Jennifer K. Cosham
1800, Trevanion Road, Taneytown, Carroll County
Trevanion is a 2 1/2-story building with an asymmetrical central hall plan with a tower. Originally there existed a five-bay-wide by two-bay-deep farmhouse with an ell wing. The main section is brick, laid in Flemish bond, with gable ends, inside end chimneys, a stone foundation, and a shingle roof. The masonry is laid so that the brick forms diamond and X patterns. The house was converted in 1855 to the "villa style" then popular in America, incorporating a combination of Italianate and Gothic elements. The major architectural changes made during this renovation were the addition of a brick tower and an adjoining gable end projection. An enclosed verandah and an open porch were also added as well as a variety of ornamentation. In 1857, a 3 1/2-story wing was built onto the ell which also contains elements of the "villa style." The trim is painted yellow and brown for sharp contrast. Corbeled caps modernized the chimneys and marble sills were placed in the windows. An embellishment of the main façade, the tower is situated in the center of the main façade. It is three stories with a flat hipped roof and a broad bracketed cornice. On the east side of the tower is the gable end addition and on the west side is the enclosed verandah. The main floor of the tower is arched. The second floor has a balcony on the front and on the east side are a window and door facing on the verandah roof. The balcony has double doors, a hood with undulating trim, and a railing supported by tracery ornamentation. The third floor of the tower has a triangular pedimented window facing the front, a quatrefoil window to the east, and double, round-headed windows to the west.
Built in 1817, "Trevanion" and its additions and alterations represent the changing trends in American architecture during the middle of the 19th century. David Kephart owned the property and had the original house built. Constructed in a plain rural design of the Pennsylvania folk style, it was typical of many farm houses still in the area. In 1832, Kephart had the tract of land resurveyed and named it "Brick Mills" in consideration of the prosperity he enjoyed from his milling business along the Big Pipe Creek. In 1855, William W. Dallas bought the farm and named it "Trevanion"--a term meaning "the meeting of streams" in Welsh, and also a Dallas family name. Dallas' family contained several prominent lawyers and judges, including George M. Dallas who became vice president of the United States under James K. Polk (1845-49). Dallas contributed significantly to the area around his new home by his knowledge of the latest farm machinery and techniques, as well as becoming an influential social and political personality. Dallas' renovation of the buildings at "Trevanion" created a unique feature in rural Carroll County. Utilizing contemporary architectural manuals and his experience of houses gained through his varied travels, Dallas and his brother-in-law, Joshua Shorb, designed a plan of architectural changes current to those being undertaken throughout the United States, particularly in the Hudson River Valley. Alterations made by Dallas are similar to the designs published by A.J. Downing in The Architecture of Country Houses, especially in balcony details and other forms of ornamentation. The main plan also closely corresponds to several designs published in a collection by Calvert Vaux, Villas and Cottages. In 1857, a "Gothic-style" addition was built as a complement to the Italianate features of the house, and the outbuildings were trimmed similarly. The house stands today in relatively the same condition as it did after Dallas' renovation, a symbol of the taste of a paste time. It is especially conspicuous in agrarian Carroll County and it is significant that an "up-to-date" structure existed in a rural area otherwise dominated by a cultural lag.