MHT File Photo
Landing Lane, Elkton, Cecil County
The house at Elk Landing is of stone construction, 2 stories high above a full basement, three bays wide by two bays deep, with a gable roof. Sloping topography allows the basement story to be fully exposed on the west elevation, facing the creek; evidence suggests that the building's original orientation was west, toward the water. Both east and west elevations are fenestrated similarly, with an entrance in the central bay (this opening is filled with later stonework on the west) at ground-floor level, with windows in the flanking bays and a window in each bay of the second story. The facades are not rigidly symmetrical, as the central bay is offset slightly to the north. A former basement entrance on the west side has been closed with rubble infill. Surviving original window sash is 6/9 on the ground floor and 6/6 above. A doorway in the east bay of the north gable end formerly led into a log kitchen wing; presumably an earlier independent structure which local tradition identifies as the original residence and trading post of John Hanson Steelman, this log structure was demolished c. 1905. The house has arranged a center-passage plan. Three of the first-floor rooms are heated by corner fireplaces with diagonal hearths; the fireplaces in the two south rooms share a common chimney stack which exits at the ridge of the roof, while that in the northwest room is located in an exterior corner and vented at the eaves. These fireplaces retain paneled overmantels. Two interior doors, and chair rail moldings in most of the rooms, may also be original to the house.
The stone house at Elk Landing is significant for its architecture, embodying several features characteristic of 18th century vernacular dwellings in northeastern Maryland and adjacent Pennsylvania. The building's fieldstone construction, approximately symmetrical massing, center-hall plan, and interior detailing are typical of the vernacular architecture of the region in the third quarter of the 18th century. The house incorporates an unusual feature in its northeast corner fireplace, which is located in an exterior corner of the room and vented at the eaves. While corner fireplaces are not uncommon in the vernacular dwellings of the period in northeastern Maryland, they typically take the form of those in the south rooms of the house, being located back-to-back in corners formed by a gable wall and an internal partition and share a common chimney stack that exits at the ridge of the roof. This type is fairly common in Quaker-settled areas of Maryland, and has clear antecedents in English building tradition. Exterior-corner fireplaces, however, are rare in the state. The property on which the house is located was part of an early settlement of Swedish and Finnish immigrants; local tradition associates the house with John Hanson Steelman, a Swedish-American trader who occupied the site between 1693 and 1710. Although architectural evidence points to a construction date somewhat later than Steelman's occupancy, the tradition that the former log wing (demolished c. 1905) was Steelman's original trading post may have some validity. In any event, the site of Elk Landing is significant for its association with early Scandinavian settlement in Maryland. In addition, the property's association with trade between the Scandinavian settlers and the Susquehanna Indians, from 1654 until the local aboriginal population disappeared (about 1720), may yield future archeological information about the contact period.