The City of Westminster
Mayor and Common Council
Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan, Mayor
Edward S. Calwell, Council President
Suzanne P. Albert
Stephen R. Chapin, Sr.
Damian L. Halstad
Gregory Pecoraro
Historic District Commission
Carol M. Wiskeman, Chairperson
Michael Reiner, Vice-chairperson
Dean R. Camlin, AIA
Constance C. Humphrey
Laurie E. Walters
Department of Planning
and Public Works
Thomas B. Beyard, Director
Katrina L. Tucker, AICP, Town Planner
Tracey L. Smith, AICP, Assistant Town Planner
Christopher Weeks
The Building of
in Maryland
CD-ROM produced by
The City of Westminster
funded in part through a Special Grant Fund sponsored by
Preservation Maryland
and the
Maryland Historical Trust
Copyright © 1978.1998
The Mayor and Common Council of
Westminster, Maryland
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View the rest of the front matter, then
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Part I is the main text; Part II is the Inventory of Historic Structures
The Building of
in Maryland
A socio-architectural account
of Westminster’s first 250 years,
including an illustrated inventory
of over 200 historic structures.
First Edition (Print) 1978
Produced for the City of Westminster by
Fishergate Publishing Company, Inc.
Annapolis, Maryland
Second Edition (CD-ROM) 1998
Produced for the City of Westminster by
Fishergate, Inc., Textrek Division
Annapolis, Maryland
Christopher Weeks
he idea of publishing a Twentieth Anniversary Edition of The Building of West-
minster in Maryland, was first broached by the City of Westminster Historic Dis-
trict Commission in early 1997. Upon contacting Fishergate, Inc., the
producer of the book, it was learned that the original printer had gone out of business.
As a result, the negatives for the pages of the book were no longer available and could
only be reproduced through an expensive, time-consuming process.
This initial setback led to a search for an alternative means of publishing this historical
account of Westminster. Fishergate proposed a CD-ROM version of the publication, which
won favor with The Mayor and Common Council and Historic District Commission due
to its value as a research and educational tool—the CD-ROM would permit searching for
a specific word or topic, linking photographs of buildings to their locations on the map
of Westminster, and including updated information on the use of buildings and preser-
vation efforts in Westminster.
The Mayor and Common Council demonstrated their support for the project by
appropriating a portion of the funding required for the production of the CD-ROM.
Additional funding was secured through a Special Grant Fund sponsored by Preserva-
tion Maryland and the Maryland Historical Trust. This grant funding was based on the
project’s value as an educational and promotional tool for Westminster’s historic
Updates to the original text of the book were completed through a careful review of
the original publication by the Historic District Commission. The majority of changes
involved updating the current uses for the City’s historic structures and adjusting the
architectural descriptions to match the current condition of buildings.
The addendum provides additional text which highlights the accomplishments in
preservation since the original publication of the book and the successes and losses in
regard to historic resources in Westminster. Also included are information for proper-
ties that have been inventoried since 1978 and additional photographs of Westmin-
ster’s historic resources. Unless otherwise noted, the additional inventory information
was completed by Kenneth Short, Historic Planner for Carroll County, and the
remainder of the addendum was prepared by Tracey Smith, Assistant Town Planner
for the City of Westminster.
(1998 CD-ROM Edition)
with Acknowledgments
This book is the outcome of a pleasant year-and-a-
half spent studying the architectural history of the city of
Westminster in central Maryland. The process
I can-
not honestly call it work
was made easier and jollier
than it might have been by the warm and helpful wel-
come given by the citizens of Westminster to this eccentric
stranger from Harford County. I thank them all; later I
will mention a few who were particularly helpful.
When the actual research was more or less finished,
the heaps of photographs, the title searches, the survey
forms, the masses of memorabilia, and the hastily
scrawled notes and anecdotes needed culling and orga-
am by nature ill-suited to orderliness, being
reluctant to throw anything away. Eventually, however
things fell or were pushed into two piles that, oddly, cor-
respond to the eventual two sections of this book: Part I, a
narrative and Part II, an inventory.
Alberti said that architecture without politics is mean-
ingless. Thus, very meaningfully, Part I analyzes the ar-
chitectural progression of Westminster in the context of
the city’s political, social, and economic history; it con-
siders how changes affected and were reflected in the
city’s architecture. I must stress here that the book is in no
way intended to be a comprehensive “History of West-
I have digressed from architectural fact, con-
jecture, and comment only to augment the analysis with
appropriate perspective, vitality, and color. Granted I
have digressed widely on occasion
the three “Inter-
ludes,” for example, are strictly scene-setters
but by
this approach I have hoped to gain the interest of people
who are not professionally involved in architectural his-
tory. After all, should not the general citizenry be the first
to be offered the opportunity to “view with pride” its ar-
chitectural heritage?
The narrative is based on facts: the city was founded
in 1764; the railroad came through in 1861; Ascension
Church and the present City Hall were built at the same
time. . . .No one can dispute these statements. But it is
safe to say that someone else looking at these same facts
might draw different impressions and conclusions. Thus,
without apology, Part I is merely one person’s interpreta-
tion (mine) of the various events and people (the ambi-
politician, the adventurous land-speculator, and the
conservative banker and farmer) that have made the
physical and social fabric of Westminster what it is today.
Part II is a listing, with description and photograph,
of Westminster’s historically significant buildings. His-
torically significant? I applied a very simple definition: At
least a century old and still standing. I explain this more
fully, and with a modicum of apology, in the Introduc-
tion to Part II.
The manner of funding this project seems to have
been quite complicated. To begin at the end, the cost of
actually printing the book is being covered by receipts
from its sale. Payment for my eighteen months of activity
and our publisher’s endeavors in organizing, editing, de-
typesetting, etc., came from two primary
sources: (1) The Maryland Historical Trust which in turn
was using continuing grant-in-aid assistance for historic
site surveys made available by the Heritage Conservation
and Recreation Service, U.S. Department of the Interior,
under the provisions of the National Historic Preservation
Act of 1966, and (2) the City of Westminster, which got
money for the project in the form of a Community Devel-
opment Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Hous-
ing and Urban Development. If this sounds like a fertile
field for red tape, it was. Thanks are due, therefore, to
the two gentlemen who succeeded in putting the package
(1978 Print Edition)
to Carroll Dell, Director of Planning and
Public Works for the City of Westminster, who conceived
the idea for the survey and the book, and to Mark Ed-
Historic Sites Coordinator for the Maryland
Historical Trust, who gave wholehearted support and
assistance in implementing the idea. (During the course
of the work, they both exercised inordinate tact and pa-
tience in the face of my vagaries, gently prodding me and
the project along.) Thanks are also due to those in An-
napolis and Westminster who filled out the forms and
signed the checks:
Rita Brunner, Richard Byrd, and
Robert Myers.
The Historical Society of Carroll County provided
productive files for research, and the Society’s staff,
Dorothy Steinhagen and Barbara Martin, made my visits
most agreeable.
My gratitude is also due the Carroll
County Committee of the Maryland Historical Trust,
particularly Christine Armacost, Ellen Joseph, and Kathy
Palaia. I am dearly indebted to Joe Getty, Doris Hull,
Tony James, Brookes Leahy, Susan
and Karen
Willis for providing encouragement, amusement, and
friendship in the Westminster area and to Nancy Miller
and Pamela James for the same services on my visits to the
Maryland Historical Trust offices in Annapolis.
An array of individuals provided the facts, leads,
hints, and gossip that give this book whatever color it has.
Among these are Mr.
Dennis F. Blizzard, Mr. William
Brown, Mr. Amos Davidson, Mrs. Theodore Hoster,
Mary Ann Kelly, Mrs. A.F. Michaux, Miss Ann S. Reif-
snider, Mrs. David Taylor, Mr.
Mrs. Homer L. Twigg,
Mrs. J. Pearre Wantz, Jr., Judge
Mrs. Edward
Dr. George Thomas, and Mr. Charles 0.
Fisher, Sr. For being pleasant souls in general and for
providing, at crucial times,
ideal environments first for
The Building oj
m Maryland
writing and then for rewriting and re-rewriting, my
thanks are eagerly given to Mr.
Mrs. Brodnax Cam-
eron, Sr., and to Miss Mary Helen Cadwalader. The sev-
eral drafts of the book were read by a multitude of peo-
ple, many of whom I have mentioned previously. I must
acknowledge particularly, however, Mrs. James M.
Shriver, Sr., and Mr.
Mrs. Peter
for patiently
reading the very rough, early drafts and for offering
much sound advice and helpful criticism
and for
several delicious meals.
I deeply appreciate the surgical organizing and edit-
ing of my material performed by Anthony Drummond of
Fishergate Publishing Company in Annapolis and his
company’s expert handling of the book's design, typeset-
ting, and layout.
A litany of acknowledgements is an essential and stan-
dard part of any research treatise and, as such, it is dif-
ficult to inject into the list of names and well-worn
phrases the sincerity one truly feels. It is even more dif-
ficult, then, to express the depth of certain very special
debts. I can only hope that the following four people,
without whom this project would have been impossible,
realize that these written words of thanks are but a mea-
gre outward sign of my immeasurable inward and spiri-
tual gratitude., affection, and respect: Mrs. Edgar
Barnes, whose interest and knowledge of local history are
matched only by her own special grace and cheerfulness;
Joyce Carpenter of the Westminster Planning and Public
Works Department, who, always uncomplaining, typed
uncounted versions of my inventory reports and manu-
script and kept the project material in impeccable order;
and Mr. and Mrs. J. Frank Getty, who provided me with
an invaluable darkroom and constant friendship in their
C. W.
Brodnax and Julia
Mario and Betty di Valmarana
with my admiration,
affection, and respect.
Activity Since 1978
ince the original publication of The Building of Westminster in Maryland, many
changes have occurred in regard to Westminster’s historic resources. A major
step in the recognition of the significance of Westminster’s historic structures
was the nomination of the Westminster Historic District to the National Register
in 1980. The inventory form completed by Joseph Getty, Nancy A. Miller, and
Christopher Weeks provided the following summary description of the West-
minster National Register District. The historic part of Westminster continues to
reflect this description today.
Westminster, in the piedmont region of Maryland, is centrally located
in Carroll County, at the convergence of major transportation routes
connecting to Pennsylvania, Washington, and Baltimore, now Maryland
Routes140, 97, 32, 31, and 27. Geographically, the area consists of gen-
tly rolling hills of fertile soil. Westminster is situated on Parr’s Ridge, a
north-south oriented ridge that once served as the boundary between
Baltimore and Frederick Counties. The district has a dominant linear
quality following Main Street, running in a northwest direction and hav-
ing parallel alleys on both sides. Also parallel to Main Street and to the
south of it is Green Street. Arteries perpendicular to Main Street are
irregularly spaced along its length, and at the northwest end of the city,
there is a fork where Pennsylvania Avenue branches off Main Street to
the north. The residential, commercial and industrial district is densely
developed, especially in the older, original section on Main Street. The
development and growth of Westminster progressed along the Main
Street in an east to west movement, a pattern that is relatively discern-
able in its present townscape. The architecture exhibits a wide variety of
vernacular styles ranging from small domestic frame or brick houses at
the east and west ends, Victorian commercial structures in the downtown,
and scattered twentieth century glass and aluminum facades. However,
all of these buildings remain within a four story height, attaining a
smooth proportion to a street that is expansive by its length.
The Westminster Historic District contains 1400 principal structures
of which one percent are intrusions and ten percent are not now con-
tributing but have the potential through the passage of time or restora-
tion of becoming contributing structures. The remaining 89% are
Westminster evidences a continuum of residential architecture reflect-
ing—with a pronounced time lag—the national changes in “high style”
architecture. The basic building form is an early 19th century vernacular
farm house combining Pennsylvania and Georgian, or English elements.
Constructed in brick or frame, these buildings have cross gable roofs,
symmetrical arrangement of fenestration, and simple detailing. As is
to be expected, changes through time are reflected in detailing
applied to the basic form. The expansion of Westminster—filling in
previously laid out neighborhoods—allowed for these incremental
additions so that walking the streets of Westminster one can read the
evolution and development of the town.
Construction of a distinct commercial architecture occurred only in
the mid-19th century. Owners along Main Street erected larger scale,
imposing buildings which abandoned references to the house form.
The commercial buildings demand attention through their height and
breadth and the detailing on the facades which follows more closely
current national trends: plateglass display windows and Romanesque
arches and detailing for upper floors.
The commercial development—unlike the residential—has
occurred in the same geographic area so that early commercial build-
ings have been historically demolished or substantially altered to
reflect current needs. The greatest pressure for land use exists in the
commercial district: Main Street. The tension and change continues to
be evident today.
The industrial buildings, located along the railroad, are strictly
functional and possess no architectural design qualities with the
notable exception of the power house on Locust Lane. The existing
structures are replacements of earlier shelters on the same site which
usually has been occupied by the same firm. Ecclesiastical buildings
are uniformly Gothic Revival.
A special feature of Westminster is the frequent occurrence of open
spaces which relieve the feeling of density. The incremental
Additions” to Westminster accomplished in rectangular plots of land
historically left open space in the midst of development. Belle Grove
Square, the extensive lawn at City Hall, and the municipal park
between Willis and Main Streets are notable examples.
The Westminster Historic District is in good condition. The major-
ity of the buildings continue their original use with few exceptions.
The residents have a strong and continuing interest in the preserva-
tion of Westminster. Restoration and rehabilitation have been under-
way for several decades, especially along Main Street. The City of
Westminster, most notably, is encouraging rehabilitation in their com-
mercial district and has undertaken large scale rehabilitation projects
itself chiefly to address housing needs.
Inclusion of the Westminster Historic District in the National Register is pri-
marily an honorary recognition. There are no restrictions on the renovation of
structures by private property owners beyond the requirements of the Building
Code and other City regulations; however, if federal funds are being used to
complete a project, review and approval of the project in regard to its impact on
historic resources is required. Owners of historic properties located within the
Westminster National Register District are eligible for various tax incentives,
described later in this section.
Following the listing of the Westminster Historic District on the National
Register, the next major action taken in support of preserving the City’s historic
resources occurred in 1987, when a Westminster Historic District Study
Committee was created to study the issue of preservation in Westminster. In its
June 1991 report, the Westminster Historic District Study Committee determined
that the creation of a zoned historic district would protect existing historic
resources, enhance property values, preserve the aesthetic appeal of downtown,
and provide an identity for Westminster residents. The Committee also drafted an
ordinance for the new historic district, developed architectural guidelines, and
created a map showing the proposed location of the district.
The Mayor and Common Council at that time held a public hearing to obtain
citizen comment in regard to the proposed historic district. After considerable
debate, the Mayor and Council decided to make inclusion in the Local Historic
District a voluntary action on the part of the property owner. The Local Historic
District established a set of design guidelines that must be followed for any exte-
rior renovations or additions that were made to a property located within the dis-
trict. These design guidelines were based on the Secretary of the Interior’s
Standards for Rehabilitation. Currently, due to the voluntary nature of the district,
only two properties are located within the district, and as a result, most of West-
minster’s historic resources are not protected by local law.
The Local Historic District is administered by the Westminster Historic District
Commission, a five member commission of citizens having a background or spe-
cial interest in preservation issues. The Historic District Commission has focused
its efforts on educational programs through the sponsoring of workshops and
house tours.
Some of the educational programs sponsored by the Historic District
Commission have provided information to Westminster residents in regard to
rehabilitation tax incentive programs. State and federal programs are in place,
and there is enabling legislation which would allow the City to establish a local tax
incentive program as well.
The State Income Tax Credit program began on January 1, 1997, and is avail-
able to owner-occupied residential properties and income producing properties
located in a National Register District or a Local Historic District. Under the pro-
gram, the property owner can receive an income tax credit equal to 25% of the
cost of rehabilitation work. Expenditures for rehabilitation work over a 24 month
period must be at least $5,000 for owner-occupied residences. For income pro-
ducing properties, the minimum is the adjusted basis of the structure or $5,000,
whichever is greater. If the amount of the tax credit is greater than the total
income tax owed during the first year in which the credit is claimed, the excess
credit may be applied toward the owner’s income tax liability for up to 10 years.
The application process for the State Income Tax Credit program includes two
steps. First, a structure must be designated as a “certified heritage structure.”
Second, the rehabilitation project(s) must be approved by the Maryland Historical
Trust, which requires conformance with the Trust’s guidelines.
The Federal Income Tax Incentive consists of a 20% tax credit. This credit is
available only to income producing properties which are part of a National
Register District and for which renovations conform with the Secretary of the
Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The tax credit can be carried back for
three tax years and carried forward for up to 15 years. Expenditures for rehabili-
tation work over a 24 month period must be at least the adjusted basis of a struc-
ture or $5,000, whichever is greater. In order to expedite the processing of
applications, property owners who are applying for both State and Federal
Income Tax Credits are required to submit only the federal application forms and
the cover sheets of the state application.
In addition to the State and Federal tax credit programs, the Maryland General
Assembly has adopted enabling legislation which allows local governments to
enact property tax incentive programs. This enabling legislation permits local
jurisdictions to adopt a property tax incentive program which can be applied to
residential and commercial properties located within historic districts, provided
that rehabilitation work has been approved by the local Historic District
Commission. A property tax incentive would allow an owner’s property assess-
ment value to be held at pre-restoration levels for up to ten years for City taxa-
tion purposes. Since the assessed value of a property is likely to increase as a result
of rehabilitation work, a property tax incentive program has the potential to save
owners a considerable sum in future property taxes.
The City has supported a number of programs to enhance the appearance of
Westminster’s historic neighborhoods. One of the most visible projects has been
the compatible reconstruction of the State highways which pass through the
National Register District. When East Main Street was reconstructed in 1993-94,
the original plans were changed radically to avoid widening the street and to pro-
tect the traditional character of Main Street. The project also involved the use of
brick pavers in parts of the sidewalks and in the crosswalks, installation of trees
and planting beds, and retention of on-street parking. This project resulted in
preservation of the historic layout and appearance of the street.
The East Main Street reconstruction project was recognized by two federal
agencies during 1997. First, the project was included as a model in the National
Trust publication Smart States, Better Communities. In addition, the project received
an Environmental Excellence Award for Excellence in Historic and Archeological
Preservation from the Federal Highway Administration. Due to the success of the
East Main Street project, the reconstruction of the upper portion of Pennsylvania
Avenue was modeled after it, and a similar project has been planned for West
Main Street. The public improvements made to East Main Street have had the
added impact of encouraging private investment in the adjoining properties.
While much has been accomplished toward preserving Westminster’s historic
character, much remains to be carried out if the City’s historic resources are to be
maintained for the enjoyment of future generations. The 1998 City of Westminster
Comprehensive Plan addresses the topics of neighborhood revitalization and his-
toric resources in detail and recommends a number of activities for achieving the
long term preservation of the Westminster community. Suggested activities
include the continuation of educational programs which address historic preser-
vation topics, identification of the neighborhoods in greatest need of revitaliza-
tion, and the protection of historic resources during development and renovation
Inventory of Historic Structures
Additions since 1978
The following summaries have been prepared by Kenneth Short,
Historic Planner for Carroll County, unless otherwise noted.
CARR 1428
Charles Street School private
At their May 1883 meeting, the School Board noted: A written application for
a ‘colored’ school in the ‘East End’ of Westminster, was received, and action
thereon postponed.” The request was repeated in June of 1887. “David Ireland
and other colored citizens from the east end of Westminster . . . repeated their
requests for an appropriation of two hundred fifty dollars towards a house for
a colored school . . . the request was unanimously granted.” By early December
authorization was given to paint the woodwork of the school. The Charles
Street School continued to function as an education facility for black children
for many years. The 1918 Sanborn Map describes it as a public school with
stoves for heating and no lights. It must have been about this time that the
Board decided to close the building. As yet, the reasons are unknown. It was
offered for sale in May 1920. The building was sold to Isaac Bruce for $500.
According to the 1927 Sanborn Map, he converted the school to a dwelling.
The building has recently been renovated by a private owner.
CARR 1335
138 EAST MAIN STREET circa 1905-1920
The house at 138 East Main Street is one of two identical adjacent houses. It is
typical of national building trends of the early twentieth century and was prob-
ably constructed c. 1905-1920. The plan, with a foyer and a columned opening
to the parlor, indicates a close reliance on the many pattern books and period-
icals available at this time. In conjunction with the details, which seem to be all
mass produced outside of the County, or by locals based on ideas from outside
the County, this house demonstrates the complete end of traditional building
styles in Carroll County and the dominance of a national culture. Incomplete
land records make it impossible to determine who was responsible for the con-
struction of this house.
CARR 1427
317 EAST MAIN STREET circa 1854-1856
Rachel Mitten House private
The Rachel Mitten House is located on a lot that was sold at public sale to
William Reese for $111 in October 1852. Just over a year later Reese sold it to
Noah Mitten for $200. The price suggests that there were likely no improve-
ments to the lot. Noah Mitten sold the lot in August 1856 to his mother, Rachel
Mitten, for $400. This probably indicates the construction of the existing log
house, then, between 1854 and 1856 for Rachel Mitten. In order to purchase
the house, Rachel Mitten borrowed $100 from her daughter, Christena Mitten.
Rachel Mitten died in early 1860. Christena Mitten apparently was living here
and continued to do so. The house was advertised for sale in November 1868.
In 1877 it was purchased by Sarah A. Miller of Baltimore City and apparently
became a rental property. She sold it in 1907 to William Eckard, and it
remained in this family until very recently. The main block of the house retains
most of its original features and illustrates well a very average house of the
period just prior to the Civil War, one that was apparently built for a widow and
her unmarried daughters, if not by them.
CARR 472
Farmers Supply Company Complex public/private
The Farmers Supply Company Complex consists of a city block on Liberty
Street, one block south of the downtown crossroads of Main and Liberty at the
center of Westminster, Maryland. The four structures on the property reflect
the evolution of the site over a 100 year period. A two-story, gable roofed stone
building, constructed as a foundry ca. 1865, is situated at the northeast corner
of the site. A mid-19th century brick building on a stone foundation, used as a
packing house, sits at the center of the block. The most architecturally signifi-
cant building on the block is the 1947 Farmers Supply Company Building, a
one-story concrete block and glass international style building that occupies
the southeast corner. Based on a prototype developed by noted industrial
designer Raymond Loewy, the Farmers Supply Company Building is a virtually
unaltered example of an important mid-20th century building typology. A mid-
20th century corrugated metal and concrete block warehouse structure wraps
around the north and west sides of the block. Both the stone building and the
brick barn have been altered over the years. The Farmers Supply Company
Building is in good condition, the stone building is in fair condition, the ware-
house is in fair condition, and the brick packing house is in deteriorated con-
dition. This site is planned for redevelopment during 1998-1999.
Prepared by Betty Bird of Betty Bird & Associates.
CARR 1448
70 LIBERTY STREET circa 1878-1879
John Eckenrode House private
John E. Eckenrode was born on “Carrollton” farm near Reese in 1847. He
apprenticed with William Green, a Westminster carriage maker, for three years.
He then took a job as a painter with George W. Stoner. After six months he
became a partner with Stoner and married his daughter, Annie. Shortly after-
ward, Eckenrode moved to Westminster and formed a partnership with Eli Sny-
der. In 1878 Eckenrode bought lot 6 of Yingling’s Addition to Westminster, on
Liberty Street on the corner of George Street. The 1877 map of Westminster
shows the lot vacant, and according to family tradition, Harry Case was respon-
sible for building the front part of the house. This is confirmed by a brief notice
in the local paper in November 1878: “Harry Case, carpenter, is building a
dwelling for John Eckenrode. It will be 20 x 32 feet, and two stories high.” The
Eckenrodes and Cases intermarried, and the property remains today in the
Case family. Family tradition also records that the back building was con-
structed by another, unknown builder, after completion of the front part of the
house but before anyone had moved in. The tax assessments note a new house
worth $850 in 1879, suggesting that construction spanned late 1878 and the
first part of 1879. The house is a fairly simple, traditional building of average
size. Eckenrode was already planning improvements behind his new house, and
in May 1883 announced that he had removed to them. The front porch was
added between 1897 and 1904. The back of the main block of the house, now
covered by the ell, is painted a medium tan with chocolate trim, and this was
probably the original color of the house. The ell was added later, but could not
have been added too many years after construction of the front of the house.
CARR 472
CARR 128
Westminster Cemetery Superintendent’s House private
The earliest history of this structure is anecdotal, as no records could be found
to verify its history. About 1790, a log Union Meeting House was constructed
and a graveyard created around it on the site that is now the Westminster
Cemetery. Both the 1862 and 1877 maps show the Union Church with this
school house in close proximity. Whether there was a connection between the
two is not known, though it seems likely since the school was on the cemetery
grounds. In 1937, Bradford Gist Lynch wrote that professor John A. Monroe
taught “a private school known as the “Female Collegiate and Male Academic
Institute.” Nor is it known when the County acquired the school. The 4 June
1888 meeting of the School Commissioners noted: “the Board agreed to quit
claim to the old school property adjoining the cemetery quieting the title to
said property now held by said Cemetery company.” Eight days later the ceme-
tery board minutes record that: “steps would be take to improve the property
by making a dwelling of it, the 1st Room to be 13½ + 17 feet stairway 3½ feet
wide 2nd Room 12 + 17 feet with pantry underneath stairway. Kitchen 12 +
17. Partition to be removed back stairway remain first chimney to remain but
second to be placed between kitchen and dining room.” The work was obvi-
ously carried out, as the building now mirrors this description , and it was
noted in a January 1889 summary of buildings in Westminster that the West-
minster Cemetery Company has improved and remodeled the old school
house on Church Street. The superintendent occupies it.” The building has
since been sold by the Westminster Cemetery Company, and it is currently
undergoing extensive restoration by a private citizen.
CARR 260
Fenby Farm Lime Kiln public
This site has been described, erroneously, as the remains of Leigh Masters iron
furnace. While the furnace was in the general vicinity, the structure in question
is a lime kiln, and is the only survivor of the Fenby Farm (CARR 407). The farm
was sold in 1829 to Joseph Orndorff. Orndorff apparently lived on the
premises and farmed it. According to the Democrat and Carroll County Republi-
canfor 1 January 1844, Joseph Stoudt was selling lime at nine cents per bushel
at his kiln on Joesph Orndorff’s farm. Joseph sold the farm to William H. Orn-
dorff for $10,000. He advertised in the 1877 atlas “Wm. H. Orndorff, Farmer;
also has for sale Lime Stone and Lime.” William Orndorff mortgaged his prop-
erty and eventually got into financial trouble. He was forced to sell the farm in
1888, and its mineral resources were described. “Its quarries yield the finest
limestone to be found in this section of the State. The lime obtained here has
always stood in high favor with builders and is equally useful for the fertiliza-
tion of land.” The farm was puchased by William Fenby, apparently for his son,
William F. Fenby, who continued the lime operation. Fenby sold the farm in
1905 to the B.F. Shriver Company of Westminster. The company not only used
the farm to raise crops for its large-scale canning operation, but apparently
continued to operate the quarry for some time.
This site was the target of an archeological investigation during 1997. A report
of the findings is available for review at City Hall.
CARR 404
41 WTTR LANE mid 19th century
Located on the outskirts of the original town of Westminster, 41 WTTR Lane
contains buildings which exhibit the styles and construction methods that are
typical of 19th century farmhouses and barns in the Pennsylvania Cultural
region. Both the primary dwelling and the barn make use of bank construction,
which allows for an exterior entrance to the basement of the house and direct
access to two levels in the barn.
The primary dwelling is a 2½ story, five bay brick structure with a metal, gabled
roof. Significant features include a single story porch on the main facade, inte-
rior chimneys at the gable ends, two sets of double tiered porches, and rear
enclosed bays. The interior of the dwelling is laid out with an altered center
hall plan, and contains front and rear stairways, paneled and board and batten
doors, and three fireplaces.
The barn has a stone foundation, vertical wooden siding, and a metal roof. The
walls are pierced by large sliding doors and numerous louvered vents. Four-
over-four arched windows flanked by louvered vents are located in the gables.
Other contributing resources on the site include an open shed that is part of
the original barn yard, a secondary dwelling, a smokehouse, an oven, a garage,
and a small shed adjoining the garage.
Prepared by Tracey Smith, Assistant Town Planner for Westminster.
CARR 1316
45 WASHINGTON ROAD 1904-05; 1924
"The Hills" private
The Hills” is located on a portion of the 9.4 acre parcel purchased by Guy
Wakeman Steele in September 1904. The son of J. Henry and Ella Wakeman
Steele, Guy Steele was born on his father’s farm in Eldersburg in 1871.
J. Henry Steele was a member of the Maryland and American Bar Associations,
and his son seems to have followed in his footsteps, being admitted to the bar
in 1894. A Democrat, Steele was elected States Attorney for Carroll County in
1903 and served one four-year term. It was perhaps his recent political success,
and continuing aspirations, that induced him to build a home that would be a
showplace for entertaining. Even before the deed had been executed the local
papers had noted that he “. . . has the foundation walls up for his new build-
ing, about to be erected on the Westminster and Washington turnpike adjoin-
ing this city. The plans for the dwelling have been drawn by Mr. Paul Reese,
architect, of this city [Westminster]. . . .” Reese studied architecture in the office
of Baltimore architect William M. Ellicott, Jr. before attending the Atelier Mas-
queray in New York City. Professor Masqueray had himself studied at the Ecole
des Beaux Arts, Paris, and in this way Beaux Arts design filtered down to small-
town America.
