MHT File Photo
300, Toll Gate Road, Bel Air, Harford County
Joshua's Meadows is basically a three-part house that sits on a hillock overlooking the Winters Run Valley. The two oldest sections are Flemish bond brick, T-shaped, gable roofed, c. 1750, and one of the half-dozen oldest extant structures in Harford County. The third section is of native fieldstone, attached to the eastern stroke of the T, and dates to 1937, but is sympathetic with the older sections. The original T-shaped house consists of two parts, a main 2 1/2-story 20' x 40' house and a 1 1/2-story 16' x 20' kitchen wing. The plan of both sections remains untouched. The main house has two rooms per floor on all floors (the plan being the same on all floors). All partitions are of brick, and there are inside gable-end fireplaces in all rooms and an enclosed winder stair between each ground and second-story room. The kitchen wing has one room per floor, a large, plain, walk-in fireplace in the south wall on the ground floor, with an enclosed winder stair in the eastern half of the north wall. There are no cellars in the original sections, but a full cellar was placed under the stone wing to contain the heating system. A modern kitchen stands on the ground floor of the stone wing, and a bedroom with a bath above. To the side stands an 18th century two-story plastered brick slave quarter, and an early frame privy to the other side.
Joshua's Meadows is among the oldest and most structurally original structures in Harford County. It also has extremely sophisticated woodwork and detailing, rare for its date in this backwater part of the county. This is not surprising, however, because Joshua's Meadows has had three principal periods of ownership--the Bond, Hays, and Cameron families--each characterized by figures who were pre-eminent in the agricultural, molinographical, commercial, industrial, legal, and social histories of Harford County in their respective periods: mid 18th century, early 19th century, and mid 20th century. The house's owners have, over the past 230 years, farmed thousands of acres, operated mills, run inns, supervised courthouse construction, founded libraries and schools, subdivided acreage to create modern Bel Air, opened turnpikes between Bel Air and Baltimore, contributed land for four Quaker meeting houses, and more. This is reflected in the house, whose owners have guided the county's change from its 18th century agricultural base through its early 19th century period of commercial growth, to the governmental service center it is today.