Samuel Gunn House
200, Market Street, W., Snow Hill, Worcester County
The Samuel Gunn House faces south on the northwest corner of Market and Church Streets in the center of Snow Hill. Constructed c. 1780, the house is one of the oldest and best preserved of the 18th century town dwellings in Worcester County. This two-story, side hall/double pile frame house is supported by a raised Flemish bond brick foundation, and sheathed in beaded weatherboards. Attached to the west gable end is a two-story c. 1825 wing currently used as a kitchen but originally constructed as a hyphen between the main house and a former kitchen. Attached to the north side of the house is a c. 1910 two-story rear wing extensively reworked in the 1980s. Each section of the house is covered in a wood shingle roof. The south facade is an asymmetrical three-bay elevation with a door in the east bay and 12/12 sash windows on the first floor. The second floor holds 12/8 sash windows. The boxed cornice is trimmed with a dentiled bed molding. The majority of the beaded weatherboards are replacements, having been installed during the initial restoration of the house in the early 1970s when the Victorian era porch and associated weatherboards were removed. The east gable end retains most of the original beaded weatherboards. The east and west gable ends hold 12/12 sash windows on the first floor, and 8/12 on the second. The east gable end has a single 6/6 sash in the attic. On the west end, a 6/6 sash window pierces the attic to the south of the interior brick chimney with its corbeled cap, and a smaller window to the north. The north bay of the west gable end is covered by the kitchen wing on the first and second floors. This wing is one bay wide by one deep. The south side has a board-and-batten door with a four-light transom on the first floor, and a 12/8 sash window above. Most noteworthy is the exterior drilled cornice that imitates a classical swag motif. Similar drilled decoration in Worcester and Somerset counties usually date to the second quarter of the 19th century. The north side of the house is partially covered by the c. 1910 rear wing. This side of the house was protected for many years by a two-story open porch, added during the middle of the 19th century. The interior of the main block follows a side hall/double pile plan with a generous stairhall flanked to the left by two rooms with corner hearths. Most of the 18th century woodwork (paneling, doors, hardware, flooring, and plaster walls) remains intact. The side passage is visually divided into a front and back hall by a decorative, molded segmental arch, with a bold cavetto backband molding interrupted by a plain keystone arch. Rising in the front part of the hall is the original turned baluster stair, with a boldly turned newel post topped with a molded cap. Enhancing the cap is a row of Wall-of-Troy bed molding under the molded cap. The turned balusters support a molded handrail. Delicately carved scrolled trim highlights the stringer, and bold raised panels enclose the triangular area beneath the stair. Access to a closet is provided by a raised six-panel door with original wooden lock box. The upper part of the stair is fitted with raised paneling as well. The hall is trimmed with raised-panel wainscoting, a bold cornice, and baseboard molding. At the north end of the hall an original (formerly exterior) nine-panel door remains on its long strap hinges and retains a diagonal board backing and is topped with a five-light transom with very early glass. The southeast room features a fine display of Georgian carpentry, with a complex paneled overmantel containing 20 panels of eight different shapes and sizes. The paneled wainscoting has a combination of vertical and horizontal panels. The ceiling has a decorative carved cornice. The northwest room also has a corner hearth and 10-panel overmantel, and raised-panel wainscoting.
The Samuel Gunn House is significant as an example of a Georgian town house with high style and remarkable integrity. The quality and complexity of the joinery in the two parlors and the side passage is without comparison in Worcester County. The degree of originality is also highly unusual for a property of this age, having survived with over 90% of the interior woodwork, most of the lath and plaster walls, all of the flooring, and a majority of the exterior weatherboards for the c. 1780 main block.