MHT File Photo
Laurel Brook Road, Fallston, Harford County
Bon Air is of stone, stuccoed and scored in imitation of ashlar, three stories in height, with a steep hipped roof distinguished by a pronounced splay or "kick" at the eaves. Its north front is of three bays, its south front five. An entrance is centered in each façade. A single brick chimney rises at each end of the main house, flush with the end walls. An L-shaped service wing of similarly stuccoed stone extends easterly, then southerly. Now two stories in height, it was originally 1 1/2 stories, as evidenced by outlines in its north gable end, its stuccoed frame second-story walls, and by an early painting of the house preserved within. A hipped roof porch of one story shelters the north entrance and a long shed-roofed porch extends clear across the south front. Windows include several eight- and ten-light casement windows, and French doors, as well as 8/8 sash windows. Centered on the north roof is a small dormer containing a six-light casement; a larger dormer with a 6/6 light window lights the attic story in the easterly bay, but the westerly bay is void of dormers on the north front. A centered pediment lights the attic story on the south front, containing a four-light casement window. It is flanked by a single dormer on each side, each containing a six-light casement window. Small wood pinnacles rise from each end of the roof ridge, extensions of the truss roof structure inside. A steep hipped roof and the casement windows instantly mark Bon Air as French. The sliding sash windows are contemporary with a few other early 19th century modifications which may be observed within.
Bon Air is one of the most important of the few Harford County structures with a distinct French ancestry. Bon Air was built in 1794 by Francois de la Porte, a fact documented by a datestone on the south front of the house. Amid old trees that have sheltered it for over 100 years, the old stone house with its scarred stucco covering suggests a peaceful bit of Normandy. The wings look as if the builder had planned to form a typical French courtyard and, had he joined the farm buildings to the house, the other side would have had an air of "North of France flavor." The significance of Bon Air lies today, much as it did when constructed, as a unique architectural example of French artistry and culture at the time of our country's birth. The structure is all the more important in contrast to the prevailing homes of the period, modeled as they were essentially after the influence of the British Isles. Architectural Evidence suggests that the wealthy builder brought his own joiners, blacksmiths, masons, and artisans with him to recreate an exact replica of a rural seat in Northern France, "new-found" in the colonies in 1794.