Charles B. Hunter, contractor and builder of Westminster, had the building
under roof by early November, 1904. By the end of July the dwelling was com-
plete and the Steeles had moved in. In June, 1906, Charles Hunter filed suit
against Guy Steele “...for the payment of $479 due upon contract in the erec-
tion of the fine residence of Mr. Steele, and for other sums for extra work not
embraced in the contract.” The case was moved to Washington County, no
doubt because Steele was the State’s Attorney in Carroll, and was tried in March
1907. The jury found in favor of Hunter, awarding him $376. Local tradition
claims that the house originally had a third story that was destroyed by fire in
1924, and that the house was rebuilt as a two-story dwelling. However, news-
paper accounts of the fire and the charred flooring, joists, and rafters left in
place in the attic clearly indicate that the original roof configuration was
retained when the house was reconstructed. The Steele’s moved to the West-
minster Hotel after the fire and Charles B. Hunter began working on the ren-
ovations; the law suit of 18 years earlier seems to have been forgotten by both
parties. President Woodrow Wilson appointed Steele Surveyor of the Port of
Baltimore in 1915 and again in 1919. After his second term in that capacity he
practiced law in Westminster until his death at The Hills” in October 1931, at
age 59. The house was purchased by Scott S. Bair in 1945. The Bair family
recently sold the house and it is undergoing conversion (1998), with extensive
additions, to an assisted living facility.
CARR 1572
BOND STREETatGREEN STREET 1868–69; 1893; 1923
St. Paul’s Reformed Church private
At the close of the Civil War, members of the German Reformed Church in
Westminster had to travel 1½ miles west of the city in order to worship, at
St. Benjamin’s (Kreiders) Church. To remedy this, a group formed to build a
church and organize a congregation. A building committee was formed in May
1868. That same month a lot was purchased at the corner of Bond and Green
Streets for $800.00. Pastor W.C. Cremer recalled several years later: “On June
the 8th 1868 the building committee met and resolved to visit Baltimore &
[arrive?] some church building and adopt a plan for the new church. In due
time a plan was adopted. Messrs, Shorb & Leister were employed as architects,
Mr. George Leas Master Carpenter and Christian Awalt master mason + brick-
layer, + Hashabiah Haines was chosen to act as Superintendent of the building
in concert mit [sic] + by direction of the building committee.” They eventually
chose a Wren-Gibbs plan with Gothic Revival detailing. The design of the
church was certainly not new to Baltimore, but it was to Carroll County, where
the first true example was built in 1862-63 by Trinity Reformed Church in
Manchester. This was followed by St. John’s Catholic and Grace Lutheran
Churches, both in Westminster. Shorb was a native of Emmitsburg who had
moved to Westminster in the early 1860s and eventually partnered with Leis-
ter in the design and construction of both furniture and buildings. Because
St. Paul’s was a new congregation, the building committee employed an inter-
esting and unusual arrangement for Carroll County in the nineteenth century.
Rather than build a small, traditional, conservative church at little expense,
they chose to build one that was large and elaborate for its time and place.
Since they were not assured of their endeavor, though, they did not build all at
once. Rather, they constructed the entire shell, but finished only the lower story
lecture room first. The lecture hall was dedicated on June 1, 1869, and it was
resolved to complete the church in August 1869. The church was completed
that year at a cost of $16,500.
After completion of the church a parsonage was constructed. This is appar-
ently the brick dwelling at the corner of Bond Street and the alley, and is no
longer owned by the church. In 1893 St. Paul’s moved to construct a new par-
sonage. Harry Case, a well known Westminster house builder, was given the
contract for the price of $2,559. The house is essentially a traditional central
passage, double pile plan, with the rooms on one side pushed forward into a
projecting bay. However, the design and finish, especially of the exterior, is not
at all traditional. Nominally Queen Anne in influence, the house design was
probably taken from one of the numerous pattern books available in the late-
nineteenth century and has certain affinities with designs by R. W. Shoppell,
whose books were popular in Carroll County in the 1880s and 1890s.
The church has undergone numerous changes. In 1893, as they were plan-
ning to build the new parsonage, a tornado brought the steeple down into the
church yard. The minute books report: When it was wrenched from its brick
base, three of the large cap stones which ornamented the brick work were loos-
ened and fell, crashing through the roof and ceiling of the church into the
organ loft. The roof of the church was much damaged also by part of the roof
of Mr. Bankert’s house being carried upon it. Many of the enameled glass win-
dows were broken by the force of the wind and by pieces of timber and slate
being brushed against them.” The church consistory decided against rebuild-
ing the steeple, noting that “the high steeple, whilst it was an ornament to the
church, was also a menace.” Instead, a committee was appointed to repair the
roof “and to secure a plan for finishing the tower of the church.” This tower
still survives. In 1923 a major interior renovation was completed. Much of the
interior finishes seen today date to this period, and transformed the church
from a typically plain Gothic Revival structure of the mid-nineteenth century
to the more elaborate Gothic Revival typical of the first quarter of the twenti-
eth century. The renovations were designed by the DeLong Furniture Co. of
Philadelphia, architectural decorators and furnishers. The last significant
changes to the church came in 1957. A new, fifteen foot wide section was added
to the end of the church, enabling the chancel to be deepened, and an 8 foot
diameter rose window was placed here. In addition, a connection was made
from the church to the brick house known as the Royer property, and that
building was thoroughly remodeled.
CARR 1573
9 PARK AVENUE 1898–99
The house at 9 Park Avenue, on Belle Grove Square in Westminster, is part of
the large scale development that Mayor Oscar D. Gilbert made to this section
of the city beginning in the 1890s. The square was given to the city in 1877 by
George W. Matthews, who had laid out lots around it in what was known as
Matthews Addition. Gilbert bought lots 27, 28, and 29 in the 1890s; lots 27 and
29 already had brick dwellings on them. By mid-1897 Gilbert had added on to
11 Park Avenue and constructed 7 Park Avenue on part of lot 28. The houses
he was building and remodeling, though substantial, well-finished single fam-
ily dwellings, were built as rental properties. In November 1898 the local
papers noted that Gilbert was again building a house on the square. It was com-
pleted in 1899, according to the insurance underwriters rate book for West-
minster, at 9 Park Avenue. It was squeezed in between the existing buildings at
7 and 11 Park Avenue. Like the even larger house at 7 Park Avenue, this build-
ing was a large Queen Anne with refined details including decorative brackets
and frieze on the exterior, and pocket doors and a built-in hall seat at the foot
of the stairway on the interior. The house was probably a pattern-book plan,
and has similarities (especially the sunburst pattern in the bay gable) to R.W.
Shoppell’s designs, which were popular at this time in Carroll County. Begin-
ning in the 1880s, plan books brought national styles to towns in Carroll
County in ever-increasing numbers, until the local vernacular was completely
abandoned by about 1910. Denton Gehr purchased 9 Park Avenue from
Gilbert in 1921, and apparently lived there for several years, eventually selling
it in 1934. Gehr is best known for having embezzled close to $30,000 from the
First National Bank, and funds from the Westminster Cemetery Company, for
which he was sentenced to four years at North Eastern Penitentiary in 1938.
CARR 476
Henry E. Morelock House private
An earlier survey of the Henry E. Morelock House erroneously dated the build-
ing to c. 1885 because the deed for the lot was executed in 1884, and noted
that it copied the house next door at 30 West Green Street, which was dated to
c. 1870. In reality, both houses date from the same year, 1868, and are more
closely linked than was realized. Henry Edmond Morelock was born on
11 March 1829, apparently the oldest child of Michael Morelock, Jr., and Anna
Mary Morelock. Michael Morelock, Jr. had a farm on Rockland Road (CARR
1410). The 1862 map of Carroll County shows that Henry had a tannery just
south of his father’s farm. In late 1868 he advertised his tannery for sale. In
1867 Henry Morelock formed a partnership with his cousin, Jacob M. More-
lock. The Morelock firm acquired a lot in Westminster in 1868 and went into
the business of leather manufacturing. How this enterprise differed from the
rural tannery is not known, but the partnership did not last long, as by early
1873 Henry Morelock had acquired the whole business. At the same time,
release was made on his old tannery, indicating that it had sold.
While the Morelocks were forming their business partnership in Westminster,
they were also planning to build new dwellings in the newest residential section
of Westminster. George W. Mathews created Belle Grove Square, and the build-
ing lots that surround it, in the 1860s. The first recorded transfer of lots in the
tax records is in May 1868, and among these are Jacob, who purchased lot 2,
and Henry, who bought lot 3. On 17, June 1869 both Henry and Jacob were
assessed for new houses on Green Street, each valued at $3000. Thus Henry’s
house must have been built in 1868, not 1885. The timing of the purchase of
lots and construction of the buildings, along with their identical original
appearance, suggest that the partners hired the same builder to construct two
versions of the same house. This arrangement probably saved them some
money, but it seems to have been a rare strategy in nineteenth-century West-
minster. The side passage plan chosen by the Morelocks is not unusual for
urban dwellings (or rural ones in Carroll County, for that matter) and the
double side porch with projecting pantry is very typical in this region. Three
story dwellings, however, are not common, with most being found in Westmin-
ster. The house retains a high degree of integrity and has unusual graining on
the door panels and mantels that is probably the signature of a particular, as
yet unnamed, craftsman. In 1903 Henry Morelock sold the house to Alice, his
only surviving child, and probably moved to her home near Lineboro, as he
died there on 13 December 1904. Henry Morelock’s house remained in his
family until 1995, but was converted to a boarding house by Alice and
remained that way until restored in 1995.
CARR 693
413-415 UNIONTOWN ROAD c. 1842-1862
Jacob Mearing Farm private
In the early nineteenth century, the Jacob Mearing Farm was owned by the
Brown family. In 1838 it was offered for sale. At that time the farm held a two-
story, weather-boarded house. The farm was purchased by Jacob Mearing, who
must have built the existing stone house between the purchase of the farm in
1842 and the mid-1860’s. The back building was constructed at the same time.
The use of stone was always a rarity, about 5% of houses being built of that
material. Mearing died in early 1865. The farm then had to be sold, and the
description of it notes: The Improvements on this Farm Consist of a comfort-
able and well built Stone Dwelling House, TENANT HOUSE, Bank Barn, and
Spring House.” This is the first documentation of the existence of the stone
house. John Galt bought it in 1873. By this time the farm was 31 acres, too
small to make a comfortable living on, but it is not known what other occupa-
tion Galt may have had. Galt may have been responsible for the frame addition
and extensive alterations, which surely must have been built by 1890. Galt
bought a property in town in 1895 and probably retired there before dying in
1900. His widow, Kate, apparently rented out the farm for years before selling
it to Charles W. King in 1918. King was probably responsible for the addition
of the stucco and the existing wrap-around porch.
CARR 1574
Forrest Sisters House private
The Forrest Sisters House, at 153 East Green Street in Westminster, sits on part
of lot 13 of John Fisher’s Addition. The 1877 Atlas already shows a house on
this site, though it is not one of the buildings that survives today. The original
house was probably built about 1867 by Ephraim B. Fowler, and was sold to
Charles H. Fowler (his son?) in 1883. Charles was a cigar maker who got into
financial trouble and his property was sold by court order in 1897. The house
and lot were acquired by Dianna Forrest for $1,000. The house stood where
151 East Green Street is, and was either demolished or substantially altered by
1901. Dianna Forrest died by November 1900 and her three single daughters,
Martha Alice, Ella May, and Annie Florence, inherited the property. In 1907
the three sisters built a new brick house on the other half of lot 13, at 153 East
Green Street. The local papers noted in July of that year that “the new brick
house being built by the Misses Forrest on Green street, is progressing nicely.”
At a time when the Colonial Revival was very popular, bungalows were gaining
in popularity, and Queen Anne houses were still being built around the county,
the Forrest Sisters chose to build a mansard-roofed house. Like Queen Anne
houses, this dwelling was a little behind its time, but much of Carroll County
was slow to adopt the popular new national styles. The first mansard-roofed
dwelling built in Westminster was probably William Dallas’ mansion (CARR-
517), in 1869, but few followed this lead, so that a mansard roof probably would
not have seemed that out of date in Westminster in 1907. The Dallas house is
just across the street from the Forrest sisters house, and it may have influenced
them in their choice.
Photographic Inventory
In 1980, Joseph Getty, Nancy A. Miller, and Christopher Weeks completed the National Register of Historic Places Inven-
tory and Nomination form for the Westminster National Register District. This inventory mentioned a number of build-
ings as having historic and architectural significance; however, thorough research of some of these properties has never
been completed. These structures have been included below as a photographic inventory, with captions indicating their
significance, as described in the inventory form for the Westminster National Register District.
East Main Street
In the late 1800s, three story buildings became more
prominent, as in this example at 105 East Main Street.
128 East Main Streetis a log
house covered with clapboard.
182 East Main Streetis part of Westminster’s
Local Historic District Zone.
You will probably find that
scrolling down these
pages goes faster if you
drag the marquees on the
thumbnails rather than
using the scroll-bar arrows.
Hide This Note
A former school on Center Street has been converted
to a restaurant, bed and breakfast, and fitness club.
This residence at 39 Webster Street is represen-
tative of the houses built in Westminster during
the first half of the 20th century.
43 North Court Street
166 Willis Street
201 Willis Street
Center, Webster, North Court, and Willis Streets
The two-story porch at 46 Liberty Streetwas constructed
within the ell formed by the wings of the house.
100 Liberty Streetis topped
by a mansard roof.
A stepped brick cornice is
found on107 Liberty Street.
21-25 West Green Street is the location
of the Shelter for Intact Families.
Liberty and West Green Streets
The brickwork at the cornice line of
15 Carroll Street displays Greek crosses.
38-40 Carroll Streetfeatures a hall and parlor plan.
The single-pitched roof is combined
with the mansard style at 21 John Street.
Brick duplexes are found at39-49 John Street.
Carroll and John Streets
The Georgian Revival style is
exhibited at 7 Doyle Avenue.
67 Pennsylvania Avenue
features a corner tower.
A brick, four-square style house
at 145 Pennsylvania Avenue.
7 Ridge Roadis an example
of the bungalow style.
Doyle and Pennsylvania Avenues and Ridge Road
105 Bell Road
The Kauffman Mansion at
336 Buck Cash Drive.
This house on Fenby Farm Road
is now part of the Wakefield
Valley Golf Course complex.
West of Maryland Route 31
The Carroll County countryside as depicted in an 1877 atlas of the county.
Westminster’s progress has always been determined by its
own “energetic and upwardly thrusting men.” Character-
istically, the city was founded on the whim of an indi-
vidual who laid out 45 lots in the 1760s as a speculative
venture. There was no natural harbor, no cross roads, no
trade route, no fort, no political pressure, nor any other
time-honored reason that might ordain the “inevitability”
of a town in this place. Not even the apocryphal story that
so often graces the opening pages of a history such as this
comes to light for Westminster.
The major factors that have encouraged the growth
and wealth of the city were created by its own citizens. In
1807 the turnpike to the west from Baltimore was di-
rected through Westminster by the lobbying efforts of her
citizens; a generation later the creation of Carroll County
with Westminster as the new county’s seat was due to the
actions of the city’s merchants and other entrepreneurs;
and in the following generation, the Western Maryland
Railroad was laid through the town due to bonds paid for
by the people of Westminster. Thus a spirit of enterprise
and individual energy not only created the town but con-
tinually reappeared at key moments in its political and
architectural history.
Despite its individualism,the city was very much a
part of the larger picture, “a piece of the continent.” This
applies not only to its earliest days when it was settled by
people who had lived elsewhere and were now bringing
their traditions and values to Westminster, but also in
later years when the city was linked to the rest of the east
coast by a highly efficient rail system. It is important,
therefore, that Westminster’s affairs always be studied in
the context of the surrounding area, particularly Carroll
One of the salient characteristics of Westminster’s
early homes is their striking similarity to the early farm-
houses of the surrounding countryside. One is reminded
of Vienna’s rapport with its nearby farms and forests: it
is, as one visitor exclaimed, “impossible to walk the streets
of Vienna without scenting the Vienna Woods in the air.”
Just what odors wafted into Westminster from the Carroll
County farms need not detain us here; what is important
is to realize the strength of the emotional and psycho-
logical ties between the city and the country. This should
not be unexpected, since the same brand of people settled
both; indeed the same individuals often built identical
homes in the county and in the city at the same time.
Chapter 1
The German Pioneers,
The first patent (land grant) in the area now known as
Carroll County was
“Belt’s Hills”; it was granted on July
10, 1723. In a 1937 article in the Times of Westminster,
Doctors Arthur and Grace
of Hampstead dis-
cussed the early settlement of the area. They noted that,
according to land grant records, “the movement of civi-
lization into Carroll County” came from three directions:
(1) over the west or Delaware Branch of the Patapsco
Falls; (2) from the north into the vicinity of Union
and (3) over the present Baltimore-Carroll
County line, northward along the Conewago Road and to
the Hampstead and Manchester district. The southern
area of the county, around what is now Sykesville, was
settled in general by families of English or Scotch-Irish
descent, who often came from older British-settled parts
of Maryland, such as Saint Mary’s, Prince George’s, and
Anne Arundel Counties. The northwestern part of the
county was settled, generally speaking, by Pennsylva-
nians, either Scotch-Irish from the York area or Pala-
tinate Germans and Swiss. The central part of the county,
where Westminster now stands, was settled a little later by
a mixture of these nationalities. This dichotomy of Ger-
manic and British heritage was a prominent character-
istic in the early days of the city and lasted well into the
20th century.
The Traceys’ records of patents and land grants in
Carroll County and surrounding areas indicate just a
trickle of immigration into the area in the 1730s. Swelled
by a variety of events that occurred more-or-less simul-
taneously, the trickle became a torrent in the
and '60s
Perhaps the most important of these events
stemmed from Louis XIV’s penchant for invading and
invading Germany.
The Palatinate is a region that stretches along the
southern reaches of the Rhine River in what is today
southern Germany and northern Switzerland. The area
suffered severely during the Thirty Years’ War
1648) and lost much of its population. However, it was
not until Louis XIV re-entered and pillaged the area in
the 1680s that a significant migration took place. The
fact that the Elector of the Palatinate had chosen to
shelter French Protestants, Huguenots, from the persecu-
tion of Catholic France angered the French King and “for
nine years beginning in 1688 the Palatinate was overrun,
pillaged, and burned to the extent that by 1697 the popu-
lation was reduced
. . . from a half million to fifty thou-
In the 1914 journal of the Pennsylvania German
Society, Daniel Wunderlich Nead, M.D., comments that,
after Louis XIV invaded and ravaged the Palatinate, “to
the little remnant that was left it seemed as though they
had been forsaken by God as well as by man, and they
were ready to turn in any direction that offered an
escape from the terrible situation in which they found
At about this time, agents from America were visiting
Germany, and particularly the Palatinate, to encourage
emigration to the New World. Many emigrants went to
London first and from there to the New World, where
they spread from upstate New York to New Bern, North
“A constant stream of German colonists fol-
lowed at first slowly and then in large numbers, the
greatest number going to
William Penn had taken title to “Pennsylvania” from
Charles II and however concerned he may have been with
brotherly love, he was also interested in making money.
To make money he needed to fill his vast acres with
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
Section of a map of the State of
Maryland prepared
by Dennis Griffith in 1794; engraved by J. Thackara
and J. Valiance in 1795. Westminster is shown at the boundary of Frederick and Baltimore Counties.
The German Pioneers, 1730-1770
ducing farms and villages.
The discontented and foot-
loose Germans were the obvious choice to pick as settlers.
To attract them, he circulated pamphlets and brochures,
written in German, in the ruined villages along the Rhine
and sent his own agents to the Rhine Valley and to Lon-
don. One of Penn’s pamphlets was called “The Golden
Book”, certainly an encouraging name, and reminiscent
of the literature put out today by “development” areas in
Arizona and other such havens.
Penn was successful, and the early years of the 18th
century saw a massive influx of Germans into south-
eastern Pennsylvania.
From the time that Moses led the host of Israel out of
Egypt to the promised land, history records no such
emigration of a people as that which took place in the
province of Germany in the early years of the 18th cen-
tury. The causes were varied, though it was the ruth-
less devastation of the valley of the Rhine, commonly
known as the Palatinate, during the 30 years war . .
more than any other cause that started the great
steady stream of German blood, muscle, and brains to
This migration into Pennsylvania eventually totalled
scores of thousands, and created a very large, closely knit
German community. As often happens, the newcomers
caused concern among the established residents. Ben-
jamin Franklin, in 1751, commented, “why should the
Palatinate boors be suffered to swarm into our settle-
ments and, by herding together, establish their language
and manners, to the exclusion of ours? Why should Penn-
sylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of
aliens who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us,
instead of our Anglifying them?” Franklin was not alone
in his anti-immigration
or at least, anti-German-
Pennsylvania was taking in more
citizens than it could, or would willingly, absorb, so it was
not surprising that re-migration from the Philadelphia
area began. The logical direction was south
During Maryland’s first hundred years or so, the col-
ony grew slowly. Whatever growth occurred was concen-
trated in the Tidewater area around the Chesapeake Bay.
In 1689, over 50 years after the colony was founded, the
population was only 25,000; 45 years later, in 1733, it had
grown only to 31,470. The sparsely settled colony was ripe
for “invasionfrom the burgeoning area to its north.
Louis L.T. Henninghausen
notes that about this time
(i.e, the 1730s) “the German settlers began to come into
Maryland from Pennsylvania.
when this movement
reached its height the effect was decidedly noticeable and
by 1756 the population [of Maryland] had increased to
130,000 and by far the greater number of them were
Pennsylvania Germans.
This migration was facilitated
by the ill-defined and unimportant boundary line be-
tween the north central section of Maryland and the
south central area of Pennsylvania. The Mason-Dixon
line, later agreed upon by Lord Baltimore and William
Penn, was a totally arbitrary division of a basically homo-
genous population.
By this sequence, then, some of the
early Germans who had “forsaken the hill country, of
what is now Germany, Switzerland, and the Palatinate in
Europe and migrated to the colony of Pennsylvania land-
ing in the then town of Philadelphia, thence journeyed
westward and southward to what they supposed was the
southern part of the colony of
but which
was actually Maryland.
The Maryland colonists were pleased to receive these
mobile Germans. As early as March 2, 1732, Charles,
Lord Baltimore, had issued a proclamation beginning:
We, being desirous to increase those numbers of
honest people within our Province of Maryland, and
willing to give them considerable
come and reside therein
. in the back lands in the
north or west boundaries of our said province not
already taken up between the rivers Potomac and
Lord Baltimore’s terms in this invitation were very attrac-
tive: a family would get two hundred acres of land with-
out paying him the usual rental for three years, and then
would pay only four shillings (60¢) per hundred acres per
year. Each single male or female between the ages of fif-
teen and thirty would get a hundred acres under the same
terms. The exact value of this rent in today’s currency is
hard to approximate but it is clear that these were in-
tended to be bargain rates. Interestingly, Baltimore made
no discrimination between the sexes: he offered the same
terms to single men and single women.
Another man to profit from this new source of settlers
was Governor Spottswood of Virginia, who was encourag-
ing Germans to settle near Winchester and in the Shenan-
doah Valley. In 1732, the year of Lord Baltimore’s proc-
lamation, a group of Germans left York, Pennsylvania,
for Virginia, passing through Maryland and thus begin-
ning the constant interplay and intermingling among the
Germans of these three states.
The Virginia settlements were in regular communica-
tions with the Pennsylvania
Besides the basic desire to populate their provinces,
these proprietors and governors were also concerned with
settling the inland area as a buffer to protect the seaport
towns in the east from the Indians and French to the west.
It was into this area that the Germans were funnelled. An
“unceasing stream of Germans
flowed through the
provinces of Pennsylvania to the outpost of civilization
and formed a bulwark between the aborigines and the
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
The Germans seemed to have been un-
troubled by the Indians, however. About 1750, in what is
now Carroll County, only “a remnant of Indians num-
bering about 60 or 70 resided within less than a mile of
probably the last aborigines who resided
in the area.
The supposition is that these were a western
tribe known as the Susquehannocks who lived to the east
for most of the year but who would travel into present day
Carroll County to hunt and spend the summers. Quite
suddenly, however,“without any commotion or apparent
preparation for the event, they all, except two, disap-
peared during the night; the two exceptions were the
chief called Macanappy and his wife, both being very old
and infirm. They survived the departure of their friends
only a few
Nevertheless, the Treaty of Six Na-
tions, pledging peace and signed in Lancaster in 1745 by
the leaders of the Indian tribes and by the colonists, must
have been reassuring to those who had already settled in
central Pennsylvania,
Maryland, and Virginia, and cer-
tainly served to lure more white men to the area.
The always treacherous mid-Atlantic weather further
encouraged migration from the Philadelphia area in the
1740s. The winter of 1740-41 was especially severe in
Pennsylvania and, while it was presumably severe in the
other colonies too, an early sunbelt psychology seems to
have prevailed: surely, the settlers argued, warmer cli-
mates would be found to the south, even if the move was
only a few miles and even if it was actually southwest into
the mountains.
The trails used by Pennsylvanians on their treks into
Maryland and Virginia are well known today. The most
famous was the Monocacy trail; one branch led from the
Susquehanna River through York and Adams Counties
across the Monocacy River through Frederick County and
finally across the Potomac into Virginia. This was the
and indeed it was only a trail
that was used in
the early years. The other branch was a few miles to
The Monocacy trail or road was a very important
thorofare in the early days, being a part of the Indian
trail leading from old Joppa on the Gunpowder River,
and led to the Indian settlements on the Monocacy,
and was one of the most important thorofares west-
ward. It entered the [Westminster] District
southward and westward of
As the number of pioneers heading south increased,
the 1740s it became necessary to turn the trail into a road.
The new road was laid out following the trail and was
used continuously during the rest of the 18th century. Not
surprisingly, it was called the Monocacy Road. The road
was macadamized in 1878 and, until the railroads came,
remained the main thoroughfare connecting Maryland
and the south with Pennsylvania and the northeast.
It was not until the Germans moved into Maryland
that the central Piedmont area of the colony began to
prosper. One result of this increase in population and
wealth was the creation of Frederick County out of Prince
George’s County in 1748. The new county contained
modern Frederick County and the western half of Carroll
County, including most of present day Westminster. One
of the first towns in this area was called Monocacy (pre-
sumably as a tribute to the money-producing highway).
Many of the names of Monocacy's early inhabitants (e.g.
Grimes, Zimmerman, Myers) are still prevalent in West-
minster and Carroll County today. Other towns were
quickly laid out: Frederick in 1745, Taneytown in 1754,
and Westminster in 1764.
The early histories of Frederick and Westminster
interestingly similar.
Frederick was laid out by an English gentleman, but
its lots and the rich farms immediately surrounding
were soon taken up by a host of German immigrants
. . the style of houses and barns introduced was that
of Germany rather than that of English origin
these immigrants brought with them their mother
and a familiar form
of worship and
In 1771, William Eddis noted that “Frederick town is the
third place of importance in Maryland exceeding Annap-
olis in size and number of inhabitants. What chiefly at-
tended to the advancement of settlements in this remote
district was the arrival of many immigrants of the Pala-
tinate and other Germanic states.“
In 1748 the German church in Frederick was
founded. In its list of early parishioners again are found
names still common in present-day Westminster and Car-
roll County
Gephart, Buckie, Shriver, Schriner, Fau-
ble, Albaugh,
During this massive immigration of German settlers,
the southern and western parts of what is today Carroll
County were being settled by the English. Joseph Brookes,
an early 20th century local newspaper editor, gave an
address on Carroll County History in 1923 and com-
mented that “to this day the line of demarcation is
perceptible from one end of the county to the other, the
difference in the habits, likes, and dislikes of the
people of the forementioned sections of the county being
There appears to have been, however, no great fric-
tion between the German and the British pioneers. The
mid-18th century Church Book for the Reformed Con-
gregation at Pipe Creek (near Westminster), a manu-
script now in the Library of Congress and compiled by
Annie Walker Barnes in 1940, records this harmony.
Although the church was definitely German (known as
“Pfeiffkrick”), its parishioners allowed other sects and
The German Pioneers, 1730-1770
Pipe Creek (“Pfeiffkrick”) Meeting House.
ethnic groups to worship there. The manuscript notes
that “whereas beautiful freedom is often used to cover up
Evil, especially in these wild parts of the world, and what
is more regrettable, much quarrelling and strife and
malice arise in congregations at the instigation of the
Devil” others would be encouraged to attend services. For
example,“the children of the English shall be baptised
without question as to whether they are legitimate, but
the sponsors must have been baptised.
However, there is
always a limit to liberality, and thus excluded from their
baptismal font were the “so called Reformed or Luther-
ans not belonging regularly to this or another Christian
congregation.” Perhaps this goes to prove that it is easier
to tolerate people whose
“flaws” are so unusual as to be
considered quaint, than people whom one too closely re-
sembles and whose flaws can be recognized as being too
close to one’s own. Signatures on the manuscript of the
Pfeiffkrick meeting house include Schreiber (Shriver?),
Bendel, Cassell, Ulrich, Kober (Cover?) and one Sullivan.
The first list of communicants, dated May 8, 1766, in-
cluded one “Herr Jacob Fisher (John Fisher), who didn’t
belong to the congregation, but nevertheless partook of
the holy supper today.”
William Winchester’s plan of the original town of Winchester; the
name was changed to Westminster four years after the town’s founding.
An English Founder, 1764
As the period of immigration into central Maryland
reached its climax, with incoming Germans, Scotch-Irish,
and English creating a rapidly burgeoning population, it
probably went all but unnoticed when an Englishman
named William Winchester laid out 45 lots on a plot of
land called “White’s Level” in 1764.
