Joshua Lowe House
35, New Bridge Rd. & Old Mill Road, Rock Springs/Rising Sun, Cecil County
Constructed c. 1830, the Joshua Lowe House is a two-story, center passage plan brick building three bays wide by two bays deep, and facing south. A two-story, two-bay by two-bay wing, contemporaneous with the main block, extends to the rear. Later 19th century shed-roofed porches are found on the south and west facades. A 20th century single-story addition occupies the reentrant corner of the wing. The house is built of brick laid in seven-course common bond above an uncoursed stone basement. The medium-pitched gable roof is covered in asphalt shingles. There are two interior end chimney stacks. The east chimney is stuccoed, while the brick remains exposed on the west. A three-course brick cornice extends across each facade. The fenestration is symmetrical and the window sash are 6/6 with plain trim and extended sills and lintels. The main entrance has paneled reveals, a six-raised-panel door and a three-light transom. The front porch roof is supported by Victorian turned posts, and decorated with sawtooth edged boards at the ends and corner brackets with a star motif. A railing extends around the porch. On the east side, the building has been partially stuccoed, and a basement entrance has been installed in the center of the main block. A mid-20th century shed-roofed frame addition replaces and earlier frame wing that was two stories high. The present addition incorporates a dining room and bathroom. The north gable end is detailed with plain barge boards and a common bond chimney stack. The west side of the house has a one-bay late-19th century porch which is similar to the front porch, but smaller. The fenestration is symmetrical, with four bays on the first floor and four on the second. A door is located in the second bay from the north which permits access into the wing. The windows have 6/6 lights and extended sills and lintels. Two four-pane attic windows flank the chimney stack. A modern exterior stack has been added. The interior retains a relatively high degree of integrity, with a c. 1830 mantel with Federal characteristics and fluted pilasters, a small upstairs Empire mantel, chair rails, window and door surrounds with slightly peaked heads, reminiscent of Egyptian Revival design, four-panel doors, and Victorian hardware. Also on the property is a small frame gazebo of recent date.
The Joshua Lowe House is significant in its local context as one of the earliest and most substantial buildings in the crossroads village of Rock Springs. The c. 1830 brick house is a well-preserved representative example of the influence of the late Federal style on the domestic vernacular architecture of rural Cecil County. It retains a relatively high degree of integrity, with its exterior and much of its interior decorative detailing essentially intact. Its architectural significance is enhanced by the survival of an 1865 document identifying the uses of the rooms, a rare insight into the vernacular architecture of the period. The building derives additional significance from its association with the development of commerce and communication in rural Cecil County. Its builder, Joshua Lowe, was the first Postmaster of Rock Springs, and the house served as the first post office for the community from 1830 to 1838. The Lowe family were prominent in local commerce and owned much of the surrounding real estate. According to local tradition, the house functioned as a store as well as post office in the late 19th and early 20th century.