Jennifer K. Cosham
Westminster Historic District
Westminster, Carroll County
The Westminster Historic District contains 1400 principal structures of which one percent are intrusions and ten percent are not now contributing but have the potential through the passage of time or restoration of becoming contributing structures. The remaining 89% are contributing. Westminster evidences a continuum of residential architecture reflecting--with a pronounced time lag--the national changes in "high style" architecture. The basic building form is an early 19th century vernacular farm house combining Pennsylvanian and Georgian, or English elements. Constructed in brick or frame these buildings have cross gable roofs, symmetrical arrangement of fenestration, simple detailing. As is to be expected, changes through time are reflected in detailing applied to the basic form. The expansion of Westminster--filling in previously laid out neighborhoods--allowed for these incremental additions so that walking the streets of Westminster one can read the evolution and development of the town. Construction of a distinct commercial architecture occurred only in the mid-19th century. Businessmen along Main Street erected larger scale, imposing buildings which abandoned references to the house form. The commercial buildings demand attention through their height and breadth and the detailing on the façades which follows more closely current national trends: plate glass display windows, Romanesque arches and detailing for upper floors. Industrial buildings, located along the railroad, are strictly functional and possess no architectural design qualities with the notable exception of the power house on Locust Lane. The existing structures are replacements of earlier shelters on the same site which usually has been occupied by the same firm. Ecclesiastical buildings are uniformly Gothic Revival.
The Westminster Historic District incorporates most of the town of Westminster, a community of about 8500 population in Carroll County on the piedmont plateau of west central Maryland. As the county seat, Westminster is and has been the political, financial, and commercial center of Carroll County since the county was established in 1837. The district reflects both this role and the evolution and development of the town and contains excellent examples of vernacular and formal residential, commercial, and ecclesiastical architecture through the 19th century and into the early 20th century.