Paula Stoner Dickey
Wilson, Rufus Complex
14293, Rufus Wilson Road (Old US 40), Clear Spring, Washington County
The Rufus Wilson property comprises a complex of mid-late 19th century buildings which create the center of a small rural settlement named Conococheague located on the National Road in Washington County. The complex is dominated by a large brick dwelling with a mansard roof. This house incorporates a 2 1/2-story limestone dwelling built by Rufus Wilson about 1850, which was enlarged to its present Second Empire style in the last quarter of the 19th century. The north façade of the house is five bays wide, constructed of common bond brick. This facade was erected in the course of an expansion in the last quarter of the 19th century. On the side and rear elevations, sections of limestone masonry remain from the original c. 1850 dwelling. The house is built on a stone foundation. The façade features a stone porch that stretches across the front and wraps around to part of the west side. Eight-sided columns support the porch roof. On the north façade, window and door openings are headed with segmental arches. The central entrance holds a 6-panel door with glazing in the upper two panels, surmounted by an arched transom. Windows are 1/1 sash. An ornate bracketed and modillioned cornice runs below the straight-sided mansard roof which is covered in patterned slate. Three gabled dormers are spaced across the mansard. The vertical surrounds of the dormer windows are decorated panels. The upper cornice is molded and the top roof is standing seam metal. On the east elevation, a three-sided projecting bay rises the full height of the building, featuring segmental-arched 1/1 sash with projecting brick lintels on the first and second stories, and gabled dormers in the mansard. A 2-story, 4-bay service wing extends to the rear, revealing remnants of the original stone construction. The service wing is spanned by a gallery supported by rusticated concrete columns. Adjacent to the house is a brick post office and store, built by Wilson c. 1880, with an attached feed room of frame construction with weatherboard siding. A German-sided frame carriage house constructed c. 1882 is located immediately behind the store. A c. 1840 bank barn and grazing area are located at the rear of these buildings. Also on the property is a small frame corn crib of unknown date.
The Rufus Wilson complex is significant for its architecture, as an example of a type of rural commercial complex that served both its local community and travelers on the National Road in the latter half of the 19th century. The buildings retain a high degree of integrity. Especially noteworthy are the significant interior features which remain intact in the general store and post office, including display cabinets and mail boxes. The Second Empire mansion, the product of a c. 1880 remodeling of a vernacular limestone dwelling of the mid-19th century, is the only recorded example of that style in rural Washington County.