Winchester seems to have been a stellar example of a
colonial pioneer entrepreneur. Substantiated facts of his
life are almost as hard to find as those of many other
American pioneers
Daniel Boone, for example. What
information exists has been compiled mostly by his
genealogy-minded descendants and tends to lean towards
canonization. It is clear, however, that he was born in
Westminster, England, on December 22, 1710. He emi-
grated to America when he was 18, arriving in Annapolis
on March 6, 1729, and establishing himself in the
founded City of Baltimore as one of its first merchants.
On July 22, 1747, he married an heiress, Lydia Richards,
whose father was a prominent land holder in Baltimore
County. He was then 37. In 1754, Winchester purchased
“White’s Level,
acres in Frederick
County. The patentee, John White, was then busy fight-
ing in the Indian Wars and took 150 pounds as the pur-
chase price. Ten years later, when the British victory in
the French and Indian War insured peace and stability in
this once border area, Winchester used some of this acre-
age to lay out his town named, naturally, Winchester.
The new town was to have one street, King Street,
which would run northwest and southeast, and would be
bounded to the rear by service alleys. Land for a non-
denominational church was reserved just north of town.
At that time there was no thought of it ever being
more than a collection of happy homes. Friendly cows
now and then escaping from their barnyards would
visit the street and graze peacefully along the grassy
sidewalk, and the only sounds to disturb the summer
stillness were the passing of horsedrawn vehicles, the
family carriage, the farm wagon, or the great covered
wagons known as Pittsburgh conestoga wagons, and
the laughter of children playing safely in the village
If the bucolic haven painted by Mary B. Shellman, the
grand doyen of Westminster historians, ever really ex-
isted, it did not last long. The first change was to the
town’s name. In 1768, an act of the Maryland General
Assembly changed the name to “Westminster,” to avoid,
according to local lore, the confusion arising between this
Winchester in Frederick County, Maryland, and the
Winchester in Frederick County, Virginia. The gentle-
men of the Assembly did William Winchester the honor
of choosing the name of his birthplace as the town’s new
name. A later change, doubtless made for patriotic rea-
sons, occurred when Winchester himself changed the
name of Westminster’s single street from “King Street” to
“Main Street
William Winchester took an active part on a local
level in the events that led up to the Revolution. During a
meeting of the citizens of Frederick County held at the
Court House in Frederick City on November 13, 1774,
Winchester was appointed a member of the county’s com-
mittee empowered to carry out the dictates of the Con-
tinental Congress. He also served on a committee ap-
pointed in 1775 to raise money for arms and ammunition
as required by the Congress.
Twenty-six years after founding the city of West-
minster, William Winchester died there at the age of 79
on December 2, 1790.
“Folk” Buildings of the Late
There is no doubt that before he died William Winches-
ter sold many of his lots to settlers and saw their shelters
rise along his King/Main Street. Unfortunately, none of
these original structures remains today and we can only
theorize about their nature. Before so doing, we must
digress to identify the types of buildings that Westminster
has seen during its history. Speaking very broadly, there
are four categories
folk, vernacular, popular, and
and these in general follow each other chrono-
logically, the architecture changing to accommodate the
changes in economic and political circumstances.
“Folk” buildings are “traditional;“
they may be
thought of as having been built unthinkingly, as a reflex
action. Henry Glassie, perhaps the leading folk culture
historian in the United States today, comments that “the
folk builder might have built traditionally because he
knew no otherwa
In Westminster folk houses followed
forms that the early settlers brought with them from their
native lands (Germany, England). These forms were used
automatically because they were considered to be the cor-
rect way
indeed they were the only known way
build a house. Certainly, they would have been the forms
of the original shelters built on Westminster’s King/Main
The “vernacular” has a strong kinship to the “folk”
category inasmuch as the two share the reflexive or
the-only-way syndrome. Although some historians would
combine the two, in the Westminster context there is a
that strongly justifies their separation.
Whereas the “folk” style
looked backwards to places of
origin for guidance, the “vernacular” developed through
the builders
looking around and combining what was
already there with their own traditional forms. The ver-
nacular style that thus developed toward the end of the
18th century dominated Westminster’s architecture for
almost a century.
The last two categories
popular and polite
the characteristics of variety and change; they both seek
to express the ideas and tastes of the times. The “popular”
form reflects trends over an area much broader than the
local scene and develops as a stereotype for a particular
era. “Polite” buildings, sometimes referred to as “elite” or
are built by architects or professional de-
signers specifically to satisfy the needs and aesthetic
values of an individual client. Of course, “polite” build-
ings often reflect “popular
trends but the stress is always
on individuality.
It is difficult to analyze the earliest buildings in Car-
roll County and Westminster
those that can be defined
as folk buildings
because none exists in unaltered form
and not many exist even in altered form. Buildings pro-
vide a most effective medium for displaying wealth, and
so it is natural that Westminster reflected its progress and
increasing riches in alterations to its buildings. It was
William Bainter O’Neal who made the sad but true com-
ment that “poverty is the best preservationist.“
These earliest houses certainly existed as present-day
foundations and court papers evince, but their steady al-
teration, as their owners became more prosperous, is a
constant thread in the fabric of Westminster’s architec-
tural and social history. One is often tempted to blame
only owners of gas stations and banks for destroying early
buildings in the city, but it is clear that the majority of
alterations, especially those to the earliest buildings, were
made by the descendants of the original builders. They
were seeking to increase their comfort just as modern
owners alter and demolish to meet their current needs.
Two distinguished British architectural historians,
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
Olive Cook and Nigel Nicolson, note, respectively,
it would be both uncharitable and pointless to repudiate
changes which are conducive to efficiency and comfort,“
and warn us
. .we must beware of tinging our admira-
tion with sentimentality, for
[the] builders would
not have known the meaning of the
thought applies here, of course, to the fact that West-
minster’s pioneers were men who had left unpleasant cir-
cumstances to create a new life and fortune in a virgin
territory. As such, they must have viewed their buildings
primarily as shelters, and the fact that subsequent gener-
ations spurned their early handiwork would probably not
one whit disturb their eternal rest.
So the practical concerns that dominated the lives of
Westminster’s first builders provide the major reasons for
the apparent lack of concern for design and style in the
architecture of the time. Societies that are busy settling
their social order, their laws, their religions, their
customs, their lands usually have matters other than ar-
chitecture and the fine arts with which to concern them-
This was true in the early days of Westminster,
and it explains in part why the architecture of West-
minster’s early period is classified as “folk
Similar condi-
tions have existed in all early societies. Sir John Summer-
son has commented on this phenomenon in England:
The people who were to plant the Country so richly
with great houses were either unborn or in their cra-
dles. Their fathers, living in the strenuous course of a
social revolution, bent themselves rather to the getting
and keeping of land than to the raising of buildings on
. . . [They] had a more lively concern with animal
husbandry and the law than with any of the arts; the
land-surveyor and the lawyer were more vital to revo-
lution than the highly skilled
in wood, stone,
or brick.
Thus it was in Westminster during its first few score years.
The people then were more interested in staking a claim,
in making a name and money for themselves and their
families, than in the adornments such a name and money
would later demand. It was up to their descendants to
abandon the process of building strictly for shelter and to
begin building for a message.
Much of the discussion of Westminster’s earliest build-
ings must be based on speculation (observing what was
built elsewhere by the same types of settlers and assuming
that activity in Westminster was no different) and by the-
oretical reconstructions of the buildings after their newer
shells have been removed. When the exact sites of the
buildings have been determined, discovery of a part of a
foundation, or perhaps a hidden interior wall, can make
it possible to guess what these first structures were like
and when they were built
which brings up the ques-
tions of dating. How does one date a building? By refer-
ence to its foundation? By reference to its oldest section?
The question has no universally accepted answer. Some
liken a building to a human: as one dates a human by the
first day it entered the world, so some date a building
back to the first time any part of it existed. This approach
seems unsatisfactory: more often than not very little other
than perhaps a random stone or log in the foundation ex-
ists of that first attempt at shelter. For example, 288 East
Main Street is popularly referred to as “the oldest build-
ing in town” and, in fact, the
information does in-
dicate the presence here of a very early structure. The
first owner of the lot, number 27, after William Winches-
ter was David Shriver, who bought it in 1768. Possibly he
ilt a 15' × 25' (log) cabin on the land that today is oc-
cupied by the northeast corner of the existing structure.
The only full basement is under this section and, in the
basement, one can see how much thicker are the walls
that define this base than are the foundation walls of the
other sections. On June 22, 1840, one Jacob Powder mort-
gaged this and other properties to John Fettering for
$1180, according to Carroll County Land Records Book
This entry is important because it describes
the lot as being improved by a “white weatherboard home
with stabling on the rear in the alley.” Thus it is probable
that a Revolutionary War era log building existed on the
lot and that it later was covered with weatherboarding.
The building’s present appearance indicates that it was
later expanded by brick additions to the side and rear and
that even later it was topped by a mansard roof. The sev-
eral periods represented reflect several owners’ attempts
to create a house satisfactory to their different aesthetic
Number 288 East Main Street . . . additions, additions, and
more additions.
“Folk” Buildings of the Late Eighteenth Century
No scale
Benjamin Rush’s description of a southeast Pennsyl-
vania landscape in the late 18th century would, pre-
sumably, be accurate for other German areas, such as
what is now Carroll County:
Prototypical plan of a German cabin in Westminster.
and physical needs. To attempt to assign a single,
definitive date to such a building is unreasonable. The
least strain on reason would seem to be incurred by dating
according to when the building achieved the basic ap-
pearance it has today. This is the method used in this
Folk culturists have divided the eastern United States
into trans-state regions by reference to similarities in
customs. Glassie, for example, defines “four major cen-
ters of folk culture dispersing on the east coast: southern
and eastern New England, southeastern Pennsylvania,
the area of the Chesapeake Bay, and the coast of southern
North Carolina and Georgia.“
The settlement of West-
minster and Carroll County was divided between pioneers
from Pennsylvania and the Bay area and the same divi-
sion was apparent in the town’s early architecture. Joseph
Brookes notes that there was still a degree of separateness
even into the 20th century and that “until very recently a
very large majority of these people of German descent
had little or no important business or social relations with
their southern or western neighbors, most of their busi-
ness except for legal matters being transacted with the
people of the towns in southern Pennsylvania, especially
with Hanover and
A German farm may be distinguished from the farms
of the other citizens by the superior size of their barns,
the plain but compact form of their houses . . . and a
general appearance of plenty of neatness in everything
that belongs to
The basic characteristics of these Pennsylvania German
houses, were“log construction,a massive central fire-
place, a three-room floor plan, and an off-center front
door opening into the kitchen with an opposite rear door.
This type of house
. . .
is of peasant origin and is the
direct result of the continental tradition of life.“
central chimney seems to be a recurring factor in descrip-
tions of German architecture. G. Edwin Brumbaugh
comments that “early travelers in the colony remarked
the fact [that] a German’s house could be distinguished
from an Englishman’s because the chimney was placed in
the center of the house, rather than the
In studying folk buildings, present-day scholars have
attempted to find a certain controlling geometry, possibly
in response to a fondness for geometric proportions dis-
played by scholars and builders of “high style” architec-
ture. They note that the designer or builder would often
follow a formula, and would work in minor variations to
suit the needs and tastes of the owners but still “without
exceeding certain parameters
. . . [as] the owner and
builder on this side of the Atlantic were more frequently
than not the same person."
Therefore individuality may
be expressed within, but the exterior would still be con-
servative. But on the point of geometric needs and possi-
bilities, Arthur J. Lawton suggests that “since the size of
domestic buildings varies widely according to the means
and purposes of the owner, geometric regulations per-
mitted the builder to insert an initial determining dimen-
sion, knowing that all other members of the building
would be scaled according to that initial determining
Lawton further discusses the three basic rooms in a
German house and gives their “Pennsylvania-Dutch” and
English translations:
Numbers 270-272 East Main Street. The central chimney at 272 suggests a German origination.
Lawton suggests that the dimensions of the stube or
parlor is the controlling element in determining the size of
the other two rooms.
There are, as noted previously, no unaltered examples
of this German type of cabin left in Westminster, al-
though central chimney houses are occasionally evident,
as at 272 East Main Street and 55 Liberty Street. (The
first is 18th century and may be German; the second is of
later date and the central location of the chimney may be
Many of the houses in Westminster’s old east end, the
original town laid out by William Winchester, do have
log foundations, and one building still exists there that,
despite its present appearance, was probably one of these
central-fireplace German cabins. 225-227 East Main
Street has undergone extensive remodelling during its
more than 200 years of existence but some traces of an
early German cabin can still be seen in its ground-story
plan. If one removes the later partitions, one in fact ends
up with the basic plan defined above. One can see the
central chimney, the large parlor, and the smaller kitchen
and bedroom. Another factor in favor of 225-227’s being
originally of German plan is the approximate 1770 date
of the building. William Winchester sold the lot (Number
17 of the original town) to one John Chrisman for six
pounds on August 30, 1768.
Six pounds indicates an un-
improved lot as surely as 60 pounds, the price when
man sold the place to Christopher Myers on March 20,
indicates the presence of improvements. It is pos-
sible today to see the unfinished logs that comprised the
crude and massive foundations and floor beams of the
original structure. When the present owners recently
modelled the building’s second floor, they discovered
massive hand-hewn and hand-notched log walls beneath
the plaster and paper. (Such discoveries of hidden old
No scale
Probable original walls
Later additions
Number 227 East Main
Barnitz-Willis Building)
ground floor plan
and facade after recent
logs are not unusual;others were made, for example, at
45 North Court Street and 64 Pennsylvania Avenue.)
While these early log cabins have been characterized
as temporary crude shelters erected to fill an immediate
practical need, it is instructive to read a firsthand account
of the work involved in building such structures:
The fatigue party consisted of choppers, whose
business it was to fell the trees and cut them off at the
proper lengths. A man with a team for hauling them
to the place, and arranging them, properly assorted,
“Folk” Buildings of the Late Eighteenth Centuy
Log wall exposed during renovations of 227 East Main Street.
at the sides and ends of the building, a carpenter, if
such he might be called, whose business it was to
search the woods for a proper tree for making clap-
boards for the roof. The tree for this purpose must be
straight grained and from three to four feet long, with
a large frow, and as wide as the timber would allow.
They were used without planning or shaving. Another
division was employed in getting puncheons for the
floor of the cabin; this was done by splitting trees,
about eighteen inches in diameter, and hewing the
faces of them with a broadaxe. They were half the
length of the floor they were intended to make. The
materials for the cabin were mostly prepared on the
first day and sometimes the foundation laid in the
evening. The second day was allotted for the raising.
In the morning of the next day the neighbors col-
lected for the raising. The first thing to be done was
the election of four corner men, whose business it was
to notch and place the logs. The rest of the company
furnished them with the timbers. In the meantime the
boards and puncheons were collected for the floor and
roof, so that by the time the cabin was a few rounds
high the sleepers and floor began to be laid. The door
was made by sawing or cutting the logs in one side so as
to make an opening about three feet wide. This open-
ing was secured by upright pieces of timber about
three inches thick through which holes were bored into
the ends of the logs and made large to admit of a back
and jambs of stone. At the square two end logs pro-
jected a foot or eighteen inches beyond the wall to
receive the butting poles, as they were called, against
which the ends of the first row of clapboards was sup-
ported. The roof was formed by making the end logs
shorter until a single log formed the comb of the roof
. . . .
Remnants of early folk housing of English derivation
are also rare in Westminster. Yet it is certain that, in ad-
dition to the town’s founder, some of the earliest citizens
were of English stock, coming directly from England or
from the older English areas of Maryland to the east and
south. Two houses can be identified, however, as repre-
sentative of the building patterns that were probably
brought here by these early English settlers.
The first, a log building that is now destroyed, was
popularly known as “Aunt Betsy’s,” being occupied in the
late 19th century by an aged black woman of that name.
The identity of the original builder/occupant is uncer-
tain. The house was located at the extreme west end of
the original town,
on East Main Street nearly opposite
present-day Court Street. The site has also been suggested
(by local historian Mary Bostwick Shellman) to have been
near the site of the home of William Winchester.
Winchester did have his house near here, this cabin could
have been either his original temporary shelter, vacated
when he put up something more substantial, and/or his
servants’ quarters.
Judging from an old photograph, the house appears to
have had its roots in the lowland South and to have been
of a folk form called “double pen.
“Aunt Betsy’s” ap-
pears to have fitted this form well, being a “one-story,
Aunt Betsy’s — possibly the original temporary shelter of
William Winchester. The log building is no longer standing.
Typical folk house of English derivation probably built around the middle of the eighteenth century. The frame addition on the
right was built a century later. Other views are shown below, the upper being particularly illustrative of the Tidewater influence.
two-room house with two front doors” and a “not un-
usual” variation:
“rather than being on the end or in the
middle of the house, the chimney is placed at the junction
of the main house and the rear ell.” Strictly speaking,
rather than an ell, “Aunt Betsy’s” made use of one of the
“the common appendages of double-pen houses . . .
r shed,"
here probably used as a kitchen.
The other British folk house is just south of West-
minster, on Bishop Street Extended, and dramatically il-
lustrates the change in building styles that occurred in
Westminster, and elsewhere, in the mid and late 18th
century. The house consists of two distinct pieces some-
what uneasily fused together. The older section has been
called “perhaps the earliest house in the
and is
a form of English folk housing that would have been far
more at home in the Tidewater farms around the Bay
than here in the Piedmont. It has also been suggested that
the older section was built by William Winchester, and
the name “White’s Level” has been hesitantly attached to
the place. This association involves speculation, but an
argument can be made: the older section is unquestion-
ably of an early (if inexact) date; Winchester and his
family did own the land until well into the 19th century;
and Winchester, coming from England via Annapolis and
Baltimore, would have been aware of this shape and form
of house and could well have built in this manner. The
building has been analyzed recently by Joseph Getty:
White’s Level has a two-room plan around a central
chimney stack of back-to-back fireplaces (one of two
known examples of this plan that still exist in Mary-
land). The main entrance is centrally located thus
forming a small entrance lobby . . . and the narrow
newel staircase is located on the opposite side of the
chimney stack. The original section of the house is one
and one-half stories with a broad gable roof which
slopes off to the east side to form the porch roof. . . .
The house plan, construction methods, and architec-
tural details . . . of White’s Level are all characteristic
of the 18th century. Documentary evidence suggests a
late 1740’s or 1750’s date of build.
Regardless of who built the house, the older section is
a rarity, and the frame addition built a century later
serves to make the whole an interesting physical symbol of
the dynamic dual culture of Westminster.
The “Vernacular” House of the Early
Nineteenth Century
Despite dogged sleuthing by zealous architectural his-
torians and site surveyors, practically no remnants of
Westminster’s earliest folk houses have been found. As
noted, this is due partly to the extensive remodelling work
of later more prosperous owners, and partly to the fact
that the original town boundaries comprised only a very
small portion of today’s city. Also, of course, loss by
natural causes, such as fire, must not be overlooked.
However, the fact that few if any European folk houses
exist in Westminster today is due overwhelmingly to the
discovery of a new,and apparently better,
building style just about the time the city began to grow.
The economic and political upswings that mark West-
minster’s history in the 19th century brought in both peo-
ple and money. These later immigrations tended to follow
the earlier pattern (people coming from the north via
Pennsylvania and from the south via Baltimore) but with
them came an architecture based on regional observation
rather than ancestral habit. No longer would the city
have folk English or folk German buildings. In the early
19th century, most building would effect a vernacular
style that has been called at various times “Colonial,”
and “English.However it seems best to
agree with Glassie and call it merely “Pennsylvanian.
Don Yoder, in an article in Pennsylvania Folk
ments that “the Pennsylvania-Germans were influenced
by the same American stylistic influences in architecture
as their English or other neighbors.“
Thus, while the
earlier Germans, after landing in Philadelphia and mi-
grating westward, carried with them their traditional folk
building techniques, a growing number, as the 18th cen-
tury wore on, stopped looking back to what had existed in
southern Germany and northern Switzerland and began
to look around and think in terms of what was existing
then in the American colonies, more specifically in south-
eastern Pennsylvania.
Glassie comments that “the usual
mid-Atlantic pattern consisted of the blending of similar
European traditions, the general acceptance and localiza-
tion of one of the traditions, or the replacement of them
all with something new; the result is a culture more Penn-
sylvanian than English, German, Scotch-Irish, or Welsh.”
Furthermore, he notes that even the Conestoga Wagon,
“one of Pennsylvania’s proudest products, has anteced-
ents in both Germany and England . . .
An early example of this strong Pennsylvania influ-
ence is the 1734 “Glatz House,
thought to be the first
stone house in Pennsylvania or Maryland west of the
quehanna River. It is located about four and a half miles
northeast of York. The date-stone inscription reads: “17
Ano 34.
Johann Schultz, und, Christiana, Seine
frau disses
(In 1734 John Schultz and wife,
Christine, built this house.) In 1734, the first wave of Ger-
mans had barely reached Philadelphia much less the
western regions beyond the Susquehanna, but this house
indicates how thoroughly they had already adopted the
symmetrical facade one associates with Georgian archi-
tecture. The house, as revealed in an 1896 photograph,
was five bays across with a two-tier porch and a central
door on each story. Windows were regularly spaced on all
the facades; on the ends, the windows were placed sym-
metrically around interior gable-end
. . .
it was not long before the aggressive Carpenters
Company in Philadelphia, the importation of English
Architectural books, and the subsequent manufactur-
ing of millwork in Philadelphia combined to bring the
Georgian influence to the back woods of
No scale
Ground-floor plans of prototypical Pennsylvania
farmhouses in Westminster
left: 5-bay; right: 3-bay.
vania. This role continued between the German
craftsman and those few English materials until
finally the latter won. Houses, churches, and public
buildings of the Georgian became the vogue in areas
thickly populated of German heritage. York, Leba-
non, Lehigh, Berks and Lancaster Counties appear
more English today than German, but many of the in-
habitants can sell you in Pennsylvania Dutch.
Edward Chapel1 sees the same in a county in Virginia,
an area similar to Westminster in settlement pattern:
The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia was settled in the
18th century by large numbers of Germans and
Scotch-Irish and smaller numbers of English, all
primarily migrating from Pennsylvania. That the set-
tlers of different cultural origins carried their tradi-
tional concepts of building with them to Virginia is
evidenced by the form of eighteenth-century houses
surviving in the Shenandoah Valley. Through most of
the century, the indigenous forms remained visible,
although some were altered in response to new ideas
concerning both domestic life and aesthetics. Yet in
the early 19th century, these diverse building types
would be swept away by a housing revolution that
would result in the rebuilding of the cultural land-
scape of the
. . .
The severe nature of this
change will be interpreted as a formal expression of
beleaguered individual self-confidence and a break-
down of the cohesiveness of ethnic groups in the
Shenandoah Valley.
Chapell’s argument, with which other historians generally
agree, is that buildings are a result of the psyches of their
The fact that the early settlers built homes that
reflected their various pasts and their native lands,
whether Germany or Ulster or Gloucestershire,is an
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
of confidence in their heritage. The fact that
they themselves, and certainly their children, later chose
to adopt a more widespread, a more American building
form indicates a shift of attitude and allegiance. As the
settlers’ dependence on their folk customs waned so also
did their memories of their backgrounds: gradually they
were becoming Americans. Chapell argues that, in the
Shenandoah Valley, folk architecture was in firm control
for about one generation, during which people built as
their European backgrounds dictated. The folk houses
were then replaced by a form “developed in the Chesa-
peake and Mid-Atlantic regions from the aesthetic and
social concepts of the Georgian double pile house,” and
“the new model was assiduously followed through the
19th century . . .
[it] is this new house rather than the old
folk forms that an observer would identify as the
typal Valley houses.“
Chapell’s comments apply as well to Carroll County
and Westminster as to the Shenandoah Valley. The
Pennsylvania-Georgian farmhouse so completely domi-
nated Westminster’s building style in the 19th century
that one now thinks of it as being the norm here. It can be
said with total confidence that for one hundred years
hardly a single residence was built in the city or the
county that did not conform to this building type both in
plan and facade treatment. In fact, we will see that even
in the very late 19th century, it was a rare building that
departed from it.The form tenaciously controlled the
city’s architectural aesthetic until well after World War I,
with the result that it is almost impossible to date build-
ings of this period by plan
all are virtually identical,
varying only in scale as a function of the builder’s wealth.
One must look to details such as brackets, window
ings and doors to separate a house built during Jefferson’s
presidency from one built in Theodore Roosevelt’s time.
The major characteristics of the Pennsylvania farm-
house in Westminster are a three- or five-bay
two-and-a-half-story height, a gable roof on the main sec-
tion, an L-shape plan created by the meeting of two wings
(often identical in size), ordered facades, and interior
gable-end chimneys. If the front section of the building is
three bays wide, the standard plan is a side hall, with an
open stair, running the full length of the front section and
a double parlor alongside with rooms in the rear section
in a line off the main section’s room. If the house is five
bays wide, the plan is changed only by the addition of a
matching double parlor on the opposite side of the cen-
tral stair hall (see plan). The plan is very functional in its
clear hierarchy of spaces: formal rooms in front, service
rooms to the rear. The front rooms in the three-bay house
normally consist of dining and living rooms; a kitchen is
to the rear in the L, often with its own fireplace. Five-bay
The “Vernacular” House of the Early Nineteenth Century
houses would usually use the additional width for a main
parlor, although, larger and more elegant houses would
often use this area for social amenities such as a ballroom
(e.g. 230 East Main Street). Uniformally, the second floor
is partitioned off into bedrooms, while the half story attic
serves as an unfinished storage area.
On the exterior, the normal house displays large,
spaced, double-hung sash windows, and relies on regu-
larity and solid/void proportions to create a pleasing ef-
fect. Ornamentation is usually restricted to cornices and
brackets about the roof line and over the door, although
sometimes, especially in the later part of the 19th cen-
tury, window hoods, lintels, and heavy sills were subjected
to decoration. Almost all country houses of this type have
a front porch, but with city houses this often was not pos-
sible because of the builders’ fondness for building right
up to the sidewalk. However, almost without exception,
there is a double-tier porch on the inside of the rear
Several early examples of this house form still can be
found in the city. They are important not only because of
“Farm Content” is a fine example of the Pennsylvania
farmhouse. It was built in 1795 by David Shriver about
two miles south of Westminster. A recent photograph
(above) shows the front facade while an earlier one
(below) illustrates the “standard” rear porch.
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
Number 166 East Main Street. The photograph of the
rear (below) shows how the original porch has been
walled in and another porch attached
their longevity but also because for a century they served
as models for buildings in the area. To a limited extent,
they still so serve today. On the southwest corner of
Main and Center Streets, at 166 East Main Street, is as
fine an early example of this classic Pennsylvania house as
exists. It is five bays wide, two stories high, L-shaped, and
porched at the front and side. The principal (north) fa-
cade sits on high, coursed fieldstone foundations and is
sheltered by a one-story porch. The porch, approached
by a single set of wooden steps to the east, rests on piers
with lattice work between them. Details are important
here: pale blue paint, a color as Pennsylvanian as scrap-
ple, covers the underside of the porch’s roof. Clearly
Jacob Utz, who built the house around 1800, was a man
of means, as well as one who took pride in building. Al-
though in general the house form is free from appendages
of elegance, it sports such fine touches as five-course,
gauged, flat arches crowning the ground floor windows
and, on the principal facade, a finely gouged cornice
decorated with dovetail designs. The
rear side
porch has been filled in and covered with asbestos shin-
gles; otherwise,
on the exterior, the well maintained
building must look essentially as it did when first erected
a full generation before the establishment of Carroll
County. Houses are living organisms, however, adapting
and changing as needs require, so it is not surprising to
see that the floor plan of this house has been altered to
suit the requirements of the insurance company that now
occupies it.
When dealing with the preservation of old buildings,
ideally one would like to save everything, but if the ex-
terior is saved, leaving the interior to be pushed and
shoved to suit the whims of the successive owners, one can
be content. After all, old buildings, as Summerson com-
ments, are “like divorced wives, they cost money to main-
tain [and] are often dreadfully in the
In the trade-
off that spares them from demolition, features that are
most “dreadfully in the way,
such as interior walls, must
be sacrificed to provide an economically feasible use
usually offices for lawyers, doctors, and the like.
Westminster seems curiously fortunate in that it’s im-
portant street intersections are well defined by historical
buildings. When one comes to such crossroads in West-
minster, one is faced on two, three, or all four corners by
buildings that provide a sense of cultural continuum.
This is nowhere more superbly exemplified than at 166
East Main Street: here is a house that was built for and
occupied by one family for one hundred years. George
Eckart sold this and an adjoining lot to “Jacob Oates, sad-
dler-y” for 105 pounds on April 4,
His daughter’s
executrix sold the lot and house in 1894. (The record of
this transaction reveals that Jacob Oates was also called
“Jacob Utz."
Whether this means that Oates was yield-
ing to pressure from the city’s large German population to
de-Anglecize his name is a matter for sociological specula-
tion.) Katharine Jones Shellman, an indefatigable diarist,
remembers the house in the 1830s:
The house on the corner of Main and Center Streets
was owned by Mr.
Mrs. Utz, two very old people who
kept a small store in the west room. It was quite a
resort for the children, as it was the only place where
licorice was sold, but sometimes they would have to
wait half an hour, as the old gentleman would go
away, after locking the door and forget to leave the key
with his wife.
Across the intersection from the Oates-Utz House is
177 East Main Street, a building that serves as a prototype
for the three-bay structures in the city, just as the Oates-
Number 177 East Main Street
a prototype for the
three-bay structures in Westminster.
Utz House serves for the five-bay ones. This is an example
of the ideal form that the shell of a house “ought” to take
despite an infinite variety of detail variation. Number 177
East Main Street is one of the earliest of the many
story, side-hall, double-parlor houses in the city. Like its
neighbor the Oates-Utz House, it is laid in Flemish bond
on the principal facade, which is broken only to allow for
precise and regular placements of windows and door.
