Ronald L. Andrews
Four Mile House
520, National Highway (US 40), La Vale, Allegany County
The Four Mile House is a mid-19th century brick structure of Greek Revival influence, 2 1/2 stories high, with a symmetrical facade (north) of five bays arranged around a center doorway. It has a stone foundation, gable roof, double brick internal end chimneys, and a small wing on the west end. The front slope of the roof is pierced by the three large gable-roofed dormers with flat pilasters flanking the windows. The center dormer has a Palladian window arrangement. A one-story frame porch with four columns, two pilasters, and a turned roof balustrade stretches across the facade. The dormers and porch are not original and were probably added about 1900. The principal windows have narrow frames and double-hung wooden sashes with 6/6 lights. The center bay of the second floor of the facade contains a wooden casement window, not original. The entranceway has a six-panel door with rectangular sidelights and transom. The brick flat arches of the principal facade have wide flares while those of the elevations are restrained. The back (south) side has a high basement owing to the slope of the land, and double doorways. An Ionic-columned porch with a turned balustrade stretches across at the first floor level with a brick-floored colonnade at the basement. The south side of the roof has a large dormer with five windows. The porch and dormer, like those on the front, are not original. The basement windows on the front and east sides have wooden bars or the holes for holding such bars. The interior has a center passage with a four-over-four arrangement of rooms. The entrance doors have shallow raised panels. The staircase has a late-19th century balustrade and newel post. The mantelpieces of the two rooms on the east side of the hall are plain with oval columns and a raised panel in the entablature. All eight rooms have fireplaces. A fire in the late 1950s or early 1960s destroyed the second floor rooms on the west side and part of the roof. These have been rebuilt.
The Four Mile House, called in deeds the Eckles Mansion, was built c. 1840 for Samuel Eckles. It gained its common name from its approximate distance west from the center of Cumberland. This inn, built to serve the National Road when it was rerouted in this area c. 1840, is representative of a common folk form of the Greek Revival style. There were once dozens of inns and taverns along the National Road and the Baltimore Pike. Today, with the greatly lessened travel along these roads, few of these remain. The Four Mile House is one of eleven Maryland Inns on the National Road which are listed on the National Register. These eleven buildings in Allegany and Garrett Counties, many of them still serving their original function, stand as the physical remains of the almost legendary hospitality offered on this well-traveled route to the west.