MHT File Photo
Morgan Hill Farm
Wohlgemuth Road, Lusby, Calvert County
Morgan Hill Farm, also known as Morgan's Fresh or Hill Farm, is a gable-roofed frame house of a T-shaped plan, 1 1/2 stories in height with single exterior chimneys on each of the three exposed ends. The forward or upper part of the "T" constitutes the original building which, based on the structural and decorative elements, appears to have been built about 1700. An earlier date of construction, however, is entirely possible. Despite the fact that the original house was extensively remodeled in the early 19th century, there is a remarkable amount of original fabric. The present facade of Hill Farm faces southeast, although whether this elevation was the original front is not known. Its center door appears to occupy its original location, but the frames of the two windows flanking it are early-19th century enlargements of the originals. The earlier windows were probably similarly positioned but undoubtedly smaller. The same fenestration and door placement is repeated on the northwest elevation, but the door now provides passage between the original house and the later rear wing. The front (southeast) elevation is sheathed with beaded random-width flush boards. Although applied using wrought nails, the boards are believed to be contemporary with the early-19th century renovations. The remainder of the house is covered with random-width lapped boards of about the same vintage. At the end of the house stand single exterior chimneys with stepped weatherings, free-standing stacks, and fieldstone bases. These chimneys were added to the house in the early 19th century when a massive central chimney was removed. On the south slope of the gable roof are three peaked dormers. Two dormers (originally three) are on the north slope. These windows were apparently added during the renovation and do not appear to have replaced earlier windows. The eaves are now boxed but were originally open, revealing projecting joist ends with rounded bases and diagonal false plates with chamfered edges. The exposure of the eaves was a fairly common treatment throughout the 17th and 18th centuries; however, few examples have been found that display the same decorative treatment as those at Morgan Hill Farm. The house is framed in five 10' bays. Major wall posts, five on a side including corners, are exposed in all three first-floor rooms. These, as well as the exposed wall plates, end girt, and ceiling joists, have beaded edges and are painted. The remaining wall surfaces are plastered. On the northeast end of the house, positioned east of center line, is a one-story log wing moved here from a former location near the town of Lusby. Its detailing suggests that it was first built in the early 19th century. It now houses a modern kitchen and has a large fireplace on the northeast end. In 1952 a large rear wing was added to the house. Outbuildings include a one-story log servants' quarter, a log smokehouse, and a large tobacco barn.
Morgan Hill Farm was a land grant made to Phillip Morgan in 1651 under the name Morgan's Fresh. Morgan was a captain in the Puritan Militia and a locally prominent man. He lived somewhere on the property, which was sold in 1670 to Robert Day. It is probable that Day or one of his sons built the earliest part of the present house between 1670 and 1700. In 1836 the property was sold by Day's descendants to Richard Breeden, who was probably responsible for the extensive renovations made to the house in the early 19th century, as well as the numerous improvements to the property. Now called Hill Farm, it remained in the possession of Breeden's descendants until 1949. Hill Farm, despite the extent of its alterations, retains a wealth of original fabric and for this reason is a valuable source in the study of our earliest architecture. Although it is possible that late-17th century houses exist which display many of the same features as Hill Farm, their original forms and detailing have usually been completely covered by various alterations and improvements. At Hill Farm the major percentage of the original fabric remains intact and visible, thus making it a unique survival. An important feature of Hill Farm was the presence of a central chimney, a feature not known in any surviving house plans of this type and period of construction in Southern Maryland. However, archeological excavations at St. Mary's City, Maryland, most notably at the St. John's site, have revealed that the use of central chimneys as part of the original house plan was not uncommon during the early and mid 17th century.