This Week’s Kent County History Quiz Question: What was the first office building constructed on Court Street, Chestertown?
A. 113 Court St.
B. 115 Court St.
C. 117 Court St.
D. None of the Above
The Answer is B. 115 Court St.
It was not uncommon in the 19th century for local attorneys in rural towns to build offices close to their county seat’s courthouse.
The Maryland Historic Trust feels that “all three of these central Court St. law offices seem to have been erected sometime after 1850.” Whether they were built as speculative projects or the land was sold bare and the new owner built an office, the order appears to be as follows:
115 Court St. was first deeded by George Westcott to Richard Hynson Rogers in 1867 for 99 years. Although it appears to have been sublet over the years, it has remained in Rogers’ family until today.
113 Court St. was passed through a will in 1879 from George Vickers to Mary Ann Vickers. It appears that it remained in the Vickers family for many years following.
117 Court St., also originally owned by George Westcott, was deeded by him to Charles Westcott in 1887, although it is felt that the building was built in the same time period as 115 and 113.
This charming trio is distinctive in their individual architectural details; however, they are all set directly at the sidewalk. They are all free-standing with a small alley-like passage between, sometimes referred to as a “dog trot.” The buildings vary slightly in size, but their brickwork is similar, with styles of brick and their laying techniques as familiar today as in the mid-Victorian period.
115, the central building of the three, is 3 bays wide across the front, and the only one with a center door.
The front was built with pressed brick laid in Stretcher Bond pattern. Pressed brick is brick that has undergone pressure before firing to remove imperfections, leaving it with a smooth finish and sharp edges. The Stretcher Bond pattern is a fairly common one with the rows alternating so that the bond falls in the center of the brick below.
The side wall is an older brick in American Bond, which is seven rows of Stretcher Bond between (in this case) one row of “header” bricks–bricks laid so their end is visible. This is often used on load-bearing walls for strength. The roof is seamed tin with a slight rise in the center.
113 appears as the largest and most formal of the three offices. The brickwork is the same as 115 and 117, but the seamed tin roof rises from each corner to a peak. There are two double-hung windows and an elaborate cornice with bold dentils.
117 has interesting details although only one front window and a simple door opening. Brick columns without capitals or bases embellish the building’s corners. Sculptured corbels and a rope-like trim offer a more Victorian look.
Please take a stroll past these wonderful gifts from the past–they are a delectable taste of what gives Chestertown its great architectural flavor.
The Kent County History Quiz is a weekly local brainteaser sponsored by The Peoples Bank. Kent County historian and author Joan Horsey and columnist Kate Meehan contribute to the quiz’s development. Our goal is to create an opportunity for local learning and discussion. If you have a quiz idea, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.