Like its larger neighbor, it has an interesting, but dif-
ferent, treatment of the cornice line: rather than being
built of wood, as is the cornice on the Oates-Utz House,
the cornice here is a four-step corbelled brick row with
two staggered rows of perpendicular brick “dentils.” This
house, too, has lost its rear double-tier side porch and its
domestic function; it now houses law offices. Architec-
turally, the building is a fine, quiet example of the area’s
vernacular three-bay houses. Some are larger and some
smaller, some have finer brickwork and some have
coarser, some are better preserved and some are worse
but this is as perfect a “norm” as can be found. The place
was probably built about 1800 by members of the numer-
ous and prominent Mathias family, and it passed back
and forth within that family until James Cockey took title
on March 30, 1818, for $2000.
Cockey, mentioned in
the diary of Katharine Jones Shellman as a schoolteacher,
was also instrumental in organizing the Westminster Fire
Company. In an age when roots appear to grow more
shallowly, it is pleasant to note that the senior member of
the law firm now occupying the building was born there
when it still served as a residence.
Another early and prototypical three-bay house is
located just to the east of these two structures and is
numbered 211 East Main Street. Probably once a brew-
er’s residence, it, too, has been adapted to a modern use:
a beauty shop. The Flemish bond brick shell, dating from
around 1815, is typical of houses of this early period and,
Number 211 East Main
through fineness of
like the others, it achieves individuality through fineness
of details. Here we see a well done mouse-tooth cornice, a
narrow fanlight transom (presently hidden from the out-
side by a Moorish-style red awning), and exquisite in-
terior woodwork. The nicely panelled doors with corner
bull's-eye blocks and the intricately carved stair riser
brackets all indicate an excellent level of craftsmanship in
Westminster’s early years. One native of the city reports
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
that until a few years ago the steps were marbleized. Hap-
pily, except for the touch of Islam over the entrance door,
211 East Main Street is relatively unchanged on the exte-
rior. Katharine Shellman’s diary, which purports* to
cover the years 1820-32, notes that this lot held a “brick,
twd-story dwelling built by William Campbell, father of
Jacob Campbell, of Westminster who lived there only a
short time and then sold it to Michael Barnitz, who built
a large brewery back of it and lived there many
(Presumably Barnitz lived in the house, not the brewery.)
The Land Records reveal that Barnitz did in fact buy the
place on March 26, 1821, for
Whether the mar-
bleizing that is rumored to have existed on the stairs was
Campbell’s or Barnitz’s, it is just one of many decorative
features that create a splendid individual statement
within this standard form. One wonders, in passing,
whether there is a connection between this brewer Bar-
nitz, and the Barnitz brewers who arrived in Baltimore in
1748 among the first Germans to settle in that city.
Across the street from the old Campbell-Barnitz
House are 224 and 226 East Main Street. These two
chaste buildings make a superb pairing and show that,
while normally of brick, the three-bay style also can be
successfully rendered in wood. It is suggested that the first
*Katharine Jones Shellman’s actually wrote her “Diary” from memory
in the late years of her life. A section of the “Diary” presents a list of
inhabitants of Westminster supposedly between 1820 and 1832.
However, in describing the general areas of residence, she refers to
the railroad tracks and the Reifsnider mansion, “Terrace Hill,”
which date from 1861 and 1871, respectively.
Number 226 East Main Street.
Number 224 East Main Street
burgess for the City of Westminster, James Shellman
lived at 224; Katharine Shellman’s diary notes that Num-
ber 226, purchased by Anne Willis for $850 in 1819, was
used as “an iron store” by her husband, Jesse.
Number 255 East Main Street, further to the east, at
the intersection of Main and Church Streets, makes it
clear why Westminster can be thought of as a city of ar-
chitectural details. Here the notable exterior adornment
is the Greek cross pattern executed in raised brick below
the building’s modillioned cornice. Popular culture has it
that this was originally a two-story log house, which is
quite possible, since log floor beams can be seen in certain
sections today. In any event, it has long since been cov-
ered by stretcher bond brick. Importantly, the rear sec-
tion still retains its rear side porch, the once-common
characteristic that seems to be the first feature to be re-
moved from an old house. If the Greek cross pattern at
the eaves is the single feature that enlivens the exterior,
there is one feature that must be identified as doing the
same for the interior: a dazzling marble fireplace carved
in motifs associated with Pennsylvania
German fraktur, a
method of design
“traceable to the folk art of south-
western Germany,
Switzerland, and Alsace,
Numbers 253-255 East Main Street
the Ecklar House.
Marble mantelpiece in the Ecklar House showing
where the earliest German settlers came from. Fraktur
may be defined as
“a combination of Medieval callig-
raphy and traditional Pennsylvania motifs, such as the
tulip and pomegranate."
The builder of the house was
Ulrich Ecklar. Archival material in the Library of Con-
gress reveals that one Ulrich Ecklar was born on Novem-
ber 26, 1787, was baptised on April 5, 1788, and was the
son of Jacob Ecklar, Jr. Ulrich’s son, John, was born on
June 21,
How Ecklar acquired the lot is unclear, but he cer-
tainly had purchased it and had built the house before
1823. In that year he had a $2000 mortgage on the prop-
erty released
and that price would certainly indicate the
existence of a building. Further, since one might assume
that Ecklar would have built the building to house his
family, the 1818 birthdate of his son is important. Ecklar
died intestate around 1836 and one following deed, dated
June 12, 1837, mentions “the house and lot formerly oc-
cupied by Ulrich Eckler."
It passed out of the family in
and is now the residence of a former mayor of
Westminster, Mr.
LeRoy L. Conaway.
Eastward up the street is 266 East Main Street, a
three-bay, two-story saltbox house that has always, it
seems, had commercial associations. The entrance
(north) front is laid in fairly precise Flemish bond be-
tween a high, roughly-coursed fieldstone foundation and
a mouse-tooth cornice below a black tin roof. A string
course (a feature seldom seen in Westminster and linking
the house to the gentler building of the Tidewater area)
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
separates the two stories on the main facade. Corbelling
(in brick on the south front and in wood on the west front)
replaces the mouse-tooth cornice on other facades. On
the rear facade, the corbel course is interrupted where, it
is safe to assume, an outside end chimney once rose:
markings on the wall’s brick form the size and shape of a
large protruding fireplace and flue. This fireplace prob-
ably heated the original rear room, which may have been
part of the residence of the proprietor of the early clock
maker’s shop that was on this site, according to the diary
of Katharine Jones Shellman. One Henry Goodlander
bought this and the adjoining lot for thirty-five pounds on
November 15, 1796, and sold it a year later for one hun-
dred thirty pounds,
certainly indicating the existence of
a newly constructed building. The one-year interval also
testifies to these early builders’ efficiency, perhaps en-
hanced by the standardization of form. In 1807, one Basil
Hayden bought the building to house his trade of hat-
making, which he had learned “with Mr. Kuhn and car-
ried on this business for many years. He was a public
spirited citizen and held several positions of honor and
trust including Constable and Judge of the Orphans’
The lots were sold again “including the house
thereon constructed” on August 8, 1828, for
building has continued to be used for commercial pur-
poses. Presumably in those early days the shop would
have faced Main Street, comprising the large single room
behind that facade, and the residence would have sur-
rounded it to the rear and above, an arrangement that
could explain the now vanished external rear chimney.
This late 18th century residence indicates how the area’s
standard shape had evolved and how the shape would
prove to be a variation on the idea of interchangeable
parts: one identical building form could serve a number
of uses.
Another house of the early 19th century, before the
creation of Carroll County, is that of Jacob Utz, Jr. at 143
East Main Street. It was built about 1820 just across the
street and west of his father’s house. The three-bay house
was given individuality by an outstanding cornice com-
prised of a band of gouged circles; the cornice is now cov-
ered by aluminum siding. Much further to the west, at
8 Pennsylvania Avenue,
is another three-bay house that
certainly dates before 1838
it was sold in that year for
Other buildings of this period include 153 and 155
East Main Street and two houses now owned by the His-
torical Society of Carroll County
the circa 1800 Kim-
mey House and the five-bay Shellman House, circa 1807,
at 206 East Main Street. The last is of particular interest.
Jacob Sherman bought the former Winchester house and
tore it down in 1807 to replace it with the present Flemish
bond, five-bay, two-and-a-half-story structure called the
Shellman House, a synthesis of the very finest characteris-
tics of early Westminster residences. The building was
probably built by Sherman as a wedding gift for his
daughter, Eve, who had married David Shriver, a sur-
veyor and superintendent of the Reistertown Turnpike.
Rear of 266 East Main Street showing
evidence of previous exterior chimney.
Number 143 East Main Street — Jacob Utz, Jr. House.
206 East Main Street.
From the well-defined
and columned entrance
door with its clear hints of polite Georgian architecture,
to the well spaced and well proportioned double-hung
sash windows crowned by broad, sharply defined jack
arches, to the two-tier rear side porch, the elements of
this house have had a significant impact on Westminster’s
architectural psyche. Clearly, the house was considered to
be the prime example of the way to build: for sixty years
after its construction, no one attempted a substantial
variation. Yes, there were modifications in detail
the Victorian era wore on, brackets and front porches
could not be resisted
but in essence this “elegant man-
firmly set the pattern and controlled building in
the city for two and a half generations. In a late 19th cen-
tury history of Western Maryland, a delightful story is
told of Westminster and the grounds upon which the
House now stands:
Many years ago,
in the northwestern part of
Maryland, there stood a little village bearing the
proud English name of Winchester, now the beautiful
City of Westminster. For a long time peace and plenty
had smiled upon its inhabitants; and they dreamed
not of coming evil. It was in the midst of summer when
Front door of the
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
The loom house that at one time stood in the garden of the
House. Jacob Shellman’s slaves wove the household linens here. In this
circa 1890 photograph, Paul Reese, a relative of the Shellmans and
perhaps the city’s first architect, appears resplendent in white trousers.
God saw fit to send a mighty drought upon the land.
For many days the scorching rays of the sun looked
down upon the earth,
burning and blighting the
vegetation, and threatening to bring famine upon its
tract. Flowers drooped and died, and water
one of
God’s best and most necessary gifts to man
began to
fail. In vain the people prayed and cried for rain. The
citizens of Winchester became alarmed, many of them
locked their pumps, and refused even a cooling drink
to the thirsty traveler or the famished beast, lest they
should not have enough for themselves. Near the
eastern end of the village [note
really the western
end] dwealt two maiden ladies, aged and respected,
who believed God would not forsake them in the time
of need. Unlike their neighbors they did not refuse
water to any, but unlocking their gate, placed a pla-
card near the well bearing the following words, ‘Free
admittance to all,
water belongs to God.’ In those
ancient days railroads were unknown, and all traveling
was done by stages and wagons. Emigrants were seen
passing daily on their road to the great west, and the
demand for water was constant. The doubting citizens
advised these two Christian ladies to tear down their
notice and close the entrance to prevent the water
being carried away, or they would be left without, but
their answer was always the same ‘The Lord is our
Shepard, we shall not want. We have no right to
refuse, for the water belongs to God.’ Soon all the
wells and springs in the villages began to fail and only
two remained to supply the demands of the famishing
citizens. One of these was the well which had been free
to all. The other belonged to an old gentleman, who,
as soon as he saw how great was the demand for water,
guarded it and refused even a drop. All flocked to
' Gods Well,' as it is now called, and its old-fashioned
Above and below: Two
of the
House rear garden of which an uplifting
tale is told.
Circa 1900 photograph of original Zuber wallpaper, hand blocked
in France, that adorned a w all of the Shellman House This
original was removed and sold but a copy was installed later.
The “Vernacular” House of the
Nineteenth Century
moss-covered bucket was never idle. And still the sky
was cloudless, and the unrelenting rays of a July sun
scorched and burned the earth. A few more days
passed, and he who had so cruelly refused to give a
drop of cold water through his plenteous store was
obliged to go and beg for himself from the unfailing
fountain of ‘Gods Well.’ The demand on this well
became greater day by day, but still its sparkling
waters refreshed thirsty travelers and the famishing
beast. At length a small dark cloud was seen on the
sky, and how eagerly it was watched! Larger and larger
it grew, till at last the whole sky was overcast. The
thunder pealed, the lightening flashed through the
heavens, and the flood gates were open. The clouds
rolled away and once more the whole face of nature
smiled, and the greatful citizens of Winchester
thanked God for the glorious rain, which had come
in time to save them from
The two ladies in question were the daughters of
William Winchester, whose descendants probably would
register no surprise at the report of such an inspiring
event occuring on their legendary ancestor’s homestead.
Across an alley from the Shellman House is the Kim-
mey House (210 East Main Street) which now serves as
headquarters, library, and auditorium of the Historical
Society. The house was built at least as early as the
Shellman House by Dr. George Colgate, who later had his
office in the two-story section adjoining and to the east of
the three-story, three-bay main section. Less remains of
the original fabric of the Kimmey House than that of the
Shellman House but it is still possible to see how this could
indeed have been the residence and office of one of the
town’s first doctors. The round-arched windows and their
matching shutters,
if original, would be an interesting
early mark of individuality in a town where flat-topped
windows were the norm.
Another interesting innovation in residential design,
which would have ramifications up to the present day, is
what might be called the mid-Pennsylvania rowhouse.
While Westminster is similar to south central Pennsyl-
vania towns in so many ways, it does not possess whole
blocks of rowhouses as do such Pennsylvania towns as
Carlisle. Those who lean toward the psychological ap-
proach to architectural history might argue that this
absence indicates a more individualistic mentality in
Westminster, favoring independent structures and rural-
ness (a trait underscored by the similarities between coun-
try and city dwellings). Those who see a form of economic
determinism in architecture would probably argue that
the city had no need for rowhouses until close to the
turn of the 20th century, because there were always va-
cant lots further down the street. Whatever the reason,
there were only a few early scattered sets of rowhouses in
The Kimmey House, which now serves as the headquarters of the Historical Society of Carroll County.
East Main Street
date from very early in the 19th century and are
among the oldest buildings in the city. More data exist on
the circa 1817 triplex than on the duplex. It was origi-
nally the shop and residence of John Grumbine, a local
builder, but Phillip Jones moved from Baltimore and pur-
chased the lot in 1828 for
Jones, a son of one of
the three men who laid out the town of Baltimore in
1730, was one of the “Old Defenders” of that City in the
War of 1812. He is described by his daughter, Katharine
Jones Shellman, as
“a large landowner in Baltimore
County” who “on account of the unsettled times following
the war in 1812-14 removed his family from Baltimore to
where he became “one of Westminster’s
first merchants.” He established an “iron and
store at number 132 and lived in the adjoining house.
The present owner believes that Jones had only intended
to live in one section not two, but “his family grew faster
than he
and the other had to be added. The
row played an interesting role a couple of generations
later when it was owned by the Rippard family, who pub-
lished there the American Sentinel, a prominent West-
minster Republican newspaper. Besides tying the city in
yet another way to the small towns of Pennsylvania, this
row set a new norm for Westminster in that it showed how
it was possible for a merchant to have his shop and resi-
dence side by side.This mode of working and living
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
would become very popular later in the century and
would apply not only to shopkeepers but, as with Dr. Col-
gate, to professional men as well, creating what must
have been a comfortable egalitarian atmosphere.
Although only a few houses had attached offices, most
had adjacent barns serving a function similar to that of
garages today. For the frame barns, wooden louvers pro-
vided hygienic ventilation;spaced-out stone and brick
served for the masonry barns; but none of these achieved
the often exquisite appeal of the decorative patterns in
brick used to admit air to the brick barns. Several of these
can be found in Westminster and their distinctly Pennsyl-
vanian ancestry provides the city with yet another tie to its
northern neighbor.
But, however Pennsylvanian the
barns may appear, they did not originate in that com-
monwealth; they seem to be international. Olive Cook has
identified several occurrences of this construction tech-
nique in various British counties, for example, mostly in
the west along the English-Welsh border. She identifies
one of the earliest, dating to the 15th century, as a barn
in Shropshire that is largely timber “but the end is a beau-
tiful example of early brickwork, charmingly patterned
with ventilation holes.Another one, dating to the 17th
century, is in Cheshire, where the “geometrical pattern of
ventilation holes . . .
is characteristic
of the
phasis added). Also in the west, in Wiltshire, is a 15th
century stone barn with vents. Moving eastward, she
Circa 1880 photograph of 132-132½ -134 East Main Street.
The “Vernacular” House of the Early Nineteenth Century
found a very early one at Great Coxwell in Berkshire. This
barn dates to the 13th century and Cook notes that “Wil-
liam Morris much admired the barn
[and] the noble
austerity of the design . . .
relieved only by the charming
irregularity of the
In America, these patterned brick vents can be seen
ennobling barns not only in southeastern Pennsylvania
and central Maryland but in Ohio and the South as well.
A fine example in Carroll County may be seen about a
mile north of Manchester on Maryland Route 30. The
ones still to be found within the city limits of Westminster
provide yet another instance of the city’s early
dance on the countryside for its building patterns. Two
notable town barns are those behind 156 West Main
Street and 15 Park Avenue.
Barns with vents formed of patterned brickwork are not unique to Western Maryland
but several fine examples are to be found around Westminster. The example above
is near Manchester; the one below is located behind 156 West Main Street in Westminster.
The Blizzard House
1895 photograph.
esides selling “iron and bacon” one wonders what the
early occupants of Westminster did for a living before its
leading industry was law and government. The present
intersection of East Main Street and Washington (origi-
nally “Georgetown”) Road was the easternmost end of
William Winchester’s original city. Since the earliest
days, this intersection has been the scene of commercial
activity. In the late 18th century, lots one through four of
the original town were the site of the brick house and tan-
yard of Jacob Yingling and his wife, Mary. Tanning may
well have been the town’s first industry and was one cause
for its early prosperity.
At one time no hamlet, village, or town in Maryland
had more, or better, leather than Westminster.
In the early days of Westminster, the tanning industry
was its principal industry.
The original brick house, which has always been owned
by descendants of the builder, was altered in the late 19th
century in the then fashionable Second Empire style, but,
in its original circa 1800 form, it must have resembled the
three-bay houses already discussed. Located at 295 East
Main Street and popularly known as the Blizzard House,
the structure still boasts some of its original interior wood-
work; the paneling in the downstairs ground floor front
room and the mantels indicates that there was a high level
of craftsmanship in Westminster at the time of the house’s
construction. In 1957 the Mayor and Common Council of
Westminster placed a plaque on the southeast corner of
the building to commemorate its importance in the
town’s social and political history:
OF SEPTEMBER 27, 1738,
IN 1764,
The “green stone
still stands, as does the stone that
originally marked the boundary between Frederick and
Baltimore Counties. (This lot, and the entire eastern
Interlude 1
The Blizzard House at 295 East Main Street; mantel and
woodwork details dating to about 1800 are shown at the
left. The stones pictured below are located on the grounds
of the Blizzard House; on the left is the stone that marked
the boundary between Frederick County (“F.C.“) and
Baltimore County; on the right is a stone used in the
original survey of Westminster’s town boundaries.
Interlude 1
boundary of Westminster, was then on the easternmost
edge of Frederick County).
Across the street at 292 East Main Street was a general
store, operated after the 1840s by William Reese. This
store has an uncertain date of origin but possibly it dates
from the 1780s because a 1791 deed has the lot and im-
provements selling for ninety pounds,
a rather high
price. The diary of Katharine Jones Shellman reports that
in the 1820s Andrew Powder had operated a store on the
site; since the purchaser in 1791 was one Jacob Powder,
one might assume that Andrew was his son. William
Reese bought the place in 1849, paying $800 for the lot
and store. Reese was born in Baltimore, where his father
had kept a grocery store on the corner of Howard and
Clay Streets. A 1913 article on Reese in the American
Sentinel notes that “shortly after moving here he bought
the land and building and later the lot adjoining, on
which he erected what was then considered one of the
finest private residences in the
Woodwork from
the house was recently donated by Reese’s descendant,
Dennis F. Blizzard, to the Carroll County Historical
Society and is now installed in the auditorium at the Kim-
mey House. Reese flourished in Westminster and was
once president of the school board. When J.E.B. Stuart’s
Division came through town in 1862, they “inquired for
several prominent Union men of the place, and went to
their houses after them.
The account identifies four
such men, one of whom was “William Reese, the enroll-
ment commissioner.
The Reese store also remained in the family for several
while the commercial activities progressed
from selling dry goods in the 1840s to selling automobiles
in the 1920s. Not surprisingly, the physical proximity of
the Reese and Yingling establishments resulted in inter-
marrying between the families.
In the midst of this commercial activity, the need for a
bank must have been severe; an international dispute
helped to satisfy the need. When the British under Gen-
eral Ross threatened Baltimore in 1814, most of that city’s
bankers became nervous and fled to the country for
safety, taking with them whatever gold, silver, and paper
they could carry. Baltimore’s Commercial and Farmer’s
Bank dispatched one John Walsh with a large amount of
specie to Westminster, where he opened up a small office
of “discount and deposit.
At this time, the population of
Westminster must have been very small: in 1837 it was
only 400. After the war was over and Baltimore still
proved to be intact, most of the bankers returned. Walsh,
however, remained in Westminster and in 1816 incorpo-
rated the Bank of Westminster, now known as the Union
National Bank. The bank, as a body corporate, purchased
lots 12 and 13 of the original town (now 249-251 East
Main Street) on June 12, 1818,
and then erected the orig-
inal section of the present building, the first bank in the
wilderness between Baltimore and Pennsylvania.
The building is superb. The excellence of the archi-
tecture, including a fine pedimented door and
mented gables, is an example of an academicism that
would be rare in the city even a hundred years later. To
The Reese House at 292 East Main Street (circa 1920 photograph).
Interlude 1
have appeared when it did is only a little short of miracu-
lous. It is interesting to see how the classically correct
touches were so easily incorporated into the vernacular
style of the area, the five-bay, two-and-a-half-story,
L-shaped farmhouse.
The first section of the banks
building was the western,
two-bay office; the three-bay
extension to the east was built later as a residence for the
cashier. One of the early cashiers was Jacob Reese who
lived in the apartment around 1830, according to the
diary of Katharine Jones Shellman. The old vault, or-
dered early in the 19th century when Isaac Shriver was
president, still functions in its original location.
Westminster was a good site for a bank because the
city was along the route that wheat farmers used between
the lush grain fields of western and central Pennsylvania
and the merchants, warehouses, and port of Baltimore.
In fact, in one of the petitions that the Bank drew up to
justify its establishment, it is pointed out that “West-
minster is at the very outlet of the garden spot of Mary-
land . . . [and]
is backed by a fertile country from
Main door of the then Bank of Westminster, built in
,II .
1818 and later known as the Union National Bank.
Below: Detail of a stairway riser decora-
tion in the Reese House. Right: the house
as an automobile showroom in a circa 1925
Interlude 1
Numbers 249-251 East Main Street,
built as the Bank of Westminster;
below is a copy of one of the bank’s
early checks.
In those early days, each bank produced its own paper
money and it was to the bank’s advantage to have its notes
travel as far from home as possible. So, to induce thirsty
farmers to cash their checks at the Westminster Bank, the
bank kept a barrel of locally distilled Maryland Rye on
tap in the board room and offered its customers compli-
mentary drinks. Whether the industry’s change to com-
plimentary lollipops, match books, and calendars over
the intervening years may be properly labelled as “prog-
ress” is a subject for legitimate debate.
Westminster in the early 19th century, before it be-
came the County Seat, did have several merchants and
traders within its boundaries but it was by no means the
center of the county’s commerce, as it is today. A list of
“The Merchants of 1837,” published in 1937,
shows that
the entire district around and including Westminster had
only a minimal number of merchants, who carried only
an average amount of inventory. For example, the major
merchants in the city appear to have been Jesse Reifsnider
(on whom more later), Samuel Orndorff, and Joshua
Yingling, who each carried a stock valued at $2500. This
figure would not have been very impressive to the county
merchants, some of whom carried stocks valued up to
$5000. Later, these Westminster mercantile names would
rise to prominence but in the early 19th century their
recognition was strictly local.
Besides the tanyards and the merchants, a variety of
trades seems to have existed in the city in its first half-
century. These included potters, shoe makers, physicians,
cabinet makers, innkeepers, surveyors, dyers, black-
smiths, coopers,tailors, stage drivers, school teachers,
carriage makers,
silversmiths, saddle makers,
Interlude 1
“Avondale,” site of an early iron foundry called “Leigh Furnace” after its owner Leigh Master.
tioners, hucksters, tinners, butchers, hatters, and clock
makers. On the outskirts of town was the early iron
foundry operated by Leigh Master called “Leigh Fur-
nace,now “Avondale
Besides operating his iron furnace, Leigh Master is
also credited with importing English daisies to Carroll
County, mistaking their seeds for clover seeds. A more
sinister legend about him is today questioned by scholars
such as Amos Davidson, but it persists:
There is a story of Leigh Master, who in the middle of
the 18th century established the first iron furnaces. He
had a negro servant, Sam, who he disliked intensely.
One night when the furnaces were in full blast, Sam
disappeared and there was much talk as a result. Once
the workmen, walking along the edge of furnace hill
woods, heard a clop of hooves approaching and, lo!
Leigh Master rode by on a big gray horse crying for
mercy on his soul. He appeared again to the accom-
paniment of groans and clacking of chains, and again
a third time. Others saw Leigh Master, always on the
gray horse emitting smoke and flame from its nostrils.
Sometimes he was followed by three little imps carry-
ing lanterns sneaking along as if looking for some-
thing. This story persisted for more than a century and
lately has been given a new lease on life by a tenant in
Leigh Master’s old home, who, in removing some
bricks to get at the seat of a fire, uncovered an old
oven which contained human
The only church in the early town was the Union
Meeting House, “built soon after the Revolutionary War,
where all denominations could
Doctor Grace
Tracey suggests that“1790 is the date generally given for
the building of the Union Meeting House which replaced
the old log Union Meeting House in town.“
The church
was built of brick, with funds raised by lottery, on a hill
north of Main Street at the end (or the beginning) of
Church Street. Tracey notes that Winchester “certainly
must have planned for it
in his original plat he laid off
and named Church Street as it is located
photographs of the building show it to have been a two-
story, three-bay by five-bay structure of simple lines and
proportions. There were full pediments at the front and
rear and round-arched ground story windows and doors.
A gallery extended around the church on three sides with
a ladder being provided for climbing into the belfry.
The belfry on the church was a unique affair, and a
large steel triangle took the place of a bell in calling
persons to worship . . .
a man sat [in the belfry] and
with a hammer struck the triangle to produce the
sound which was as loud as some of our largest bells.
Interlude 1
There is a photograph of the original chancel and pulpit
in the church showing a curved carved communion rail.
While all denominations were permitted to worship in the
church, there seems to be a unanimity of opinion as to
who was the star of the old Meeting House:
It was in this church,
that the eccentric Lorenzo Dow,
the great revivalist, held services at one time, calling
the people together early in the morning with a
The meeting not having been as successful as he
had wished, he preached a powerful sermon on the
judgement, asking the question: If Gabriel were to
blow his trumpet, announcing that the Day of Judge-
ment is at hand, would YOU be ready? The blast of a
trumpet, coming seemingly from the air. Again he
asked the question: Would you be ready? And again
the trumpet blast, a little nearer. The third time the
question was asked, and again the sound of the trum-
pet. And the alter rails filled with people, pleading for
and revival was a success from that night.
Although it was afterwards learned that the sound of a
trumpet came from a trumpeter stationed in one of
the tall elms which once stood sentinel-like on either
side of the church, many of our strongest most faithful
members of the early days of Methodism were the
result of Lorenzo Dow’s great revival.
The old Meeting House fell into decay as various
denominations built their own churches and was sold on
July 20, 1891, for $100.
5It was then torn down and an
urn put up to mark its place. An article written soon after
this event may have been the town’s first published argu-
ment for preservation:
The old Meetin’ House has gone
and even the old
sounding board, the high backed pews, and the altar
rail, around which our ancestors so often knelt in
prayer, cut up into kindling wood, and sold to the
highest bidder.
this may be a modern improve-
ment, I call it Vandalism.
Other religions, while not represented by buildings,
were not unknown in early Westminster.
Father Zocchi, a French [sic] priest, who served the
Roman Catholics of the county for 40 years, made his
home in Taneytown and preached in Westminster
only once a month. The Lutherans and German Re-
formed who still adhere to the faith of their fathers, at-
tend to the Dutch Church, Kriders.
Legends and ghost stories abound in rural Carroll
County but are rarer in Westminster. Some suggest the
fondness for the occult is “owing to the influence of the
Pennsylvania-Germans, who to this day are prone to dab-
ble in the supernatural.
Whether or not the Germans
truly dabbled in the supernatural, it is certain that many
German folk customs and superstitions were common in
the area. In fact, such traditions as “Kris Kringling” and
“Bell Snickling
lingered on into this century.
historian Frances Henshaw recently interviewed several
older local women and discussed with them some of the
area’s folk customs.
My father is Pennsylvania Dutch and they used to
go Bell Snickling.
. . . snickling must have meant to
sneak up on you; they would use Bell Snickling at New
Year’s and if they caught you out they would take your
things off, your pants, and your clothes too if they
could get them off you .
. . They were bad
. . . It was grown ups and they, if one group would
catch another group then they would see which one
could take their clothes off of them
My brother
used to do that, but they wouldn’t let us kids go. Over
there by Mt. Airy. My grandmother was right from
Germany and she taught my father some of the
customs and things.
Interesting political events were also not uncommon
these early days, and most seem to have been centered
around the Gist Family:
Amongst these pioneers was Colonel Joshua Gist, who
like his distinguished brother, General Mordicai Gist,
was equally distinguished by his splendid and fearless
The Union Meeting House, probably built in 1790.
