Beatty-Cramer General Informaton

The Beatty-Cramer House Site
Significance
The Buildings
The Beatty-Cramer House
c.1732 Beatty Structure
c.1855 Cramer Addition
Other Renovations
The Spring House
The Smoke House
Some Historical Facts – Some Unanswered Questions
Preservation, Restoration and Stewardship
Your Involvement

Beatty-Cramer house

Open for tours by appointment only. Call 301-668-2086.


The Beatty-Cramer House Site

Frederick County Landmarks Foundation is the proud owner of one of the most architecturally unique, and oldest known, standing buildings in Frederick County, Maryland. The Beatty-Cramer House site is home to three structures. The primary building is a combination of the c.1732 Beatty portion of the house, the c.1855 Cramer addition, and later renovations. The two outbuildings are an 18th century spring house and a 19th century smoke house. An important part of the mission of the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation and the Beatty-Cramer House Committee is to provide stewardship to preserve the structures and maintain the site for public education and enjoyment.

You are invited to visit the 2.9 acre site, located at 9010 Liberty Road (MD Route 26), northeast of Frederick. The site is 0.7 miles east of MD Route 194 on the north side of the road, on the east bank of Israel Creek. It is open for tours by appointment. Please direct questions regarding site visits to the Director of the Beatty-Cramer House at 301-668-2086.

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Significance

The rarity of the existing early 18th century architectural features in the Beatty portion of the house was, and remains, the motivating factor for the preservation of this building. It is one of the six most important historical houses in Maryland, according to the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT). In 1987, Orlando Ridout V, Chief of the Office of Survey and Registration for MHT, stated, “I cannot think of any other building that combines so many uncommon features in one place.”

Edward Chappell, Director of the Architectural Research Department at Colonial Williamsburg in 1987, also visited the site at that time. He said the Beatty-Cramer House “is most important as vivid evidence of the diversity of European cultural survival and change in the 18th century colonies” and is “extremely valuable in historical and architectural terms.”

“The Maryland Historical Trust considers this to be one of the most important restoration projects in the state,” according to Mr. Ridout. The site is protected by a MHT Deed of Easement which helps to insure the preservation of this historic building. Mr. Ridout has also said “The building is in extremely delicate condition.” Frederick County Landmarks Foundation has accepted the challenge presented by the fragile condition of the primary structure and made the commitment to preserve this important building for the future.

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The Buildings

The Beatty-Cramer House

The house, as it stands now, looks like an ordinary two-story farmhouse with green siding. Under this outer layer, the building incorporates the c.1732 Beatty structure, the c.1855 Cramer addition, and later renovations. The current structure contains many early house parts in their original location as well as many that have been reused throughout the building. Some of the reused materials have been identified as part of the Beatty portion of the house, such as baseboard and chair rail, which aid in the interpretation of the building, and some are from unidentified sources. The current configurations of the roof and floor levels of the house represent further renovations that occurred after 1855.

Structural stabilization and weather protection for the primary building were part of the early preservation efforts implemented to address settlement issues and prevent possible further damage. The work included structural support for the foundation, the framing, the interior floors and ceilings, and the entire roof structure. Additional work included modification of the damaged central chimney, repairs to the roof and gutters, repainting of the roof, capping of the two currently visible chimneys, and various minor weatherproofing tasks.

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c.1732 Beatty Structure

The Beatty portion of the structure was built as a 20 x 40 ft. H-bent timber frame building with brick nogging, featuring a rare interior wall construction technique and multiple floor levels. The foundation of the building is stone and the visible exterior brick work is laid in Flemish Bond. The building featured exposed and decorated framing members that were designed to be seen, including a cornice carved directly into the top framing plate. H-bent construction is a framing method consisting of posts traversing the full building height with the anchor-beams (second floor beams or joists) tenoned directly into the posts. Nogging is the term for the brick material used to fill the open spaces in the wooden frame. The interior wall construction, known as “Dutch Biscuit”, consists of horizontal wooden slats, surrounded by mud and straw, set in guide channels between the framing members.

