55 – Stoneridge, circa 1830-1850, south of Leitersburg, MD
Northeast of Hagerstown, Clopper Road twists along Antietam Creek, then crosses the stream on a narrow bridge. It is a picturesque scene: rolling hills, tall trees, waterfowl and sometimes a flock of wild turkeys. On a bluff above the creek at the margin of the woods, adjoining open pastures stands Stoneridge, a stuccoed stone and log home built at right angles to the road and facing south toward the creek.
The house was built by the John Hartle family on a portion of the land patented as Surveyors Last Shift. The log wing, constructed between 1830 and 1850, was probably built first. This is indicated by the existence of windows in the log wall joining the stone section. While it was common for different materials to be used for different sections of homes during the 19th century, it is unusual to find the common partition between two wings to have walls of both components, as if two separate buildings were butted against one another. Stoneridge has such a double wall between the log and stone sections.
Double porches, added to the log section after it was first built, are recessed under the main roof span and edged with latticed rails and square posts. The entrance from the lower porch leads to the family room. This side of the log section has been stuccoed while the other two sides have the logs exposed. Originally, the logs would have been sided. Windows throughout the house have six-over-six sashes, many with original glass; and the window sills are made of black walnut.
The log wing has a partial basement. Two small rooms on the top floor are accessed by a steep, enclosed stairway that turns in the southwest corner of the kitchen/family room, which occupies the entire first floor. The hand-hewn summer beam and rafters are exposed in the family room ceiling. Its original stone fireplace, set in the end of the room, has been faced with brick around the firebox and the simple mantel refitted to it. This is a charming room furnished with antiques and comfortable seating. The narrow kitchen work space is tucked against the common wall, and some of the log structure has been removed to expose stone behind cabinets and counters. An airy wood grate and counter with stools separate the two areas.
Up the narrow stairway is a small hall with a door to the enclosed attic steps, and doorways to two rooms. The study has a fireplace tucked against its gable wall with bookshelves built in next to it. Beyond the study is a bedroom with a door to the upper porch and wide pine floors that form the ceiling below. The woodwork in this wing is simple, molded with plain corner blocks; and the doors have six panels, either three ranks of two panels, or two sets of three narrow vertical panels.
The five-bay stone section of the house, built in the middle of the 19th century, was constructed with floors three steps higher than those in the log wing. This wing can be entered from doorways in both the family room and the upper bedroom of the log wing. The main entrance is in its south façade, and opens into a central hall with a narrow dining room on the left and a living room on the right. The living room was once two small parlors. The woodwork in the back half of the room is simpler than that in the front, reflecting the less formal use of that parlor. There are fireplaces in both the living and dining rooms, with the mantel in the living room being more ornate. The stairs in the hall are very simple with square balusters, plain square newel posts and a round walnut handrail.
This stuccoed stone section is built over a basement with a large cooking fireplace. This room is bright, with six-over-three windows and a door that opens at ground level. There is also a door into the other section of the basement. About 50 years ago, the family renting the property lived only in this basement room and used part of the rest of the building to house chickens.
The second floor of the stone wing has three more bedrooms and two baths, which have been neatly added to the end of the upper hall and along one side of the largest room. The woodwork in this wing is simply molded with the doors having either six narrow panels, three over three, or three long narrow panels. Several original peg rails were built into the walls to hold clothing. The attic holds laundry facilities and a half-bath.
South of the house is a fireplace with the remains of a beehive oven. Flashing on its chimney indicate that there once was a building sheltering it–perhaps a bake house. To the west is a stone-end barn with a gambrel roof–the result of a rebuilding effort after a fire in the 1960s destroyed the roof and timbering. The corners were removed from the gable ends when the roof was repaired in order to create the gambrel.
In 1985, Jean and Mark Thomas purchased this charming home. Earlier owners had done much of the restoration; but they have replaced the roofs, have worked extensively on the gardens and have furnished their home with a beautiful collection of family antiques.
Epilogue: “The first floor logs had begun to bow, and, in the process of repairing that problem, we elected to have French doors installed, an alteration which is not particularly historically apropos, but which has improved immeasurably the lighting of what had hitherto been a somewhat cave-like and depressingly dark room on the first floor of the log half.” Mark Thomas
This article appeared in the Herald-Mail Sunday, March 6, 1994 as the 55th in the series.