Throughout the years, the William Brown House has served multiple functions (colonial tavern, almshouse/poorhouse, and historic house museum). Each of these periods of use has altered the building in some way. Because of these alterations, and due to the lack of documentary evidence for the colonial period, we often have to rely on architectural investigations and similarities between the Brown house and other period buildings to better understand how the Brown house may have originally looked.
During this preservation project, we really wanted to investigate the porches on the William Brown House. There is a lot of deterioration and rot on them and they need to be repaired. But before we approved $20,000 - $40,000 for porch repair, we thought it'd be a good idea to see how historically accurate the current porches are for the colonial period.
Thanks to the Maryland Heritage Area Authority, we received a grant this year to investigate the historical accuracy of the porches. We contracted with GWWO Inc./Architects out of Baltimore. They created the conditions assessment report a few years ago that was integral to the start of this project. You can read the full report HERE if you want (Copyright 2018 GWWO, Inc./Architects). Below is a summary of their findings. We at London Town will be reviewing their report and thinking about the best way forward these next couple of years.
Precedents and Similar Buildings
Tulip Hill, 1756 :: Mount Clare, 1763 :: Upton Scott House, 1763
William Paca House, 1763 :: John Ridout House, 1763 :: Whitehall, 1766
Chase-Lloyd House, 1769 :: James Brice House, 1772
Front Porch (Ravine / East side)
The current porch seems fairly accurate. The brick and stone porch is an indication of this entrance's status as the main entry point. The current preservation project will repoint the brick work to help keep this porch in good condition for the future.
The current porch is most likely an acceptable design for the colonial era. This is a side entrance and thus not meant to be an entrance for the general public. This porch is in middling shape. Some of the steps need replacing and it requires a repainting.
Back Porch (West side)
This porch has the challenge of having the highest elevation change due to its location over the cellar entrance. Before the preservation project started there was a pair of staircases flanking this porch. We took them down due to deterioration. Once the preservation project is finished, the recommendation is to construct a new pair of stairs similar to the old ones.
This porch appears to be "overbuilt" for the colonial-era sense of aesthetics. This is because we should be thinking about this building from a Georgian (symmetrical) perspective. As such, this porch and set of stairs should be similar to the southern porch. To make that change, we need to think about how best to remove the porch and pillars without damaging the underlying brickwork. The final decision about what to do with the riverside porch will be made later in this preservation project.