The importance of the H-bent structural framing, at this location, is that it is an identifying feature of Dutch Colonial architecture, and while it is most commonly associated with buildings in New York and New Jersey, it is a rarity in Maryland buildings. Several other original architectural features of the Beatty portion of the building are also identified as characteristic of Dutch Colonial construction although the building does exhibit a blend of Dutch and Anglo-American carpentry techniques. The exact construction date of the Beatty structure is not known, nor are the names of the designer or the builders, but we do know that the Beatty family lived in a Dutch area of New York, and intermarried with Dutch families, prior to relocating to Maryland.

Intrior details
floors

 

The Beatty structure consisted of at least four main rooms, on multiple levels which are still visible in the current structure, plus a cellar and an attic. The four main existing rooms, for descriptive purposes, are identified as the parlor, the kitchen, the kitchen chamber, and the loft. There is evidence that the loft was partitioned into more than one room, but little evidence exists to define the room configuration of the kitchen or the chamber above it.

The Beatty structure originally had two fireplaces: one centered on the east wall in the parlor and a larger fireplace on the west wall in the kitchen. The design of these fireplaces is uncertain; either, or both, of these fireplaces may have been of the Dutch “jambless” design, featuring a hood but no side walls, or they may have been Anglo-American in design. Almost all of the interior walls were plastered and there is evidence that the parlor contained decorative chair-rail and moldings and two outside “Dutch” doors. The parlor also had an unusual window arrangement on the south wall, with three large windows side by side and a smaller casement window next to them at the southeast corner. The location of a second casement window in the parlor is also still visible on the north wall.

The renovations to the floor levels have greatly altered the configuration of the kitchen and the kitchen chamber. The original kitchen elevation was lower (approximately 4 feet) than the parlor and was probably accessed by a small ladder-type stair. The location and possible size of the kitchen fireplace can be determined from the visible framing details but few other original details exist. Access to the chamber above was probably in the southwest corner of the kitchen, as evidenced by the existence of first period plaster continuing into the upper level. There is also speculation, based on existing masonry details, that the cellar below the parlor could be accessed from the kitchen.

The kitchen chamber retains few original details but the existence of an attic above the room can be determined from the framing details. There is possible evidence that this room, when first built, had no access to the loft above the parlor, although a later opening was created, probably before the floor levels were altered. This evidence would make it appear that the original loft could only be entered from a small outside door that is visible in the east gable end. Other visible details indicate that the loft was divided by a board partition and originally had three casement windows; one of the window frames still exists and was in its original location until the early 1990’s. One small section of the interior wall in the loft was never plastered, unlike the rest of the building, and the panel was only partially whitewashed; the “unfinished” portion may indicate the location of a built-in cupboard or bin.

The cellar below the parlor retains many original features, including two small wooden window openings. The underside of the original parlor floor is visible in the cellar and a majority of the floorboards are pit-sawn. This early technique was employed when water-driven saw mills were non-existent or inaccessible. The existing masonry details of the cellar have led to unconfirmed speculation that the cellar could be accessed from the kitchen, and that no outside entrance originally existed.

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c.1855 Cramer Addition

The Cramer addition, when it was added to the west side of the original Beatty structure, was a 20 x 20 ft. one-story v-notched log wing built above a stone cellar. The addition was used as a kitchen and has a fireplace on the east wall and a reused diagonally sheathed door that at one time featured ornate strap hinges. Most of the wooden materials used to construct the Cramer addition show evidence of prior use and the cellar beneath the addition contains a large fireplace lintel, obviously not in its original location. A stone cistern was also built, at a later date, sharing the south wall of the cellar.

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Other Renovations

Some of the other renovations to the building may have occurred in conjunction with the one-story addition, and certainly, after 1855, further renovations to the entire structure were performed. The floor and roof levels of the building were modified and the one-story addition was raised to two floors. The winding staircases were built, the chimneys were reworked, and new plaster and woodwork were installed. At some time, first and second-floor porches were added to the north side of the building, and have since been removed. The existing porches on the south side of the building are both late 19th century additions. In the course of time, plumbing and electrical upgrades were made, layers of siding were added, and other minor renovations were made.