Interlude 1
services as a member of the Committee of Safety dur-
ing the Revolutionary War, and throughout
. . . at
the time of the great whiskey
In 1791, Alexander Hamilton had proposed a tax on
distilled liquors to raise money for his young Treasury
Department. This tax angered farmers “who used whis-
key as a medium of exchange"
and, presumably, also
angered those who used whiskey for other purposes. The
rebellion that followed the tax was especially severe in
Pennsylvania, whose limestone waters have historically
produced some of the nation’s finest spirits. The foment
there spread to the South and
. . .
even reached down in the territory known as Car-
roll County. [To protest this excise tax] a mob of men,
known as the ‘Whiskey boys’, marched into Westmin-
ster, and set up what they called a Liberty Pole.
Becoming alarmed and knowing the personal
bravery of Colonel Gist, who at that time commanded
a company of militia, he was sent for, and responded
immediately. Riding into town with a drawn sword in
his hand, he ordered the pole to be cut down, and dis-
mounting, he placed one foot upon it, and stood there
until the pole was cut into pieces, the Whiskey Boys
leaving quietly while it was being
Such was the style of Westminster in the last days
before the creation of Carroll County, an event that
would give the town importance, money, and a certain
amount of sophistication. All three of these can be relied
upon to change the tone of a town’s life and architecture.
Yet, another circumstance was already having a profound
effect on the city: increasingly efficient transportation.
Chancel and pulpit in the Union Meeting House before
its razing in 1891.
The very shape of early Westminster was a function of
It may well be the longest town for its size in America,
since all of it is spread along one street. The reason for
this is that, at the time when the great Western Road
passed through Westminster, everybody wished to
build on the main
The fact that Westminster was on a main trade route,
resulted in an abundance of taverns and inns along “the
main stem” for the feeding, refreshing, and lodging of
traders and drivers
an interesting example of early
strip development.A.G. Fuss discusses the Turnpike
Road in Carroll County in the early 19th century in a
1910 supplement to a local paper:
Baltimore was the popular metropolis and as the trade
increased between that City and Pennsylvania it
became necessary to have better facilities for transpor-
tation. In 1805 the Baltimore and Reistertown Turn-
pike was chartered for the capital of $600,000
subscribed for by the Baltimore capitalists and mer-
chants, and in 1807 the road was constructed through
Carroll County. It is 60 miles in length, including the
Hanover Branch. Large conestoga wagons drawn by
six horses transported immense amounts of goods and
produce over this road. This was the principal road to
Pittsburgh and hundreds of wagons often passed a
given point in a single day, and this traffic continued
until the construction of the B&O Road in Cumber-
land in 1845. Three quarters of a century ago (i.e.
circa 1835) the Westminster and Hagerstown Turn-
pike was begun.
Thus, although there was an element of “quaintness”
about the city before it became the County Seat and be-
fore later changes were wrought by the advent of the
Western Maryland Railroad, Westminster in the early
1800s already displayed signs of strong commercial and
political activity.
There was an iron foundary and a
nucleus of craftsmen and merchants in the town; roads
were being cut connecting it with Frederick, Pittsburgh,
and Baltimore; enterprising evangelists were adapting the
tactics of entrepreneurs to winning converts; and banks
were being established. While it is pleasant to conjure im-
ages of a bucolic Westminster where cows walked down
mossy streets, such a characterization is misleading. It
might be more accurate to view the early days as setting
the pattern for the keen sense of enterprise that would
become increasingly evident later in the century and
bring with it change and wealth.
Interlude 1
Chapter 5
From Country Town to County Seat
By the mid-1830s, dissatisfaction with existing county
boundaries had simmered for decades. Frederick County
included the entire western half of present-day Carroll
County and Baltimore County claimed the rest; West-
minster was on the border between the two. As early as
inhabitants of this vast region had begun to
realize that carving out a new county should (one can
never be
with government) permit more effective use
of taxes and quicker resolution of local problems. Fur-
thermore, travelling to the county seats, Frederick and
Towson, from the Westminster area meant long and ar-
duous journeys on muddy and rutted dirt roads.
Although there was widespread agreement to disagree
with the existing circumstances, there-was uncertainty as
to what form a new county ought to take. Some wanted
the division to be from Frederick County alone; some
wanted to separate Baltimore County more definitely
from Baltimore City and establish the county seat some-
where in the center of a new jurisdiction; others, espe-
cially the people of Westminster, wanted to take a portion
of each of the existing counties and form a new county
with Westminster as its seat of government.
Petitions were drawn up and supplications were made
to the State Legislature. Eventually, on March 2, 1833,
the General Assembly passed a bill that created a new
county to be named in honor of the recently deceased
Charles Carroll of Carrollton. (Carroll had been the last
surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence and
had owned several thousand acres in the proposed
county.) After the bill’s passage in the Legislature, the
citizens of the areas affected still were required to approve
the change by referendum.
While few events are solely the products of
uals, it is clear that one man “contributed more than any
single individual in the organization of Carroll County.“
Colonel John K. Longwell was born in Gettysburg on Oc-
tober 19, 1810, a descendant of Irish settlers who had
migrated from Ulster to Pennsylvania
yet another
instance of the Pennsylvania influence on Carroll County.
In 1832, he moved to Taneytown, then larger than West-
minster, and established a newspaper called the Re-
42 Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
corder, which he used to pour out a torrent of prop-
aganda for the establishment of Carroll County. He
published this paper for about a year before moving to
Westminster and establishing the
a journal
“chiefly devoted to the interests of the formation of a new
County with a County Seat of
The first is-
sue of his weekly paper appeared on June 25, 1833. That
issue and every subsequent issue for the next four years
presented arguments for the new County, complaining of
“a system of burdens and oppressions
. . . which, from
their steady increase,
must eventually become
After four years, Longwell’s lobbying efforts paid
off. His own account is interesting:
[There was] a provision requiring a majority of the
voters in each segment of the two counties [to agree] at
the October election 1833 by a
voce vote. Soon
after the passage of the bill your historian was invited
to come to Westminster to establish a newspaper in the
interest of the new County. On June 28, 1833 the
rolltonian was first issued and it may be said that even
the opponents of the measures acknowledged the zeal
and fidelity with which it was conducted, until in four
years afterwards, the efforts of its friends were finally
crowned with success. As the fall election approached,
a number of public meetings were held. For public dis-
cussion on the merits of the question a general meeting
was held at Westminster.[*]
The election came
off after holding many public meetings, and the result
was that the new county failed to receive a majority in
a Baltimore County segment, and was subsequently
The friends of the County did not antic-
ipate a rejection of their favorite project
determined that they would not give up, and the final
accomplishment of it is one of the strongest evidences
of what perserverance will achieve. Meetings were
called from time to time, the people were reasoned
with, and a considerable change in public sentiment
was obtained.
So the bill was finally ratified and the county was
created on January 19,
1837. Westminster celebrated.
comments that this long-deferred victory was
“hailed with great delight by the citizens of Westminster
and the surrounding country, and celebrated by a proces-
sion, of arches, banners, illuminations, etc., and an ad-
dress delivered in the old Union Church by James
Nancy Warner holds a more revisionist, less
ebullient, view of the great event:
The town of less than 500 residents welcomed new
county citizens and strangers alike, but the bitter cold
and deep snow were inhospitable, changing the pa-
rade as planned by the Committee of arrangements
*A committee was appointed to publish a pamphlet for those who
lived outside the town and unable to attend the meetings. It is in-
teresting to note that this pamphlet was published in both English
and German.
into an assembly in Union Church located in West-
minster Cemetery.
At this time, Westminster was just one of several small
places of about the same size in Carroll County. Taney-
town, during its four score and three years, had devel-
oped into the county’s leading town. It was on the main
Monacacy Road between Frederick and York and had
several small industries, including the famous Eli Bentley
clock plant. However, even Taneytown was rather a
rough-and-ready frontier town. One impression of Car-
roll County appears in an account of an 1854 journey
from Philadelphia to central Maryland:
Two miles beyond Littlestown the adventurers crossed
the limit of their state and entered Maryland. Was it
imagination or the darkness which rapidly increased,
that made the country grow more dreary? The houses
were more scarcely scattered, the corn crops dwindled
to smaller and smaller shocks, the appearance of spirit
and thrift grew less evident. No it was fact not fancy.
As a tired party drew near to Taneytown their rest-
ing place for the night, they hoped for comfortable
refreshment and shelter after days of riding 35 miles.
But they found the poorest entertainment which they
had met. Taneytown is a miserable little village, old
dilapidated and dirty, houses little low and mean.
Botany Bay might be quite as agreeable as Taney-
town. The dismal effect was heightened by a drizzling
rain, which however fortunately for their party seized
in about an hour or two after their starting.
If the “metropolis”
of Taneytown could produce this
reaction, it is fortunate that these travellers had no cause
to visit Westminster: the Chamber of Commerce would
be in disarray to this day. But perhaps Taneytown’s less-
than-four-star rating reflected the travellers’ fatigue and
disgruntlement with the dismal weather. (One wonders
how many pleasant hostelries have been damned by tem-
Having achieved his goal of seeing a new county estab-
married and settled down in 1840. He
purchased a tract called
“Resurvey of Bedford” from
Charles W. Carthause (Scotch-Irish replacing German)
and began to build a house there in 1842. He named the
place “Emerald Hill” and it was, according to
“one of the most elegant private residences in the
county.” It sits on a rise overlooking the City of West-
minster between what are now Longwell Avenue and Lo-
cust Street, about 200 yards north of East Main Street.
The five-bay two-and-a-half-story structure is a fine
example of the Pennsylvania farmhouse in Westminster,
built when the style was at its peak. On each floor, there
are marble mantels attributed to the internationally
From County Town to County Seat
Mansion was called “Emerald Hill” when built by John K.
in 1842.
This fine example of the Pennsylvania farmhouse is now the Westminster City Hall.
Below are a photograph of the house as it appeared in 1907 and a photograph of a William
Rinehart mantel in a second-floor room.
famous son of Carroll County, William Rinehart, who
sculpted the main
doors of the U.S. Capitol in
Longwell was elected State Senator in 1850 and served
four years. In 1867 he was elected one of the delegates
of the Constitutional Convention and assisted in the
framing of the organic laws of Maryland. In 1871 he
was again chosen State Senator for a term of four
years. He was prevailed upon to accept the nomination
of County Commissioner
the most important office
in the State to farmers, businessmen and tax payers,
and was triumphantly elected and made president of
the board. He was the author of the Charter of the
Western Maryland Railroad and secured its passage by
its legislature, and when this railroad was put under
contract he was one of its Board of Directors, and is
now [1882] a member of the Board. He became a di-
rector of the Westminster Bank (now Union National)
and has been the president for 25 years. Since 1858 he
has been the president of the Baltimore and Reister-
town Turnpike, a road built in 1805 and for many
years the great national thoroughfare from Baltimore
and Pittsburg for traveling freight. At the Centennial
Celebration of July 4, 1876, in Westminster, he pre-
pared and read the history of the County, with which
no person in its limits is more familiar. Colonel
Longwell contributed more than any single individual
in the organization of Carroll County, and since its
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
erection has been constantly associated with its prog-
ress, and the many
public and fiduciary positions con-
ferred upon him show the esteem which he has held by
Longwell was also interested in education. He helped
found the Westminster English and Mathematical
Academy in 1836, the West End Academy in 1858, and
the Westminster Female Institute. He was a member of
the first board of trustees of Western Maryland College
and served many years in that capacity. From 1868-1870
he was a member of the county board of school
The first meetings of the Circuit Court, the Orphans’
Court, and the County Commissioners of the newly cre-
ated county were held in Westminster on the first of
April, 1837. Of course, in the newly created county seat
there were as yet no administrative buildings. The Circuit
Court used Dr. William Willis’s dwelling, a fine brick
five-bay residence that has been expanded and altered
through the years and is now a restaurant known as
“Cockey’s Tavern.
After making a few preliminary ap-
pointments, the Court adjourned and met subsequently
Number 216 East Maln Street was built about 1790 as the
of Dr. WIlllam Willis, who made it available to the Carroll
County Circuit Court for its first meeting in 1837. It was heavily remodelled in the 1890s and it now houses “Cockey’s Tavern.”
From County Town to County Seat
in the Union Meeting House until a permanent Court
House was built. The Orphans’ Court met in what was
known as the Wampler Mansion and continued to meet
there until the Court House was built. Perhaps the fact
that the Judge of the Orphans’ Court was the owner of the
house had some bearing on the arrangements. The
Wampler Mansion,
257 East Main Street, still exists,
although in somewhat altered form. The house must have
been relatively new in 1837 because the diary of Ka-
tharine Jones Shellman relates that, in the early
this lot contained “the garden of John Wampler, farmer
and surveyor whose brick dwelling was in the course of
erection on the corner of Main and Church Street.” The
five-bay, hipped-roof building was large and elegant for
the area and was even more refined by a fine mouse-tooth
cornice on the exterior and by delicate paneling and
hardware on interior doors and halls; much of this still
mains. The house stayed in the Wampler family until the
1890s when the Methodist Church took it over. The
church remodeled the roof to provide a third story, built
additions, and used it as a home for the aged.
The Wampler Mansion about 1850.
To accommodate a less exalted group of the town’s
The Wampler Mansion about 1915 after remodelling for use as a home for the aged.
citizens, the second floor of William Reese’s “thriving
grocery store” at 292 East Main Street was converted into
the county jail. However successful the building may have
been as a store, its career as a jail proved to be less
distinguished: it had only one guest
who escaped by
climbing down the rain spout.
Plans already were underway, however, for the erec-
tion of permanent structures for the judicial functions
and the jail
more imposing for the former and more
secure for the latter. In 1837, Isaac Shriver and the heirs
of David Fisher donated several acres of land for the
county complex.
This gift extended the limits of the
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
town, since the acreage was about 100 yards north of
Main Street.
Shriver’s magnanimity had its practical side. The
street that would connect the court house/jail complex
with Main Street would be called Court Street; a square
to be built around the Court House would be called, logi-
cally, “Court Square.There was a stone store at the in-
tersection of the new Court Street and Main Street and
across Court Street was the edifice of the Main Court Inn
(now destroyed). Architecturally and socially these build-
ings would oversee the comings and goings of the Court
House and, when the original stone store was expanded
by a brick flank running half way down Court Street,
would present a baroque vista and fitting approach to the
local seat of government. Isaac Shriver owned the store
and ran the Inn. He was also president of the Bank of
Westminster (now Union National Bank). No doubt he
recognized the dual
personal and civic
benefits of
his transactions and balanced them nicely.
The cornerstone of the Court House was laid on June
13, 1838, by Andrew Shriver, a relative of Isaac, who de-
Isaac Shriver.
The eighteenth-century Main Court Inn, now torn down.
From County Town to County Seat 47
posited in the cavity of the cornerstone a variety of docu-
ments illustrative of the history of the area: paper cur-
rency, silver coins, and current newspapers. The architect
was the first Mayor of Westminster, James M. Shellman;
the contractor was Conrad Moul; and the masonry was
laid by Ephriam Swope and Thomas Durbin. The origi-
nal part of the building is a five-bay, two-story, gable-
roofed, brick pile firmly in the city’s building tradition.
Of course, it is of much larger scale than usual, having,
for example, 12 over 12 windows instead of 6 over 6, but
its origins are clear. Soon after the building’s completion,
elegant additions were attached. The most striking of
these is the two-story portico: this Ionic Temple facade
(complete with lunette) can be read clearly as an attempt
to lift the building out of the Pennsylvania-farmhouse
school and into the mainstream of current Greek Revival
national fashion. Fortunately the building avoided the
stigma of being “just another Greek Revival county court
house” because of the provincialisms that crept into the
design to give it character. Certainly no Greek (or Roman
for that matter) ever looked upon Ionic capitals quite like
these. Crowning the building is a curious octagonal, flat-
roofed cupola. One must wonder whether its apparent
truncation was in any way associated with the fact that, in
the words of present Circuit Court Judge Edward 0.
“the mechanics who built the cupola found it
necessary to sue the County Commissioners in order to be
compensated for their
The changes and addi-
tions to the Court House show that Westminster was not
content to remain static; it wanted to be current with na-
tional fashion, at least in the styling of its prominent
About 100 yards to the north of the Court House,
masons Swope and Durbin had also built the County Jail
in 1837. Their bill was $4,000. The jail measures the stan-
dard five bays by two bays, and is the standard two-and-
a-half-stories in height. Apparently the County Commis-
sioners sought the largest, most impregnable looking
nay, boulders
available with which to build
their jail
— a mighty fortress,
indeed. The effect is
heightened by the Stonehenge-sized rocks that form the
quoins of the building. However, apart from its lapidary
A view of East Main Street showing (left) the Main Court Inn as it appeared about 1915.
excesses, the jail is nothing but our old friend the Penn-
sylvania farmhouse, this time complete with porch.
How lucky, one realizes, were Westminster’s citizens:
they adopted a vernacular style of architecture that
seemed to be infinitely adaptable. Not only did the basic
pattern survive for a century as the standard form for
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
houses, it served for Court House and stores as well.
Truely, one shape fitted all. It fitted the needs of
Westminster’s citizens so comfortably that it became en-
trenched in their minds to the exclusion of their even
thinking of building in any other manner.
Above: Carroll County Court House, built in 1838. Right: An
engraving of the Court House included in an 1877 atlas of
Carroll County. Below: Detail showing the “Ionic” capitals,
the lunette in the pediment, and the flat-roofed cupola.
The seemingly impregnable County Jail, built for $4,000 in 1837.
The Carroll County Court House as it appeared at the beginning of the 20th century.
Maturity at Mid-Century
The designation of Westminster as Carroll County’s seat
of government brought changes to its social and physical
fabric. For example, because most of the original settlers
in the area were German there had been little need for
any form of worship not Germanic in origin. There was,
of course,
the multi-denominational Union Meeting
House to serve the vestiges of other religions, but that was
all. On a hot summer’s day in 1842, however, Reverend
Hillhouse Buel paused briefly in town on his way to
He met with William P. Maulsby and pro-
posed the founding of an Episcopal Church in the city.
writing fifty years later, said “in reply, he was
told that the idea was wholly impracticable, that there
was not sufficient congregation to carry it on
went on to “Avondale,where his proposal was received
with more encouragement.
The Van Bibbers, who then
were the masters of “Avondale,” helped raise money for
the venture in Howard, Anne Arundel, and Prince
George’s Counties,while Buel himself dunned in Balti-
more City. They managed to raise sufficient funds
an inconsiderable portion coming from the Van Bibbers
and hired Robert Carey Long of Baltimore
to draw up the plans and specifications for the new
church. Long carried out his assignment “for $50
. . . [and] whilst h
e several times visited, inspected and
supervised the construction of our little church building,
positively refused to accept one other cent.“
The new
church was consecrated on Ascension Day, 1846, with
Bishop Whittingham presiding. Present were several
young ecclesiastics who later rose to prominence in the
Church: Dr.
later Bishop of North Carolina,
Dr. Kip of Albany, New York, later Bishop of California,
and Dr. Lyman,
later Bishop of North Carolina. Buel
rode the circuit among the other parishes under his
charge and acted as occasional minister in Westminster,
alternating with Bishop Whittingham. The congregation
began to expand:
Gradually were gathered in Mr.
Mrs. J.F. Reese, the
parents of Mr. J. Fisher Reese
now a United
States counsel in Belgium, Miss Sarah Longwell, and
others. . . .
During all this time, and long after the lit-
tle church building had been finished and conse-
rated, the small nucleus of a congregation, and their
visitors and friends, maintained a social structure,
which gave delicious intercourse to them, and served
to attract, gradually, others to their aid. It is believed
that in those socialities, kept up in regular orderliness,
were scintillations of intellectual brilliancy, and
flashes of explicit wit from some of the members,
which it would be found hard to have been exceeded
in any companies whatever or
The early handling of the Rector’s salary is indicative
of the spirit of unity that enabled pioneer societies to suc-
ceed. In the beginning, Buel received no salary; rather,
the small congregation thought of itself as a unit, as a
family, and “no one of us was possessed of anything that
was not at the command of our rector’s need. All sedu-
lously watched and supplied his needs. He was a wel-
comed and honored member of every family, when he
would come, and he came and dwelt without stint or
Afterwards he received a modest salary.
The church that Long designed rates as one of the un-
questioned landmarks in Westminster and did outstand-
ing justice to its prestigious location on Westminster’s
pivotal artery
— Court Street. Built of grey stone in a
modified and restrained Gothic design, it was up-to-date
stylistically (being roughly contemporaneous with such
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
Ascension Episcopal church
shown in an 1887 engraving (top)
and present-day details of the
early Gothic landmarks as Trinity
Church in New York) as well as being a gem in its own
right. Finely proportioned, of perfect detail within and
without, Ascension Church has been an unqualified success
for over 130 years.
Originally, with its bare white plastered
walls, the building must have been of almost Quaker pu-
rity. Since then, the place has taken on the pleasant
museum quality that so often makes the small parish
church a compendium of community memorabilia, a
town’s collective memory.
Our old parish churches are all local pantheons, con-
secrated museums which are in the highest degree
worth preserving. They are incomparable treasure
houses of history and art. Every square foot illustrates
and annotates. . . .
There is the . . . structure itself
. . . [on which each era] has left its curious imprint;
the varieties of tracery and moulding, the mass dials
and masons’ marks,the effigies and brasses, the
screens . . . the brass altar cross, the tiled chancel, the
manual organ with ‘Hossana’ painted across the pipes.
And lastly the memorials, often so crude but always so
elegant, of the warfare of our own time.
Wandering through Ascension Church and reading the
memorial inscriptions on plaques, crosses, stained glass
windows, bible racks, and communion sets, one can fol-
low the passings of generations of local families.
Shriver’s plan for a grand avenue from Main Street to
the Court House, his hopes for a fitting environment for
the new county’s government, quickly began to take
Maturity at Mid-Century
The Bennett-Parke House is one of the consummate examples of the
farmhouse in Westminster.
at least on the east side of Court Street. In ad-
dition to the superb representative of religious architec-
ture just described, one of the gems of Westminster’s do-
mestic architecture, the Bennett-Parke House, was built
about this time between the church and Main Street.
On July 7, 1841 Isaac Shriver had sold a quarter acre
parcel bordering the church lot to one Solomon Zepp for
$400; two years later, Zepp sold the same parcel for $1800
to Levi T. Bennett.
This four-and-a-half-fold increase in
price would indicate that something had been built, and
indeed that “something” was one of the consummate ex-
amples of the Pennsylvania farmhouse in Westminster.
By then, the style had been dominant in town for about
two generations and had already been responsible for sev-
eral masterpieces. It had been around long enough for its
possibilities to be understood and mastered but not long
enough for the results to have become trite. Furthermore,
the site for this latest interpretation was only a few hun-
dred feet from the splendid Court House recently com-
pleted for a brand new county. All these factors must
have combined to create the right mental and emotional
conditions for Zepp to desire to excel in the building of his
to make it a celebration of local tradition. The
precision of its Flemish bond brick, its fine window treat-
ment (including lintels, sills, and shutters), the precise
balancing of solid and void, the massive chimneys and the
way their proportions relate to the rest of the house, the
fine cornice, and the sophisticated principal door, all
combine to make the building extraordinary. The house
stayed in the Bennett family until 1871, when it was sold
to Joseph M. Parke for $4,600,
an extremely high price
for Westminster in that era and one that is indicative of
the respect in which the building was held. (The price for
an average house in the city would have been about half
that figure.) The Parke family, notable in city, county,
and state legal circles,
retained possession of the house
until 1956,
when it was bought by the neighboring As-
cension Church for use as its Rectory.
The Bennett-Parke house, Ascension Church, the
classic style of the additions to the Court House, and the
scheme for the grand Court Street boulevard that we have
ascribed to Isaac Shriver, all indicate a great surge of
local pride in the early days of the new county and its seat
of government. Emerging states have often been observed
to construct fine edifices and boulevards
often finer
than mere economics would dictate
to help legitimize
their status. Thomas Jefferson encouraged the use of
Roman and Palladian architecture to give the newly cre-
ated United States of America a visual impression of
strength and stability. So, too, in Westminster the mani-
festations of pride in being no longer a country village but
now the most important town in the county began to take
shape both in civic and domestic architecture.
The Westminster Opera House symbolizes the chang-
ing atmosphere. During the early 19th century, its loca-
tion was the site of Jacob Mathias’s tanyard, shop, and
Symbolizing the aspira-
tions of a burgeoning city,
the Opera House was built
at mid-nineteenth century
on the site of Jacob
residence but in 1854 Mathias sold the lot to the Inter-
national Order of Odd Fellows for $375. This organiza-
tion then built the Opera House. Such a building would
surely not have been appropriate in a small trading town,
but when the town becomes the County Seat . . .
that’s different! Opera houses seem to have been the fa-
vorite choice for providing instant cosmopolitanism in
boom towns from Colorado to the Amazon jungle. In
Westminster, the function and massiveness of the build-
ing must have created an imposing presence in marked
contrast to the generally quiet quality of the rest of the
town. The huge slabs that comprise its facade would have
been about twice the height of any other structure in town
except for the Court House itself. The building’s seeming
grasp for position as it soared upward and outward could
be interpreted as representing the feelings of the towns-
people at the time.
Little appears to have been recorded about the Opera
House, but one rather gruesome story survives. During
the Civil War, when divided loyalties made for tense
situations, a show at the Opera House featured deroga-
tory impersonations of Lincoln, Grant, and other Union
leaders; the next morning the decapitated body of the
“entertainer” was found in a rear stable.
Despite the elevation in civic consciousness, general
domestic architecture in the city retained its basic form.
Houses that probably date from this era include the
bay frame building at 222 East Main Street, 45 East Main
Street (which recently gave way to a new mall and plaza),
and 182 West Main Street, which was part of the city’s
rapid expansion to the west. Other contemporary houses
are 44 Pennsylvania Avenue, executed in Flemish bond
brick, and 141 West Main Street.
While Main Street and the original Westminster were
being built up in the 1840s and
there were interest-
ing developments west of town. The ubiquitous “Isaac
Shriver, one of our sturdy pioneers
opened a street
and called it ‘Union Street’ to connect two roads and
named the two sections: ‘Pennsylvania Avenue’ and ‘West
Main Street’, and laid it off in a number of building lots.
For many years this part of town was called ‘Irish Town’
presumably because the first house was built by an Irish-
The late Dr. Grace L.
notes that “after
the death of John Logsden, Sr., the trustee of his estate
sold ‘Fanny’s Meadow’ at a public auction
Lance bought the Logsden Tavern and 17 acres of land at
the road junction for $3.00 per acre. In 1834 he conveyed
it all to Isaac
Speculators purchased several of these lots on Union
Street and built the houses that still stand there. One
George A.W. Bowersox, for example, bought the north-
westernmost four lots on the street in 1854 for $140 and
built four double houses thereon. The 1850s deeds asso-
ciated with the resale of these individual properties note
that the lots
“are improved with . . .
double frame
weatherboarded houses recently erected” and make refer-
ence to “the center of the partition wall at the front of the
double houses erected.
The southeastern part of the
street, containing the central area of Shriver’s triangular-
shaped property apparently was bought by the Roop-
Royer family soon after Shriver’s acquisition, for on Oc-
tober 17, 1849, Jesse Royer conveyed to David Wantz
nearly four acres “on New Street,” the metes and bounds
description for which matches this interior piece of land.
Wantz must have been another speculator for he soon
thereafter began selling the land in individual lots.
Maturity at Mid-Century
Union Street did not for long remain “Irish Town”; it
quickly developed into residences for Westminster’s free-
black community. Several theories for this change have
been suggested. Some feel that the street was built to
house workers of nearby Western Maryland College, but
this can be ruled out because it antedates the college by
twenty years. A reasonable explanation of the street’s pro-
gression is that its houses were originally built to accom-
modate the men who constructed the Western Maryland
Railroad through Carroll County in the 1850s. These
workers were quite likely to have been recent Irish immi-
grants. When the railroad was completed, the Irish
workers would have moved on leaving Union Street to be
occupied by free blacks and later by former slaves. An
1861 map of Westminster shows Bowersox’s four double
houses and one church on Union Street. A map produced
fifteen years later (1877) shows the same houses and at
least a dozen others, and now a “Colored M.E. Church”
and a “Colored School” are also marked.
Writing in 1924, Mary Shellman recalled the black
people she had known in her childhood:
[I] must close with a few words to those dearest mem-
ories to my child life, the faithful old black faces that
never gave me a frown, and whose kindly voices spoke
only of affection and love. The Snowdens, the Bruces
and Hardens, the Paralays, and the Irelands, and the
and the Bells and Cromwells . . . the first ice-
cream ever made in Westminster was made by Mary
a colored woman, who once a week, would
send her husband, Billy
a slave owned by Mr.
Jacob Reese, father of Dr. James W. Reese, to inform
the gentlemen who would take their sweethearts to her
home in Irishtown to partake of a delicacy.
The names of people listed as living on Union Street in
the 1881 City Directory, have similarities to the names
listed by Miss Shellman.
The buildings that front the two sides of Union Street
are in a mixture of vernacular styles but are wonderfully
uniform in history, age, and scale. There seems to be an
approximately equal number of single-unit and double-
unit residential buildings. A popular duplex form is ex-
emplified by 49-51 and 57-59. These consisted originally
of long, two-story, gable-roofed, frame buildings divided
into halfs, each half being two bays wide with a hall and
parlor plan. Interest is added to the principal facades by
hipped-roofed porches and careful spacing of windows
and doors. The end walls of the units were blind and had
an interior end chimney rising at the gable roofs peak.
