Jennifer K. Cosham
The Oaks II
5815, Riggs Road, Laytonsville, Montgomery County
The Oaks II is a 1 1/2-story gambrel-roofed log house with an adjoining one-story gable-roofed log addition to the east. Both parts of the building are constructed of logs connected with full dove tail notching and chinked with wood chips, mud, and stone. Both sections were originally covered with simpler unadorned weatherboards. In the main section, a huge exterior brick chimney with corbeled capping is located on the west gambrel wall; a similar interior brick chimney rises above the east facade. The kitchen wing displays a massive exterior stone-based chimney along its east gable wall. The south facade of the main block is four bays wide with a one-story hip-roofed porch on five square columns spanning its length. The two central bays contain entrances, and 6/6 sash windows stand in the outer bays. The door and window trim are later modifications. Three shallow pedimented gable-roofed dormers pierce the wood-shingled gambrel roof. The west facade is characterized by a single 6/6 sash window to the north of the chimney on the first floor, and two smaller 4/2 sash windows flank the chimney at attic level. Molded rakeboards and shallow cornice returns further define this facade. The rear facade, to the north, is very plain, with a doorway opposite the main facade's west entrance and a small 6/6 sash window in the easternmost bay. The three gable-roofed dormers are repeated on this side of the roof. The one-story kitchen wing to the east is two bays wide with its primary entrance located in the western bay of the south facade. A single 6/6 sash window is found to the east. A shed-roofed frame addition extends across the north facade, and unadorned rakeboards outline the east gable end, where a single small 4-light window pierces the attic to the south of the exterior chimney stack. On the interior, the main block has a double parlor floor plan, featuring single doors on the south facade leading into each room. The southeast parlor exhibits a very fine paneled mantel wall, complete with six-panel door which leads through a lobby to the mid-19th century one-room addition. The chairrail and trim around the 6/6 windows are original. In the upper sash can be read "Sam Riggs and Buffalo Bill, Decem 1885." A modern pantry closet, which replaced a corner cupboard removed by the Letts family after 1930, has been inserted to the left of the mantel. A modern door leads to the pantry, which is now covered with thin 20th century vertical board paneling. A post-1930s mantel shelf built by Mr. Austin Geisbert now covers the original fireplace. A number of outbuildings which stood on the original Riggs Farm with this house were moved to the current location on the west side of the road.
The Oaks II, built between 1797 and 1814, is significant for its 133-year association with the Riggs family, a prominent Montgomery County family active in civic and agricultural affairs of both the county and the state. The house is a well-preserved, rare example for Montgomery County of a 1 1/2-story gambrel-roofed building of log construction. In addition, much of its original interior fabric remains intact. Although the house has been moved approximately 515 meters west of its original location on the east side of Riggs Road, the new location is part of the original Riggs tract of land. The use of this lands itself holds historical importance, having been farmed continuously from the 18th century and having survived intact in Montgomery County where intensive development has been the norm since World War II.