Paul Baker Touart
Watkins Point Farm
27737, Phoenix Church Road, Marion Station, Somerset County
The house at Watkins Point Farm is a three-part frame and sawn log dwelling. Supported on a three-course common bond brick foundation with cellar, the one-room plan sawn log house was erected around 1780-90 and is extended to the west by a single-story, mid-19th century hyphen that connects the two-story, transverse-hall plan main block, erected around 1850. Facing north, the house is situated atop an elevated ridge of land that is surrounded by fields and marsh. Gunby Creek, a tributary of Pocomoke Sound, borders the farm on its east side. Built with distinct stylistic references to the Greek Revival, the two-story, gable-front transverse hall plan main block is supported on a brick pier foundation, an the exterior is clad with plain weatherboard siding. The gable roof is covered with asphalt shingles over a layer of wood shingles. Paneled corner pilasters frame the front and side walls and visually support a gable-front pediment enriched with modillion block cornices. The six-panel front door, in the center of the three-bay front facade, is framed by a pair of classical pilasters an a plain frieze. Incorporated between the pilasters are three-light sidelights. A few panes retain mid-late-19th century etched glass. Located above the door is a three-light transom. Seams in the weatherboards and remnants of foundation indicate the former presence of a single-story portico. Windows hold 6/6 sash, with many retaining shutter hardware, lift-off hinges, and shutter dogs. The pediment, sheathed with flush weatherboards, is pierced by a round window which has lost its radiating muntins. The modillion block cornice remains largely intact. The east elevation is a three-bay facade with a one-story shed-roofed addition built during the mid 20th century. The south elevation is a symmetrical four-bay facade with pairs of windows flanking interior end brick chimney stacks. The attic gable is pierced by a single window opening that has lost its mid-19th century sash. The edge of the roof is trimmed with a mid-19th century molded bargeboard, and the corners of the rear wall are finished with Greek Revival pilasters. East and west elevations are timed with box cornices and modillion blocks. The west elevation, three bays wide like that on the east, is partially covered by the one-story mid-19th century one-room plan hyphen, which is extended to the south by a shed-roofed addition probably added c. 1900. The hyphen holds a 6/6 sash window on its north wall, and plain weatherboards are covered by imitation brick asphalt siding. The single-story one-room plan log house is attached to the west end of the hyphen, and is supported on a three-course common bond brick foundation with an excavated cellar. The sawn log structure is sheathed with imitation brick asphalt siding. The roofline of the log section was modified to a rough salt-box shape during the mid 19th century in an effort to accommodate a partially enclosed porch on the south side. An early-20th century shed-roofed porch extends from the front of the log structure. Rising through the west gable is a stuccoed interior brick chimney stack. The east gable end is defined by a bulkhead entrance into the cellar, and a 6/6 sash window pierces the end wall. The edge of the roof is finished with a plain bargeboard. The interiors throughout the three sections retain large portions of original woodwork. The gable-front main block follows a transverse hall plan with two large parlors to the south. Rising in the northeast corner of the hall is a mid-19th century staircase with a heavy turned newel post and ramped handrails supported by slender rectangular balusters. A four-panel door opens into a small closed under the landing. The front hall is distinguished by crossetted door surrounds with shallow pediment lintels that frame six-panel doors. Mantels and surrounds throughout the main block and hyphen are Greek Revival in style. The 18th-century interior has been partially modified as a kitchen. The formerly exposed floor joists have been covered, and the end wall of raised paneling has been reduced in size. The room retains H-L hinges on a board-and-batten door, 18th century moldings, and the original chair rail. Also on the property is a rusticated-block potato house, constructed in the early 20th century.
The Watkins Point Farm is architecturally significant on several counts. Sawn log wall construction techniques are only evident in four surviving structures in Somerset County. Other than the Watkins Point house, the only known survival of sawn log construction is limited to a sawn log smokehouse in Princess Anne and two other sawn log smokehouses on rural farm sites. This 18th century, single-story, one-room plan sawn log house, finished inside with raised-panel woodwork, expertly molded door and window surrounds, as well as chair rail molding, survives as the only example of its type in Somerset County. Now rarely seen on the Eastern Shore, the one-room plan dwelling has survived in very limited numbers as well, and the structures are usually incorporated, as evidenced here, in a larger building. The mid-19th century hyphen and gable-front main block were built in the same construction program in a stepped pattern well established across the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Virginia. Both sections are finished with consistent Greek Revival features and mature cut nails. The most elaborate woodwork was limited to the principal elevation and the first-floor interiors of the hall and parlors. While well-known in the region, the transverse hall plan Greek Revival main block is rare in southern Somerset County, especially on this isolated site framed by fields and marsh. The early-20th century rusticated block potato house, although built of ordinary materials, is now a rare architectural form in Somerset County.