The setting of the historic Dameron House is breathtaking. The road leading to the farmhouse seems 17th century, with its mature evergreen and deciduous trees that give way to open vistas. This 18th-century dwelling is the last house of its kind, says Grace Mary Brady, historic preservation planner for St. Mary’s County Historic Preservation, who nominated the circa-1790 brick home to this year’s Endangered Maryland list.
The threat to the house is demolition, and the current owners do not wish to preserve it. Admittedly, finding new owners with a big infusion of cash to reverse the substantial decay—including large holes in the roof and second floor—will be tricky in these tough economic times. A demolition permit has already been issued for the house, which has stood vacant since 1972.
However, says Brady, “The Susquehanna House, same architectural type, was tagged to be razed by the U.S. Navy and saved by Henry Ford, who moved it from Cedar Point in 1942 to the Greenfield Village Open Air Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Citizens in St. Mary's County can't afford to lose another piece of their history.”
There are several interesting things about this site, notes Brady, including its configuration of one room behind the other, which is less common than the well-known hall-parlor plan, wherein the two rooms are side by side.
She adds, “Another nice feature is its brick gable-end wall, which features two chimneys. The larger front chimney testifies to the use of the front room as a hall, or multifunctional room, whose uses included cooking—hence, the large fireplace.
“The rear room, whose smaller fireplace was meant only to heat the room, would have served as a more private chamber.”
Brady is also impressed with the lightweight riven (or split) framing members in the gable wall of the attic.
“This construction feature was used very commonly in small housing during the 18th century, but very few examples of it have survived. Given these significant features, it is truly unfortunate that the county will lose this house.”
For more information, visit www.co.saint-marys.md.us.