Orlando Ridout V
42, , East Street, , Annapolis, , Anne Arundel County
The Brice House is one of America's great Georgian houses. It is a five-part English Palladian country house adapted to an urban setting (as is true of the Hammond Harwood and Paca Houses). Though a massive building, the Brice House has very little ornament. The 2 1/2-story central block is connected to the 1 1/2-story wings by hyphens. The main facade is all-header bond, and there is a belt course; below the molded watertable brick surrounds stone masonry. The main block rests on a high stone foundation pierced by cellar windows with louvered slats. The wings project to the south (front) of the house, creating a courtyard effect. All roofs have steep gables, covered with asphalt shingles. Two massive end chimneys flush with the gable ends of the main house rise to a height of 90 feet above ground. Each wing also has flush chimneys at each gable end flanked by 6/6 sash windows on each floor. Windows are 9/9 sash on the first story and 9/6 on the second story of the main block. Those on the wings and hyphens have 6/6 sash. Windows on the main block and the inward-facing sides of the wings and hyphens have splayed brick arches and interior shutters. Gable-roofed dormer windows, three on the front side of each hyphen, three on the outer sides of each wing, and one on the inner, courtyard, side of each, hold 6/6 sash windows. The principal entrance, in the center bay of the south facade, holds the original recessed double door. The matching door on the north facade is a reproduction created to match that on the south. The central bay of the west facade of the west wing holds a 6-panel door with a 4-light transom. The highlight of the house is the modified Palladian window in the center bay of the second floor of the south facade, with fluted pilasters and a rich classically detailed elliptical arch with keystone and double dentils. The cornice is also rich, being a large band of running dentils above Romanesque-type arches. The Brice House has an asymmetrical interior plan. The off-center entrance hall extends from the south (street) elevation halfway through the house. On the right (east) is a very small office, one bay wide, and beyond (north) is a lateral hall leading to the east wing and also containing the stair, which is located against its north wall. Most of the interior details are late Georgian in character. Walls are plastered, not paneled in wood, although the plaster is molded in the form of panels in the ballroom and dining room. The fine stairway is of Santo Domingo mahogany and has scrolled step ends with a band of Greek fret ornament. The ballroom, probably done by William Buckland, is one of the great rooms of the Georgian period, and features a carved wood fireplace with exceptionally ornate lateral consoles flanking the opening, an ornamented frieze, and an eared overmantel panel. The room also contains elaborate plaster cornices, rich with acanthus, dentils and modillions, and a full Corinthian entablature. First floor rooms are wainscoted in wood, while the four bedrooms on the second floor have plaster wainscoting with wood base and dado rail.
The large almost medieval-looking mass is one of Annapolis' great features and with the Paca and Hammond-Harwood Houses, makes up one of the most fantastic concentrations of Georgian houses. The Brice House lacks the embellishments of Palladian pavilions and classic pediment, but the boldness and simplicity of its masses and its imposing scale make it one of the most impressive brick buildings in American Georgian architecture. Erected in 1766-1773, the Brice House, in all but its town setting, is a magnificent example of a five-part Southern plantation house. The exterior, with its pure rectangular door and windows which leave the wall plane unbroken, is almost early Georgian in its simplicity, but its elaborate interiors, attributed to William Buckland, are mostly late Georgian in character. The Brice House is also remarkable because its 18th century structural material and adornments have survived virtually unaltered.