Photo credit: Paul Baker Touart , 01/1985

Property Name: Nelson Homestead
Date Listed: 9/12/1985
Inventory No.: S-245
Location: MD 667 & Cash Corner Road, Crisfield, Somerset County

Description: The Nelson Homestead is a c. 1836 "telescope" style frame house. The three-part building faces south, resting on a brick pier foundation, and is sheathed in narrow weatherboards and covered by a series of gable roofs. Unlike most "telescope" houses, the three sections were apparently all built in one period. The south three-bay elevation of the main house is symmetrically arranged with a central, raised six-panel door with single-paned transom, and flanking 6/6 sash windows. A single-pane transom tops the door. The door and windows are framed by a narrow ovolo molding. The second floor is lighted by three 6/6 sash windows. Stretching across the base of the roof is a boxed cornice embellished with carved modillions as well as a gougework row. One of the most distinctive features of the house is the highly unusual endboard design in the shape of an inverted "U." Stretching across the western five bays of the house is a shed-roofed porch supported by square posts. The south facade of the center section is a two-bay elevation with a single six-panel door in the west bay and a 6/6 sash window in the adjacent bay. The second floor is lighted by two 6/6 sash windows. A boxed cornice is trimmed with a bed and crown molding. The 1 1/2-story south elevation of the third section, the kitchen, is also a two-bay elevation with a centrally located, partially glazed door and 6/6 sash window. The cornice is the same as the middle section. The east gable end of the kitchen is marked by an exposed, common bond brick fire wall. A pair of 2/2 sash windows light the attic and flank the internal end chimney stack. The plain bargeboard finishes the gable end. The north elevation of the main house has three 6/6 sash windows on each floor in addition to the same intricate cornice as the front of the house. Interior finish surfaces have remained largely unaltered with 95% of the fine period woodwork intact. A small gabled frame building accompanies the house. Located at the east side of the property is a family cemetery fenced with Victorian period railing.

Significance: The Nelson Homestead is significant for its architecture, as an outstanding example of a late Federal "telescope" style house. Several buildings of this type and period survive on the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland, but the Nelson Homestead is distinguished among them by its excellent state of preservation and by its highly unusual decorative detailing, which remains virtually untouched and even retains early paint schemes. The three-part frame house, built c. 1836, is a finely crafted structure with intricate cornice details and distinctive endboards. Late Federal style mantels, doors, chair rail and cupboards finish interior spaces; the main room features raised panel wainscoting and overmantel paneling that retains an early tiger maple grained finish.




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