MHT File Photo
Conowingo Road (US 1), Darlington, Harford County
Two stories high, this octagonal frame house has an 8-sided roof topped by an octagonal "captains walk," flanked by two brick chimneys. The house faces southeast, with one or two openings in each wall. A narrow one-story wing runs northwest, 3 bays by 1 There is a three-sided porch facing east, southeast, and south. Wildfell is a simplified Federal style, with a molding over the boxed eaves, which is repeated on the porch above its octagonal pillars. The six-paneled front door in a plain frame is topped by a four-light transom. Windows have 6/6 lights behind louvered shutters. Inside the doorways have no moldings, doors have four panels, mantles are of simple Federal design downstairs while upstairs there are mantel shelves on brackets. The stairway has two turned balusters on each step under a walnut handrail. Perhaps unique to this house are the exterior walls whose construction is of narrow planks laid horizontally, nailed from above as the work proceeded, forming an almost solid chinking in the walls if there is framing, or forming an almost solid wall if, as is thought, this is the method of construction. Treatment at the corners has never been reported since this method is visible only under the shutters of the false window to the left of the front door, a window that would have opened out from the side of the staircase, but is placed to complete the symmetrical appearance of the house.
Wildfell is one of the rare octagonal houses built in Maryland at the height of the "Octagon Fad". Tradition holds that the Joseph Jewett family contracted with an ex-Navy carpenter named William Hensel to bring ship’s timbers from a de-commissioned ship in Baltimore that had served in the War of 1812. The Jewetts, a Baltimore family, used this as their summer place between March 1854 and June 1874, when they moved to Virginia.