501, Stone Chapel Road, Westminster, Carroll County
Avondale is a Georgian style 2 1/2-story brick house, measuring approximately 45 feet long by 18 1/2 feet deep. A two-story brick northwest wing measures approximately 49 feet long by 13 feet deep. The formally arranged, Flemish bond principal façade faces southwest and has five symmetrically placed bays at the first floor level. The entrance doorway is located on a centered, two-story pedimented pavilion that only slightly projects beyond the wall plane. This entrance consists of a double door and narrow flanking sidelights beneath an unusually pronounced arched fanlight. The four flanking windows of 9/9 pane sash have simple beaded surrounds and flat arches of splayed stretcher brick. On the second floor level is a Palladian window centered on the pavilion directly over the entrance door. Its four flanking windows are smaller than those below and have sash of 6/6 lights each. Extending across the façade between the outside ends of the sills of the two second floor end windows is a two-course brick band. Within the pediment of the pavilion is a small lunette window. A single flush chimney stands at each end of the gable roof and there is a three-part, dentiled wood cornice across the front and rear elevations. Although there are cornice returns on the front pediment there are none on the ends of the house. On the rear elevation the exposed wall of the main block is two bays wide. A centered, first floor, unornamented door opens into the main hall. Extending across this elevation, between the wing and the southeast corner of the main block and flush with the second floor window sills, is a projecting two-course brick band. The northeast wing was initially a detached or semi-detached two-story brick structure, three bays wide on its southeast side and one bay wide on the northwest side, which housed the summer kitchen in its single ground floor room. It has been suggested that this earliest part of the wing predates the main block, but similarities in structural and decorative detail indicate that the two were built at or about the same time. In about the mid 19th century the area between the main block and the kitchen was closed by the addition of a two-story, two-bay extension of the kitchen. At about this same time a one-story, full width farm porch was built on the wing's southeast elevation.
Avondale is unique in Carroll County, being the only recorded example of an 18th century house with a formal façade that its based on elements of Georgian architecture. Although it displays Federal influences and could perhaps be considered a transitional building, the arrangement of the façade establishes it as an important landmark significant to the sturdy of regional architectural development. The building of Avondale is attributed to Legh Masters (d. 1796) who came to what is now Carroll County from New Hall, Lancashire, England, in the early 18th century. He owned several thousands acres, including the Avondale tract. Masters began the operation of an iron foundry near Avondale circa 1765, making this one of the oldest furnaces in Maryland. The furnace only operated for one or two blasts as the ore proved "unproductive and indifferent." Masters' interest in the area as a residence contradicts his mineral venture for no one would describe his monumental brick house as "indifferent." (Two other attempts at iron production were initiated at the end of the 18th century and before the Civil War. Neither was successful.) Although there are numerous local stories involving Avondale, most of these are of supernatural nature. No events of a significant historical nature are known to have occurred, except the operation of the furnace.