Photo credit: MHT File Photo , 01/1999

Property Name: La Grange
Date Listed: 1/24/1980
Inventory No.: D-9
Location: 904, La Grange Street (Ave.), Cambridge, Dorchester County

Description: The Meredith House (or LaGrange) is located at 904 LaGrange Avenue in Cambridge. Built c. 1760, the 2 1/2-story Flemish bond brick house is one of the few remaining Georgian houses in the town. Facing south, the three bay wide and two bay deep house rests on a water table, and features a belt course and bracket cornice and raking cornice. Doors on the front and rear are in the center bays, although original doors and surrounds for both entrances have been replaced. On the front facade the four-panel door is flanked by four-light sidelights and covered with a three-light transom. On the rear, the interrupted brickwork suggests that sidelights like those on the front have been removed. The door is a multi-lighted 20th century door, with a three-light transom. Although there are 6/6 double-hung sash windows in each window on the front and rear facades, the interrupted brickwork and thickness of surrounds and mullion and muntins suggest these are replacement windows on both sides of the house. The pedimented lintels which appear on the first floor, front facade window and doors, and on all windows on the east and west facades, appear to be 20th century additions. Three massive brick chimneys with corbeled caps are placed at the northeast, northwest, and southeast corners of the structure. Their overall crispness, brick texture and uniformity, tooling of joint and shape suggest they are alterations carried out during the late 19th century. Sunporches and a frame wing were also added in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Pedimented dormers, aligned roughly over the first and third bays, are located on both the north and south facades. Each 6/6 double-hung sash window is flanked by simple Doric pilasters and capped by a cornice and returns. The sides of each dormer are sheathed in modern clapboard. In plan, the building exhibits an altered configuration which has changed more than once from what was most probably the original Georgian center hall, double pile plan. The present plan consists of four rooms. The south entrance opens onto an entrance hall parallel with the front facade, with a small front parlor at the left end of the hall. The right end, beyond the staircase on the south, leads to an apartment in the wing. North of the entrance hall is a very large room consisting of a living room to the west and dining room to the right, and a sunporch attached to the west end of the house. No walls divide these three areas. Corner chimneys remain in the northeast, northwest, and southwest corners. Ornamentation consists principally of late-19th century Victorian mantels, architrave moldings, and corner blocks. The random-width pine flooring has been replaced. Three outbuildings remain, including a late-19th century dairy, an 18th century smokehouse (moved from another property in Cambridge), and a 20th century garage.

Significance: LaGrange, now known as the Meredith House, is important as one of only a few houses of the Georgian period remaining in Cambridge. In a 1976 survey of the town, four other houses incorporating 18th century fabric were identified and remain today. The exterior of this house is, by far, the least altered. Significant remaining exterior Georgian characteristics include its Flemish bond brickwork with watertable, a design feature found only rarely on the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. More importantly though, this 18th century house is significant as an example of a house that has changed through time, with additions, in and of themselves pleasing and representative of the late Victorian period. An 18th century structure on the property is also in excellent condition and is a rare survival of an important ancillary building type from that period. LaGrange has also served as the home of a number of prominent Cambridge families and its history is intertwined with the development of Cambridge and Dorchester County from the 18th through the 20th centuries. It is perhaps fitting that the house now functions as the headquarters of the county's historical society, serving two purposes--its exterior exhibiting the Georgian architectural form now rare in Cambridge, while its 19th century interior serves as a splendid backdrop for the interpretation of remaining pieces of this city and county's important heritage.




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