MHT File Photo
Dr. Thomas Koon House
221, Baltimore Avenue, Cumberland, Allegany County
The Dr. Thomas W. Koon House is a c. 1912 brick Craftsman-influenced house of large scale that features arranged rectangular blocks with large expanses of window space, a terra cotta tiled hip roof, and a small similarly influenced detached garage to the northwest. The building rests on a high brick base with a plain watertable. The low hipped roofs are covered with round terra cotta tiles, ribbed along the edges of the roofs, with finials on the peaks. The widely projecting eaves consist of a cornice, soffit, and bed mold. Stenciled patterns on the soffit have been covered with a layer of paint. Some of the stenciled patterns remain on the soffit on the garage and are in an arabesque design. Wall features include seven brick belt courses along the base, each consisting of a row of headers and a row of stretchers. Two stone bands are located at the bases of the first and second story windows serving as continuous sills. A projecting two-story semicircular bay window is located on the northern side of the central block. The main entrance, approximately in the center of the northern facade, includes a 15-light glass door. The office entrance on the west elevation is located in a small hip-roofed portico with a 4-light square transom. The outer door has two recessed panels and one light. The two interior doors are both one-light beveled glass doors with original hardware. Windows are 1/1 sash. Those on the east and west are large and square, each with 12 small lights surrounding a larger 2-light casement window. In the center of the second floor north elevation is a group of five multi-light windows separated with four mullions. The interior of the house is marked by a feeling of open space, created in part by large window openings, and a utilitarian quality emphasized by simple trim some of which is structural in appearance. Originally designed as both residential and office space, the aesthetic attention was directed to the living area, particularly the living room with its beamed ceiling and the dining room with built-in wall unit of cupboards surrounding the fireplace and wall murals above the high wainscoting. Although "new" with general design, the house still retains various "holdover" elements, particularly from the Queen Anne period.
Dr. Thomas W. Koon's Prairie-style house, designed by Lafferty and Holmboe of Baltimore, includes many of the basic elements of the style with some unique variations. The house was built in 1912 for Doctor Thomas W. Koon, who arrived in Cumberland setting up an "active general practice" in May of 1900. As his interest and abilities in civic affairs were recognized he was elected to the Cumberland City Council in 1908. Instrumental in converting that government into a commission-based one, he served as police and fire commissioner until 1914, when he was first elected mayor. During his eleven-term tenure as mayor, Cumberland's cobblestone streets were paved smooth, extended, bridged, and tunneled. Fire protection of the city was improved and Constitution Park established. In honor of his efforts to install a new city water system the second dam was named Lake Koon. Doctor Koon was also well known for his love of humanity. He was a physician of the "old school" and never refused a call. Often giving medical aid to those too poor to pay, he said, "When poor people are in pain they suffer just as much as rich people." After being mayor he actively served on two state commissions until his death in 1946 at the age of 76. The building retains its original appearance and is a reflection of the cultural awareness of one of Cumberland's most distinguished leaders.