4020, Solomons Island Road (MD 2), Harwood, Anne Arundel County
Construction details of this house indicate that it was begun in 1743. This dwelling was later enlarged, most noticeably by increasing it from 1 1/2 stories to 2 1/2 stories. The two sections are easily distinguishable due to the different brick-bond patterns. The older section is English bond and the later, second story is five-course common bond. Also, the earlier section has irregularly placed segmental arch 9/9 sash windows while the later second story is lighted by symmetrically placed 6/6 sash windows with jack arches. The front (south) facade of the house contains a door in the approximate center, with two windows to the left and one to the right. The second floor holds four windows across this facade. The west gable end is two wide bays wide, with narrow windows near the edges of the building on the first and second floors, and two windows in the attic gable. The frame for a casement window remains in situ in the attic. Large flush brick chimneys rise from either gable end of the roof. In a c. 1920 photograph, a hip-roofed Victorian porch with square posts and sawnwork brackets was extant, and many of the windows retained shutters. A 1960 photograph of part of the front shows that this porch had been removed and the entrance was sheltered by a cantilevered hood. The square first-floor plan is divided into four rooms, the southwest one having a boxed staircase rising from the outer corner. There is a wooden lock of large size on the front door, and many pieces of early hardware remain throughout the house. In a plan of this type, the rooms were customarily heated by corner fireplaces. One such fireplace remains at Obligation, in the back parlor. In addition to the brick dwelling, the Federal Direct Tax of 1798 lists several outbuildings which stood on the property in close proximity to the house. They included a frame dwelling which was described as "out of repair," indicating that it may have predated the brick dwelling. Two frame kitchens, one of which was "out of repair," an overseer's house, and a henhouse were assessed, as well as a medical shop for Dr. Thomas Noble Stockett.
Obligation is significant primarily for its architecture, but also for its association with the locally prominent Stockett family. The house was built for Thomas Stockett III in 1743, and was enlarged to its present configuration in 1827 during the ownership of his grandson, Joseph Noble Stockett (1779-1858). Dr. Thomas Noble Stockett (1747-1802) was the son of Thomas III, and became a prominent citizen and served as surgeon for the Maryland Line during the American Revolution.