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The Spring House

Spring house

The spring house is a 18’4” x 15’1” two-story, whitewashed stone structure banked into the hillside along Israel Creek, believed to be built in conjunction with the Beatty structure. Currently, the spring flows directly into the creek, due to intentional or accidental modifications to the northwest corner of the building and the springhead. Occasionally, when the creek is high, during even minor flooding, the spring enters the building and fills the interior water trough.

The ground floor room retains many original features, such as window jambs and hardware, although the water trough has been modified and a concrete floor was installed. There is visible evidence that the trough was originally covered by a protecting partition. The ground floor room also shows evidence of a jambless, or hooded, fireplace (there were no sidewall jambs extending to the floor). This common Dutch Colonial architectural feature is very rare in Maryland, especially in a spring house. The unusual chimney arrangement above a jambless fireplace would pass directly through the second floor room without providing an opening; however, a stove-flue opening has been cut into the chimney in this room but cannot be dated. Two other openings exist in the chimney as it passes through the attic, where there is evidence that the attic was used for smoking meats.

The second floor of the spring house was accessed by an outside door several feet above ground level; however, the original staircase no longer exists. The room was finished with plastered walls, baseboard, and chair rail, and retains many of the original materials. The two windows in this second floor room contain most of the original framing although they have been repaired and the sashes have recently been replaced. There is evidence in the plaster that a ladder-type stair led from this room to the attic. The ceiling/attic floor was replaced with reused boards at an unknown date.

The original roof of the spring house has also been replaced and repaired several times. The earliest replacement was with side-lap wooden shingles, followed by repairs with standard-lap wooden shingles and the installation of tin roofing over the existing materials.

The stabilization and weatherization of the spring house was critical, and has been completed. The tasks included major repairs to the roof framing, removal of the damaged roof, and installation of the new roof. Other tasks included repair of the floor framing, rebuilding of most of the chimney, and repair of the stonework and pointing. Repairs to the door and window openings were completed and newly made doors, window sash, and interior cellar shutters were installed. These replacement elements were handmade, using methods and materials that were historically appropriate for the spring house. The weatherization included installation of gutters and the re-whitewashing of the building.

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The Smoke House

The smoke house is a 14’2” x 12’5” stone structure located behind the Beatty-Cramer House and retains many of its original features and materials. There are no windows and one door opening, with a very recent door. The roof framing is thought to be original but the tin roof is not. The smoke house is believed to have been constructed in the mid 1800’s, probably in conjunction with other changes made to the primary structure.

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Some Historical Facts – Some Unanswered Questions

In 1691 John Beatty, an immigrant from Ireland, though believed to be of descent from Prince Geoffrey of Scotland, married Susanna Asfordby, who was probably born in New York, and is believed to be a descendant of English royalty, in Esopus (Kingston), New York.

At that time, John Beatty was serving as a Sheriff of Ulster County, a position that suggests he had been a resident long enough to establish his worthiness of the post. Between 1693 and 1711 ten children were born to John and Susanna Beatty and the family moved to Marbletown, New York, where he served as a town Trustee. In 1719, a 700 acre tract of land was confirmed to him by the Trustees of Marbletown, indicating that he was a large landholder there. John Beatty also served as the Deputy Surveyor for the State of New York, and in that position surveyed and laid out the famous Manor of Robert Livingston. John Beatty made his will in April of 1720 and died before March 9, 1721 when his will was proved. He willed Susanna most of his New York land (approximately 1,200 acres) and all of his belongings. He willed a 20 acre site to his son John, Jr. to whom he also left his one-third “share in the mill” and another parcel of land to his oldest son Robert, and he divided a woodlot amongst his children.