The rears of each of the two units originally had matching
bays (two on each of the two floors) opposite those on the
principal facade. This treatment is revealed in a circa
1880 photograph of Union Street taken from College Hill.
In the late 19th or early 20th century, additions were
Detail of Martinet’s 1861 map of Carroll County, showing the
railroad line that was completed to Westminster in that year
made to the rears but the principal facades remained ba-
sically unchanged except for the occasional use of alumi-
num or asbestos siding.
Another popular Union Street house form is seen in
45-47, and 35-37. These are also double units but they
are perpendicular to the street
their gable ends face
the street. These buildings are taller than the other
double units and of later date, since they are not appar-
ent on the circa 1880 photograph.
A still later type of double house was of deeper design
with a single-pitch roof sloping away from the street.
Some extant examples are 2-4, 18-18½, and 31-33
Union Street. These double houses reflect a style popular
elsewhere in Westminster and, generally speaking, are
two bays wide, creating a four-bay facade for the whole
building. Roof lines are more emphatically noted here
Union Street looking east from College Hill in the late nineteenth century.
Numbers 45-47 Union Street.
Number 49-51 Union Street.
Maturity at Mid-Century
Numbers 57-59 Union Street.
with thick denticulated modillioned cornices. In all the
double units mentioned, color is an extremely important
factor: it defines ownership and makes for a pleasantly
varigated streetscape.
The single-unit houses on Union Street are generally
similar to those found elsewhere in the city: two perpen-
dicular, two-story, gable-roofed sections with the prin-
cipal facade consisting of three regularly-spaced bays per
floor. Examples include 6, 8, 36, 10, and 20 Union Street,
which stress centrality, with their entrance doors being
the center ground-story bay, and 45 Union Street, which
has its door on the side.
The mixture of three ver-
nacular styles that occur on
Union Street are apparent in
this view of the street.
One of the more striking buildings on Union Street,
and indeed in the city, is the Union Street M.E. Church,
built in 1867 and located about halfway up the street on
the east side. The church was originally a simple two-bay
by three-bay, gable-roofed structure; it is unchanged ex-
cept for the 1927 addition of a two-story steeple in the
center of the front facade. The windows appear to have
had clear glass originally but this was changed to colored
glass probably around the turn of this century.
A singular event of this era concerned the Westmin-
ster Cemetery, which surrounded the Old Union Meeting
House on the opposite side of town from Union Street. A
plot of ground originally containing one-and-a-half acres
adjoining the church had been used as a burying ground
from the earliest days Westminster and indeed for a half-
century before the founding of the city or the erection of
the church
one of the stones is dated 1707. The first
record of what was later to become the Westminster Cem-
etery Company, however, was an act passed by the State
Legislature on May 24, 1813, allowing the incorporation
of the “Trustees of the Westminster General Meeting
House in Frederick [now Carroll] County.” The incorpo-
rators named in the act were Isaac Shriver (not surpris-
ingly), David Fisher, James Mchaffie, Joshua Gist, Francis
Hollingsworth, James Cannon, and William Durbin.
Fifty years later, on February 18, 1864, the State Leg-
islature passed another act allowing incorporation of the
“Westminster Cemetery Company.” On June 17 of that
Union Street M.E. Church built in 1867.
The land owned by the Westminster
Cemetery Company, whose incorporation
was authorized by an Act of the State
Legislature in 1813, has been in use as a
cemetery since as early as 1707. To the
left is a late nineteenth century view of
the cemetery.
year, a joint stock company was formed under that name
with George Wampler as president and a Board of Direc-
tors that included William Reese, Joseph M. Parke, John
K. Long-well, and Alfred Troxell. Stock was sold at $10 a
share and the proceeds used to buy twelve-and-a-half
acres of land adjoining the original one-and-a-half acres.
The cemetery company still exists and operates the enter-
prise. Perhaps its longevity is due to strict enforcement of
the rules promulgated around 1895:
The picking of flowers (except by the owner from his
own lot), the breaking of trees, shrubs or plants, and
the defacing of any monument, fence or structure in
the cemetery, is strictly prohibited. Violators of this
are liable to arrest.
Rapid driving, or driving on the grass, will not be
Horses in all cases must have an attendant. Trees must
not be used as hitching posts. Dogs will not be per-
mitted within the grounds, unless in carriages, accom-
panied by their owners.
The carrying of firearms is strictly prohibited, except
at military funerals.
No improper or disorderly persons will be permitted to
enter or remain in the cemetery. Those who willfully
and persistently infringe the rules and regulations will
be classed as improper persons and denied entrance.
Writing about Westminster in 1882, Thomas
comments that “the prosperity of the city is aptly illus-
trated by the number of its public buildings and its man-
ufacturing establishments.
The citizens of Westminster
in the 1840s and ’50s apparently had not been satisfied to
allow their city’s prosperity to depend solely on the fact
that it was the County Seat and a stop on a horse-drawn
bus line. They wanted industry that was more robust than
tanning and tailoring.
Nancy Warner comments that the “citizens of the
towns had enough foresight to realize the need for manu-
facturing within the town to supplement the highway
trade, and they were proud of the quality of their
She cites the cigar factories in Manchester and
Maturity at Mid-Century
Taneytown, the hat factories in Uniontown and West-
minster, a nail factory in Union Bridge, and so on. The
American Sentinel, the county’s Republican organ,
couranged manufacturing and trade for half a century,
partly through a series of articles on prominent individual
entrepreneurs. The paper was a nonpariel example of the
Victorian commercial spirit; its boosting of growth and
industry is well illustrated in a November 1859 article:
The productions of our own mechanics and artisans
are in every particular equal to the best articles manu-
factured abroad, and to us the encouragement and
support of them, on part of the citizens of Westmin-
ster, seems a duty that all should take pleasure to en-
join upon themselves. The purchase of goods else-
where that can be manufactured as well at home
and in many instances better
has a tendency to
retard the improvements of the City and injures the
prospects of our working classes. By encouraging our
own manufactures we add impetus to the establish-
ment of our permanent prosperity, we enrich the com-
munity around us, and advance every species of busi-
ness. Westminster is the center of a large and populous
County, and her manufactories into various branches
of labor
could be made tenfold as great as now under
proper management.
These are facts our people
should consider, if they have any desire to contribute
to the prosperity of the community in which they
reside and from whom they
derive their
One of Westminster’s smaller enterprises of this era
was the sculpture business of the Beaver family at 126
East Main Street. The three generations of Beaver sculp-
tors, “Jackson, the first, Andrew, his son, and John Bea-
ver, his grandson,must have been typical small-scale
businessmen of the time. In their marble yard, which bor-
dered their house to the west, and their studio, they
sculpted tombstones, marble mantelpieces, and so on.
Andrew Beaver bought the plot of land in 1858 for
it had been sold to George Weaver for $125 in
and it was probably Weaver who built the small
two-bay house that is still standing. The house is interest-
ing both as an example of the British cabin style and for
the beautiful marble mantels and heavy stone sills that no
doubt were intended to serve as advertisements for the
Beavers’ craft.
Such small enterprise,
however, was not quite what
the industry-minded citizens and the American Sentinel
had in mind. More agreeable to them was the Union Ag-
ricultural Works of Westminster which opened in the
summer of 1852. The plant, which was from time to time
enlarged and improved, consisted of a large two-story
machine shop, blacksmith shop, saw mill, and sheds, all
of which occupied nearly one-and-a-half acres of ground.*
During this time,
the new county seat continued its
role as a transportation center and when one imagines its
seven taverns and “unceasing stream” of wagons and
mule drivers passing along its muddy Main Street one
may suspect that Joseph D. Brookes was being reticent
*This plant possibly was located on Court Street between the Charles
Fisher House and Greenwood Avenue. The site is identified on the
1877 map of the city (see pages 72-73) as the location of the “Taylor
Manufacturing Company.”
The gates of Westminster Cemetery are shown as the meeting point for an early Memorial Day parade.
The Beaver House (left, partly shown) and
Studio, photographed when they were part of
the Joseph C. Mathias Monument Co. A
photo of the founder is shown in the inset.
A slate and marble
mantel in the front
room on the house's
ground floor.
The Beaver House as
it appears today.
A page of the 1881
Westminster Directory.
Maturity at Mid-Century
when he commented that in the “turnpike days it [West-
minster] was a wagon hamlet filled with bar rooms and
all that accompanied them."
On June
7, 1916, Brookes,
interviewed Jesse Sheets, one of the first conductors of the
Western Maryland Railroad and the last surviving driver
of the bus line (horse drawn) that ran through Westmin-
ster. Sheets began driving a “bus” from Uniontown to
Westminster in 1850 when Denton Gehr was manager of
the line. He also drove from Westminster to Gettysburg, a
trip that took four hours. Sheets recalls:
In those days Westminster was quite a wagon village, a
great place for farmers and tradesmen to come in their
large wagons. This was the main highway from Balti-
more to Pittsburg by way of Chambersburg, for
travelling up the Gettysburg Pike. They
hauled produce, manufactured goods, whiskey, flour,
and manufactured machinery from Pittsburg
especially farming machinery to this market. Return-
ing, they hauled groceries, cloth, wearing apparel,
charcoal, etc. Many a time I have seen fifteen to
twenty two- to six-horse teams in one string. Most of
them had bells on their horses. The wagons were
called Pittsburg wagons, they were built at Conestoga,
Pennsylvania. They had white canvas covers over the
top, the drivers carried their beds in the wagon. Also
carried a trough across the rear of the wagon to feed
the horses; they would fasten the trough to each side of
the tongue of the wagon and tie three horses on each
side. Staying at a tavern for the night the drivers would
spread their beds on the floor of the bar room or the
dining room and sleep there, the horses staying out-
side. I remember many evenings coming up with the
bus that it was impossible to drive in a tavern yard as it
would be entirely full of teams and horses and for
Right: A nineteenth century tintype
captures the essence o
transportation through Westminster
during that booming era.
quite a distance outside on the pike. I was obliged to
carry water a long distance for my horses for that
reason. There were very few passengers in the winter
time as the roads were very bad and dangerous. The
hills were hard to get up and harder to go down as the
coach would slide on the ice, the rear coming around
towards the horses, just as automobiles do now. The
fare from here to Baltimore was $2.50 one way and
$4.00 a round
Sheets was 20 years old when he began driving the
horse-drawn buses in 1850. In 1859, he started working
on the railroad from Baltimore to Owings Mills; when the
railroad came to Westminster, he became a conductor
and later a brakeman.
The people of Westminster seem to have been aware
that their early prosperity had been in part based on
transportation. If the town had been able to get a start as
a way.point for Conestoga wagons, certainly, they must
have figured, it could do even better with that new-
fangled invention, the railroad:
The people of Westminster have, in the creation of the
County, manifested an enterprising disposition and
desire to keep abreast of the great practical discoveries
of the century. The question of railroad transportation
engaged the attention of the inhabitants at an early
date, and the extraordinary advantages to accrue to
the County by rail and steam communication were
thoroughly appreciated.
A group of citizens met at the Court House on April 7,
1847, to consider the possibilities of building a railroad
through the county to connect it more efficiently with the
port of Baltimore; a committee of ten was appointed to
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
negotiate with the president and directors of the Balti-
more and Susquehanna Railroad. Three years later, the
president of the railroad, R.M. MacGraw, addressed a
meeting in Westminster on the advantages that might be
reaped if a rail line came to the city. More committees
were formed to make more studies: to determine the best
route, the cost of construction, possible revenues that
could flow into the city, and so on. The line already went
out from Baltimore City as far as Owings Mills in Balti-
more County, and the two possible extension routes were
(1) to go straight north to Pennsylvania away from West-
minster or (2) to branch off westward to Westminster by
way of Reisterstown. Various other routes were proposed
and various other meetings were held. Innumerable reso-
lutions were passed and interminable studies made. In
1851, railroad company engineers surveyed a route to
In September 1852, yet another meeting was held at
the Court House; but this time delegates came from Balti-
more, Carroll, Frederick, and Washington Counties, as
the scheme had now been hatched to extend the line not
only to Westminster but westward to Hagerstown, where
it would link up with lines leading to Pittsburgh. When
the citizens of Westminster learned that the Mayor of Bal-
timore City had, in fact, signed an ordinance endorsing
five hundred thousand dollars worth of
Maryland Railway Bonds,“the event was celebrated by
the firing of cannon,
and at night a large meeting was
held and speeches were made . . .
with music by the
The Western Maryland Railroad
was chartered in January 1852 and work began on it in
July 1857. It was completed to Union Bridge and through
Westminster by 1861 and to Williamsport on the Poto-
mac River in 1873. In its inception it was a Carroll
County enterprise,
the inhabitants of the county sub-
scribing to nearly all the original stock in the company.
value of this road to Carroll County can scarcely
be overestimated
property of every description in
the vicinity of the railroad has greatly appreciated in
value, and an unmistakable impetus has been given
to all industries which the County is capable of
The citizens of Westminster were well aware of the benefits that a railroad
serving their city would bring. Their strenuous lobbying efforts -- backed up
by their money -- eventually brough the railroad to Westminster in 1861.
The tracks crossed East Main Street adjacent to the depot as shown in the
photographs that close this chapter on the next page.
estminster’s resolute march towards Victorian bour-
geois capitalism was oh-so-mildly-and-briefly delayed by
the inconvenience now known as the Civil War. During
the war, Westminster, like other towns in border states,
had mixed sympathies.
The county and city historically had been divided by
loyalties to Pennsylvania and to Southern Maryland.
When the county was formed in 1837, there were 1,044
slaves (valued at $220,400) living there; in the West-
minster District there were 97, whose $22,880 worth rep-
resented a slightly higher per-slave value than for the
county at large. The number of slaves in the county had
dwindled to 975 by 1850 and to only 783 by 1860. The re-
sults of the 1860 presidential election indicate the even
political split in the county. The vote was fairly evenly di-
vided between the two Democratic candidates, and the
two Whig/Republican candidates: respectively, Brecken-
Breckenridge Douglas
(D) (D)
Westminster 247
85 295
County Wide
2295 59
As was the case with other small towns, once the war
began Westminster unexpectedly and involuntarily be-
came the scene of skirmishes. Although there were no
great campaigns in Westminster, the city was occupied
three times by both Union and Confederate Armies. Dur-
ing the Gettysburg campaign of 1863, it was the main
supply base for the Northern army because of the recently
completed rail line
a consequence the rail promoters
had not anticipated.
The first time troops entered the city was in Septem-
ber 1862, when the Confederate Army, moving north be-
fore the battle of Antietam, sent a scouting party of Vir-
ginia Cavalry under Colonel Thomas Rosser into West-
minster in the early evening:
This unusually quiet town was precipitated into a fate
of great commission this evening by the arrival of a
regiment of rebel cavalry
there is only one street
worthy of the name in town. Along this street they
dashed amid the gathering darkness . . . Presently
cheers from the direction of the railroad depot
cheers for Jeff Davis
were heard, just as they were
passing there on their gallop to the other end of town
The secessionists everywhere were in great glee,
cheered from the houses and ran along the street,
while Union people gazed on with mute amazement
. . .
meanwhile the town was lively and gay. The
lamps were lit in the houses, secession ladies appeared
at the doors and windows and the place at once as-
sumed an usually animated appearance. Officers were
invited into dwellings, ladies greeted them in an ar-
dent, almost affectionate manner, and with words and
smiles assured them with sympathy. Music, vocal and
instrumental, came floating through the open win-
dows, while the male members, the resident rebels,
were wild with excitement and overflowing with
Several houses were occupied, including one at 79
West Main Street by Colonel Rosser himself; it is now en-
larged and serves as an apartment building called
“Rosser’s Choice.”One young lady’s reaction to the
Southern soldiers is interesting:
A teacher, a Miss Harriet Ray, from Vermont, em-
ployed in John A. Monroe’s private school was en-
thusiastic over the appearance, the conduct, and the
general air of refinement of the Southern soldiers. She
Interlude 2
of War
ridge & Douglas and Bell & Lincoln. The vote in Westminster
and in the county at large was as follows:
found them altogether different from her expecta-
tions. Far from being affraid of them, she found them
delightful and sought opportunity to become ac-
quainted . . . she said she must write home at once to
set her people right in regard to the southerners, that
notion entertained in Vermont as to the ‘Cessionists
were entirely erroneous and she would proceed at once
to correct them.
On June 29, 1863, during the Confederacy’s great
push into the North, J.E.B. Stuart arrived in Westminster
with three brigades of veteran Cavalry troop. They were
travelling northward, planning to meet Lee in Pennsyl-
vania with information on Union troop movements.
There was a scuffle in town when the Confederates met
and easily overwhelmed a small unit of Union Cavalry.
However, the skirmish delayed Stuart’s troops with, per-
haps, serious consequences:
If he had been able to reach Lee on the night of June
29, his information might have changed the whole
pattern of Lee’s campaign and the results of the battle
of Gettysburg.
When Stuart’s cavalry moved on, the Union Commander,
General George G. Meade, decided to use Westminster as
a base and it served this purpose well when he and Lee
met unexpectedly at the nearby town of Gettysburg. The
newly constructed Western Maryland Railroad line from
Baltimore appears to have played an important role:
By July 1, vast quantities of supplies and thousands of
mules and wagons arrived in the town. . . . As the
battle proceeded, long lines of prisoners and wounded
soldiers moved back to Westminster, to be transported
to Baltimore or Washington. It is estimated that there
were as many as 5,000 wagons and 30,000 mules in
Westminster during the Gettysburg campaign, with
almost 10,000 men to guard the
Although, perhaps, not as traumatic as the aftermath
of other storied events during the nation’s unhappy Civil
Westminster’s taste of devastation is worth
The battle of Gettysburg having ended after three days
fighting . . . the troops . . . were withdrawn, leaving
us in a quiet we had not known for weeks, and with im-
pressions of the horrors of war which we have never
known before. All around the town were evidence of
the ordeals through which our section had just passed.
Fences were down and many of them destroyed, wheat
fields trampled under foot and ruined; provender of
almost every kind gone, and the whole section looking
death-like and broken.
In the next year, Confederate soldiers again entered
Westminster when the Southern army was threatening
Baltimore and Washington for the last time. General
Bradley Johnson had the responsibility for cutting rail
telegraph communication north of the Capital. On the
night of July 9, 1864, a Confederate brigade led by Col-
onel Harry
entered Westminster, cut the tele-
graph lines, but did no other damage.
The simmering tensions of that era occasionally
erupted in violence,as witnessed by the treatment suf-
fered by Joseph Shaw, publisher of the Democratic Ad-
vocate. It should give today’s maligned journalist reason
to view his own lot with more equanimity:
During the dark days of the war when sectional feeling
governed the actions of men, when might constituted
right and civil liberty was denied, Joseph Shaw bravely
exercised his rights of free speech. When President
Lincoln was shot on April 14, the excitement spread
over the country and in Westminster, as in many other
parts of Northern and border states, the lives of Demo-
crats were imperiled. The Republicans held a mass
meeting in the court-house and a resolution was
adopted to notify Mr. Shaw that the publication of his
paper would no longer be permitted. Sometime after
midnight of the same night, the office of the
was raided and the entire equipment, including
presses, hooks, papers, type, and furniture, was de-
stroyed and burned in the street in front of the office
about a half block east of its present location.
The writer is credibly informed that Mr. Shaw
then went to Baltimore and issued his paper. He re-
turned to Westminster,
contrary to the advice of
friends, and while asleep in his hotel a few nights after
the destruction of his office, a number of men forced
an entrance to his room. He offered resistance and was
shot, beat, stabbed and thrown down the steps from
the effects of which he shortly after died. A bullet hole
in the pillar of a door on Pennsylvania Avenue at ‘The
Forks’ is said to have been made by a stray bullet fired
in this fight. The wrongdoers were tried, but acquitted
in these days when men looked upon death only as one
of the evils of
A more pleasant
story of the war’s presence
Westminster concerns a young Union girl called Mary
Shellman, who, it is told, was kissed by General J.E.B.
Stuart and/or rode about town on his saddle. The various
and oft recounted versions of this tale have established it
as an imperishable element of Westminster’s own Ring
Cycle. Miss Shellman herself, otherwise an inveterate and
thorough chronicler, is silent on the subject. Apparently,
she was not one to kiss and tell.
Interlude 2
The Tradition Breakers, 1865-1875
Do buildings really reflect the minds of their builders?
Can a town’s architecture be said to reflect its psyche?
The answer to both these questions will probably be yes, if
one keeps in mind the definitions of vernacular and polite
architecture. The former represents a way of building
that is tacitly agreed upon by a large number of people.
As such, it surely must say something about the people.
Polite architecture, representing a singular expression of
tastes and desires, must say something about the indi-
vidual builder/designer.
We can say that Westminster before the advent of the
railroad was a unified conservative town looking for, and
finding, inspiration within itself and its environs no fur-
ther away than Pennsylvania. After the railroad arrived,
a few individuals with the courage and sophistication to
look beyond the vernacular Pennsylvania farmhouse
began to take note of what was happening elsewhere in
the county. To build an individualistic house, especially
in an area with a strong local building tradition, would
have taken courage, money and a certain sophistication.
One man who possessed all three was Colonel W.W.
With his heiress wife, Dallas had earlier bought the
Brick Mill property near Taneytown from the Kephart
family, remodeled the house that was there, and called it
This house was among the first in the Car-
roll County area to apply the fashionable ideas included
in nationally circulated builders’ guides and pattern
books. These books, early versions of model home cata-
logues, had engravings of popular styles with brief
laudatory descriptions.
Dallas was active in the county’s social life and a lead-
ing figure in its economy because of his prosperous mills;
he was also influential in the building of the Western
Maryland Railroad to Union Bridge (purchasing $7000
worth of the railroads stock). Politics played at least a
supporting role in his life and he ran for the State Senate
on one occasion
and lost. When the Confederate Army
passed near “Trevanion” in 1862, Dallas joined the West-
minster contingent of Confederate forces, which then
joined the larger army at Sharpsburg.
But he had scarcely crossed the river until he dis-
covered the great mistake he had made. To march
with a heavy saber he was not fitted if there had been
an opening, and to be in idleness eating the bread of a
soldier did not suit his sense of justice
friends . . . spirited him off to Canada until the close
of the war.
Colonel W.W. Dallas’s house “Trevanion” near Taneytown.
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Ma
Dallas was described as being “suave as a Chesterfield, bined with the soaring, bulbous, grouped chimneys that
brave as a lion and generous as a prince . . . [He] was
punctuate the skyline,
can give the building a very
born of a distinguished family that gave a vice president dramatic silhouette. In fact, drama and movement are
and he himself a graduate of Yale
was the most
probably the best words to describe this style, which was
of democrats in the broad sense that fully recog-
used in commercial structures, office buildings,
nizes the brotherhood of man.” Due to his having sided ment buildings, as well as residences.
with the Confederacy, he suffered a series of financial re-
prisals that forced him to sell “Trevanion” on October 31,
1865. He and his wife moved to Philadelphia and stayed
there until 1869, when they returned to Carroll County,
going this time to Westminster.
They bought six contiguous lots south of town on
newly laid out East Green Street
and built there what was
then the largest house in the city and, more importantly,
the first house in the city to have a mansard roof. It was,
perhaps, the first
designed house in the city, in the sense
that it was seeking to achieve a certain preconceived ap-
pearance that would set it apart from the rest of the
houses. In attempting this, Dallas was the first to demand
that a residence be built not by instinct or tradition but in
such a way as to suit the individual needs and desires of
the occupant. This was no less than revolutionary in
Westminster although one might say that Dallas had
opened his campaign in the county with his individual
alterations to “Trevanion.” The house he built at 154 East
Green Street marks the third stage in the town’s architec-
tural history that began with the early immigrants’
European-based folk shelters and moved in its second
stage to the vernacular Pennsylvania farmhouse. It is not
surprising that these folk and vernacular buildings, which
exercised the experience of a large group’s collective
psyche, were dominant in the area’s somewhat primitive
society where there was a security in numbers. Now, in
the last part of the 19th century, Westminster entered the
third stage, mature enough to accept the individuality of
“popular” and “polite” house styles.
Few American cities are without houses in the second
empire style, which got
in domestic architecture
in the middle
Most are Americanized by spacious
porches or verandas
The Second-Empire-style Albaugh Building pic-
tured in 1885. The center pavilion and third
story were destroyed by fire in 1887.
At about the time that Dallas was building his resi-
dence on East Green Street, another “revolutionary”
building was being erected in the Second Empire style at
230 East Main Street by Charles Reifsnider. About 1860,
the architectural style known in Europe as
Second Empire
(it was fashionable during the reign of Napoleon III, the
second French Emperor) began to be popular in the
United States. On this side of the Atlantic, it reached its
hey-day during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant
1877) and is, therefore,
also known as the “General
Grant” style. Perhaps the most striking feature of the style
is a high mansard roof, usually with moulding at the vis-
ible edges. Dormer windows frequently appear out of the
multi-colored slate roofs. Windows are emphasized by
heavy mouldings, which are often painted a color that
contrasts with the building’s walls. These, when com-
Both the mansions of Dallas and Reifsnider are firmly
within the Second Empire style and are the first houses in
Westminster to yield to a national style. Earlier, the
builders of the Court House and Ascension Church had
used architectural styling to give importance to their
structures. Now, over a generation later, Westminster be-
gan to think of the home as being worthy of the same care
and respect due civic and religious structures. This, it
seems, is no small sociological point: it might be taken as
the juncture in the city’s history at which the citizens be-
gan to think in terms of building monuments to them-
selves as well as to their Government and their Church.
The Dallas house was the larger of the two, being an
immense five-bay, three-story cube. Both houses, despite
their massiveness and wealth of decorative details, are not
at all “busy.Quite the opposite. They are unified, at
least on the principal facades, by mouldings, color (main-
tained by the present owners), and the continuous thick
cornices that divide walls from roofs. While Dallas built
his house to be strictly a residence and was perhaps the
more daring of the two pioneers, Reifsnider, an attorney,
built a two-story,
two-bay office section adjoining his
house to the east. Interestingly, both are traditional in
floor plan. Westminster’s architecture had always used as
its ideal a five-bay, central-hall, transplanted Georgian
The Second Empire style in Westminster:The Dallas Mansion at 154 East Green Street
and the Charles Reifsnider Mansion at
230 East Main Street
. These were the first houses in the city to break with tradition and yield to a national style. The influence
of these trend setters on commercial architecture is evident in the later Albaugh Building pictured on the previous page.
The Tradition Breakers, 1865-1875
farmhouse. Reifsnider and Dallas kept the plan intact
and, thus, built a room layout identical to houses built in
the city fifty or seventy-five years earlier, such as the Utz
and Shellman houses. Apparently, both Dallas and Reif-
snider felt it desirable to drape a stylish and urbane cloak
around the traditional rural form. Whether they retained
the old plan because of lack of interest, because of
perceived pressurefrom contemporaries, or simply
because it worked well is uncertain.
Whatever their reason, it clearly did not constrain
Reifsnider’s brother, John Lawrence Reifsnider, Sr., who
was about to build his very personal mansion “Terrace
Hill” at the other end of town. This was to be a veritable
monument to 19th century American small town capital-
ism and individualism.
The history of this Reifsnider and his “Terrace Hill” is
firmly rooted in the history of Westminster. Their rela-
tionship is reminiscent of the symbiosis that had existed a
generation earlier between the town and Longwell: the
first pairing had a political basis, the second, an eco-
nomic basis.
The coming of the railroad continued to direct West-
minster’s growth to the west of the original city. A map
made in 1861, the year that the railroad came to town,
shows a few stores, an academy, a clothing shop, and a
small lumber yard. A new map issued in 1877 shows a
booming Westminster with a large lumber yard, ware-
houses, and factories. Clearly all aspects of the building
trade, such as hardware stores and lumberyards, would
be important in the next two generations because of the
tremendous growth anticipated.
The first lumberyard in the city was located at the
corner of Main and Liberty Streets and was operated by
Joshua Smith, Henry Dell, and Jesse Reifsnider, the father
of Charles and John. This last partner had interests that
spread far beyond his lumber and coal business. In fact,
his whole family is a microcosm of the commercial and
social history of Westminster: one ancestor, Sebastian
Reifsnider, was born in the Palatinate in 1696, emigrated
to Philadelphia, and died in Montgomery County, Penn-
sylvania, in 1755. This Reifsnider would have been in the
first wave of German refugees to enter the new world. His
descendants continued to move westward with the other
Germans, finally arriving in Taneytown, where another
Reifsnider, also named Sebastian, was living around
1800. His son, Jesse, moved to Westminster in the mid
1820s. Jesse’s son, John L.,
was born October 19,
In 1850, at the age of 14, John entered his father’s
business to work as a bookkeeper. “By close attention,
[he] rapidly acquired a knowledge of the business,” and
four years later the firm was called “Reifsnider and Son."
John L. Reifsnider continued the wholesale and retail
On the next page is a circa.
1885 photograph of "down-
town" Westminster, the center
of commerce in Carroll County.
On the two pages after that,
there is a detailed map from
the "Illustrated Atlas of Carroll
County, Maryland," published
in 1877 by Lake, Griffing &
Stevenson, Philadelphia. It is
spit into two pages to accom-
modate the detail shown.
Use the magnifier tool to
expand the map. Drag the
marquee on the page
thumbnail view to move
around rapidly; drag the
corner of the marquee to
change magnification. Using
the thumbnail in this manner
on large images is more
efficient than scrolling.
“DowntownWestminster, the center of commerce in Carroll County, about 1885.
