Jay A. Custer
4130, Chatham Road, Ellicott City, Howard County
Facing south, White Hall consists of three sections: the east wing, dating from the early 19th century, the center section, and the west wing. In 1890 the house was partially destroyed by fire. The east wing, which was and is not connected by any interior passageways, was not damaged. The center section between the massive end walls was totally destroyed. The west wing, which is larger than the east wing, was destroyed internally but the walls and chimney remained intact. As rebuilt in 1900, the original dimensions were retained with a cellar under the center section only. The surviving structure was utilized where possible. Granite outside window sills were incorporated in both reconstructed sections, while the original wooden outside window sills survive in the east wing. The outside door sills in all three sections are also granite. The original finish of stone or brick covered with stucco grooved to simulate ashlar masonry was retained and incorporated in the reconstruction. A heavily molded cornice is located under the eaves of the roof on all three sections. The center section is a five bay wide, 2 1/2 story structure. The first floor, covered by a partially screened shed-roofed porch with Doric columns and a balustrade, contains a center entrance with a double door and sidelights flanked by an elliptical fanlight, and four 9/9 windows with louvered shutters. The second floor contains a central Palladian window and four 6/6 windows with louvered shutters. The south side of the roof contains three gable-roofed 6/6 sash dormers. A large flush chimney rises from each gable end. The two-story, three-bay east wing is stepped back over seven feet from the center section on the south side, and contains 6/6 windows in all but the first floor center bay. On the north side, there are two windows and a door on the first floor and three windows on the second. There are two louvered openings in the east gable end of the wing providing ventilation to the unfinished, unlighted attic. The west section is a three-story wing, three bays wide. This wing is 13' higher than the east wing and only 4' lower than the center section. It is stepped back a little less than 4' from the center section. Windows are 6/6 with louvered shutters on all but the two gable-roofed dormer windows. The west gable end contains a flush double-flue chimney and the kitchen door. Three outbuildings remain on the White Hall property, all dating from the original early 19th century building date of the house. A small square frame workshop on fieldstone foundations has a pyramidal roof and a door on the south facade. The smokehouse-privy is laid up with neatly coursed, squared-off stones with brick jack arches over the doors. The roof of the privy has disappeared and the walls are crumbling at the top; there is a window on the north facade. The smokehouse has a simple wooden cornice and pyramidal roof; the two vents above the door have iron bars. The joined buildings face the east. The springhouse is constructed of fieldstone with large stone quoins; it has a pyramidal roof and a door in the west facade. The ruins of a fieldstone tenant house with large stone quoins stand on the property.
White Hall, as reconstructed in 1900, represents the successful utilization of an older building which has undoubtedly been damaged beyond economical, accurate restoration. Although the central section of White Hall was destroyed by fire, its foundations and end walls remained, allowing for a rebuilding that is probably quite accurate. The structure was constructed in the simple Federal style of early 19th century Maryland, appropriate to the original building. While the essential character of the building was restored, it bears the unmistakable mark of its owner during the reconstruction. As Charles W. D. Ligon's needs for a home were different than those of his grandfather, Col. Dorsey, the reconstructed portions were modified accordingly. Mrs. Ligon's influence can also be clearly seen in three unusual features for a home in this area. The Huguenot-style doors used in all but three of the doorways in the house are modeled after those in Mrs. Ligon's family home, the Ridout house in Annapolis. Close examination shows that the Palladian window is modeled after the great Palladian window in the Ridout house, although on a more modest scale. The expansive front porch was also designed at Mrs. Ligon's request.