Peter E. Kurtze
1612, Calvary Road (MD 136), Churchville, Harford County
Best Endeavor is a large, multi-sectioned, mid to late 18th century, partially stuccoed stone telescope house located on the west side of Calvary Road (MD 136) near Churchville in south-central Harford County. The principal façade faces south. The building comprises two primary sections: the western unit, constructed c. 1740, is four bays wide. Probably around 1785, the eastern half of this section was raised to two stories, and a 2 1/2-story, three-bay, side-passage/double parlor block was added against the east gable. At about the same time, an unusual wellhouse was attached at the west gable end. On the south façade, the 2 1/2-story block and the raised two-story section of the early wing are united by a boxed cornice with complex bed and crown moldings. Interior chimneys mark the gable ends, and two pedimented dormers are located on the south slope of the roof in the 2 1/2-story block. Windows are 6/6, and the entrance, with four-light transom, is located in the westernmost bay of the original section. The western half of the early wing is 1 1/2 stories in height and 2 bays wide. An entrance is located in the eastern bay, a simple boxed cornice, and a large gable dormer. A two-tier gallery covers the north side of the main section. The house is characterized by interior decorative detailing reflecting these two periods, and a partial remodeling which took place c. 1841. The resource contains several outbuildings dating from the mid-19th century or earlier, including a stone smokehouse, a timber framed barn with board and batten siding, a timber framed shed, and the ruin of a large stone and frame bank barn. A late 19th/early 20th century frame tenant house and four mid-20th century outbuildings do not contribute to the significance of the resource.
Best Endeavor is significant for its architecture. The house presents a significant example of the domestic vernacular architecture of Harford County, reflecting accretive growth and remodeling over time from about 1740 through the mid-19th century. The building comprises a c. 1740 hall./parlor section, to which a large side passage, double parlor block was added late in the 18th century; around 1841, a partial interior remodeling was carried out. It retains an exceptional collection of historic decorative detailing, reflecting two periods of craftsmanship: the stair hall and second story retain a full complement of quality Federal period woodwork, and the trim in the parlors and dining room reflects Greek Revival influence. An elaborate Federal mantel was apparently relocated in the attic when the parlors were remodeled in the second quarter of the 19th century, reflecting changing tastes and uses of space. An early wellhouse adjoins the original kitchen and communicates with it; this is an unusual feature in the vernacular architecture of Piedmont Maryland. Other notable plan features include an unusually spacious stair hall separated from the parlors by a board partition, and several built-in closets. The property also retains several domestic and agricultural outbuildings contemporaneous with the house, including a stone smokehouse, a frame barn and shed, and the ruins of a large bank barn. The period of significance extends to the mid-19th century, when the house achieved its present character.