Robin D. Ziek
Boonsboro Shepardstown Pike (MD 34), Sharpsburg, Washington County
Mount Airy is an 1820s classically influenced brick house with elements of the Federal and Greek Revival styles. The L-shaped 2 1/2-story brick structure faces west, with a front facade laid in Flemish bond, five bays wide. The central entrance is a six-panel door flanked by sidelights, and the whole surmounted by a wide elliptical fanlight with tracery, in turn surmounted by an elliptical brick arch. Plain round pilasters flank the door opening, and the doorway is set within paneled reveals. Windows are 6/6 sash with louvered shutters and splayed jack arches. A rear wing extends the north facade to a length of six bays, and is also of Flemish bond. The remaining walls are of common bond. The structure is capped with a gable roof with a hip at the northwest corner, where the wing meets the main block. A flush chimney stands at either gable end, and interior chimneys protrude from the ridge of the wing and from the north end of the main block. A simple wooden cornice runs along the west, north, and east elevations. The north facade of the building contains entrances in both the first and fourth bays from the east end. Both are six-panel doors with paneled reveals, and are topped by rectangular transoms. Both the east and south gable ends are two bays wide, with two 6/6 windows on either floor and two small lights in the attic gable. A two-story gallery with chamfered posts stretches along the south side of the wing. A one-story frame addition projects from the south side of the wing. The interior room arrangement consists of a wide center hall in the main block with a large room to the south and two smaller rooms to the north. The wing is divided into two rooms in tandem. The staircase in the main block is open string and double-run with an open well and leads to the attic. The balustrade has rectangular balusters, a round handrail, and simple turned newels. The ends of the stairs and platforms have scroll decoration. The area under the staircase on the first floor is enclosed with raised paneling. The principal decorative detailing on the interior is architrave molding, raised six-panel doors, chair railing, and high double-step baseboard. A noteworthy mantel is columned, with entablature panels and a multi-stepped shelf. Other mantels have simpler Federal detailing. Also on the property are a probable 1820s one-story gable roofed brick structure that has been extensively altered over time, a late-19th century frame barn with metal roof ventilators, a c. 1900 frame tenant house which is two stories with a low gable roof, and a mid-20th century cinder block animal shed.
The significance of Mount Airy is derived from the architectural character of the house, from association with the Grove family and from its association with the 1862 Civil War battle at Antietam. Mount Airy embodies the distinctive characteristics of rural domestic architecture of the first third of the 19th century as found in the central and western portions of Maryland and south central Pennsylvania. These buildings are generally of brick construction with Flemish bond on the facade, Federal in general stylistic character though often with some Greek Revival influences in the decorative detailing such as mantels and frequently L-shaped with a hip roof at the junction of the roof lines. Mount Airy is a particularly good example because it retains a high level of integrity. Of particular note are the large scale of the structure which is somewhat unusual, the elaborate elliptical arched doorway which is more commonly found in the towns, and elements of early interior finishes such as mahogany graining and marbling. Further significance comes from association with the Grove family who occupied the house from time of construction until 1911. Philip Grove, his son Stephen P. Grove, and his grandson A. Dillon Grove figure prominently in the commercial and civic annals of this rural community in southern Washington County. Significance is also acquired from use of the house as a hospital for Confederate and Union soldiers following the Battle of Antietam, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. On October 3, 1862, President Lincoln and General George McClellan visited Mount Airy, an event recorded photographically by Alexander Gardner.