Jennifer K. Cosham
3018, Bennies Hill Road, Middletown, Frederick County
The house called Shafer's Mill is a first-quarter 19th century brick house Georgian in form and Federal in decorative detailing. Having a five-bay symmetrical southeast facade, the house is 2 1/2 stories high with a metal sheet-covered gable roof, a one-story gable-roofed wing projecting from the northeast side of the back, flush end chimneys in each gable, a wooden molded cornice, and stone foundation walls. The bricks are laid in Flemish bond in the facade and common bond on the other elevations. The window and door openings have brick jack arches. The principal windows have double-hung wooden sashes with 9/9 lights, narrow frames with a beaded edge, and wooden sills. The attic gables hold 4/2 sash windows with rowlock arches. A partially enclosed frame porch extends along the southwestern side of the wing. Doors of six panels with three-light transoms appear in the southwest wall of the kitchen wing, the northwest wall of the house (southwest of the kitchen wing), and the center bay of the front or southeast facade. On the interior, rooms are arranged about a central hall with two rooms to the west and one large room to the east through which the kitchen room in the wing is reached. The decorative detailing consists primarily of architrave molding (two step in the principal rooms and one step in the others), chair rail, fluted and paneled pilaster mantels, six-panel doors, open-string staircase to the attic, and graining. Although the building is in a deteriorated condition it retains a high level of integrity of historic features and fabrics.
The significance of the house called Shafer's Mill in Frederick County is derived from the architectural character of the building. The house embodies the distinctive characteristics of the rural domestic architecture of central and western Maryland and south-central Pennsylvania in the first quarter of the 19th century. These structures, which usually represent the second generation of the building stock, generally are 2 1/2 stories high, of brick construction, and Georgian in form with Federal decorative detailing. The facades are usually laid in Flemish bond with wooden molded cornices. The feature that sets this house apart from the majority of the other extant examples is the large proportions of the form. Shafer's Mill has an unusually high level of integrity of historic fabric and features, including graining on the doors, but is in only fair structural condition primarily due to neglect over time. Additional significance is acquired from association with John Shafer, Jr. (1753-1823), and his son Peter Shafer (1802-1896) who operated four mills in this area. The house was built for John Shafer, Jr. and occupied by him until his death and then by Peter Shafer until the 1830s. John and Peter Shafer are described in local history as two of the most important millers in the Middletown area in the 19th century.