Michael O. Bourne
Burkittsville Historic District
Burkittsville, Frederick County
Burkittsville, Maryland, is a crossroads town located in the southwest corner of Frederick County. Its buildings line both sides of the main street for a distance of about one mile. The townscape is quite consistent in scale, with the exception of the churches and the Seminary Building. The houses for the most part are 2 1/2 stories, having the same roof ridge and cornice line. Slate, tin, and asphalt shingles are the common roof covers. A few smaller, earlier houses have 1 1/2 stories with exposed basements making usable quarters. The facades present a slightly undulating line of varying window heights and porch levels along the straight, tree-lined street. Many original door and window openings have been enlarged over the years, reflecting new styles and the desire for more light and air. Most of the approximately 70 dwellings in Burkittsville are used as dwellings, but there are handsome Victorian commercial buildings and shops on the east side of town, most with their original fenestration and wood detailing. Most of the structures in the down are in sound condition. There are virtually no intrusions in this townscape. The town has had only two or three new buildings constructed since 1900, and its gas station consists of two pumps in front of the small frame post office. There are, in general, three architectural types in Burkittsville. About one third of the buildings are of the Federal style, some of them sporting classical Greek Revival details. Competing on a friendly basis with the Federal shapes are those of the early Victorian era (1860s-1870s). The Federal buildings are for the most part brick, and the Victorian ones are wooden. Six percent of the buildings in town are of stone. These are mostly farmhouses which were built before the town was established.
Burkittsville is a well preserved, virtually unchanged example of the American townscape of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The churches, houses, and shops strung along Main Street are bordered at the rear by the fields surrounding the town. This open landscape at the corporate boundaries and the rural approaches to the town still demonstrate visually Burkittsville’s historic position as a service center for the neighboring countryside. The town has never grown and thus retains its original visual integrity.