Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory - Maryland


Middlekauf Farm

Middlekauf Farm; Kelly’s Purchase, Sharpsburg. Maryland (39.495998, -77.744681)

Middlekauf Farm

(a) Primary phase Felling Dates: Winter 1749/50, Spring 1750, Summer 1750, and Winter 1750/51

(b) Ground-floor partition wall Felling Date: Winter 1773/4

(c) Kitchen extension Felling Date: Spring 1790

(d) Alteration for attic staircase Felling Date: Winter 1813/14

(a) Ceiling joists 1750(C, 26C), 1749(12¼C, 13¼C, 13½C, 29C), 1747(21), 1740(6); (b) Studs 1773(C3), 1767, 1761(4); (c) Mantel beam 1789(23¼C); Rafters (0/3), Upstairs ceiling joists (0/3); (d) Stair joist 1813(30C). Site Master: 1630-1813 MKF (t = 7.5 ALLENS; 6.3 WATCH; 5.3 PIEDMONT).

The early house known as Kelly’s Purchase was constructed in two periods. The original house is of brick construction, 1½ stories with flush chimneys at each end of the pitched gable roof. The interior consists of three rooms on the first story and two finished chambers in the garret. This dwelling is representative in form and detail of a house type built in Tidewater Maryland and Virginia from the 1730s to about 1760. The level of finish indicates it was intended as the residence of the owner rather than as a tenancy. At an early date, the house was enlarged to the east by a kitchen wing constructed of neatly laid fieldstone. Finishes in the wing are typical of the last quarter of the eighteenth century and the uniform use of hand-forged nails indicates the house should date no later than the second decade of the nineteenth century. The wing is representative of vernacular building practices in Washington County, Maryland, suggesting a distinct break with the aesthetic desires of the original builder. The core samples from the original brick house date from a two-year period—winter of 1749/50 and winter of 1750/51, with construction most likely initiated in the spring of 1751 by Thomas Kelly. Samples from the interior first-floor partition indicate an important building campaign to complete the main house in the winter of 1773/74. While based on a limited sample, the 1790 tree-ring date for the stone wing is a good fit with the documentary evidence, indicating it was built following John Middlekauf’s acquisition of the property in 1788. The 1813 date for a joist aligned with the stair in the wing suggests another period of modification to the interior later in the Middlekauf family ownership.

Miles, D H, and Worthington, M J, 2006 “The Tree-Ring Dating of Middlekauf Farm, Sharpsburg, Maryland”, ODL unpubl rep 2006/13.

Link to Historic American Buildings Survey site for this building here.




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Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory

Michael Worthington
Jane Seiter, Ph.D

25 E. Montgomery St.
Baltimore, MD 21230