07/1993
Sprechers Mill House
Inventory No.: WA-I-357
Other Name(s): Salisbury
Date Listed: 1/5/1978
Location: Hopewell Road , Hagerstown, Washington County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: c. 1800; 1833
Description: Salisbury is a two-story, three-bay brick structure set on low fieldstone foundations. Attached to its north gable end is a one-story, two-bay wing also of brick construction. To the east elevation of this portion of the house has been added a one-story flat-roofed expansion. Bricks of the main section are laid in Flemish bond at the front or west elevation and in common bond with generally five courses of stretchers between header rows at the side and rear elevations. Flemish bonding is employed in the east elevation of the north wing, but this wall is hidden from exterior view by the one-story addition. The side and west walls of the wing display common bonding with only three rows of stretcher bricks between courses of headers. Decorative brickwork includes flat or jack arches over windows. Those over first story windows in the front or west elevation of the main section are 1 1/2 bricks in height while other windows have arches only one brick in height. An elliptical arch of bricks outlines the fanlight over the main entrance while a segmental brick arch is present over an entrance to the basement in the west elevation of the north wing. Openings appear to have been spaced evenly in the walls. Those in the main section have narrow rounded frames which hold 6/6 pane double hung sashes. First story windows are flanked with paneled shutters while louvered shutters are used at the upper level windows. Windows in the north wing have been replaced. Dormer windows in the north wing have been restored. The main entrance is located in the north bay of the west elevation. Relatively elaborate among Washington County houses, this entrance has an 8-panel door hung below an elliptical fanlight with its original curved muntins. Sheltering the door is a recent semi-hexagonal entrance porch supported by slender columns from which spring three round arches. A door which has since been replaced with a window was located in the west elevation of the north wing. The asbestos-covered roof of both sections terminates with beaded bargeboards set directly against the end wall. Double chimneys are located inside the south gable end. A single brick flue extends from inside the north end of the wing. The interior of the house is divided by an entrance and stair hall containing an open spiral stair with decorative scrollwork at the ends of its risers. One room is located south of the stair hall. Interior doors have six panels and are held in frames trimmed with decorated corner blocks. The date 1833 is scratched in the south wall of the main section. Also on the property stand a pair of narrow outbuildings to the west of the house. The structure northwest of the house is of stone and board and batten over frame construction. A similar appearing building is located south of the house, and was built recently for use as a shop. West of the house along Hopewell Road stood the barn for this complex, said to have been of log construction. The site of "Sprecher's Mill" or "Salisbury Mill" is west of Hopewell Road. Significance: Constructed of brick, this dwelling represents a major 19th century architectural group in Washington County and the Cumberland Valley. However, it has several unusual features such as the elliptically arched entrance and the open spiral stair which set it apart from most other 19th century brick houses in Washington County. It would appear that the north wing is the older portion of the house as suggested by the wide, pegged window and door frames that it had and its common bond brickwork with only three rows of stretchers between header courses. Also, the arched entrance to the cellar seems to be associated with late 18th and early 19th century structures in the area. The use of Flemish bond at the east wall suggests that the house was designed to face that direction. This is consistent with the orientation of most early houses in the area which face east, south, or southeast. The main section of the dwelling, probably dating from the second quarter of the 19th century, faces west, opposite from the orientation of the wing. This change in placement could suggest that some influence such as a new road or place of business, located west of the dwelling, caused the more recent portion of the house to be built facing west rather than east. The property is also significant for its association with the early milling industry in Washington County. Charles Varle's 1808 Map of Frederick and Washington Counties shows a mill on Semple's Run at this approximate location. An earlier map of Washington County made by Dennis Griffith in 1794 does not depict a mill on Semple's Run. It appears possible, then, that the mill which came to be known as Sprecher's Mill (Philip Schpracher having bought the property in 1814) was established between the completion of these two maps. It should be noted, however, that these maps are not completely accurate. Milling was an important industry in Washington County, providing a means for local farmers to process their grain products. It is not known from information available how long the grist mill was in operation.


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