103 – Rosemont, circa 1825, Fairplay, MD

The modest brick home on the east side of Sharpsburg Pike just north of Tilghmanton looks like many homes scattered throughout the county. Accessory buildings have accumulated around it in an orderly fashion: a small timber-frame barn, hog pen, wood frame summer kitchen with an attached log smokehouse, clapboard garage, buggy shed-blacksmith shop, chicken coop and potting shed. This simple homestead reflects 19th and early 20th century life in Washington County and the way homesteads evolved to fit the economy of the time and the families who lived in them.

The three-bay house is built of logs and cased in brick. The log core was probably built around 1835. A three-bay brick ell extends to the east behind the house, and there is evidence that it replaced an original kitchen wing, which was probably built of log. A galleried two-story porch to the south has a two-story bay window that appears to have been added later. The ell ends in a narrow, two-story frame addition.

The main entrance faces the road and opens into a broad hall on the north side of the house. A simple staircase on the left rises to a landing. The newel post is small, square, chamfered and topped with a knob; the balusters are rectangular. Woodwork around the doors comes from several different periods, depending upon when they were trimmed. The parlor is on the right, and beyond it in the ell, the dining room is followed by the kitchen. Enclosed stairs lead from the kitchen to the second floor, where there are four bedrooms.

The present owners, George and Anne Anikis, had been looking for a home in the country for some time when this unpretentious home charmed them. Here was a house with possibilities, and they bought it immediately. Restoration began, but so did research into the history of the property.

Conococheague Manor Reserve One was first surveyed by John Morton Jordan in 1768, then sold to Thomas Ringgold. It passed through the Ringgold family to Anna Marie Ringgold Tilghman, wife of Frisby Tilghman. Anna Marie died in 1843, her husband in 1847. Two years later, a 49 acre portion of Reserve One was sold to William McAttee to settle Frisby Tilghman’s estate. Since Sharpsburg Pike had been straightened about 1830, the road now came past Reserve One, and the village of Tilghmanton was established around 1834. McAttee subdivided his land into lots. He sold the ten acre parcel upon which Rosemont sits to George Lowman for $864.94 in 1851. Since McAttee sold the other parcels in Reserve One for about $70 an acre, it is likely that the log house was already there when Lowman made his $86.50 per acre purchase.

George Lowman died intestate in 1856, and his widow bought the property at auction. She sold it to Henry Line in 1858. Line died five years later, leaving two small children, and the property became the object of an equity case. In 1864 court documents state, …the buildings are constructed principally of wood and liable to decay, the dwelling house being built with logs in such a manner as to have it cased on the outside with brick, which casing never having been done in consequence of which the house is now suffering the rains beating upon the outside of the House, penetrate through and injure the house upon the inside and that to prevent the said damage to the house, it is necessary to case it, as was intended,…the improvements consist of a store house and other buildings in a State of decay requiring care, attention and heavy expense to repair. Apparently Line or one of his predecessors had operated a store of some sort on the property. The 1865 sale notice describes the property as consisting of …a GOOD DWELLING & BACK BUILDING, STORE HOUSE, AN EXCELLENT STABLE and other necessary OUT-HOUSES thereon. There is also a good CISTERN and well of water and FRUIT TREES on the premises.

William Dovenberger and his wife Mary bought Rosemont in 1866, and he died three years later. His widow remarried; and in 1878, the property was again sold at auction. This time the notice describes the land as of prime quality and the improvements comfortable …TWO STORY DWELLING HOUSE containing about seven rooms besides the kitchen, also a good Store House and the necessary stabling and out buildings to the house…This property is a very desirable home, is within a short walk of several School Houses, Churches and a Railroad Station. Mary Dovenberger Reynolds purchased her home from her first husband’s estate and stayed on until 1892. During her residency, she probably removed the original log kitchen, built the new brick wing with the galleried porches and encased the house in brick. Henry Line’s decaying house was finally cased as intended.

In 1904, Joseph and Ann Rowland bought the home, and it passed to their daughter Otelia Reichard. The Rowlands probably added the six-foot addition to the end of the kitchen wing, the frame addition, the two, two-over-two floor-length windows in the living room, and the bay in the dining room. In her 1911 diary, Otelia refers to her home as Rosemont; and it is still remembered as having a rose garden. In 1950, it became the home of J. Rowland Reichard and Ruth O. Reichard. It remained “Miss Ruth’s” home until 1981.

When the Anikises acquired Rosemont, it again needed work. They restored the outbuildings and converted the buggy shed/blacksmith shop into a workshop. When they removed some of the brick from the house to do repairs, they discovered unusual log construction. Instead of logs notched and crossing one another at the corners, tenons were cut at the ends of tight-fitting, squared logs and fitted into mortises in a corner post. An angled corner brace was visible at the southwest corner. Just behind the house, a dilapidated stone retaining wall was removed and rebuilt, with many new stones added. This wall formed the foundation for a breezeway that connects the kitchen with the summer kitchen-smokehouse, now a den with a service fireplace.

Most of the work is done. The floors have been refinished, the roof replaced, woodwork restored, walls patched and painted. A new, appropriate entrance porch has been built on the original foundation that was discovered during renovation. The yard has been cleared of brush, now replaced by lawn and gardens, and a rose garden is planned. As so many owners before them, the Anikis’s have left their mark on Rosemont; and they fulfilled their dream.

Epilogue: Williamsburg gravel paths have been added around the summer kitchen, and gardens now surround the breezeway. A rose garden, filled with heritage bushes and handsome tea roses, honors Otelia Reichard. In the fall of 1998, Rosemont was approved for listing in the Maryland Historic Site Survey. Rosemont also received a special stamp of approval when it was featured on the Home and Garden TV network’s Old Homes Restored show in February and March 2001.

This article appeared in the Herald Mail Sunday, May 17, 1998 as the 103rd in the series.BookBanner