Susan M. Deeney
1912, Fountain Green Road (MD 543), Bel Air, Harford County
Mount Adams is a 114-acre working farm in south-central Harford County. The farm is centered around a large, multi-sectioned, 2 1/2-story frame house built in 1817 on a hillock by War of 1812 hero, Captain John Adams Webster, for himself and his large family, and has remained largely untouched since his death in 1877. The oldest section of the house is a 2 1/2-story, 4-bay, gable-roofed frame house with a smaller-scale 2 1/2-story ell to the rear. This latter unit contains the narrow winder stair and kitchen. There are two rooms per floor in the main section, with an interior chimney at the east end and an exterior chimney at the west end. On the main façade, there are two 6-panel doors in the two center bays on the first floor, and 6/6 windows in the outer bays. The second floor also has two doors, although the two west bays are reversed, with the door in the outer bay. A c. 1850 2 1/2-story cross gabled addition, connected, but an independent unit from the main house, and slightly taller. A prominent two-tier, flat-roofed Greek Revival wooden porch dates from about the time of this addition, and renders the fenestration of the façade WDWDDW on the ground floor and WDDWDW above, with the main block comprising the four bays on the right. There are two further, smaller additions to the rear (north), both with shed roofs. One is two stories, and is off the western or cross-gable section. The other, of one story, is off the old kitchen. Placed around the main house is a largely undisturbed collection of free-standing outbuildings representing the sort one associates with grain-farming activities in this part of Maryland; four date to Webster's era and are considered contributing; these include a stone bank barn, a stone and stucco dairy, a stone and stucco privy, as well as a family cemetery. Also on the property, but post-dating Webster, are a corn crib, carriage shed, and a tenant house, all frame.
The significance of Mount Adams derives primarily from its builder and resident for 50 years, Captain John Adams Webster. His family had owned these acres, originally part of the patent Broom's Bloom, since the early 18th century, and he was born on the farm in 1789. He began his Naval career in 1803 and rose to prominence in the War of 1812, playing a role in the battle of Fort McHenry. He received a commemorative sword from the City of Baltimore in 1816 for his "gallant defense". Webster continued his seafaring life after the war. In 1816 President Madison appointed him a sailing master in the U.S. Navy, and in 1819 President Monroe issued hi a commission as captain in the revenue service where he was in charge of several cutters. During the Mexican War he was detailed to control the operations of the revenue vessels employed in the Gulf of Mexico and he and his fleet of 8 cutters saw action in the Rio Grande and Vera Cruz campaigns. The house's historic context began with Webster's building the place in 1817 and ends with his death, at the house, in 1877, at which time he was "the senior captain in the service." Mount Adams, which has remained virtually unchanged since Webster's death, has been continuously owned by his descendents, and is also notable for its architecture. Conservative Harford County is notable for its general lack of high-style architecture. Webster's travels exposed him to more cultural influences than his fellow-countians generally experienced and the details at Mount Adams, particularly mantels, cover two stylistic eras, from the delicate Federal/Adamesque trim in the 1817 section to the heavier Greek Revival c. 1850 additions.