For the team preserving the Dudderar Farmhouse and giving it new life in the 21st century, it’s all about respect—for the 1830s craftsmen who took at least 18 months to build the original masonry home and the relatively new Villages of Urbana (VOU) community just celebrating its 20th anniversary.
“We’ve been in Urbana since it started, and we have an emotional attachment,” said Robyn Daly, sales manager with Parkwood Homes. They wanted to give something back to the community, preserve a landmark at the entrance to the Villages, and create a home that is unique and livable again.
Parkwood purchased the Dudderar Farmhouse, which has been empty since 1992, from Tom Natelli. The project resonated with Parkwood principals Steve Wilcox and Jack Fleury, known for their work in the ground-breaking New Urbanist community of Kentlands and bringing neo-traditional architecture and New Urbanist principles to other communities since, including places as far-flung as Colorado and now Utah.
“Most of our inspiration comes from walking down historic streets,” Daly said. “That’s how we create our new homes. This is what we do and what we love.
“When we had an opportunity to take something historic and add our spin to it, it was something we really couldn’t pass up,” she added.
They received a flurry of phone calls and emails last year when work started on the home. “Once we got it up on wheels, everybody thought it was leaving, but it wasn’t,” said longtime Parkwood Senior Project Manager Costel Filip.
The Dudderar Farmhouse had to be moved for two reasons, he explained. “It had about a 4-and-a-half-foot stone basement that was collapsing in. Basically, it was barely holding the house up.” The 17-foot move enabled Parkwood to turn what was essentially a root cellar into a modern basement with rough-in plumbing for a full bath and space for a bedroom and
They also needed to tear away a late 1950s addition to the house “that was totally falling apart,” said Patrick Fleury, Parkwood Homes sales associate and marketing coordinator.
The addition wasn’t even on the foundation, Filip added. “We tried to save it, but it wasn’t salvageable. It was too far gone.”
The loss of the old addition to the historic masonry home and the necessary move to create a new basement and foundation was a blessing in disguise. Both opened up wonderful creative opportunities.
“We felt like as you came up the street, the house needed to be the focus,” Filip explained. They repositioned the home slightly and designed a new two-story addition—that includes a great room with gas fireplace, kitchen, mud room, a master suite and bedroom, two bathrooms and laundry room, plus a mud room and two-car garage—to be appealing from all sides.
A front porch that will align with Sugarloaf Parkway has the option of becoming a double front porch accessible from the second story master bedroom suite.
“We’re excited to have it up and going,” Fleury said.
According to the Maryland Historical Trust inventory for the Dudderar Farm, completed in 1998, “The brick dwelling was constructed ca. 1850 and ‘represents a simple, but sophisticated, interpretation of the early Classical Revival style in form, mass, proportion and ornamentation.’”
But through working on the house, Filip discovered something that dates it even earlier. “I didn’t know how old it was when I came up here (in the attic) for the first time with (Tom) Natelli,” he said, pointing to pegs in the wooden beams forming a low, “V”-shaped ceiling. “This is what got me….There’s not a nail in this. It’s all wooden peg that holds this roof up. … My belief is it’s early 1830s because by the 1850s, they’re using metal.”
He has a lot of respect for the builders who came before him. “I hope that these houses that I’m building are going to be still standing 200 years from now. We have tools that cut all this now,” he said, gesturing to the beams. “Back in the day it was only chisel and hammer—it’s precision cut with a chisel and a hammer. That took time. It took pride for somebody to do that. … They took time to do it right, knowing that they might never have the time to go back and fix it (and) it’s still standing. … It’s built right.”
The home’s brick fireplaces—two downstairs and two upstairs—are being preserved, though they will be decorative and not functional. The bricks themselves tell a story.
“This brick actually was built on site,” Filip said. “So, there’s a vein of clay that apparently starts somewhere here and goes all the way to Sugarloaf Mountain. For this house, every brick was made here on site and cured with wood re here on site, and that’s the reason … I’m saving every brick that we can.”
Extra bricks will be reused, Daly said, possibly to create the mud room floor.
Up in the attic, you can see the brick chimneys and what looks like a smoky residue beneath the roof beams. This, too, tells a story. “You could see that they used to use this attic for a smokehouse,” Filip said. “That’s why (the wood) is preserved. … If you look at that chimney, I guarantee if I take the mortar off it would be a grate. … They had a damper and they would allow the smoke out of the chimney and have meat hanging (up here). … That’s how they used to cure it.”
According to the Maryland Historic Trust, the Dudderar Farmstead was a nineteenth-century agricultural complex that consisted of 10 structures: a two-story brick farmhouse and a hand-hewn log shed, both constructed ca. 1850, a concrete-block shed constructed ca. 1930, three small woodframe barns constructed ca. 1930, a wood-frame bank barn constructed 1880, a terracotta silo constructed ca. 1930, a dairy barn, and a creamery constructed ca. 1930. Today’s farmhouse takes its name from the Dudderar family that acquired the property in 1920 from the Rev. and Mrs. Poenbarger and owned it for 46 years.
Search “Parkwood Homes” on Facebook to see plans for the renovated four-bedroom, two-car garage home. Interested buyers can customize finishes in the historic farmhouse. Contact Robyn Daly at 240.415.4103, ext. 1 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.