Amy M. Hiatt
Plantation Boulevard, Oakland, Anne Arundel County
Norman's Retreat comprises an early-19th century dwelling, three 19th century outbuildings, and a bath house and gazebo of recent date. The house is of frame construction with a brick gable end, 2 1/2-stories high with a symmetrical, five-bay facade. Originally, two-story porches spanned the north and south elevations; the south porch has now been removed, and the north porch is a 20th century restoration. The principal entrance is in the center bay of the south facade, and is comprised of a 6-panel door with a 4-pane transom. A similar door, though with only four panels, fills the center bay directly above this entrance, but no longer opens onto a gallery. The remaining bays are filled with 6/6 windows, the second floor windows being slightly shorter than those on the first floor. Four gable-roofed dormers with 6/6 windows pierce the roof on this side. The north elevation, facing the water, has a two-story full-width porch with a shed roof supported on square posts echoing the five-bay arrangement of the facade. Only the upper level is partially enclosed, with a molded handrail on square balusters. As on the south facade, doors appear in the central bay on each floor. The entrance at the ground floor has its original 6-panel door, altered to include a 16-light glass section in place of the four upper panels. As on the south side, both doors have a 4-light transom. The east end wall has two 6/6 sash windows on the first and second floors, and two 4-light casements at the attic level. The first floor section of the brick west end wall is partially obscured by later kitchen additions, but does have a 4-light casement in the north bay of the first floor, two on the second floor, and two in the attic. The common bond brickwork in the end wall varies in bonding from three course to seven course, while that in the returns of the end wall at the north and south elevations is five course. The interior is a single-pile, center-hall plan, and retains the majority of its relatively sophisticated Federal-influenced decorative detailing. A modern frame kitchen wing is attached to the southwest corner of the building. Also on the property, and believed contemporaneous with the dwelling, are the ruins of a springhouse or dairy and a frame smokehouse or summer kitchen (now used as a pump house), in addition to a late-19th century well house.
Constructed c. 1811, Norman's Retreat is significant for its architecture. The house exhibits several features which are uncommon in Anne Arundel County dwellings of the early 19th century, including its center-hall, single-pile plan, brick gable end, and the original use of two-story porches spanning both facades. In addition, the house retains a great deal of original interior ornament which exhibits an unusually high degree of sophistication for a vernacular farmhouse of the period. The building's architectural integrity is largely intact, and the surviving complex of 19th century outbuildings and unspoiled setting contribute to the significance of the resource.