Kenneth M. Short
1624, Littlestown Pike (MD 197), Westminster, Carroll County
The Slagle-Byers House, facing east toward Littlestown Pike north of Westminster, is a two-story gable-roofed Flemish bond brick structure with a two-story rear wing. Five bays wide by two deep, the house has a standing-seam metal roof with a north-south ridgeline, and an interior brick chimney on either gable end. There is a two-story, two-bay by one-bay ell attached to the west, also with a standing-seam metal roof. The central entrance on the east facade consists of six panels with sunken fields an ovolo panel molds. The jambs have three panels each which are sunk and flat. The transom is glazed in a sunburst pattern and there is one panel on each jamb and two on the soffit. The door has a pedimented surround with plain pilasters set on blocks. There are two 2/2 sash windows on either side of the doorway, with splayed brick jack arches and shutter hinges. The sills have been dropped about four courses and bricks have Roman numerals cut in them to designate where the shutters go. There are patches in the wall at window lintel level and below the second-story sill, indicating a five-bay porch was once attached. There are also patches on each side of the doorway that are several courses lower, indicating a one-time one-bay porch. The second story has five 2/2 sash windows with jack arches. There is a wood box cornice with returns. The south elevation of the main block is laid in five-course common bond. The first story has a 2/2 sash window in the east bay with brick patched below the sill indicating that this opening was once a doorway. This window and the second-story window above it have splayed brick jack arches. Another window opening appears in the attic gable, east of center. The west elevation of the main block has a cellar bulkhead of concrete, a bricked-in first-story door opening to the north which is mostly hidden by the enclosed porch on the wing, and a 9/6 sash window with a splayed brick jack arch. This window is centered between the south-center and south bays. The second story has a 6/6 sash above the first story window. There is a wooden box cornice with reveals. The south elevation of the wing has a two-story brick pantry to the west, with a 4/4 sash window on each floor, also with splayed brick jack arches. To the east of the pantry is an enclosed two-story porch. The west elevation of the wing is mostly 7-course common bond. The summer kitchen is attached to the wing and covers half of it. The porch roof on the summer kitchen cuts through the first-story window. This window is 6/6 sash, and according to visible patching, was once a doorway. The second story of the wing has 6/6 sash, like the first story, set just south of center, with a splayed brick jack arch. The attic gable has a 6/3 sash window. There is an interior brick chimney on the gable end. The north elevation of the main block runs flush with the north side of the wing. However, the two bays of the main block are 5-course common bond, separated from the 7-course common bond of the wing by a clear break. The first story of the main block has two 9/6 sash windows, with two 6/6 sash windows on the second story and two 4-light windows in the attic gable. The north elevation of the wing has one sash window on each floor, 9/6 on the first floor and 6/6 on the second. On the interior, the house has a center-passage, single-pile plan, with one room in the wing. The north wall of the central passage retains the ghost of a chair rail, while the south wall has built-in bookshelves. There is a dog leg stair on the north wall that ascends to a landing at the west end. It has oak treads, rectangular balusters, and 3/4 round handrail with a square newel post. The open stringer stair has a bead at the bottom of the stringer, reeding in the center, and the ghost of a backband or molding applied above the reeding. There is no evidence that ether were stair brackets. There are six vertical panels below the stringer, with a door to the cellar beneath the stairs. The four-panel door has cast-iron hinges. The wall along the stairs is paneled. The rail shelf on top of this panel is set higher than the handrail level of the stairs. The front door of the house is modern and the interior doors are missing. The south room windows have splayed paneled jambs on the east elevation and straight paneled jambs on the south and west. The fireplace has been rebuilt, with a wood mantel with pilasters and elaborate moldings, gougework, lancets, and faux books topping the pilasters. Both this and the north room have the ghosts of chair rails. The fireplace in the north room is partially enclosed to the back with a radiator set in the fireplace. It has splayed, parged jambs, and the hearth is covered by the present flooring. There is a wood mantel with pilaster strips that match the south room, but have no gougework between the lancets. There are capitals above the pilaster strips rather than faux books, and two projecting beads above. The impost blocks and frieze blocks have oval fans with a plain frieze between these blocks. In the rear wing, the south window, opening onto the enclosed porch, is a 4/4 sash with 10" x 12" lights. The door to the porch has two lights over four lying panels. The fireplace centered on the west wall was too small for cooking, and must have been designed for a stove. The brick here is whitewashed. The wooden mantel has plain pilasters on bases, with simple capitals. There is a winder stair in the northwest corner with two steps below the door. The second floor south chamber has an elaborate mantel, and the north chamber has a winder stair to the attic and a doorway to the second floor of the rear wing. Legible patent dates on the doorknobs date them to 1865 and 1866. Outbuildings include a frame smokehouse six feet west of the house, containing a pivoting meat tree that is chamfered, with lambs-tongue stops. A garage/storage shed consists of a series of four attached outbuildings 100 feet south of the house.
The Slable-Byers house is locally significant for its architectural merit in that it embodies the distinctive characteristics of early 19th century housing for craftsmen in Carroll County, and is an intact example of the adaptation of the Central Maryland regional vernacular house to popular national stylistic trends. It illustrates the changing nature of building fashion throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as the uses put to such a building over time due to changing economic, technological, and social conditions. The house was constructed c. 1819, and by 1943 the various elements of the property substantially achieved their current form and appearance.