By 1732, Susanna and eight of her grown children, some already married with children of their own, had moved to Maryland from New York with several other families from the New York/New Jersey area. On July 17, 1732, Susanna Beatty received title to 1,000 acres of land on “Dulany’s Lot.” Daniel Dulany was the earliest recorded private owner of the land on which the Beatty-Cramer House is located; Susanna Beatty was the second recorded owner.

“Dulany’s Lot” was originally surveyed on May 28, 1724 and included 3,850 acres. Dulany began selling individual lots in 1732 although he did not receive title to the land until it was patented to him on April 7, 1737. This leaves unanswered questions regarding possible leases, residents, or structures on the land prior to Dulany’s ownership, as well as between 1724 and 1732. The 1737 patented survey of “Dulany’s Lot” includes a 1,000 acre area marked within the tract that matches the outlines of the land owned by Susanna Beatty. The survey does not mention Susanna Beatty by name and the designated area was not on the original 1724 survey. The outline could have been added to the survey certificate any time before the patent date of 1737. The price Susanna Beatty paid for the “Dulany’s Lot” land was £200, or 4 shillings an acre.

It is important to note that three of Susanna’s sons, who ventured to Maryland with their mother, filed surveys for their own land in 1732. Some of the sites were along waterways, suitable for mill locations, perhaps indicating some prior knowledge of the “lay of the land.” In May of 1733 Susanna Beatty purchased an additional 939 acres known as “Rocky Creek” from John Stoddard, making her a large landholder in the growing Maryland community of “Monocosey.”

In March of 1739 Susanna distributed most of her Maryland land holdings to her children and her son James became the third recorded owner of the Beatty-Cramer property. The records indicate that he received two non-contiguous pieces of land on “Dulany’s Lot” (142 acres where the Beatty-Cramer House is located and 18 acres on the east bank of the Monocacy River), and one at “Rocky Creek” (85 acres).

Susanna wrote her will on June 20, 1742, although it was not probated until October 1745, and James prepared his will on November 4, 1742. His will was probated on January 29, 1743, indicating that he preceded his mother in death. There is no record of James being married and his possessions were divided between his brothers and sisters, and probably included the early timber-frame structure. As was often the case, the property was “purchased” by one brother, Thomas, from the other siblings, then through inheritance and other family transactions, remained in the Beatty family until 1796. The last Beatty to own the property was living in Fayette County, Kentucky, when it was sold in 1796.

Between 1796 and 1855 the site (at 191 acres) was owned by three successive owners: Sebastian Graff, John Thompson, and John Myers (or Meyers). In 1855 Jeremiah Henry Cramer became the owner of the property and it is during his residency that most of the architectural changes were made to the main structure. According to Cramer descendants, the one-story log wing was added to the original house in 1854, not 1855, when the Cramers were tenant farmers on the property and were still negotiating the purchase of the land.

It is uncertain when the heirs of J. Henry Cramer sold the property to Robert Bradley as the date is not recorded in the land records. Between 1918 and 1996 the property was successively owned by Charles Harshman, Ida and Vernon Sanner, Kieffer Delauter, Lena Sanner, Stanley and Ruby Sanner, and the Blake Construction Company. For many years the house was occupied by renters and almost as soon as it was unoccupied vandals destroyed the windows, and doors and much of the hardware were stolen. In 1985 the owners opted to let the local volunteer Fire Department burn the building as a training exercise for firefighters.

Frederick County Landmarks Foundation was informed of the proposed demolition and given permission to document the features of the buildings before they were burned. What they saw prompted them to contact the Maryland Historical Trust and begin efforts to preserve this rare structure. The owners, Blake Construction, and the representatives the Foundation worked with, Dr. Robert Leonard and Mr. Howard Bender, were very cooperative and generous when they understood the architectural significance of the building. Frederick County Landmarks Foundation acquired the Beatty-Cramer House on June 18, 1996.

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Preservation, Restoration and Stewardship

An important part of the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation mission is to maintain the Beatty-Cramer House site for public education and enjoyment. Through preservation, research and documentation, and interpretation, the Foundation will continue to present the site as an integral part of the history of Frederick County and the State of Maryland. Our goals are varied and challenging: “preservation” is the first step and “restoration” would be an ideal final step; stewardship is the on-going commitment.

