Rolling Mill Historic District
Cumberland, Allegany County
The Rolling Mill Historic District is a 38-acre primarily residential historic district located on the east side of the city of Cumberland, the county seat of Allegany County. The district contains a strong, locally distinctive concentration of wood and brick residences built between the early 1870s and the late 1940s. In addition to the district's domestic architecture, a modest commercial area exists along the south side of Williams Street, which forms a portion of the district's northern and northeastern boundary. The Rolling Mill Historic District contains 173 properties, including the previously listed c. 1870 Francis Haley House at 634 Maryland Avenue. The district's distinctive brick sidewalks are treated collectively as a single contributing structure, and the site of the B&O Railroad's Covered Reservoir is treated as a contributing site. The vast majority of the buildings in the district date from the period between 1880 and 1910; few post-date 1920. The overall development of the district is dense, with many of the buildings built with little or no front-lot or side-lot setbacks. The topography rises sharply east of Baker Street, and portions of Ascension and Baker Streets are unopened because of the steepness of the terrain. The area immediately west of the district was the original site of Miltenberger Lumber Co. and the B&O Rolling Mill for which the district was named. The mill and lumber yard were demolished many years ago and their site is now occupied by a modern strip retail center. A significant number of double houses are found in the district, likely built on speculation to house workers at the steel mill nearby. Through the years, ownership of many of these duplexes has been fractionalized, resulting in the subdivision of a previously single lot. Brick and wood appear nearly equally as construction materials, and most foundations are of stone, although some buildings dating from the 20th century exhibit foundations of concrete block, employing both rusticated and rock-faced profiles. Most properties are two stories in height with laterally oriented or front-facing gable roof. Some properties have shed roofs which slope from front to rear, with Italianate-style brackets or bracketed cornices. Other properties in the district exhibit a locally distinctive stylized Mansard roof which became something of a builder's trademark in the city throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. Some buildings retain historic chimneys but in many cases chimneys have been removed in the process of re-roofing or the retro-fitting of heating systems. Fenestration throughout the district employs double-hung sash units, generally set in flat-topped or segmental-arched openings. Many of the buildings in the district are of vernacular derivation, representing local building traditions. The formal architectural styles within the district include late hold-overs from the Greek Revival era, followed by Italianate, Queen Anne, Chateauesque, Colonial Revival, and Bungalow. Buildings with the aforementioned stylized Mansard roof systems hearken vaguely to the French Second Empire style but do not reflect this particular design mode in any pure sense. Approximately one third of the buildings in the district predate the turn of the 20th century with the remainder dating from the 20th century. Few postdate the 1920s. Alterations to the appearance of the buildings are typical of those found in any older neighborhood and include the replacement of historic window sashes with modern units, the application of non-historic siding, and a small number of porch removals. However, some sensitive rehabilitation activity has occurred, and the appearance of the district itself has changed little, despite the demolition of the mill to the west having radically altered the western viewshed.
The Rolling Mill Historic District is significant for its architecture, as a historic late-19th and early-20th century residential neighborhood built adjacent to a major manufacturing facility and containing locally distinctive examples of vernacular, primarily working-class homes as well as some with formal antecedents, dating between the early 1870s and the 1940s. The district retains integrity in its physical qualities, associative values, design features, and specific aspects of construction which date from its period of significance.