Caves Valley Historic District
Owings Mills, Baltimore County
The Caves Valley is located in a natural upland valley encompassing about 2100 acres near Owings Mills in northwest Baltimore County, Maryland. This rural historic landscape contains the typical features of a valley: sloping hillsides around a generally flat valley floor with several small streams running through it. The chief stream is the North Branch of the Jones Falls and its contributing courses. Within this natural setting are the components of a cultural landscape dating approximately 1730-1941 including circulation networks, internal boundaries, vegetation related to land use, a variety of structural types arranged in identifiable clusters, archeological sites and evidence of historic mining activities resulting in new landscape features, and several small-scale elements. Over the entire valley and especially along its northern, eastern, and southern edges, view into the valley from its surrounding hills are focused on the agricultural fields which occupy the majority of the district's open land area (approx. 1042 acres). The building types in the district are stone, brick. log, and frame dwellings, stone, log, and frame agricultural outbuildings and barns. These range in construction date from the 1730s to about 1938 and encompass vernacular, Georgian, and Georgian Revival styles. The integrity of the historic district is extraordinarily high, due primarily to its continuing possession and use by a few owners of large property tracts. Virtually all of the historic structures have been altered several times, but each retains an essential feeling of historic character in location, setting, materials, workmanship, design, and association within its particular time frame.
The Caves Valley Historic District is significant in the development of rural agriculture in Baltimore County, Maryland as continuously farmed land tract from the mid-18th century to the present. The pattern of cultivated fields, pastures, woodlands, streams, housing clusters, and agricultural structures was established by the early exploitation of two plantations within the geographic limits of the valley. The district is also significant in architecture through its vernacular architectural styles from the 1730s to the mid-20th century and the Georgian and Georgian Revival styles of the late 18th century and the early 20th century. The vernacular buildings are log, stone, and frame, reflecting the local materials and functional plans of rural locations in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Georgian and Georgian Revival styles are virtually all of brick and represent a high standard of craftsmanship, design, and detail. The historic district is also significant in community planning and development in Baltimore County, exemplifying the suburbanization movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries from Baltimore City into the surrounding rural areas of Baltimore County. The Caves was one of several valleys north and northwest of Baltimore, including the Green Spring, Worthington, and Long Green valleys, to which the wealthy upper class began to move as rail and road transportation improved and occupations changed from trades and agriculture to business, finance, law, and commercialism in the period 1880-1920. Farmland was gradually converted to residential house lots, often with large stylish houses built during a transitional period of combined agricultural and residential use. The Caves Valley represents this transition, with farmland still a highly visible land use.