Jennifer K. Cosham
21310, Zion Road, Laytonsville, Montgomery County
Clover Hill is a large, 2 1/2-story, five bay Italianate-style residence principally built c. 1857. The L-shaped stone house, set upon a stone foundation and clad with a stuccoed finish, is covered with a cross gable roof and features a central-passage plan. A central projecting gable, with tripartite windows, emphasizes the central entrance. Although generally Italianate in style, the house has strong Gothic and Greek Revival details as seen in the windows and interior trim. Overall a product of 1857, the house contains evidence of several earlier building campaigns. The house likely consisted of a log dwelling in the mid 18th century, which was added onto with stone in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. By its 1857 phase of construction, however, it bore no resemblance to its former self, being now extensively enlarged and modified to become the cohesive five-bay, center-passage plan house with transitional Greek Revival and Italianate-style detailing that survives today. The center bay of the five bay south facade consists of a central entrance on the first floor, and a tripartite window comprised of a central 6/6 sash window with narrow 2/2 sash to either side on the second floor. Immediately above this is a three-part lancet window in the attic cross gable. Outer windows are 6/6 sash. A bracketed cornice lines the eaves. The west elevation of the house is one room deep, and has no openings on its principal floors. A central interior stone chimney is partially exposed to the second story. Two 6-light windows are located to either side of the chimney at attic level. The bracketed cornice features bold cornice returns. The east elevation has single 6/6 sash windows in the front bay of the stuccoed wall at the first and second stories, and no openings in the rear bay. Four-light windows flank the flush chimney at attic level. The north wing of the house has been encapsulated on the east and north by recent additions which obscure the original fenestration pattern, but the stucco finish unifies the wall surfaces and the gable roofs mimic the main block in pitch. The interior of the house is asymmetrical in arrangement and dominated by a free hanging circular staircase that rises to the attic level. The old mid-18th century log portion of the building (rebuilt in the late 18th century in stone) retains its late-18th century woodwork. The ruins of a large bank barn and a stone springhouse stand on the property.
Primarily a product of 1857-1858, the Italianate-style Clover Hill was built by Ephraim Gaither, a Maryland legislator (1817-1820) and locally prominent citizen. The house, which evolved from a one-room log structure to a three-room stone structure, to its present five-bay, central-passage configuration, provides a classic example of how domestic buildings evolved to accommodate the increasing stability of the young nation, and how they were modified to reflect stylistic preferences of the various periods. Clover Hill's significance is derived from its architectural character. The house embodies distinctive features of mid-19th century domestic architecture in central and western Maryland. Characteristically these house are 2 1/2-story masonry structures with dormerless gable roofs, symmetrical facades, and eclectic stylistic influences. In this particular example are seen the rectangular shape, the symmetrical facade, and the eclecticism in design, but also two features that are generally unusual: a stuccoed exterior and a free-hanging circular staircase. The stucco was added to the house when it took on its present appearance c. 1857.