When you’re looking to get a sense of the history of a particular place, look no further than its architecture – especially when various forms of it have been cobbled together in a mishmash that’s unique to that particular locale. While ‘pure’ architecture that’s built entirely in a certain style leaves us with what are essentially museum exhibits remaining in their original context, they’re few and far-between, having been demolished, renovated or added to over decades and even centuries.
On the Eastern shore of Maryland, in 1916, the writers of the White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs went looking for original Colonial architecture. What they found was a unique breed of structures that retained the simplicity and gentility of the period, but “lacing the spirit of thrift possessed by the Puritans,” combined it with the spaciousness of Southern plantations.
When this issue was written, the peninsula still contained “many quaint old towns that possess such of the charm of earlier days and innumerable old farmsteads, many of which are still owned and operated by descendants of the original settlers.” Preserved in black-and-white photographs, these homes likely do not look the same almost exactly 100 years later, if they still exist at all.
See the whole series of photos and read about what makes this collection of architecture unique at the White Pine Monograph Library.
Built sometime in the late 16th century, the ‘Montpelier’ house of Prince George County, Maryland was praised as a beautifully executed brick Colonial home in this 1930 edition of the White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs and still stands today, nearly a century later. It’s a great example of immaculately preserved early American craftsmanship, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970.
Officially known as the Snowden-Long House, the mansion was constructed for a family whose wealth came from the iron forging industry, and remained in ownership of that family until 1890. It’s notable not just for its age and historic value, but for the many stunning hand-wrought decorative architectural elements that can be found inside.
There’s the plaster entablature in the hall with its ornamental frieze of wheat, fruit and flowers, and the unusual southeast drawing room with its carved wood mantel, wainscot, china closet and cornice. The author of this monograph notes that one of the most successful features of the home’s interior design is the asymmetry, something that adds a lot of character and is not often seen in modern homes.
The Montpelier House was shown off to the public in 1976 as part of national bicentennial celebrations, and has since become a tourist attraction that can be rented out for weddings, conferences and other events. Read more at the White Pine Monograph Library.
There’s no place in America that offered a more English lifestyle before the Revolutionary War than Annapolis, Maryland, which at the time was fully of wealthy, aristocratic people enjoying the fruits of pioneer labor. As such, it has some of the most English architecture of that time period, with one building standing out in particular: the Matthias Hammond house, which is the focus of this issue of the historic White Pine Series of Architectural Monographs.
Built in 1770, the Hammond House was designed by Philadelphia architect Matthew Buckland and “stands today as one of the finest, if not the finest, example of the work of the Colonial Period.” In the 1920s, when this issue was written, it was purchased by St. Johns College and turned into a colonial museum, with all of the furnishings restored.
This monograph presents photographs and information about the house as it was nearly a century ago, and today it’s almost exactly the same thanks to these preservation efforts. Visitors can still enjoy stepping through its doorway and into the past. Now known as the Hammond-Harwood House, it’s been called the “Jewel of Annapolis,” and it’s a popular tourist destination in the city.
Read more at the White Pine Monograph Library.