One of the earliest preservation efforts at the site was the establishment of a Maryland Historical Trust Deed of Easement which helps to insure the long-term preservation of this historic building. Other early efforts included various structural evaluations in the main building and the spring house, and the production of a Conditions Assessment Report. The main building was assigned a HABS (Historic American Building Survey) designation and measured drawings of the structure were created.

Early stewardship activities included stabilization and weather protection for the main building to address immediate concerns and prevent possible further damage. The work included structural support for the foundation as well as for the interior floors and ceilings. Various specific repairs were implemented and the entire roof structure was stabilized. Another major preservation activity was stabilization, partial restoration, and weatherization of the spring house, which was in critical condition. The spring house tasks included major repairs to the roof framing, removal of the damaged roof, and installation of a new roof. Also included were repairs to the floor framing, rebuilding of most of the chimney, and repairs to the stonework and pointing. Repairs to the door and window openings were completed and newly made doors, window sash, and interior cellar shutters were installed. Weatherization included installation of gutters and the re-whitewashing of the building.

In April of 2005, the Beatty-Cramer House Committee, with the cooperation and supervision of a National Park Service Architectural Historian, revived the HABS (Historic American Building Survey) project to provide accurate documentation for the three structures. The purpose of this project is to produce HABS drawings to be filed in the Library of Congress American Memory Collection, where they will be available for a variety of local, state and national preservation efforts in the future. The project will also provide an assesment of the current conditions to aid in the determination of future projects and efforts, as well as provide improved educational interpretation of the structures.


Habs project

The interesting architectural features of the buildings and the interpretive presentation at the Beatty-Cramer House site provide a multitude of educational and recreational experiences: for school children, for historians, for architects, for people interested in learning the restoration trades and for the general public. The potential enjoyment of the site could include a trail that features the Monocacy River and Israel Creek and could provide a variety of recreational opportunities to many future visitors.

In support of the Beatty-Cramer House preservation efforts and on-going stewardship commitment, The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Maryland, in cooperation with Frederick County Landmarks Foundation, established The Beatty-Cramer House Endowment Fund. This fund, held by The Community Foundation of Frederick County, provides an opportunity and means for public participation to support the current preservation and stewardship activities, as well as to ensure the future of the Beatty-Cramer House site.

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Your Involvement

You are invited to become involved in the preservation of this historic landmark. You will find there are a variety of ways to enjoy and support the Beatty-Cramer House site and you are invited to contact the Director at 301-668-2086 for more information.

You can tour the site and experience the architectural and cultural heritage of the early 18th century. Tours can be arranged by contacting the Director. At the present time, no admission is charged and the site is not handicapped equipped, making some areas inaccessible to handicapped persons.

You can join the Beatty-Cramer House Committee and become a part of the preservation, restoration and stewardship process. The all-volunteer committee, including a FCLF appointed Director, guides the direction and operation of the site. You can participate in the many interesting activities, help with a variety of tasks, and put your ideas into action.

You can become a tour guide and learn the intricacies of the buildings first hand; you can become familiar with the Beatty and Cramer family histories (many Cramer descendants still live in the area!) and can share this new-found knowledge with the many people who visit.

You can schedule a private event: the site has been the host to a Cramer Family Reunion, a horse and mule drawn wagon train event, and the Frederick Celtic Festival.

You can provide financial support for the preservation of this historic site; tax-deductible donations directly to the Beatty-Cramer House are always welcome, as are gifts to the Endowment Fund. Arrangements for annual sponsorship donations are also available.

You can join Frederick County Landmarks Foundation and become an active participant in the many local preservation efforts the Foundation supports, including the operation and stewardship of the c. 1758 Schifferstadt Architectural Museum.

For more information regarding your involvement please call Frederick County Landmarks Foundation at 301-668-6088 or the Beatty-Cramer House Director at 301-668-2086.

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