MHT File Photo
Ridgely Bridgetown Road (MD 312), Ridgely, Caroline County
Oak Lawn is a large rectangular 2 1/2-story brick structure with an arcaded brick hyphen and two-story brick kitchen extending from the back. The main house was erected in 1783 and the kitchen and arcade were added later, some time before 1798. The east facade of the main block, laid in all-header bond (unusual in Eastern Shore buildings) without a watertable, is five bays long with a central door on each floor, which once opened onto a two-story galleried porch with chamfered posts and elaborate brackets on the first floor, and a balustrade and square posts on the second. This porch has since been shortened to a single story. Common bond was used throughout the rest of the structure. A belt course three bricks wide extends around the house, and both long facades hold a modillioned cornice. Large flush chimneys rise from either end of the main block and from the west end of the kitchen wing. Windows are 2/2 sash with louvered shutters on the main block, with 6/6 sash windows in each of the three gable-roofed dormers on either side of the roof. Windows in the kitchen wing are also 6/6 sash. Small four-light windows flank the chimneys in the attic gables of the main block. The interior of both floors of the main portion of the house is composed of a central stair hall with two rooms on each side. The two east rooms on the first floor have panel wainscoting and window shutters. All of the rooms have wide mantels around diagonally placed fireplaces. Stairs in both the main block and kitchen wing have Chinese trellis balustrades. Also on the property are the remains of a brick barn which was standing at the time of the Federal Direct Tax of 1798.
Oak Lawn stands upon a wide expanse of farmland north of Ridgely. It was constructed by Benjamin Sylvester, a large landholder of the Revolutionary period. He had this plantation resurveyed in 1790 as White Hall. In the mid 19th century, Oak Lawn was owned by Greenbury Ridgely, the founder of the town of Ridgely. Most noteworthy of the exterior features is the arched brick colonnade or passage between the kitchen and main house. The interior of the house is noted for its four room plan, original bold woodwork, and Chinese trellis stair. Few alterations have occurred, except for the removal of a secondary stair from the southwest room.