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
business founded by his father and was pre-eminently a
man concerned with the growth of the city, and, not un-
naturally, the way that growth would benefit him. He was
in the wholesale tobacco trade when tobacco was a lead-
ing industry in the city. He was president of the city’s
largest bank, president of the Westminster Gas Light
Company from its beginning in March 1876 until his
death in 1905, and a trustee of Western Maryland Col-
lege. Reifsnider married Marianna Shriver, daughter of
Augustus Shriver of “Avondale.” Reifsnider’s father-in-
law was “one of the best known men in Maryland; [his]
farm spread over many acres of fertile soil and his home
was one of the showplaces of the
Reifsnider, the
city’s most “eminently successful merchant”
was enjoying
life at the pinnacle of social and economic success and it is
only reasonable to presume that he felt it meet and
proper, if not his bounden duty, to have a residence that
would reflect his success.
On November 6, 1865, he had purchased a four-and-
three-quarters-acre hilltop site at the extreme west end of
There, on April 12, 1873, the Democratic Advo-
cate announced, “John L. Reifsnider, Esq., is about to
erect a handsome brick dwelling.” From its siting to its
size, the Reifsnider great brick chateau is easily the most
imposing house in the city. The house consists today of
two two-and-a-half-story cubes whose solidness is broken
by several steeply pitched dormer gables, which were
originally decorated with almost unbelievably carved
bargeboards. Similar carving was used to decorate the
one-story porch that ran across the house’s principal
facade. This facade must have been even more impressive
when a forty-foot obelisk, marking the center, rose might-
ily out of the roof. The obelisk and most of the “ginger-
bread’ are all gone now. Dozens of windows pierced the
walls, all topped by Tudor arches. Originally, there was a
third and smaller cube that was used for storing vege-
tables, potatoes, and ice.
Old photographs reveal other losses to the building
besides the woodwork, the gables, the obelisk, and the
storage wing: there seems to have been a half-dozen
corbel-capped chimneys punctuating the skyline all over
the house. All but two in the main cube are gone and
these are much simpler than their ancestors. Photographs
and drawings of “Terrace Hill,” (named for the series of
terraces that eased the transition from the mansion to the
simpler houses of the city) reveal an attempt on Reif-
snider’s part to create a villa
suburbana on the edge of
Westminster. It was not to have been a town house, where
he might have felt confined, but, at the same time, it was
not to be a farmhouse. For Westminster, this was a
revolutionary idea,which Reifsnider implemented by
constructing an elaborate compound of green houses,
fine stables, and a five-story brick windmill, from the top
of which, according to a granddaughter, one could see
most of the county. The lot was handsomely landscaped
and accented by a variety of cast iron lawn ornaments.
“Terrace Hill” presently stands as one of the few un-
disputed landmarks in the City of Westminster. It is a
landmark in the city’s social, economic, psychological,
and architectural history;
it is a physical landmark
because of its size, appearance, and hilltop site.
The Tradition Breakers, 1865-1875
The original facade of “Terrace Hill” is
shown below in an engraving by Don Swann.
Its current appearance is shown on the right.
The mansion is now known as Carroll Hall, a
part of Western Maryland College.
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
Another of the early houses built in the Second Em-
pire style
besides those of Dallas and Charles Reif-
was the Roberts-Wood-Adams House on Court
Street. This building undoubtedly did almost as much as
the others to legitimize the bold new style and the revolu-
tionary mansard roof. There is evidence to suggest that a
building occupied the site of the Roberts House as early as
1830 but the present structure dates from a generation or
so later. Charles Roberts bought part of this large lot in
1875 for $500.
Roberts was born in Uniontown in 1842, was admitted
to the bar in 1864, and was chosen as one of the Demo-
cratic presidential electors from Maryland in 1868. In
1874 he was elected to the United States Congress, repre-
senting Carroll, Baltimore, Harford, and Cecil Counties.
He served two terms in the Congress where he was a mem-
ber of the Commerce Committee and where he “secured
liberal appropriations for the improvement of Baltimore
Harbor . . .
[and] bent his best energies to effect a revi-
sion of the Tariff Law, under which Baltimore had suf-
fered the loss of their [sic] sugar and coffe e
Roberts was the President of the Westminster Water
Works and a Director of the Union National Bank, of the
Westminster Gas Light Company, and of the Mutual Fire
Insurance Company.
With exceptional abilities as a lawyer, Mr. Roberts
ment and remarkable business energy and tact, qual-
ities, which together with his attractive personal char-
acteristics, have secured him an enviable popularity
combines the qualities of a sound and practical judge-
Counterclockwise from top left: The original south facade of "Terrace Hill" shown in a circa 1890 photograph; present appearance of the
south facade; present appearance of the east facade.
The Tradition Breakers, 1865-l 875
throughout the state as well as in his own immediate
community, where he is best known and most thor-
oughly appreciated. In fact, he is one of the most
enterprising, progressive, and influential gentlemen in
the state, not only as a public man of the best and most
honorable type, but also as a sound and well read
and highly successful and prosperous
No doubt it was Roberts who either built the entire
present structure, or expanded the older building into the
present form. Whichever he did, the result was superb
and his house was, and to some degree still is, considered
to be a local showpiece. He was perhaps even more rev-
olutionary than Charles Reifsnider and Dallas in that he
abandoned entirely the axial form that most of the city’s
early buildings followed, placing his entrance door to one
Above, the John L. Reifsnider, Sr., family
poses for a portrait on the grounds of "Terrace Hill"
about 1885. Mr. Reifsnider is to the left. Mrs.
Reifsnider stands behind the wagon, Eltinge sits on
the wagon, Louise is on the far right, and Upton
Morgan holds the horses. The two smaller children are
not named in the list on the back of the old print.
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
The Roberts House on Court Street, built in 1875,
was considered a local showpiece in its day. In
some respects it was more revolutionary than the
Charles Reifsnider and Dallas mansions. The later
addition, constructed to house a ballroom, is
detailed to the right.
side; his mansard roof, too, outdoes the earlier two with
its corner pavilion. The interior details of the house are
equally interesting and include elaborately wrought radi-
ators, swirling cast brass hardware, a warming oven built
into the dining room radiator, and stunning interior
woodwork and stripped floorboards. The twenty-two
rooms in the house are irregularly laid out marking, with
“Terrace Hill,” a departure from the older floor plans;
many rooms still have their original late Victorian fire-
places. A two-story section with a steeply pitched gable
roof was later built on to the north side of the building to
house the ballroom.
In discussing the influence of specific buildings on
later designers and architects, it is important to remem-
ber that people do not copy styles just because they like
them. Presumably there is often another psychological
process involved, something akin to the effect produced
by celebrities’ endorsing products. In small towns such as
Westminster, only men of high position seemed able to
make the initial break from the strong local style, but
once a tradition-breaker was built and approved by a
leader in the town, others felt free to follow. It is no sur-
prise that citizens felt a desire to follow the lead of a man
like Dallas, who had for a generation been supreme
among Carroll County’s social leaders; or men like the
Reifsniders, the area’s leading merchant family; or a man
like Roberts, who commanded the highest respect in the
legal and political world. And follow they did.
Chapter 8
Commercial Buildings
The most striking influence of the break with the vernac-
ular style was on commercial buildings. Although some
merchants would continue to build in the traditional
manner (such as at 15-17, 51-53, and 7 East Main Street
several began to unbridle their imagination, encouraged
by the freedom of expression they had observed
in the Reifsnider, Dallas, and Roberts mansions. One
possible explanation of their ready acceptance of the new,
freer form for their commercial buildings is that they saw
in an elaborate facade a form of advertising or attention-
getting. There is no doubt that sauntering down Main
Street in 1880 and espying the facade of 47-49 East Main
Street, then called “The White Palace,” one would cer-
tainly have been intrigued. White it certainly is and,
although somewhat less than palatial, it certainly has a
noble amount of brick detailing on its upper two floors
and along its roof line. Since earliest times, the city had
been notable for its brick work, and the “White Palace”
could serve as a museum of all patterns that had gone
before: here are Greek cross forms, Roman cross forms,
Romanesque arches, dentils, corbelling, string courses,
and brick pilasters.
Westminster’s builders often seem like characters
from the Canterbury Tales; first appear the Farmer, then
the Doctor, the Lawyer . . .Now enter the Merchant. As
the 19th century progressed
a word beloved of those
the city began to develop a style, if not of its
own, then at least of broader horizons, abandoning its
earlier architectural ties to the countryside. The mer-
chant class was rising. The significance of this trend in
Westminster was not, of course, that it was unique to the
city, but, rather, that it so well mirrored national devel-
opments: Main Street was everywhere.
Although it is possible to encounter the psychology of
that era through the works of writers and painters, it is
“The White Palace” at 47-49 East Main Street.
Part I
The Building of Westminster in
just as rewarding to study its buildings. Particularly in-
teresting are commentaries that appeared in the local
newspapers, such as a 1912 article that dominated the
front page of an edition of Westminster’s
American Sen-
tinel. After beginning the article with the doggerel, “Tare
and tret
gross and net
bocks and hogs head
dry and
ready made of every grade
wholesale and retail
will you trade?“,
the writer begins to sound his
trumpets of praise, commenting that “in the early history
of the world [any citizen who] engaged in trade was
looked down upon.
We are then told that:
. . . the advent of the Civil War was productive of
many changes in this country, none of which assumed
the importance of the commercial interests. The na-
tion was prostrated and the question of how to build it
up on a solid foundation and at the time develop its
vast resources, became a burning one. The best brains
of the country forsook the professions and entered the
manufacturing world
As a result,“instead of being looked down upon by the
men of the cloth, by men of the law, by those of medicine,
and in Europe,
by those of high-sounding names and
empty titles,
merchants became respectable. In fact
merchants became indispensable: “the world realized
that the merchant is needed and nowhere
is that fact bet-
ter recognized than right here in Westminster.” The arti-
The Babylon Building was hailed as a symbol of the
merchants’ faith in the Nation’s economy. Its appearance
in 1978 is pictured above; a photograph taken soon
after its construction in 1896 is shown below.
Commercial Buildings, 1875-1900
cle then goes on to discuss how merchants saved western
civilization and how their florid buildings were monu-
ments to the eternal progress of mankind and singles out
“a large department store such as the Babylon and Lippy
Company” and the enterprise going on “in the handsome
building on West Main Street.”
F. Thomas Babylon,
“the president of the Babylon
and Lippy Company, and sole owner of the Babylon
Building . . .
a self-made man . . . and a son of the late
Josiah Babylon . . . "
built the building in 1896. A photo-
graph, which must have been taken almost immediately
thereafter, shows the building’s vaulting arches soaring
above its older neighbors, clearly symbolizing how The
Merchant placed “this nation
in the front rank of
those of the world.” The small, traditional buildings that
cower in the shadow of the Babylon Building are rem-
nants of an era “before the Civil War [when] the proprie-
tors of large estates and lawyers made up most of the
legislative bodies and dictated the policies of this
country . . .
This great symbolic emporium was built on the west
side of Railroad Avenue in 1896, and helped define the
later appearance of downtown Westminster. The build-
ing firmly symbolizes the wealth that the railroads had
brought the town and also, just as importantly, how great
was the faith its builder had in the town’s future. The
Babylon Building is a soaring three stories tall but it
almost reads as two: a commercial ground floor and an
upper story dominated by two large round arches that
form a semi-arcade across the main facade. That this
motif was not an unusual one for commercial structures
in the McKinley-Roosevelt era, only furthers the point
that Westminster was striving not to be a provincial city.
A contemporary merchant prince who also took ob-
vious delight in making his emporium as grand as pos-
sible, was Charles V. Wantz; his pile, known as the
Wantz Building faces the north side of East Main Street
about 180 feet east of the street’s intersection with Rail-
road Avenue. The building gives the appearance of being
composed of four approximately equal three-story sec-
tions divided by Tuscan red brick pilasters. These pilas-
ters are topped by a curved white wooden band that
follows the contour of the carved, red, terra cotta tiled
roof. The curved bands and pilasters have shell motifs at
their bases and are joyously topped by bulb finials. The
huge facade has virtually no surface free from decoration:
in the band between the second and third stories each sec-
tion has an identical naturalistic design of pressed or
molded brick (or perhaps iron or terra cotta), which is
surrounded by a band of perforated bricks rather resem-
bling a cribbage board; the pilasters have similar aerated
designs. The Wantz Building is among the finest and cer-
A view of Main Street across the railroad tracks from the Wantz Building to the Babylon Building about 1895.
In 1882, Charles Wantz moved his
cigar factory and sales room to his
new building on East Main Street.
The building originally had only two
sections on the front facade (see
advertisement to the
), but two
more were added later, as may be
observed in the circa 1900 photo-
. Its appearance in 1978
is shown in the
Commercial Buildings, 1875-1900
tainly among the first structures in the city to display the
air of swaggering mercantilism that followed the building
of the railroad and the resultant prosperity.
Charles Valentine Wantz, the builder of this almost
symbolic fantasy, was a scion of an important local fam-
ily. He doubtless inherited money and parlayed his patri-
mony into quite a fortune if his buildings reflected his
economic status. Wantz made his money as a wholesale
and retail tobacconist. As part of its series on “The Mer-
chants of Westminster
the American Sentinel, had a
lengthy article on Wantz in its December 8, 1912, edition.
The series praised men like Babylon and Wantz in terms,
if not Biblical, then certainly Heroic. In the article on
Wantz the
Sentinel’s writer states:
There was a time when very few cigars were used in
Westminster and when nearly every man you met
chewed tobacco. Now a large number of cigars are
used and the chewers of tobacco are becoming fewer
. . .
large number of good cigars are consumed
yearly by the men of Westminster and the city has be-
come known for the character of the cigars manufac-
tured here. Cigar making on the large scale began in
the city in the year 1869 and Mr. Charles V. Wantz of
this City, was the pioneer in the business.
The article goes on to discuss his pedigree and his early
starts in business, and the numerous changes of location
he was forced to make. Apparently his stores with their
pool tables were sometimes thought of, good naturedly,
as dens of corruption and as loitering places for the
youth. The article notes,
“just imagine twelve to fifteen
young men all smoking pipes in that room at the same
time and doing their utmost to make all the smoke possi-
ble. Is it any wonder that Mr. Cassell (the clerk), who was
afflicted with asthma, was forced to flee and leave the
store to the tender mercies of the boys?” The article also
says that Wantz gave away one imported breech-loading
shotgun to each purchaser of 1,000 cigars; over the years
he gave away 5,000 of these shotguns:
In 1882, Wantz abandoned his rented quarters and
moved his factory and sales room “to the present hand-
some one he built that year. Here he fitted up one of the
finest retail stores in the state. The walls are papered with
sample cigar labels, no two being alike, and when com-
pleted it presented the most unique appearance of any
Aided by advertisements
, Charles Wantz is said
to have sold 5,000,000 cigars
over the years he was a mer-
chant. He was a man of many
civic interests, among which
was the founding of the Tele-
phone Company in Westmin-
ster. The phone company’s
first offices, pictured on the
left, were on the second floor
of the Wantz Building.
cigar store in the United States. One of the trade journals
published a full page description of
Wantz, the man, must have been as individualistic as
his building. A bag, now in the Museum of the Historical
Society of Carroll County, used by Wantz in his store as a
tobacco pouch, has him depicted with the body of a
camel and with a face complete with Napoleon III beard
and mustache. Wantz was also a man of civic interests,
being influential in the founding of the library and
telephone company;
the phone company’s first head-
quarters were, in fact, on the second floor of his building.
He was also interested in various fraternal orders. His
grandson,who still lives in Westminster, notes that
Wantz built the third story of the building for the sole
purpose of allowing his fellow Masons to use it as a lodge.
In 1889 Wantz doubled the size of the building by erect-
ing a similar one flush with the original structure. The
newer store is identical in volume and differs only in
details such as number of windows per floor.
In the context of seeming larger-than-life individuals
like Wantz and Babylon, men who had faith in them-
selves and their city, a late Victorian realtor/developer
named George
Albaugh cannot be overlooked. With
others, he justified the faith that Wantz and Babylon had
shown in the city’s potential for prosperity and added his
own dimension of progress. His Charles Carroll Hotel,
Part I
/ The Building of Westminster in Maryland
also known as the Westminster Hotel, is located a block
and a half east of the Wantz Building and is certainly one
of the three or four most striking buildings on the West-
minster skyline.
Built of leonine colored stretcher bond
brick and topped by an orange Mediterranean-tiled roof,
the building dazzles by hue as much as it impresses by
size. The principal facade stretches eight-bays long, is
three-and-a-half-stories tall, and is complete with a large
square tower, which is in turn topped by an orange-tiled
pyramidal roof. Central in the ground floor, filling two
bays, is the entrance:
a pair of double doors within a
rusticated, round-arched, projecting setting. The interior
of the arch is supported by squatty bestial Corinthian col-
umns with intricately carved Sullivanesque capitals com-
plete with scowling lions that glare out onto Main Street.
The keystone carving has
“1898” interwoven with the
hotel’s monogram. The entire ensemble is topped by a
shallow balcony. The arch, balcony, and columns are all
of a buff limestone.
The spirit that prevailed in the city at the time of the
hotel’s dedication is illustrated in an article that appeared
in the
Democratic Advocate of November 17, 1898. (Sig-
nificantly, belief in continued economic progress seems to
have been shared by the Democratic party as well as the
Republican party, to which the
American Sentinel stri-
dently owed allegiance.) The
Advocate praised the hotel’s
Below is a drawing of the Charles Carroll Hotel that
appeared in the Democrat Advocate at the time of the
building's completion in 1898. On the right is a detail of
the bestial capitals at the Main Street entrance. See
also the following page.
Commercial Buildings, 1875-1900
capability to be both “chaste and ornate,” and comments
that “it will be unsurpassed in general merit by any build-
ing of the kind elsewhere.
This was in an era that had
recently seen the completion of the Waldorf-Astoria in
New York, the Ritz in Paris, and Claridge’s in
The structure has no stylistic precedent in the city,
making it a “prodigy building,” even as its builder was
one of the city’s Victorian swash-bucklers. The building
has been revered throughout its life; one recalls the lines
“all questions of party are merged in a frenzy
of love and devotion.
Possibly this veneration and affec-
tion stemmed from the people’s realization that its builder
intended it to be a symbol of the city’s great future.
Hotels, inns, and taverns had been an integral part of
Westminster’s economy since the days of the Conestoga
wagons. Here, however, was a new hotel, the likes of
which, in size or style, had never been seen in Central
Maryland. Its builder, who had made a fortune in local
real estate, doubtless felt that the boom the town had en-
joyed during the railroad age would continue into the
20th century and beyond, and that there would be need
for such a huge hotel, just as Babylon and Wantz must
have felt that there would be need for their buildings. Un-
fortunately they were incorrect, or at least premature.
Transportation and business patterns slowed down and
the hotel had to change hands and purpose several times.
But even today the building is a symbol of faith in the
community: the Union National Bank recently hired Bal-
timore architect James Grieves to renovate it and adapt it
for offices. The project has been as great a success aes-
thetically as one hopes the venture will be economically.
Faith and pride in the city were also demonstrated in
a smaller but no less clear way by Westminster’s first
native professional architect, Paul Reese, a distant rela-
tive of the Reese family, who bought, in the 1840s, the
store that served as the city’s first jail. Now, just over sixty
years later, Reese was trying to use what he had learned in
architectural school for the visual betterment of his native
town. Photographs showing Reese garbed in a smock in
his studio provide an interesting study of a small-town,
Belle Epoque architect and his life; the studio is complete
with a Toulouse-Lautrec poster advertising Absinthe.
The building he designed was a fine, small, Beaux-Arts
pile to serve as the office of the Bank of Westminster, for
which his grandfather, Jacob Reese, had been the first
cashier. Two brick pilasters of an almost Mannerist Giant
Order flank each end of the bank building and support a
heavy but well-proportioned modillion cornice. Within
all this is a giant thermal window used to light the ground
floor. An old photograph of the building shows that be-
tween the keystone of the thermal window and the cornice
there was originally a plaque inscribed with the date
George Albaugh demonstrated
his faith in his city by building
the splendid Charles Carroll
Hotel (also known as the
Westminster Hotel) in 1898.
The building is shown here as
it appears after James Grieve's
renovation and conversion to
offices in the 1970s.
Part I
/ The Building of Westminster in Maryland
Paul Reese, shown (top) in his architect’s studio about 1900,
designed a fine Beaux-Arts building for the Bank of
Westminster. Its original appearance and its appearance
today are shown above and at top right, respectively.
The photograph also shows decorated jambs on
all the windows. This building is clearly Reese’s attempt
to tame the wild enthusiasms of his contemporaries (such
as Wantz and Babylon) and to channel their energies into
more internationally fashionable and learned patterns.
Reese authored a lengthy account of his boyhood in
Westminster, writing in glowing terms of his strong,
healthy, love for the city and its inhabitants.
His mem-
ories may have been tinged with nostalgia, since the ac-
count was authored several decades after he had aban-
doned architecture (perhaps the struggle to tame was too
great) and left the city to become an Episcopal Minister in
Oklahoma and Texas.
In any event, Reese certainly displayed what has been
called a “blessed sense of civic
Although the
phrase was originally used to describe the spirit that drove
the architects of New York’s Penn Station, certainly it
may be applied here,
too. The desire that encouraged
McKim, Meade, and White to ennoble New York by a
monumental train station was echoed by young men in
the provinces in their similar desire to ennoble their own
towns, however small. It might be easy to dismiss West-
minster’s bit of Beaux-Arts as a minor variation on New
York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; it is harder to dis-
miss the pride of the architect in his native city. Such
pride was shared by the
American Sentinel, as it affec-
tionately described the building’s interior and its opening
in 1901:
Commercial Buildings, 1875-1900
The Director’s room is at the rear, near the vault, sep-
arated from the counting room by a glass screen and
doors. It is finished in heavy oak, and has a ceiling 11
high and derives light from the rear window. The fix-
tures of the bank are of the Louis XV style, hand
carved, and very handsome. The ceiling, 16' high, is
steel of an ornamental pattern, and a delightful cream
color. The color of the walls are in
This article also notes with relish that, “from beginning to
end it is a product of local talent,” listing Reese as archi-
tect, Samuel J. Sloan as mason, J. Webster Ebaugh as
carpenter, Gilbert and Gehr as iron mongers, Joshua
Stevenson as plasterer, and Samuel Yingling as painter.
The 1896 belfried Westminster Fire Hall is another in-
dicator of how the city’s railroad-inspired growth was af-
fecting its hopes for the future. As originally designed by
Baltimore architect Jackson Gott, the Fire Hall was a
three-story building fronting the south side of East Main
Street for a distance of forty feet and running back per-
pendicular from the street a depth of seventy feet (later
additions have spread the three-story area into a near
cube.) Sheathed in buff brick with trimmings of white
brick and Baltimore County marble the building is
topped by a tower that gives the structure a total height of
ninty-two feet and clear title to being the dominant ver-
tical feature of the Westminster skyline. The octagonal
curved roof of the tower is decorated by a Seth-Thomas
Clock that was donated by Mrs Margaret Cassell Baile in
another gesture of local pride. (In 1897 the clock cost
$1040.) Marble medallions decorate the building and
contain important dates in the fire company’s history: the
founding date, the date of the original building, and the
dates of various additions.
The Westminster Fire Company
known as the
Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Company — was first
organized in 1823, when Westminster was still a border
town on the Frederick/Baltimore County line. Its first
Above: The clock tower of the Westminster Fire
Hall. Below: The Westminster Fire Company
assembled about 1900.
Part I
/ The Building of Westminster in Maryland
A section of the Fire Company takes part in a
parade down Pennsylvania Avenue about 1900.
headquarters, resembling a small barn, were on Church
Street, the center of the early town. As the 19th century
progressed, the company’s location continuously moved
west following the city’s growth. The buildings grew
grander and grander,symbolizing the city’s expanding
population and wealth. Locations were changed in 1824
and 1879 before the company settled at its former Main St.
location in 1896. The company is now located on John Street.
The city’s expansion at this time affected the sym-
biosis between city and country. The city dweller had
been dependant upon the farmer for a large part of his
livelihood: lawyers and doctors served the farmers’ profes-
sional needs and shopkeepers served their other needs.
The heavy manufacturing industries that came with the
railroad in the late 19th century had little to do with
Westminster or with Carroll County; they could just as
easily have sprung up in the mill towns of New England or
in the industrial cities of the Midwest. They were indus-
in Westminster, not of Westminster; they were in-
dustries that did not grow out of local needs nor were they
intended to meet local needs.
This was not true of all late Victorian industies,
however. Some were still tied to the soil and were bound
up in the vagaries that control agricultural success and
failure. Benjamin Franklin Shriver, whose family name
pops up like mint in the history of Westminster and Car-
roll County, founded the county’s first canning factory in
1869. He began his operations in the old cooperage shop
at the family compound in Union Mills, a few miles north
of Westminster. According to an informal history of the
company prepared in 1950 by James M. Shriver,
business grew and “induced the founder to locate another
plant in Westminster.” During the same year, “he
adopted the
Blue Ridge A No. 1 Grade labels [and]
began the development of the modern cob-crusher by uti-
lizing a threshing machine cylinder.” A brother, Mark 0.
Shriver, then “developed and patented the first closed
retort which was used here in this pioneering stage.” This
pioneer plant was located on the southern edge of town
on George Street adjacent to the Western Maryland Rail-
road tracks. But, this industry was as dependant on the
prosperity of the surrounding farms (many of which the
company owned) as the early merchants had been and,
consequently, the Westminster “venture was doomed to
failure as a result of a severe water shortage.”
Later, during the
the company grew again; it
founded other plants and various members of the family
joined in. A partnership was formed between B.F. and
Herbert Shriver, with the latter taking charge of the of-
fice while the former applied most of his time to the farm-
ing and canning operations. Early canned products of the
company were“canned pies, peaches, gooseberries,
tle berries, peas, quinces, pears, corn, tomatoes, apple-
sauce, and four different types of cherries.” By 1881 pros-
perity led to another expansion and a second move to
Westminster. This time the B. F. Shriver factory was located
on a plot of land at the corner of East Green and Liberty
Streets, also near the train tracks.
The large stone building they used and most of the
surrounding barns are still extant and are fascinating ex-
amples of early commercial-industrial buildings, espe-
cially in the way in which they bring the country into the
city. Despite certain modern encroachments on the
ground floor, the company’s stone building on Liberty
Street must be among the most eye-catching buildings in
Workers at the B.F. Shriver Company plant about 1900.
the city, with its massive stone walls, quoins, and elegant
but powerful southern brick chimney. It is of particular
interest to observe that the Shriver Company’s factory was
in the vernacular farmhouse style, complete with regu-
larly spaced and wooden-linteled windows. It is merely a
larger scale version of the old jail or, for that matter,
merely a stone version of the brick Utz House. This strong
streak of conservatism seems especially fitting for an in-
dustry and a family so closely tied to the Carroll County
soil. However, the company was traditional in its build-
ings only: it was an award-winning pioneer in its pro-
duction methods.
“Operations continued on the Liberty Street site until
early in the 20th century, when they moved to larger
quarters just northeast of town.” Happily, the agricul-
tural association of the Liberty Street factory was con-
tinued after the Shriver Company moved to its new plant:
the land and buildings were used by Koontz Dairy and
then by the Farmer’s Supply Company.
Westminster, Md.
Right: The
Company plant on Liberty
Street about 1885
Below: The Shriver plant
as it appeared in 1978.
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
As the nineteenth century came floridly to a close, one
more nationally popular style of architecture found its
way to Westminster
the Queen Anne Style. This form
became popular in the United States after the British
Government used it for buildings at the Centennial Ex-
hibition of 1876. The American building and architec-
tural journals quickly encouraged the style with phrases
such as:
But the chief thing that would strike the observant eye
in this style is its wonderful adaptability to this coun-
try, not to the towns indeed, but to the land at
large . . .
it is hoped that the next millionaire that
puts up a cottage
. . . will adopt this style, and he will
have a house ample enough to entertain a prince, yet
exceedingly cool in summer and yet abundantly warm
in the winter, plain enough, and yet capable of the
highest ornamental development.
The style is well represented in Westminster by the
Albion Hotel, at the corner of East Main Street and Railroad
Avenue. This hotel, built toward the end of the nine-
teenth century, displays the necessary variety of wall ma-
terials: here brick, there shingles; here slate, there wood
and colored glass. Moreover, the differences in color be-
tween the gray painted brick, the brown painted wood-
work, the rosey chimneys, and the black slate, all aid in
the achievement of the desired picturesque effect. The
authenticity of style is heightened by the powerful three
story conical-roofed tower that nicely makes the turn
from Railroad Avenue to Main Street and by the sculp-
tural, ornamental chimneys that thrust their way out of
the roof. It is no surprise that the hotel figures prom-
inently in several photographs of Westminster taken in
the past one hundred years. Located directly across the
street from the train station, the building was in a posi-
tion to take full advantage of rail, wagon, carriage, horse,
and pedestrian traffic. The building seems little changed
since it was built. There may be different signs on its out-
side, now advertising pizza rather than beer, and it may
be a little dilapidated, but a good deal of the flavor still
The Queen Anne style is well
represented in Westminster by the
Albion Hotel, shown here in the
foreground of a circa 1890
streetscape with the Wantz Building
recognizable in the middle distance.
The building's appearance today is
shown on the next page.
Commercial Buildings, 1875-l900
remains in Westminster’s finest essay in the Queen Anne
Westminster’s late Victorian commercial buildings
obviously reflected the success that the merchants and en-
trepreneurs enjoyed and their willingness to embrace new
ideas in the quest for continuing success. They applied
their aspirations not only to their own age but projected it
to the ages to come. In a sense, then, they only partially
succeeded. When the Babylon Building was built it
dwarfed its neighbors.
