Photo credit: Geoffrey Henry , 03/1985

Property Name: Holly Hall
Date Listed: 10/8/1976
Inventory No.: CE-131
Location: 259, South Bridge Street (MD 213), Elkton, Cecil County

Description: Holly Hall is a Federal-style mansion built about 1810, 2 1/2 stories in height above a high basement, five bays in length, with a hipped roof supporting a small flat deck; the brick walls extend above the rafter plate as a parapet. Early photographs show a railing surrounding the deck. The south and north front walls (the former being the principal facade) are laid in Flemish bond with closers at the corners; the east and west sides are laid in common bond, every sixth course being headers. A small wood moulding caps the parapet walls. Two chimneys rise flush with the exterior walls at the east end, and originally two similar chimneys existed at the west end, later removed; the southwest chimney was false. Identical entrances are in the center bay of both the south and north fronts, consisting of a wide door, sidelights with muntins describing ovals and small diamonds, and a semi-elliptical transom with muntins describing a shield centered between radiating muntins parallel to the sides of the shield; engaged Tuscan columns flank the door. The south entrance is sheltered by a small modern portico. The original portico consisted of four columns supporting an entablature with a paneled frieze. The north entrance is enclosed within a small wing. Windows of the first and second stories are, typically, 6/6 with narrow frames, marble sills, and brick jack arches. Windows of the basement story are 3/3. Centered in the second story of both the south and north fronts is a Palladian window, its masonry opening unadorned. In the parapet area a horizontal, rectangular, recessed panel of stucco is above each window except the Palladians. Louvered blinds originally flanked each window, as shown in the early photographs, but only the iron hinge pintels remain, their butts rabbeted in and screwed to inner faces of the jambs. In all stories of the south front the windows of the westerly bay are false; wooden frames surround recessed panels of stucco, now painted black with white pained muntins; in the early photographs blinds are shown closed over these false windows which, today, show no evidence of hardware. Two dormers are in the south and north slopes of the roof, each with top sashes elliptically arched, the muntins describing three Gothic lancets; below the arched segment of the top sash the muntins describe a conventional 6/6 arrangement. Dormer roofs are gabled, the small raking cornices terminating on small eave returns. A double dormer on the easterly roof slope is a later addition. The east wing, probably added 40 or 50 years after the house was built, is of common bond brick construction, two stories high above a high basement, and two bays in length. Its shed roof of shallow pitch is concealed behind parapets above the south and north walls. Windows are similar to those of the main house, and in the easterly bay of the south front's first story was, originally, a door with transom, sheltered by a portico, its roof concealed behind a simple classical entablature supported by square columns suggesting the Tuscan order. A window now occupies this bay, the door and portico eliminated. In the east side of the wing, a door, sheltered by a modern porch, is in the middle of three bays and windows are in the flanking bays. A three-bay, one-story brick wing extends north, centered on the main house, added as a chapel in the 20th century. A simple, late-19th century 2-story tenant house of wood stands north of the main house, and two concrete block buildings, each one story in height, stand to the east. , A few holly trees remain of the many which gave this house its name, and many English boxwoods remain from early formal plantings west of the house.

Significance: Holly Hall is a mansion designed after published designs of such early architects as Asher Benjamin and Robert Morris. Its design is simple but sophisticated and restrained, in the manner of the early 19th century. While its basic form, hipped roof, and recessed stucco panels are noteworthy, its parapets are unique in Maryland. They relate it to many contemporary published designs, commonplace in England but rare in America.




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