Paula Stoner Dickey
Manor Church Road, Boonsboro, Washington County
Search Well is a limestone farmhouse dating from c. 1800 and located on the south side of Manor Church Road, but oriented away from the road's present course. The road was relocated to its present route in the mid-19th century. The house is a 2 1/2-story, four-bay building with a two-story, four-bay rear wing added during the second quarter of the 19th century. The front part of the house displays coursed limestone walls with flat arches above the openings at the south elevation, and modified central keystones above the other openings. Windows of the first story level have 9/6 sashes while other windows with the exception of the 6-light basement windows have 6/6 light sashes. The main entrance is located in the second bay from the west end, and has a four-light transom. The area surrounding the door has been covered with stucco which was decorated with a vertical band of egg and dart molding. This plastered section is not original to the house, but apparently was done as part of a stylish modernization during the second quarter of the 19th century. The plaster was beneath a one-bay Greek Revival entrance porch. The rear wing has a double porch along its east elevation from which there are entrances into various rooms at both stories. The interior of the house features an original Federal-style mantelpiece with reeded decoration in the southwest room, and trompe l'oeil graining of the doors and staircase. Unusual among Washington County farmhouses are the egg-and-dart plaster molding decorating the ceiling of the southeast room, and the movable wall between the two south rooms of the second story. Built of vertical beaded boards and attached to the ceiling on hinges, the wall can be raised and hung on hooks to turn these two rooms into one large space. Nearly all of the interior work is original to the initial construction or to the period of the major addition during the second quarter of the 19th century. The outbuildings on the property include a smokehouse and a bake house located to the west of the main house. Both are constructed of stone and retain their original interior features. Southeast of the house is a 2 1/2-story secondary dwelling used to house slaves or hired help, apparently built in the second quarter of the 19th century. A stone springhouse stands several hundred feet south of the house.
Search Well is significant for its architecture, as an early 19th century farmstead which retains most of its contributing elements, including a limestone farmhouse, smokehouse, springhouse, bakehouse, and servants' quarters. Vernacular architecture of the early 19th century in the limestone region of Western Maryland was distinctly influenced by traditions developed in the Pennsylvania culture region. The main house at Search Well embodies this influence in its form, proportions, and plan, its carefully coursed stone construction, and the presence of a complement of outbuildings supporting specific domestic functions including a typical Pennsylvania bake oven. The house is distinguished by several architectural features which are not commonly found in buildings of its type: an original Federal-style mantelpiece with reeded decoration remains, fine trompe l'oeil grained woodwork and plaster egg-and-dart molding reflect a renovation carried out in the second quarter of the 19th century. These refinements are atypical of Washington County farmhouses of the period. A moveable partition, constructed of vertical boards and hinged at the ceiling, separates two second-story rooms; this element is unknown elsewhere in Washington County.