Paul Baker Touart
Porter Mill Road (MD 437), Elliots Place, Wicomico County
Western Fields is a three-part frame "telescope" dwelling reflecting several stages of construction. Beginning in the fourth quarter of the 18th century, the house began as a 1 1/2 story, hall/parlor dwelling. Around 1845, a two-story, center-hall block was built and connected to the early house by a hyphen. The 18th century section is three bays wide, with a steeply pitched gable roof. Windows of 9/6 sash flank the central entrance on both the north and south elevations; the walls are sheathed in wide beaded weatherboards. The main block is four asymmetrical bays wide, with a central entrance on the south facade sheltered by a pedimented portico. Greek Revival influence is reflected in the two-panel front door surmounted by a six-light transom, and in the profiles of the bed and crown moldings incorporated in the portico and the building cornice. The house retains a high degree of integrity, with the majority of its architectural fabric and decorative detailing intact. The interior is characterized by Greek Revival trim including mantels, doors and architraves; the 18th century section retains beaded joists and board partitions which survived the mid-19th century reworking. Also on the property are an early-20th century frame tenant house and corn crib, and a small family cemetery.
Western Fields is architecturally significant for several reasons. The three-part "telescope" house belongs to a large group of stepped houses surviving on the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. In Wicomico County, the part 18th and 19th century dwelling is one of the least altered examples with a late-18th century wing and an 1840s main block and hyphen. The 18th century house retains such original architectural features as a layer of wide beaded weatherboards as well as 9/6 sash windows. The interior was evidently reworked during the early 19th century, and eventually converted to the kitchen when the 1840s building program was begun. Beaded board partitions and exposed beaded joists are other significant early features. The c. 1845 main block and hyphen have survived largely unaltered with 95% of the Federal/Greek Revival exterior and interior fabric intact. Especially unusual is the engaged colonnade, an open-air passage that connects the main block with the 18th century section. The chamfered posts with ogee stops are rare finishes. Western Fields illustrates an interesting developmental pattern in the history of the "telescope" form house. The 1 1/2-story 28' x 16' frame house, built around 1790, was accompanied during the 18th century by a small group of detached service outbuildings including a 20' x 18' cook house, a log meathouse, and a frame milk house. During the 19th century, the dwelling was enlarged with the construction of the two-story main block and hyphen. At the same time, the old house was converted to a kitchen, so the cooking services were brought into a more convenient attached structure. Connected service wings became common by the mid 19th century. Since 1825, Western Fields has been owned largely by the Phillips family, prominent Wicomico County planters during the 19th and 20th centuries. Joshua Wilmer Phillips (1810-1884) is credited with the construction of the main house and hyphen, while the 18th century dwelling was erected for Benjamin Venables, an earlier owner. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the farm was the residence of John Fowler Phillips, who served in the Maryland legislature during the early part of the century.