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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: MHT File Photo, Undated Photo
The Old Inn
Inventory No.: T-257
Date Listed: 3/25/1980
Location: 401 Talbot Street (MD 33), St. Michaels, Talbot County
Category: Structure
Period/Date of Construction: c. 1816
Description: The Old Inn is located on the southeast corner of South Talbot Street and Mulberry Street in St. Michaels. It is a large brick structure, four bays wide and 2 1/2 stories high, with flush brick chimneys centered at each end of a pitched gable roof. Three 12/6, round-arched gable-roofed dormer windows are symmetrically arranged across the roof, which extends down to cover a two-story porch, which stretches across the entire front, or west, facade. The first floor of the west facade contains transom-topped doors in the north and the second bay from the south end. The two windows are 9/6 sash. On the second floor, 6/6 sash windows are in all bays but the second from the south, which holds a door opening onto the second floor of the porch. All windows have louvered shutters. Numerous additions have been made to the original building. Most significant of these is a small brick wing on the south gable. It is two bays wide and a full two stories high on the front facade, but has a pitched shed roof that slopes back to the rear, so the second floor is actually a small loft with limited head room. The main building dates to the early 19th century, and the brick wing appears to have been added in the second quarter of the 19th century. It has been suggested that the brick wing may pre-date the main building, but architectural evidence clearly demonstrates that this is not the case, and although the wing could have been built at the same time as the larger structure, the brick walls of the two sections are not bonded together, indicating the wing was added later. Much of the rear facade of both sections is now covered by a series of frame additions. These include a two-story rear ell that projects from the north portion of the main building, a one-story addition adjoining the south wall of the ell, and a two-part, one-story addition that projects from the rear wall of the brick wing. The rear ell probably dates to the latter half of the 19th century, while the remaining additions are all more recent and of no architectural significance. Significance: The Old Inn is a unique combination of form and plan in the architectural history of Maryland's Eastern Shore. Its use as an inn is documented to the mid 19th century, and its floor plans suggest it was used as such from its construction circa 1816. In overall form, the Old Inn is atypical of Tidewater building tradition. Both the four-bay fenestration and the original two-story porches on both facades are features found only in scattered examples on this part of the Shore. This particular example may be unique to this area, however, as it is the only recorded example in which the north gable wall is carried across the ends of the porches. This is a relatively common feature in the counties of Western Maryland, as is the four-bay facade, suggesting the possibility of some tie with that area on the part of the builder. The central hall plan is also of interest. While the side hall, double parlor plan is far more common in Federal townhouses, the central hall plan is found on occasion. The interior of the building retains virtually all of the original trim, including five handsome Federal mantels. Also of interest is the small brick shed-roofed wing on the south gable. This was apparently added at an early date, and according to documentary evidence, was used at one time as a shop. The most unusual feature of this wing is the original pitch of the roof. This is a relatively unusual feature, but is evidently related to a similar wing on the nearby Cannonball House. The interior has been renovated on the first floor, leaving only a few samples of original trim. The ceiling joists are now exposed, although nail holes indicate it was originally plastered. The loft remains almost entirely intact, with all of the trim in place, as well as the early floorboards and chimney stack.

 

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