Melville Road, Melville Crossroads, Caroline County
Athol is a 2 1/2-story single-pile brick dwelling in northern Caroline County built around 1825. Facing south, the three-bay house is built of brick laid in Flemish bond on the principal facade and common bond on the other three sides. Slightly projecting chimneys with corbeled caps rise from each gable end. The central entrance, with a four-light transom, is several feet above the ground, indicating the former presence of a porch or steps. The outline of what appears to have been a one-bay wide entrance porch on the facade is the shadow of a late addition, probably similar to the one now on the rear of the house, which is hip roofed, enclosed, and covered with wood shingles. First floor openings have flat-arched brick lintels on both south and north facades. There is a 9/6 sash window on either side of the main entrance, and three 6/6 sash windows on the second floor. This pattern is repeated on the rear, but on the north side the central second-floor window is slightly lower than those in the end bays, and has a flat brick arch of gauged brick. This window was lowered in the 20th century. A row of brick headers tops the other second-floor windows of both facades. A one-story frame addition on the east gable end replaces a former gable-roofed wing. Athol’s graceful staircase, its two exterior end chimneys, central hall plan, and raised basement are all original features. Window frames, doors, rafters, floors, and hand-cut lath are among the original details that remain in the house. Other original interior features include beaded baseboards on the first floor and the original chair rail in the hall and ascending to the upper floors along the stair wall.
Athol is significant for its architecture. Built about 1825 by William Jones, it embodies several characteristics common to the few remaining early-19th century brick three-bay-wide houses of modest size on the Eastern Shore: Flemish bond facade, common bond on the sides and rear, chimneys at each end of a gable roof, entrance in the central bay, 2 1/2-story height, and Federal stylistic influence. However, Athol is also one of two known houses in Caroline County that exhibit almost identical partially protruding chimney stacks on each gable end. Athol is unique because, in addition, it retains most of its original window sash and many important interior elements such as baseboards, chair rails, and staircase. Most of the original fabric of the house remains intact and its setting presents an unusually accurate picture and atmosphere of rural life in the early 19th century.