Photo credit: E. Wallace , 10/2003

Property Name: Airview Historic District
Date Listed: 12/29/2004
Inventory No.: F-4-038
Location: 701-720, East Main Street (Alt. US 40), Middletown, Frederick County

Description: The Airview Historic District is a turn-of-the-20th-century residential subdivision comprising 12 single-family houses built between 1896 and 1930 lining both sides of East Main Street (formerly a section of the old National Pike) near the eastern corporate boundary of Middletown. The houses draw from the Late Victorian, Colonial Revival, and Bungalow styles, and are built of frame, brick, or rusticated concrete block. Complementing the houses are 11 contributing outbuildings, including several frame barns, three c. 1930 garages, and several miscellaneous sheds. All of the buildings are located on lots with 90' to 103' setbacks, as stipulated in original deeds. The lots on the north side of East Main Street have the deeper setback, reflecting the right-of-way of the former Frederick and Middletown Electric Railway. The large lots are generally grassy and landscaped with flower gardens, ornamental trees, and common deciduous trees. The Airview subdivision dates form the same period as the houses along East Main Street a short distance to the west, on the eastern edge of the National Register-listed Middletown Historic District; while related temporally, stylistically, and by association with the electric railway, the two districts are physically separated by post-1950 infill development.

Significance: The Airview Historic District is significant for its association with the development of mass transportation in rural central Maryland, and the effect of that phenomenon upon community development in the region in the early 20th century. The subdivision called Airview represents a rural adaptation of the suburbanization that characterized urban fringes during this period, known as "streetcar suburbs." With the construction of the National Road and pike system, Middletown grew in importance as a center of merchandising and entertainment for the region throughout the 19th century. Middletown's predominant position within the fertile agricultural valley was reinforced at the turn of the 20th century with the establishment of an interurban electric railway line between Frederick and Middletown, which eventually continued to Hagerstown further west. The Frederick and Middletown Electric Railway ran along the Old National Pike (East Main Street) and spurred significant residential development along the line on the eastern edge of Middletown. The Airview development, subdivided from the Kefauver family farm east of town and platted in 1896, adjoined the railway line and included a stop in front of the 1906 house/hotel of initial Airview developer, Lewis Kefauver. Sited on the crest of a hill, the wide views and fresh air made Airview a popular option for the area's wealthy retiring farmers. Middletown retained its important position as a transportation hub into the mid-20th century, but began to decline with the 1936 construction of the new Route 40 between Frederick and Hagerstown, which bypassed the town. In 1947, the closing of the electric railway line further marginalized Middletown, and significant development ceased. The Airview Historic District derives additional significance for its outstanding collection of Late Victorian period, Colonial Revival, and bungalow style houses, many of which reflect the eclecticism typical of the c. 1900 period. Although a relatively small subdivision, Airview includes a wide variety of stylistic interpretations. Among its contributing properties are one house which can be traced to an 1899 pattern book, and the first house in Frederick County to utilize the popular early-20th century construction material, cast concrete block (1906).


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