Photo credit: J. Richard Rivoire , 09/1978

Property Name: The Lindens
Date Listed: 4/23/1990
Inventory No.: CH-49
Location: La Plata Bryantown Road (MD 488), La Plata, Charles County

Description: The Lindens is a second quarter 19th century Federal style frame house two stories high with a side passage, double parlor plan with Greek Revival mantels and an exterior double chimney with a two-story flush pent at the northeast gable end. Built on brick and fieldstone foundations enclosing a partial cellar, the exterior retains most of the original cladding of random-width beaded clapboards on the northeast, southeast, and southwest sides. Notable original interior details include a transverse arch in the lower stair passage supported by free-standing fluted columns, large folding doors between the dining room and front parlor, chairrails, bold window and door architraves with turned corner blocks, and Greek Revival style mantels typical of its date of construction. The main stair rises in four flights to the attic and has simple, turned newels and jigsaw-patterned step ends whose distinctive design continues across the fascias of the landings. About 1880 the house was enlarged by a two-story, one-bay-wide addition to its southwest end. Also of frame construction, it is set back from the front wall of the main block and is of a slightly lower height. The exterior retains original sheathing of German siding, and its gable covering of fishscale shingles. The windows of the front of the house were also enlarged at this time, and a semi-hipped roof porch with turned and tapered columns (now screened in) was added to the rear elevation. The first-floor windows have large 2/4 lights on the first floor and 2/2 on the second. The front entrance, in the southwest bay of the northwest facade, is sheltered by a one-bay pedimented porch with a dentiled cornice, supported by Tuscan columns. .A one-story frame wing at the northeast end of the house was added in the early 1950s. It was about the time the northeast wing was built that the exterior chimneys were painted. Approached by a tree-lined drive, the house is fronted by two European linden trees believed to have been planted when the central section of the house was built and from which the property derives its name. The rear of the house overlooks the lower fields of the farm and the Zekiah Swamp. Surviving outbuildings date to the 20th century.

Significance: One of Charles County's very few dated historic buildings, The Lindens is significant in a local context as an unusually late and architecturally distinctive example of the side passage, double parlor house style otherwise popularly built here during a period of relative economic prosperity in the first several decades of the 19th century. Its Greek Revival style interior woodwork is an especially notable and important feature, its quality being superior to that of most local houses built here between the 1830s and 1860. Other interior details of note include the stair and the unusual design of its fretwork decorations, the transverse arch of the lower passage, and the use of chairrails in combination with the bolder door and window architraves at a time when chairrails were no longer considered fashionable. Another significant architectural feature is the double exterior chimney and two-story brick pent. Chimneys of this design, while not uncommon to this section of Maryland, generally ceased to be built after about 1810. The alterations of c. 1880 enhance The Lindens' architectural significance. In Charles County, the half century following the Civil War were years of significant economic depression, and the local population declined to less than what it had been in the decade preceding the Revolution. Very little substantial building activity took place here in the 1860-1900 period, and there are extremely few extant structures whose architecture reflects the dramatic changes in design and function that occurred in more prosperous regions of the state and nation. The c. 1880 wing and the changes made to the 1840 house at that time, while fairly simple in concept, possess elements of design that are significant in their own right when viewed in that context.




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