1326, Somerville Road, Benson, Harford County
Woodview is a two-section, 2 1/2-story stone house. The main section reads as five bays wide beneath a slate covered gable roof, but it actually consists of two still-discernable parts. The older dates to c. 1744, and is three bays wide with a two-room plan. Each room had a gable-end chimney and a corner enclosed winder stair. The newer part, dating to c. 1820 and built to the west, is two bays wide and contains a stair hall and one large room per floor; the two sections are discernible on the exterior due to a seam in the mortar, to the latter section's slightly larger scale and somewhat more sophisticated masonry, that is, more careful coursing and the presence of bold quoins and large lintels. Both sections' exterior wooden trim such as louvered shutters with their hardware, window framing, and beaded box cornice, is intact and dates to the c. 1820 period. The same is true on the interior since the older section was apparently remodeled when the newer section was added. The old floor plan was changed slightly, and both sections were given unity by fine and uniform late Federal wooden trim. This is intact and consists of delicately molded chairrails and reeded door surrounds with bulls-eye blocks. There is a small scale, 2 1/2-story stone wing extending to the east of the older section. Dating to the 18th century and probably the contemporaneous kitchen wing for the c. 1744 section, it is likewise two bays wide beneath a slate gable roof and contains one room per floor. The property also contains two outbuildings, including a one-story 18th century house, which originally had a frame second story, and is believed to be a former slave quarter, and a 19th century stone springhouse with an unusual barrel-vaulted roofline.
Woodview, significant for its architecture, is a superior example of two distinct periods of Harford County building. The still-discernable older section, probably built c. 1745 after the locally prominent Norris family acquired the land in 1744, is one of a handful of remaining examples of the sort of mid-18th century vernacular house constructed in Harford County by prosperous second-generation residents. That is, by those men and women, generally children of patentees, whose financial success at farming or milling raised them above the subsistence level but who were unfamiliar with or chose not to follow the more high-style Georgian design precept favored by their worldlier, wealthier neighbors. Eighty years later the house was purchased by the Pue family, of whom six generations have since lived there. The Pues were doctors and industrialists endowed with greater capital and more traveled than the earlier agriculturalist owners had been. Familiear with more formal design dicta, the Pues remodeled and expanded the house in accordance with those principles, resulting in one of Harford County's best examples of Federal architecture--and finest examples of the stone mason's art--comparable to two Federal stone houses built within five years of Woodview's second stage and already listed on the National Register of Historic Places.