MHT File Photo
2, Thistle Road, Catonsville, Baltimore County
The Wilderness is a large stone and frame house located in a wooded setting west of Catonsville in Baltimore County, Maryland. The current appearance of the house is the result of a major expansion and renovation campaign carried out in 1899-1900. The building combines Colonial Revival massing and decorative detailing with multiple roof and dormer shapes and a wraparound porch reminiscent of the Queen Anne style in a free composition typical of the eclectic spirit of the period. It is sited facing east on a small rise, and stands three stories tall, three bays wide by seven bays deep. The first story is constructed of stucco-covered stone, while the upper level is frame and clad in shingles. The third story is located within a tall mansard roof and lighted by various dormers. A smell belvedere caps the roof. The interior retains all its turn-of-the-20th-century Classical and Colonial Revival detailing, including mantels, stair, baseboard, and architrave trim. Also on the property are a stone springhouse/smokehouse, a summer kitchen, log tenant house, and a large frame barn.
The Wilderness is significant for its architecture, as an example of a large country house embodying the distinctive characteristics of turn-of-the-20th-century eclecticism in its combination of elements of the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles. The building expresses a Colonial Revival feeling in its rectangular massing and in its exterior and interior detailing, in combination with Queen Anne-inspired multiple roof forms. It is a notable landmark in its isolated, undeveloped setting in southwestern Baltimore County. The Wilderness derives additional significance from its association with Baltimore merchant and philanthropist Francis Cumberland Dugan II, (1830-1914) under whose ownership the house acquired its present appearance. Dugan established his hardware dealership in Baltimore in 1852; still active in business up to his death in 1914, he was then the oldest merchant in the city. He was one of the incorporators of the St. Mary’s Industrial School in 1866, and served on the board of directors of St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum and the Metropolitan Savings Bank. He remodeled The Wilderness in 1899 and maintained it as a summer residence.