Photo credit: Donna Ware , 04/1993

Property Name: Portland Manor
Date Listed: 4/18/1996
Inventory No.: AA-253
Location: Little Road, Darnall, Anne Arundel County

Description: The house at Portland Manor comprises a 1 1/2-story, center-passage plan, frame building. While the floor plan and finish treatments are typical of structures built in the second quarter of the 18th century, dendrochronology indicates a 1755 construction date for the main block. Two wings to the east and south were added and enlarged c. 1790 and c. 1850, respectively. The house has weatherboard siding, two brick interior end chimneys, a steeply pitched principal-rafter roof, and dormer windows above the first floor. The roof features a conspicuous flare or "kick" above the eaves on the front or north elevation. The first floor of this elevation is five asymmetrical bays wide, with the principal entrance in the center bay. Windows are 9/9 sash on the first floor, and 6/6 in the four evenly spaced gable-roofed dormers on the roof. The south side of the roof is considerably less steep, making the rear of the house 2 1/2 stories in height, with no dormers at attic level. The west facade holds a single 9/9 sash window in the south bay of the first facade, and the cornice returns on both sides, although of vastly different height and roof slope. The 2 1/2-story south wing has a central chimney and 6/6 sash windows, and is two bays wide by two bays deep with a shallow gable roof. The attic gable (south side) of this wing has a single 4/4 sash window, and features deep cornice returns. A one-story porch wraps around the south and east sides of the early-19th century kitchen wing to the east, which is a low two stories in height with two 6/6 sash windows on the front facade and one on the rear. The interior features a center-passage plan, with two rooms per floor in the main house. The south wing has a transverse stair, two rooms on each floor, and a brick central chimney. Also on the property are the remains of a large circular ice house and several frame outbuildings.

Significance: Portland Manor is significant for its early architectural features. The principal rafter and common purlin roof reflects a type of construction which was characteristic of the Chesapeake Tidewater region in the 17th and early 18th century, although dendrochronolgy has dated the building to 1755. The house is also one of the few known examples of this type of roof construction method on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The roof framing is further distinguished by a high level of craftsmanship, featuring chamfered principal rafters detailed with lamb's-tongue stops.




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