Michael F. Dwyer
17107, New Hampshire Ave.(MD650), Colesville, Montgomery County
Clifton is a 1 1/2-story gambrel-roofed brick structure with a lower north wing, also with gambrel roof. The main part of the house has four bays, with the entrance in the second bay from the south end. There are segmental brick restraining arches over each of the first floor openings; the windows in the main (west) facade are 9/9 with the frames flush with the outer wall plane. The brick is laid up in Flemish bond with glazed headers. Three dormer windows have 6/6 lights; their shed roofs are carried forward at the same pitch as that of the higher part of the gambrel roof. The north and south ends have massive flush brick chimneys. On the south end, there are small windows on either side of the stack and a small window at the second floor level on the east end. On the first floor of this end, a funeral door is at the west side and a window, surrounded by a framed section, at the east side; the framed insert suggests a possible extension of the house southerly or another door at some past time. The north end has windows on either side of the stack in the attic and one at the west end on the second floor. At the ground floor level there is a window in the west end and a door with an exposed wooden lintel (now opening into the north wing) on the east end. At the level of the boxed cornice, a three-brick tall corbel covers the end of the cornice. The present cornice and moldings are reconstructed. The end chimneys also show signs of reconstruction above the second floor level. The foundation is soapstone with two courses of brick, thicker than the walls above, laid atop it. The brick courses serve as an unmolded watertable. A wood-frame shed roof addition now extends the original roof slope, extending along the entire length of the rear elevation. A cut-away porch is located at the southeast corner, supported by a wood post. Attached to the east elevation of the wood-frame addition is a second addition. The one-story addition has a gable roof, covered with wood shingles, and has a stuccoed exterior. Outbuildings on the property include a wood-frame shed and a guest house/cottage.
Clifton is one of the few extant mid-18th century buildings in Montgomery County. The date is important because at the time the county was part of the frontier, as was the surrounding piedmont. The structure has survived in an excellent state of preservation retaining the majority of its original fabric. From an architectural standpoint, the brick gambrel roofed structure arouses great interest. The form, especially the roof construction, is not typical of this region, but rather of southern Maryland or the Eastern Shore. The explanation lies in the fact that the builder's family was from southern Anne Arundel County where brick gambrel-roofed houses were commonly constructed in the first half of the century. Clifton also has significance in relation to local history for its association with the first settlement of the area. The first settler, James Brooke, arrived in the first quarter of the century. His wife's sister and husband, James Thomas, arrived shortly thereafter. The Brooke and Thomas families formed the nucleus of a Quaker community which by 1753 had been organized into the Sandy Spring Meeting of Friends. Clifton is contemporary with the origins of the Meeting and its association has significance because the meeting house was not constructed until 1819.