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Numerous Upgrades: 1936

Numerous Upgrades: 1936

Caroline County, Maryland, circa 1936. "Thawley House, Hillsboro vicinity; also called Daffin House. Fine paneled loft over dining room in old wing, now used as kitchen." 8x10 acetate negative by Frances Benjamin Johnston. View full size.


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Every thing old is new again

That spanking new stove set amongst those weathered timbers speaks to the parsimony and thrift of our ever resourceful forebears. What we would have covered in cheap paneling they re-purposed. I think this room made a better kitchen than parlor. The recursive stairwell reminds me of the many knee chimneys I've removed. Usually two chimneys with one base, they would slowly diverge until they were separated, with the occasional iron bar every eight foot or so to link them, our penny wise ancestors managed to save on bricks and labor.

Thank you, Rogue Architect

Over the past few weeks, Shorpy has featured several photos of older Southern homes taken by the genius Frances Benjamin Townsend Johnston. Every time I've searched for more information on the properties, it has broken my heart to see that they have, almost without fail, been destroyed since she took her commemorative portraits, often before the decade in which she photographed had passed.

So it was with trepidation that I prepared to pay loving attention to yet another beautiful - but probably long demolished - American architectural treasure.

Thank you for bringing the joyful news that the Daffin House still stands! It is one small victory for those who believe that the architecture of our living spaces is history brought into solid, graceful, gifts for generations still to be born. So many of the vistas shown in these photos - especially those of the cities - have not one brick still standing.

In house and outhouse

I like the modern indoor plumbing. No need to go out back to the well to fetch water any more. Your pump is right at the sink. Plus there is no water bill to pay. But if there is no running water in the house that probably means there is no water closet.

Battered Balustrade

Behind the sink pump may be seen the remnants of a Chinese Chippendale balustrade -- what an incredible room this must have been when it was in its heyday. I love the way the cornice jogs at the triangular stair panel and the varying shapes and sizes of panels; it is chaotically cozy. Note the corner beads on the chimney breast as well as the ghost of mantel shelf.

Daffin House (Maryland National Register of Historic Places).

I'd hate to see it

before the upgrades.

I like the open-concept ceiling.

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