Jennifer K. Cosham
Henry Shoemaker Farmhouse
2136, Old National Pike (Alt. US 40), Middletown, Frederick County
The Henry Shoemaker Farmhouse is a 2 1/2 story, five-bay brick structure with a one-story kitchen wing extending to the rear. It dates from approximately 1810-1815 and is set frontally to the road which was in the early 19th century a very busy and prominent thoroughfare. The main entrance, with 4-light transom, is located in the central bay of the symmetrical 5-bay facade. Upstairs windows are 2/2 sash while downstairs they are 6/6. A significant and unusual feature of the facade is that the Flemish bonding is present only at the four eastern bays of the front elevation, with the portion of the facade wall between the west end bays and the end facade laid in American or common bond. In this particular building, this change in bonding patterns in the wall does not indicate that the wall was extended. Another significant feature of the facade is some remaining original painted finish of the house, common to the period but a rare survival, consisting of a painted surface in red iron oxide with the joints emphasized by white painted strike lines. Jack or flat arches of brick are present above the openings. The west gable end is two bays wide, with two 6/6 windows on the two main floors, two 4-light windows in the attic, a single 4-light window in the south bay of the stone foundation, and a 2-light window in the north bay. A 1 1/2-story kitchen wing is attached to the west side of the rear facade, with a pair of 6/6 windows on its west side and a single 6/6 window and a door (south and north bays, respectively) on its east side. The east gable end of the main block has two 2/2 windows on each of the two main floors, and a pair of 4-light windows in the attic. A flush chimney rises in each gable end and at the north end of the rear wing. The present porch which extends across the front elevation replaces an earlier Victorian porch added to the house during the late 19th century. A notable feature of the exterior is the pair of cast-iron tie rod anchors, one on each gable. On the west gable, the anchor is in the form of a letter H and on the east gable, a letter S. These are the initials of the builder and first owner, Henry Shoemaker. The barn and original outbuildings for the property are no longer present. A brick spring house and sheds similar to the original structures have been recreated.
The Henry Shoemaker Farmhouse is significant for a combination of events and characteristics which give it a unique place in Maryland's 19th century history in the area of military history, transportation, and architecture. The single most important event relating to the house was the Battle of South Mountain which occurred on September 14, 1862. Federal troops which as a result of the Battle came to be known as the "Iron Brigade" assembled on this farm and around its buildings prior to fighting their way up South Mountain. After the battle, troops camped on the farm and the house served as a hospital. Long before the Civil War, the house stood by the bustle of the National Pike which passed by its front door. The house, built about 1810, is clearly oriented to the highway and its activity, and helps to convey the importance of this road in early 19th century Maryland. Architecturally, the house is representative of rural vernacular construction of the Piedmont and Cumberland Valley region of Maryland; it is a relatively early example of brick construction for this region.