Orlando Ridout V
Round Top Road & MD 213, Chestertown, Queen Annes County
Chester Hall is a large brick Federal style dwelling which was constructed in the 1790s by either Joseph Forman, Thomas Whittington or Samuel Wallis. It measures approximately 48’ x 36’ and is two stories tall above a high basement. Its walls are laid in Flemish bond both above and below the molded water table. The water table is very bold, being composed of two courses of brick, the upper course a cove and the lower an ovolo. A generous brick stair ascends to the bel-etage from a raised terrace. The principal entrance has a handsome pedimented architrave of recent date. The five-bay-long south facade, in which the entrance is centered, is divided into three principal areas by pilasters. A wide pediment with lunette window crowns the three center bays. Between the pilasters, at the level of the second floor, is a recessed belt course. All windows have rusticated stone lintels with keystones, those of the first story being deeper than those above. Buttress-like pilasters rise at each corner of the rectangular building. With the exception of the pilasters, water table, and rusticated stone lintels, the other three sides are very plain. The east side is two bays long, with an entrance to the basement at ground level, and the west side is three bays long with a door on the principal floor at the north side. One dormer is located on each of the three sides of the low pitch deck-on-hip roof, and a chimney rises on each side of the upper slope of the roof. The north facade of the structure has a central entrance with double doors; to the east thereof is an entrance with original paneled reveal and door, and a window. The door remains in excellent condition as a result of being protected by the "covered way" which led between the former two-story kitchen and the house described in the 1798 Federal Direct Tax Assessment. In more recent years, the door also led into a small frame shed-roofed kitchen which has been replaced by a porch. On the west side some brickwork on the first story has been altered and relaid to accommodate a triple window, probably replacing two single windows. This alteration occurred during the early 20th century. On the second story are three windows, the center one being at the level of the stair landing. Behind the house is a small brick smokehouse, possibly late 18th century in date. A large mid- to late-19th century frame barn stands across the driveway and to the southeast of the house. Constructed of a combination of reused hewn timber and later circular sawn material, this building is 69’-8" long by 26’-5" wide. It is covered with vertical board and batten siding painted a dark green.
Chester Hall's area of significance lies chiefly in its unique architectural quality. At the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century, great Federal buildings being erected along the East Coast were characterized by pilasters, wide pediments with lunette windows and a lightness in composition which was the result of the influence of the brothers Adam in England. Chester Hall is a unique example of that period and style of the Eastern Shore. In the 1798 Federal Direct Tax Assessment it was valued at $2,000 and was the single most valuable dwelling in Town Hundred in Queen Anne's County, and only a few buildings in the county carried higher valuations. Today it remains one of the great period houses of the county and it appears to have been overlooked by historians of the early 20th century because of its remote location from the county seat.