Paula Stoner Dickey
17426 & 17432, Spielman Road (MD 63), Fairplay, Washington County
Constructed of stone in the regional tradition, the house called Marsh Mills stands 2 1/2 stories high, three bays wide, and faces east. It has some unusual features including the grouping of openings at the front elevation, the use of a brick corbeled cornice and returns, and the interior floor plan. The walls are constructed of large roughly coursed blocks of limestone. Above the first story openings are keystones flanked on either side by larger rectangular blocks. Beneath the front porch where the masonry has been sheltered, original painted striping can be seen on the masonry joints. At the front (east) elevation, the house has two of its three bays grouped in the south half of the wall. One of these bays, the more central, contains the front entrance. Windows have 6/6 light sash, and the main entrance has low relief paneled jambs and a three-light transom. Corbeled brick chimneys are located inside the end walls. A c. 1920s porch extends across the front of the house, with square columns and a balustrade. Also on the property are a mid-20th century frame barn with an early stone foundation, a frame carriage shed, a frame outbuilding thought to have been a cooperage or out-kitchen, an early-20th century poured concrete smokehouse, and a small gable-fronted frame outbuilding of unknown use. The remains of a mill are located east of the house. The original foundations are present, capped with a low-pitched gable roof. The removal of the top of the structure probably occurred in the 1880s when the structure was converted from a merchant mill to a creamery. According to an illustration in the 1877 atlas, the building originally was a 2 1/2-story stone structure with a gambrel roof. Traces of the mill race are still visible where it exits the south end of the building and passes beneath the road to rejoin Marsh Run. East of the mill is an American Foursquare style frame house which may incorporate remnants of a log house which served as the original miller's dwelling on the property.
The house at Marsh Mills is significant for its architecture, as an example of a type of stone construction which characterized the vernacular architecture of Washington County from about 1760 through the mid-19th century. Constructed c. 1850, the house represents the last phase of the stone building tradition in the county. By the 1840s, this method had been largely superseded by brick or frame construction. The house retains a high degree of integrity, and exemplifies stone construction techniques and architectural detailing current at the time when the stone construction tradition was waning in the region. The property derives additional significance from its association with the milling industry, which was important to the economic development of the Cumberland Valley region from the 1730s through the late 19th century. The mill was converted to a creamery about 1888. Its altered condition reflects the shift from grain to dairy farming which transformed the agricultural economy of the region in the late 19th century.