Paul Baker Touart
Drawbridge Road, Venton, Somerset County
Panther's Den is a 1 1/2 story, Flemish bond brick house located between forks of Little Monie Creek. The building has a steeply pitched, wood shingled gable roof with three 6/6 sash gable-roofed dormers on each slope. The three-bay, center-hall plan house was originally constructed in the second quarter of the 18th century, enlarged late in the 18th century, and remodeled on the interior c. 1830-1850. A one-story frame kitchen wing was added to the south gable c. 1900. Important exterior features include a plastered cove cornice and patterned brickwork incorporating glazed headers. Interior trim, including the stair, mantels, chair rails and architraves date from the early-19th century remodeling; some earlier paneling was reused in this historic renovation. Windows are 9/6 sash on the first floor and 6/6 sash in the attic gables flanking the flush chimneys. The property also includes a c. 1830-1850 pyramidal-roofed dairy of heavy timber frame construction and an early-20th century board-and-batten tack house. A 19th century family burial plot is located to the south of the house.
"Panther's Den" is significant for its architecture. It is one of a collection of approximately eight early 18th century 1 1/2-story glazed brick pattern houses in Somerset County. Both the 1 1/2-story house form and the glazed brick tradition are typical of the early-18th century mid-Atlantic coastal settlements. "Panther's Den" is an altered, but still significant representative of this house type with its basic form intact and an original pair of 18th century cove cornices. Notable original interior features include a tilted false plate, reused 18th century paneling, and molded floor joists on the second floor. The interior of "Panther's Den" experienced one major renovation around 1830-1850 with the replacement of mantels, chair rail, and baseboards. These changes are largely superficial and reflect the stylish renovations many houses experience through time. This 1 1/2-story house appears to be the second house erected on the site and is indicative of the first period of rebuilding carried out by substantial land owners in Somerset County. John Pantor, who was granted "Panther's Den" in 1666, is thought to have lived on the property until his death in 1714. However, the extant brick house is more representative of the houses built in the following quarter century.