MHT File Photo
3881, Rocks Station Road, Street, Harford County
The Gladden Farm contains three historically significant structures, all built by members of the locally prominent Gladden family: a large five-bay rubblestone bank house with Federal detailing, a one-story rubblestone spring house, and a one-story board-and-batten frame shop. The first two structures probably date to c. 1820, the latter from the mid 19th century. There are two full stories in the main house. In addition, there is a fully exposed basement facing north. Basement and first story are sheltered by a two-story shed-roofed frame porch which spans five bays of the façade. The house's gable roof is covered in slate shingles and is finished by a simple box cornice and frieze board. Interior gable-end brick chimneys rise flush with the east and west gable ends. The rubblestone is left rough but is laid with deliberate coursing, and all windows and doors are crowned with large, unfinished monoliths. Both main façades have a centrally placed, paneled, recessed entrance. Sash windows (which also have stone sills) are symmetrically placed on all stories. The interior has a center stairhall plan with one equal-sized square room to each side. The exterior of the house appears to be entirely original, as to all window frames, interior window paneling, doors (interior and exterior), flooring, hardware, and baseboards. In 1945 Baltimore antique dealer J. Frederick Roming bought the house and remodeled the parlor by adding highly elegant Federal-era trim from a demolished house on Franklin Street in Baltimore, including a mantel and built-in cabinets and bookcases. The finished, three-room working basement has foundations of a fireplace at the west wall of the main (center) room. The main room's north wall is paneled in English oak removed from another demolished Baltimore dwelling. A small one-story stone kitchen wing perpendicular and to the south of the present dining room dates to c. 1950. It was built to replace the original frame kitchen wing. A porch, formerly opening off the present dining room, was enclosed in clapboard in the early 1950s. The one-story, square, hipped roof still-functioning springhouse is approximately 50' southwest of the dwelling.
The Gladden farm is significant for the architectural character of the main house and for association with the Gladden family which played important roles in the agricultural and commercial development of this section of Harford County. The house, a large, five-bay, two-story stone structure, embodies the distinctive characteristic of a locally rare building type--the bank house. Common throughout central Pennsylvania, band houses and bank barns are somewhat unusual in Harford County, Maryland, where they are generally found in sections settled by emigrees from Pennsylvania, who immigrated to Harford County in the late 18th century. Moreover, the house is a superior and largely unaltered example of this locally rare type: built into a hill overlooking a small stream called Gladden's Branch, the stone house is a full three stories tall on its main (south) façade, and only two stories tall on the north. The house is also of interest as a regional example of a timeless and near-universal rule, i.e., that design dicta, after being promulgated by the wealthy and sophisticated, eventually get reinterpreted by less wealthy neighbors. When built c. 1820, the Gladden House was probably the second most ambitious house in the rural, inland Dublin District of Harford County. The only finer dwelling was the nearby c. 1805 Col. John Streett House. Both exemplify Federal-era design but on two different levels. The Gladden House is identical to the Streett House in scale, massing, plan, and overall approach to design, yet is much more informally executed. The walls are laid in coursed rubblestone and there are no grained doors. The Gladden House is, however, farm ore ambitious than anything around it (excepting only the Streett House) evincing the highly important roles the Gladden family played in the history of this section of Harford County. The Gladdens were leading and innovative farmers, who saw to it that the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad was built through this party of the county, and established a station stop near their farm at The Rocks. Known for their Guernsey dairy herds, the Gladdens' interest in milk production may be clearly seen at their house, for the full cellar, cooled by a locally famous spring, proved ideally suited to short-term milk storage. The Gladden family lived on this farm until 1945 when they sold it out of the family.