Cherilyn E. Widell
Linwood Historic District
Union Bridge, Carroll County
The Linwood Historic District is located at the intersection of Maryland Route 75 and McKinstry's Mill Road in the central part of western Carroll County. The village was established after the completion of the Western Maryland railroad from New Windsor to Union Bridge in the early 1860s. It existed as a rail depot for the transportation of farm goods and supplies. Thus, the village itself is a mixture of railway structures (grain elevator, freight building, site of demolished railway station), community structures (general stores, post office, church, Sunday School hall/schoolhouse, site of blacksmith shop) and residences with rural dependencies (smokehouses, ice houses, windmills, sub-cellars). The importance of farming in this region and the rural affluence created by the commercial side of farming and by the railroad are depicted in the architecture within Linwood. The residential architecture ranges from (1) the vernacular farmhouse style of the central Maryland region, to (2) the rural Victorian style of mansard roof or central gable, to (3) turn-of-the-century late Victorian-style frame residences, to (4) the last residence built in the village--a 1920-1930s bungalow. The commercial buildings for the most part are late 19th century frame structures. The brick rural Victorian houses have floor plans marked by central halls containing straight staircases. Their foundations are made of stone from a local quarry (Spielman's). Originally, they were heated by Latrobe stoves. When central heat was installed, the radiators were placed on raised platforms (1-1 1/2" tall) because the floors had an early form of wall-to-wall carpets. The interior ornamentation was determined by the availability of woodwork and mantelpieces from Baltimore manufacturers. The Linwood Historic District displays a variety of late 19th century rural architecture, combining the commercial interests of the railway with the farm character of the community, in an isolated and picturesque rural setting.
The land that surrounds Linwood is a part of the Priestland Valley and is near the Wakefield Valley; these valleys create one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the United States. Although the surrounding land has historically been most valuable for its high yields of corn and wheat, today it is largely owned by the Lehigh-Portland Cement company, which values it primarily for its limestone. Thus, ironically, the fields that once were allied to Linwood now constitute its greatest threat. Two very Victorian features created Linwood: One was the sense of progress through industry and transportation, the other was the force of a single family. The village is nationally significant for the manner in which it reflects these fundamental Victorian philosophies and ideals. In a preservation sense, Linwood is important in that it is basically unchanged from its c. 1880 appearance, and thus allows us to see an intrusionless rural railroad way station built when agriculture and industry were equally dominant forces in the nation's economy.