MHT File Photo
Half-Way House and Toll House
18200, York Road (MD 45), Parkton, Baltimore County
The Half-Way House is a large, 2 ½-story brick structure located on the west side of York Road, at Wiseburg Road, 1.3 miles south of the village of Parkton. The inn is close to the road and has a service yard on the north between it and three of the original outbuildings, a stone dairy, a stone laundry, and a board-and-batten shed/ice house. Across York Road stood a wagon shed, a two-story stone barn, and a corn crib, all three demolished in the 1960s. The barn reportedly had a blacksmith shop in one corner. To the north and west are fields, but south along York Road is a small group of houses forming the village of Wiseburg. The main part, built as an inn about 1810, was placed in front of an earlier log structure which has since been used as a kitchen. The walls are of Flemish bond except for the rear (west) elevation and gables where they are common bond. Resting on a foundation of coursed rubble, the walls are three bricks in thickness, two in the gables. Within each gable end is a massive interior chimney having a corbeled cap. Each has four fireplaces and two separate flues. Between the first and second floors is a belt course. The roof is covered with wooden shingles, and there are three dormers with 6/6 windows and gable roofs. The dormers as well as the dentiled molding and boxed cornice are original. Originally, two of the five front (eastern) bays of the inn were doors. The center one gave access to the hall and the two parlors on the south; the adjacent door to the north allowed patrons to enter the bar directly. The present owner has changed the bar door into a window which duplicates the others which have 12/12 double hung sash and blinds. The recessed front door has a paneled facing and a rectangular transom of clear, leaded glass in an oval design. The rear door matches the front, but there is no transom. Each floor of the south elevation has one pair of windows since fireplaces occupy the other two bays, but the north elevation has three bays. There is a small window centered between the flues in both gables. The 1 ½-story log kitchen structure is attached to the northwest portion of the inn behind the dining room. Unlike the brick inn, it was altered during the 19th century. It’s north wall was moved out flush with the north wall of the inn. The logs were removed, and a new brick wall on a stone foundation was built. The bricks did not match those of the inn. The present owner has restored the kitchen to its original size by reconstructing the north log wall on its original foundation. Thus, there is again a porch on that side as well as on the south. Only on the rear (west) elevation were the logs covered with German siding evidently because of excessive weathering. The hand-split lath and plaster covering the south wall was removed by the present owner, and the log construction exposed. Evidently it was originally exposed since there are shutter hooks and animal paw prints in the chinking. There are three bays on the north elevation which has a central entrance and four on the south which has two central windows flanked by doors. On the west is a cooking fireplace with a large exterior stone chimney. The roof line was never changed, and the wooden shingle roof has been restored by the present owner.
The Half-Way House derives its significance from its relationship to the road construction boom in the United States in the early years of the 19th century to be followed a decade later by canal construction in the 1820s and railroad construction in the 1830s. The Half-Way House was constructed in 1810 to serve travelers on the newly opened turnpike from Baltimore to York. The structure is larger than other taverns on the York Road north of Cockeysville and is significant not only for its architectural quality but also because its original features have been preserved or accurately restored. The imposing scale and dimensions as well as the architectural pretensions of the Half-Way House indicate the importance of the new transportation facilities in the minds of its builder and his contemporaries. Its 1810 date is especially early for a Maryland building constructed as an inn. Further, the rural setting of the Half-Way House and the scale of the York Road (formerly the York Turnpike) have remained unchanged from the early 19th century. The collection of remaining outbuildings adds documentation to the picture of life at a 19th century inn.