Today, this building and the
Wantz Building are both bordered by structures that
nearly match them in height and follow their example in
design. This is especially noticeable just west of the
Babylon Building,
where the neighboring structure
copies the older building in cornice placement and its use
of the bay-window-in-arch motif. Wantz and Babylon
would have been pleased that the town did catch up with
them, but they might be depressed to observe that no one
has continued the progression. No one has bettered them.
The Albion Hotel building as it appeared in 1978.
Chapter 9
Domestic Buildings, 1875-1900
We discussed in Chapter 7 the transitional houses built by
Westminster’s most prominent mid- 19th century individ-
uals, who were divided into two groups: (1) the tradition
breakers, who wanted to create a completely personal
statement (John L. Reifsnider and, to a lesser degree, his
brother and Dallas and Roberts) and (2) those who fol-
lowed them but were not prepared to break entirely from
the city’s building traditions and consequently expanded
and expanded and expanded the basic form. The mem-
bers of this second, more populous, group indicated their
affluence through size and decoration, hoping to show
the city that while they were still a part of it (because they
kept the basic house form intact) they were also a part of
the greater world in their use of nationally fashionable
These two possibilities presented to the citizens a cen-
tury ago have controlled Westminster’s domestic architec-
ture to the present day. For the one hundred years follow-
ing the developments of the 1860s and
the residents
of Westminster could either continue to build decorated
farmhouses or choose any of the popular styles of build-
ings that were sweeping the nation.
The enthusiasm with which Westminster’s merchants
accepted the new freedoms in architectural styling for
their places of business in the late nineteenth century was
demonstrated in the previous chapter. But what were the
houses of these merchant adventurers like? What forms
did they adopt or create? What decorations did they use
for embellishment? If, as we have argued, their imagina-
tions in designing their places of business were hampered
only by their funds, certainly we might assume that their
homes were built in a similar state of mind. Actually their
houses were conservative. The breakthroughs made by
the Reifsniders, Dallas, and Roberts in domestic architec-
ture and applied by the merchants to their commercial
structures were disdained by them for their residences.
They veered from the standard Pennsylvania farmhouse
only in detail and in scale.
Perhaps the most dramatic example of this paradox is
the 1875 Wantz House at 101 East Main Street. Built by
Charles Valentine Wantz, who created the gambolling
Wantz Building at about the same time just one-and-a-
half blocks away, the house is merely a much-enlarged
version of a house that would have been built one hun-
dred years earlier. It has the same room arrangement as,
say, the Barnitz House at 211 East Main Street, only ex-
panded several-fold in scale due to a several-fold expan-
sion in wealth. The same is true of the exterior: the prin-
cipal facade displays the three regularly spaced bays per
floor (however, there are three floors in the Wantz House)
and the placement of windows and doors is unchanged. It
is only the exterior decoration that dates the Wantz
House to the last quarter of the 19th century. Whereas
the Barnitz House displays decoration of the Early
Republic era
a fanlight and mouse-tooth cornice —
the Wantz House reflects the Gilded Age. The fanlight
has been retained in shape, but rather than the setting (or
rising) sun, we have a semi-circle of leaded stained glass
in an allegorical design. The second floor exterior is
embellished by a narrow,cast iron balcony, which is
reached from the interior by three tall French doors. It is
chiefly by their woodwork, though, that the houses of this
era are separated from the past and create their own
statements. The woodwork at the Wantz House generally
consists of ponderous pelleted scroll brackets by the door
and very lively, bright, white-painted cornices, entab-
lature, and brackets.
Though the Wantz House may lack subtlety, taken on
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
The Charles Wantz House at 101 East Main Street.
its own terms it is still a success. It is as spatially impressive
as it was meant to be; walking eastward on Main Street,
one views the place for hundreds of feet before reaching
it. As one looks up at the immense pile, the whiteness of
the woodwork, the expert carving, and the stained glass
give it power. For all its size, the house is rescued from
grossness by its innate staid quality and innovative fea-
tures. There is a splendid moulded-brick corbel course
and, in the rear section, a recessed Greek Cross cornice
trim that is an interesting variation of the trim on three-
generations-older Ecklar House (255 East Main Street).
Above all else,
the Wantz House is a philosoph-
ical landmark
it represents the ultimate expan-
sion, the end of the road, for the three-bay vernacular
form in Westminster.
Similarly, the 1868 Rinehart-Wantz House located at
179 West Main Street is the ultimate expression of the five-
bay house (sharing this honor, perhaps, with Cunningham-
Hahn House at 97 West Green Street and Fisher-Smith-
Fletcher House at 254 East Main Street, which see later).
All the things that were true of 101 East Main Street for
the three-bay house are true of 179 West Main Street* for
the five-bay house: its vast cubic shape marks the ultimate
expansion of an earlier form. But, despite its reliance on a
century-old window placement and floor plan, it seems to
be a definite part of its own era. We find the fashionable
Victorian gothic peak in the vast roof, quatrefoil windows
used for trim, and an intricately carved entrance porch.
The care with which the house was built is demonstrated
in these details and in the size and the richness of the en-
trance double doors with their moulded panels and glit-
tering gilt used on the side lights and transom.
The house itself is almost
but not quite — too large
for the form and it certainly stands as a pronouncement
*The multi-generational family ties between 101 East Main Street
and 179 West Main Street illustrate the pleasant social continuity in
the city: the two grandfathers of the present owner of 179 West
Main Street were the builders of the two houses.
The Rinehart-Wantz House, built in 1868.
The Rinehart-Wantz House, built in 1868,
is the ultimate expression of the five-bay house.
Above: its original appearance; right: the principal
entrance door.
that the five-bay, two-sectioned farmhouse dare not at-
tempt to get any larger. As such, we see in it the Pennsyl-
vania farmhouse in its ultimate form
the final phase,
the end of an era. The Bennett-Parke House on Court
Street (see page 53) represents the middle phase: its full,
middle-aged maturity is the logical, perfect ripening of
the youthful enthusiasm of the initial phase exemplified
by the Utz and Shellman houses at 166 and 206 East Main
Street, respectively (see pages 22 and 26).
We may not leave 179 West Main Street without men-
tioning its agrarian environment. The small estate that
surrounded it comprised two full city lots, and held or-
chards, vegetable gardens, a large bank barn, chicken
houses, and servants’ quarters. These rural amenities can
be explained in part by the fact that the builder, William
G. Rinehart, was the owner of extensive acreage in the
county. Today, the grounds are more urban in character:
nearly all the buildings, including ice houses, outhouses,
and carriage shops, have been removed; the barn has
yielded to a five-car garage; and the once great produce
garden now consists of a couple of bartlett pear trees and
a small grape arbor.
The importance that the citizens placed on early
training in commerce is interestingly illustrated by a story
told by the present owner of the Rinehart-Wantz House.
He remembers that in his youth, when money was tight
and livestock in the city was plentiful, there was a super-
abundance of flies. Besides horses, necessary to most
families, there were also many sheep and hogs and “prac-
tically everyone kept chickens.” To help ease the situa-
tion, a civic association offered a bounty of 15¢ per quart
of dead flies. Children were sent out to catch these winged
pests and the budding capitalists would usually secure
several score quarts of live flies per week. These would be
killed by being baked in the kitchen stove at 179 West
Main Street. Besides demonstrating the citizens’ propa-
gation of the work ethic, the story illustrates the pleasant
lack of pretense, easy elegance, and the egalitarian
nature of fin de siecle Westminster.
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
Built within three years of 179 West Main Street is the
Cunningham-Hahn House at 97 West Green Street. Al-
though of smaller scale than the Rinehart-Wantz House,
97 West Green Street makes several of the same points,
and provides another fine example of what liberties could
be taken with the Pennsylvania farmhouse. Although the
basic house is intact, especially in plan, it is given a Vic-
torian personality and independence by means of fashion-
able details. Foremost among these are the Gothic peaks
that interrupt the roof line on all four sides of the main
section. These peaks are replete with centrally placed
rosettes and, on the end facades, are enlivened by twin
chimneys. The three-sided, one-story porch that wraps
about most of the main section is another example of how
late 19th century builders adopted national trends, this
time the very American front porch, to decorate their
Pursuing the theme of the importance of decoration
and the expanding size of the basic farmhouse, we come
to the Fisher-Smith-Fletcher House at 254 East Main Street.
A popular architectural philosophy espoused in the past
80 years has been that
form follows function. But long
before our modernists were expounding so alliteratively,
Westminster’s builders of the 1860s and ’70s were il-
lustrating how
desire dictates decoration. In form, the
Fletcher House is, like its near-twin the Rinehart-Wantz
House, merely an expanded farmhouse and thus its func-
tion ‘was to serve most expeditiously as a residence. How-
ever, the desire of its builder, John Smith, a prominent
man in the legal affairs of Westminster, was to present a
solid, permanent, physical display of his wealth. Evi-
dently he did not feel that he had the complete freedom
that John L. Reifsnider had had* to abandon the local
form and to build totally as he pleased. So Smith chan-
neled his energies and his desire for display into trim. His
wealth manifested itself in decoration in the form of ex-
uberant, almost Baroque, carved exterior woodwork.
Perhaps the easiest way to see how the average citizen
of Westminster responded initially to the new freedom in
house design is to see what happened to the simple three-
bay frame house during the late 19th century. We might
begin with early simple examples 224 and 226 East Main
Street, the latter the slightly larger of scale. These are
typical of the dwellings in the city before the coming of
the railroad and before the Reifsniders, Dallas, and
*Reifsnider’s independence may have been in part due to the fact
that ill health forced him to retire to “Terrace Hill” soon after it was
built, thereby cutting many of his worldly ties and letting the city go
its own way, as he went his. Smith and Wantz on the other hand
were much involved with the town’s affairs and may have felt more
pressures to conform.
Roberts had made their statements. After these events,
the house begins a process referred to in automobile
parlance as “customizing.
Citizens began to realize that
there were accessories they could put on their simple
“stripped downhouse; the architectural vocabulary of
the late 19th century offered them a variety of options
that they could use to ornament their simple chassis.
So, perhaps they wanted a porch and a Gothic peak
dormer window. Fine, these were available and
144 East Main Street. Perhaps the owner decided instead to
enrich the cornice line by means of brackets, to enrich the
door surround, and to add an octagonal tower. Fine,
these too, were allowed
and we get 142 East Main Street
Perhaps the owner wanted a really and truly souped-up
model: a detailed spindled porch, an enriched door, a
personalized cornice,
a gothic peak dormer window, an
octagonal tower,the whole gamut of options
might give us something like 228 East Main Street or maybe
26 Bond Street.
The same thing happened with five bay houses but in
a less noticeable manner. Perhaps the best example of a
“customized” five-bay house is 35 West Main Street, pop-
ularly known as the Cover House. Here, the owner took a
brick shell, nearly identical in volume and plan to the
eighty-year-older Utz House, and added a Chinese
Chippendale-influenced porch (complete with exotic cast
iron toppings), a two-story bay window, and a
roofed oriel window with stained glass. It is important to
remember when viewing buildings such as the Cover
House and comparing them with the Utz House that the
changes in the fabric ought not to be called “good” or
The Cunningham-Hahn House at 97 West Green Street.
Architectural “customizing” of the late 19th century.
Top, left to right:
224, 226, and 144 East Main Street.
Center, left to right:
142 and 228 East Main Street, and
26 Bond Street.
35 West Main Street, known as the Cover House.
97 Part I / The Building of Westminster in Maryland
Domestic Buildings, 1875-1900
“bad”; they do not necessarily help or hurt the pile.
Whether one prefers 35 West Main Street to 166 East
Main Street is strictly a question of personal taste, of
reason versus emotion, and arguments along these lines
will get us nowhere toward understanding and appre-
ciating each building on its own terms and merits. Taking
the Cover House in its own right, it is an amusing success;
its iron trim over the front porch is superb in its delicacy
and creation of “motion”;
the rest of the porch, all the
stained glass, the heavy cornice, and, most especially, the
oriels and bays that thrust out from it on all sides, are all
unqualified successes.
Two other houses that give the impression of happily
carrying out the city’s new architectural freedom are the
Shipley House at 172 East Main Street (ironically, exactly
across Center Street from the old and seminal Utz House)
and the Gilbert House in the heart of the business center
of Westminster at 54-56 East Main Street. This building is
now in the process of being restored by the city to its circa
1875 state after having experienced several expansions
and changes of use in this century. Both houses have
much in common physically, especially if one visualizes
the Shipley House without its marvelous porch. They are
both two-and-a-half-story, square houses with smooth icy
walls on the first and second floors and, as an interesting
contrast, spiky,
visually-exciting, option-enriched roof
lines composed of different sized gables, turrets, and
chimneys. The buildings do not fall into any recognizable
national style and must be thought of, as “merely” ex-
citing products of the late 19th century. They must be
considered in the same light as the Cover House, that is to
say, as natural, almost botanical, outgrowths of earlier
vernacular building styles. Now, however, the style is not
confined to the mid-Atlantic area but is spread all over
the United States
truly a “popular” style.
A contemporary of these two houses is the Charles Bil-
lingslea House at 109 East Main Street, located halfway
between, and a few feet from, the Charles Wantz House
and the Charles Carroll Hotel. This house, built around
1880, is one of the most “open” in the city, as it throws its
bulging sides and verandas out to catch the light to the
south and to the east. Extremely irregular in shape and
very large, it is still light and airy and manages to exude a
Clarence Day sense of stable, yet light-hearted, prosper-
ity. The building’s architect did not know very many
tricks, yet what he knew were enough to set Number 109
apart from its contemporaries, even as the rise upon
which the house sits serves to set it apart physically. The
lightness is aided chiefly by the delicate trim of the
bargeboards, by the bays’ cornices, and by the railings on
the east and south porches.
The Billingslea House is pre-eminently a piece of
sculpture. Kenneth Clark in his youthful book,
The Fisher-Smith-Fletcher House at 254 East
Main Street (top) and a detail of its exuberantly
carved woodwork (bottom)
Domestic Buildings, 1875-1900 99
The Shipley House at 172 East Main Street.
100 Part I / The Building of Westminster in Maryland
Top left:
The Gilbert House about 1885, showing
Madeline, the daughter of Oscar and Ida Gilbert, and
her class from Western Maryland College.
and middle right:
Madeline and other members of the
family about 1900.
The Billingslea House
at 109 East Main Street.
Mayor Oscar Gilbert
Domestic Buildings, 1875-1900
Gothic Revival, touches on the difference between look-
ing at buildings as three-dimensional objects and as two
dimensional objects
as pieces of sculpture as opposed
to paintings. The point is particularly pertinent to the
Gothic Revival (the topic, after all, of his book) but it can
be applied to all buildings. Simply put, Lord Clark feels
that Victorian builders relied too heavily on facadism,
putting all their efforts into just one of the building’s
planes, ignoring the totality:
For the use of Gothic in civil architecture there was
one objection of very great importance. Between me-
dieval architecture and modern architecture lies the
appearance of the street. Medieval architecture was in
and around; modern architecture, street architecture,
is flat. One could walk all around the medieval cathe-
dral . . .
but the street front has to depend entirely on
a facade.
This “objection” is obviously present in some, but not
all, Main Street buildings. Even on those buildings we
identified as being simple houses with bulges there are, as
Clark realized, reasons for this “facadism.” It is true that
if one took away the peak of 144 East Main Street, one
would have 226 East Main Street and, as Lord Clark
would complain, everything was maintained but the main
facade. But perhaps it is excusable. After all, most build-
ings of this era had to be squeezed into narrow lots and
were hemmed in by neighboring structures that con-
trolled, to some extent, what could be done. The sides
were often as not but a few feet away from the neighbors’
walls and the backs were generally used only for service.
Thus were the fronts, after all, were what passers-by saw
and relied upon to make the owners’ statements.
Soon after the traditions-breaking decade of
George W. Matthews started to lay out and develop a
large tract of land he owned just south of Westminster’s
business district. He laid off 30 lots and reserved in the
center a large plot of ground to be used as a park. All the
lots fronted the park and were quickly bought and built
on. On March 5, 1877, Matthews appeared before the
Mayor and Council of Westminster and “voluntarily ten-
dered them a lot of ground near the Reformed Church to
be used as a public square and to be under the control
and management of the corporation of Westminster.“
The council discussed several issues, such as whether or
not a fence should be erected, before the deed was finally
presented from Matthews and wife to the Council on May
7, 1877. “The Council was much impressed by the man-
ner in which the deed was presented, which was received
by the president of the Council in the name of the people
and a motion of thanks was moved and seconded and car-
ried unanimously thanking Squire Matthews and wife for
r noble gift."
What is interesting about Belle Grove
Square, as it was called, besides its being an example of
civic-minded generosity, is the manner in which some
builders used the woodsy square and many street intersec-
tions to avoid the two-dimensional problems that vexed
Belle Grove Square was donated to the city by George W. Matthews in 1877.
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
Clark. While some builders stuck to houses with a single
important facade,
others realized the sculptural pos-
sibilities and used them to good advantage. The houses at
17 Park Avenue, and 26 Bond Street are clearly intended
to be viewed from more than one aspect.
The coming of the railroad accelerated Westminster’s
process of annexation and expansion, a process as old as
the city itself. One reason the houses on Belle Grove
Square were such a success was their closeness to the
railroad: not one of the lots was further than 300 yards
from the depot. But, besides Matthews’s activity at Belle
Grove Square, larger scale subdivision was underway all
around to the north and south of the then town boun-
daries. John C. Frizzell had purchased the old Winchester
property and in the 1870s had laid out the city’s largest
addition, going from the alley behind Main Street to
present-day Charles Street.Similar actions were being
taken by Edward Lynch, whose subdivided land abutting
the railroad tracks was quickly snapped up and built
upon as Liberty Street and East Green Street.
Even John Longwell, who by the 1880s must have
been regarded in Westminster as something like Moses,
began to subdivide part of his farm as a response to these
development pressures. His estate ran from the railroad
tracks eastward to the Court House and Longwell, and
later his daughter and heir, Sallie, began to plat out the
land around the Court House into lots, creating the
present-day Court Square and Willis Street. These lots
were sold to prominent late-Victorian men about the city,
who erected on their tree-shaded acre sites commodious,
fine, somewhat rambling houses. These houses evoked the
class and the era that built them: relatively affluent, and
seeking to live in a comfortable restrained way. “Re-
strained,however is not to say that the builders totally
followed Westminster’s vernacular building traditions.
On the contrary, Willis Street is interesting today for the
manner in which it displays several national styles, and
combines popular, polite and vernacular architecture.
Among the national styles found there are:
The Bungalow Style, as at 121 Willis Street. “The typ-
ical bungalow is a one story house with gently pitched
broad gables. The lower gable usually covers an opened
or screened porch and a larger gable covers the main
portion of the house
. . . wood shingles are the favorite
finish . . . windows are either sash or
casement . . .
The Shingle Style,as at 131 Willis Street. “The
shingle style house, two or three stories tall, is typified by
the uniform covering of wood shingles from roof to foun-
dation walls . . . the eaves of the roof are close to the wall
so as not to distract from the homogeneous and mono-
chromatic single
The Georgian Revival Style, as at 145 Willis Street
and 174 Willis Street. Number 145, the Shriver-Wisner
Three national styles are displayed on Willis Street:
top to bottom, Bungalow, Shingle, and Georgian Revival.
Domestic Buildings, 1875-1900
House at 171 Willis Street is a prime example of Calvert Vaux’s “Design No. 3.”
is attributed (locally) to Stanford White and is ex-
the former Yingling tanyard from his uncle, Elias Ying-
ecuted in frame. The Weis House, 174 Willis Street, (and
ling, for $500
and soon afterwards built a brick,
the carriage house behind) is executed in Flemish bond
L-shaped house there; he is listed as living there at 289
brick on all four sides. These neocolonial buildings “are East Main Street in the 1881
City Directory. The house is
strictly regular in plan, with a minimum of minor projec-
of interest not only because it is brick but because it
tions, and
have strictly symmetrical
employs an octagonal bay window and retains the
chimneys are placed so as to contribute to the overall sym-
tier side porch to help define itself and link it with the
metry. The central part of this facade may project slightly past. On another level of distinction, this house is pro-
and be crowned with a pediment with or without support- claimed by legend to be the site of the first making of ice-
ing pilasters. Doorways have fanlights. . . .
cream in the city.*
Also on Willis Street is one of the major examples of
the most popular late-19th century building form in
Westminster. The example here is the Diffenbaugh-
House at 171 Willis Street; it may be considered
the crowning product of a building pattern that began
about 15 years before. What was the specific and exact
first example of this L-shaped style in the city is unclear.
However, two possibilities are the Shriver-Stottlemeyer
House at 146 West Main Street and the Reese-Wagner
House at 289 East Main Street. Pleasantly, as is so often
the case with building styles in Westminster, this design
seems to be equally at home in brick or frame. The house
now numbered 146 West Main Street was probably built
by Francis Shriver in the mid 1860s or early 1870s. (His
heir, Edwin Shriver, is nationally known as the originator
of the first county-wide RFD system.) In 1878, at the op-
posite end of town, Orlando Reese purchased a section of
Whichever house was the first to represent the
L-shaped style in Westminster, primary credit for na-
tionally popularizing it must go to Calvert Vaux. Mr.
Vaux, called “one of the most seminal influences in 19th
century architecture,
was an English designer of build-
*The traditional recognition of the Reese House as the scene of first
ice-cream making in Westminster seems to conflict with Mary B.
Shellman’s story of Mary
first ice-cream making at her house
on the opposite side of town (see page
Resolution of the seem-
ing contradiction probably is associated with the fact that Mary
Behoe and her husband, Billy, were servants (and sometime slaves)
in the Reese household. It seems reasonable to suppose that when
Mrs. Behoe acquired the ice-cream maker’s art, she exercised it con-
currently at both her sites of labor — at the Reese House for her
employer’s delectation and at her home on Union Street for her own
customers’ benefit. Apparently, the same high spirit of enterprise
that characterized civic leaders like Reifsnider and Wantz was pres-
ent in individuals of the black community also.
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
ings and landscapes who emigrated to the United States.
In 1857, he published a book called
Villas and Cottages,
which was intended to educate the American public by
encouraging all levels of society to increase their stan-
dards and hopes: he wanted America to become a land of
educated and intelligent patrons, architects, and
workmen all helping to raise the level of the building art.
The book was supposed to do this by means of a long in-
troductory essay on design theory, and by offering several
plans for Americans to consider. But these designs “are
not brought before the public as model designs, to lessen
the necessity for the exercise of individual taste, but, as
far as possible, to increase its activity. Such books are
needed as stepping
The book was a best seller.
His Design Number Three, called a “Suburban Cot-
tage,” must have provided the inspiration for Shriver and
Reese on Main Street, for Diffenbaugh on Willis Street,
and for dozens of others throughout Westminster. During
the late 19th century, this Design Number Three (with
variations) became one of the most popular forms in the
city. It is interesting to note that the two possible local in-
novators, Reese and Shriver, were members in good
standing of the Westminster Establishment. In discussing
Design Number Three, Vaux comments:
This design for a suburban cottage on a small scale
was prepared for a situation on a street lot, in which
the house would have been generally seen among trees,
and in connection with the other houses adjoining.
Vaux’s “Design No. 3.”
Rear of
House .
The proportions were,
therefore, made somewhat
higher than would have been thought desirable if the
site had been larger and more open. This point of rela-
tive proportion is worth much consideration in subur-
ban houses, for it may easily happen that a particular
design shall have a decidedly dwarfish appearance if
built in one situation, a high, stilted effect in another,
and be quite satisfactory in a third
the result on the
eye being dependent as much on the objects immedi-
ately surrounding the houses as on the house itself.
The chimneys are placed in the outside walls, and
are intended to improve the appearance of the design,
although perfectly simple in execution. The chimney
is a most expressive feature and deserves to be brought
prominently into notice in domestic architecture. As a
general rule, it is desirable in this climate to build the
chimneys in the body of the house, and not in the out-
side walls. But exceptions often occur in large houses,
and sometimes in small ones, where the gain in so do-
ing is greater than the loss, and in such cases the op-
portunity to give a definite character to the chimney-
stacks should be taken advantage of. This design has
not been executed. It was estimated by Newburgh me-
chanics at over $4000, in 1852. It was proposed to be
built of brick, finished off on the inside, and painted a
soft cream color externally, the verandas and trim-
mings being finished a rich brown.
The two-and-a-half-story, L-shaped house built by
Domestic Buildings, 1875-1900
James A. Diffenbaugh, which he called “The Maples”
and is now numbered 171 Willis Street, might be viewed
as the logical end of this building pattern. Products that
define ends of cycles usually do so because they achieve
perfection or because they carry the element to its utmost
extreme. This may be the case here, because the house in
both size and in detail cannot be outdone. Diffenbaugh
took the basic Design Number Three and, as Vaux would
have wished, added certain features; heavy bulbous brick
chimneys (which, interestingly, match in details those on
the Charles Carroll Hotel), a rhythmic brick frieze in the
entablature, interesting stained glass in the dormer win-
dows, and a shingled and glassed-in rear section that fills
the area Vaux intended as a rear porch.
Diffenbaugh was born at Fern Rock, near Westmin-
ster, in 1854; he received undergraduate and masters
degrees from Western Maryland College in 1874 and 1877
and was admitted to the bar in 1878. Although it seems
he would have preferred to be known as a public school
teacher and educator, it is clear that politics and ap-
pointed office accounted for most of his time, effort, and
income. He was the Clerk of the Committee of Accounts
in the U.S. House of Representatives during the
and 46th Congresses until he retired in 1881 to be
appointed Deputy Clerk of the Circuit Court of Carroll
County. He quit this post in 1884 when he was elected
School Examiner, was re-elected to that post five
and, in 1888, was appointed one of the five
members of the Board of Education and president of the
State Teacher’s Association. An 1896 publication by the
Baltimore American Publishing
which pur-
ports to be a guide to the State and its leading citizens,
comments on Diffenbaugh:
Being a fine scholar, fluent writer and speaker, a man
of great executive ability, and of gentle and refined
manners and cultivated taste, it need not be said that
he filled various offices to which he has been called
with credit to his alma mater, and with great advan-
tage in his State. His elegant bachelor home, with its
fine library, wealth of creature comforts, and famous
hospitality at ‘The Maples’ in Westminster is well
known to his host of friends in his own and other
After obtaining the plum post of Port Supervisor of
Baltimore, he moved to that city, selling “The Maples” on
February 23, 1898 for the extremely high price of
a clear indication of the esteem in which the
building was viewed by Diffenbaugh’s contemporaries.
A possible offshoot of Vaux’s Design Number Three
began to appear at this time. In form and size it resembles
a Number Three with the long wing removed. That is to
say, ‘it is a two-story, two-bay house with the gable end
placed facing the street. One early example of this type is
168 West Main Street, possibly built by Martin Leahy, “a
true son of Kilkeany” and the first supervisor of the B.F.
Shriver plant in
Another example of Design Number Three and, like
the Diffenbaugh House, one which marks the local ulti-
mate execution of style, is the former Episcopal Rectory
on Court Street. The Rectory’s basic plan is L-shaped
with one gable end of the L facing the street, which of
course, is not at all unusual. What distinguishes this pile
is its fine gothic detail
spindles, spikes, and finials
and the use of a three-story, mansard-roofed tower rising
The design of 168 West Main Street is a variation of
Vaux’s Design No. 3
The former Episcopal Rectory on Court Street is
distinguished by its fine Gothic detail.
Part I
The Building of Westminster in Maryland
out of the intersection of the two sections on the building’s
Court Street facade. This may possibly have some rela-
tionship to the national“Italian Villa” style. popular in
the 19th century. If it does, then it is interesting to see
how the normal flat-roofed Italianate tower has been
modified here to fit the city’s fondness for the mansard
roof. Whereas buildings elswhere in the country had been
employing towers for a generation or more before the
Rectory was built in 1879, this is probably only the second
instance of a domestic tower in Westminster
the other
is at “Terrace Hill.” As such, it is still another indication
that the city was beginning to accept outside trends and
was, for better or for worse, losing some
cialism. It is probably worthy of mention that it took an
institution as strong as the Episcopal Church to introduce
this modernism into the Westminster streetscape; other
churches in town were more conservative in their
Carved trim, as found at the Smith and Billingslea
Houses and at the Ascension Rectory, was an important
form of building decoration in the 19th century. It was
equally prevalent on rowhouses of the era. The earliest
rowhouses were nothing more than single family resi-
dences joined together, and the later ones were no dif-
ferent in that respect. If one separated the rows at 50-52
and 62-64-66-68 West Main Street one would end up
with individual houses similar to 32 Bond Street and
121 East Green Street. Or, conversely, these rows are nothing
but fusings of individual houses: the row 62-68 West
Main Street is merely a tripling of 121 East Green Street.
The unity and length of 62-68 is explained by the fact
that it was built all-of-a-piece upon land which had
burned in the “Great Westminster Fire” of 1883. The
basic form of these buildings (each of the individual
units) is two stories tall and three bays wide below a flat
roof. One of the most exciting features of the rows are the
plaques that decorate their tops. A wide range of gouged,
carved patterns may be found all over the city on these
and similar plaques. (Actually, the plaques are not
unique to Westminster; they appear on buildings of this
era all over the Mid-Atlantic region.) It might be possible
to argue that the carvings are a last outpouring of Ger-
man design. With their flowers and other patterns, they
often resemble traditional “Pennsylvania German” pat-
terns used a century earlier to illustrate books and, in
Westminster, to decorate the mantel of the Ecklar-
Conaway House at 255 East Main Street.
The plaques and brackets, which also were popular at
this time, have a possible relationship to classical archi-
tecture. The classical entablature consists of three main
parts: a cornice on top, then a frieze, then an architrave
at the base. The proportions of each of the three sections
Examples of the carved plaques and brackets that
decorate the facades of row houses all over the city.