Joseph Lyons House
Wayside Drive, Sunderland, Calvert County
The Joseph Lyons House is a large, two-story, east-facing frame structure with a hipped roof and full-width front and rear porches. The house is five bays in width, front and back, and four in depth on both sides, with all of the openings evenly spaced and precisely aligned at both floor levels. In addition to its perfectly symmetrical composition, the exterior features overhanging boxed eaves above a wide frieze board, bold corner boards, truncated porch columns, windows of 9/1 double-hung sash, and a glazed, double-leafed entrance door framed by full-height sidelights. A single, brick chimney on the south slope of the roof serviced a coal furnace as well as the kitchen stove. The central passage, four-room plan of the first-floor is enlivened by double-leafed French doors opening onto the front rooms from the hall and between the two north living rooms. A broad stair rises to a second-floor lobby extending toward the front of the house, opening off from which are four bedrooms. A fifth room at the rear of the lobby contains a bathroom that retains all of its original fixtures and tilework. The woodwork is original throughout with its simple window and door trim matching that of the exterior. Except for the partial removal of the second-floor service stair to provide space for a small bath off the southeast bedroom about 1947, and replacement of the original metal roof with asphalt shingles in the 1930s, no noteworthy alterations have been made to the house since its construction, and its historic architectural integrity remains intact. When the house was built it was the focal point of a larger working farm. A number of agricultural buildings contemporary with the house survive. These are arranged in a row a short distance northwest of the house and include a garage, several sheds, and a sprawling, multi-use bank barn.
Completed in 1924, the Joseph Lyons House was built by a local contracting firm known as Lyons, Gibson & Company who were responsible for many of Calvert County's more important early-20th century public buildings and private residences. Remarkably few examples of their work have survived the county's rapid growth of recent decades. The firm was active from about 1905 through the 1920s, and throughout the time the company operated they were preeminent among other building contractors, an achievement due in large measure to the superior quality of their work. No existing building exemplifies the abilities of this firm more than the Joseph Lyons House. Built for a relative of the firm's president in a highly visible location off a busy major thoroughfare not far from the company's offices and lumber yard, the house was in effect a billboard. Considered to be the largest and most architecturally progressive private home of its day in this locale, the house was as much a landmark then as it is today.