Standing at the crossroads in Cecil County, Maryland: the making and re-making of a colonial tavern, The Mitchell House at Fair Hill
University of Delaware
We have all driven by historic properties we find interesting, unusual or intriguing. They often make us stop to wonder about the story behind the building. We can admire a building for its classic lines, its fine stonework or the care shown in laying out the gardens. We can ponder the changes that have taken place around it as it stands bearing witness to history. While we can appreciate the preservation efforts that have gone into the restoration and maintenance of such buildings, to truly value the historical significance of such a property we must first understand the evolution of the building over time, the lives of its occupants, the development of the living space and the public uses of the dwelling. This thesis, then, explores the following questions: Can we use the building itself as material culture to see how The Mitchell House at Fair Hill has evolved over the past three centuries? What made this structure unique in that it has not only survived in time but also has "grown" along with its owners to be a vibrant part of the community as it moves through time? By drawing on interdisciplinary research, this thesis looks at the significance of the structure's owner/occupant lineage, and material culture of the architectural history in building a documentary record of the Mitchell House at Fair Hill. Located at the crossroads of what was once referred to as "the road from the Brick Meeting House to the New Munster tract" and "the road from Head of Elk to New London", the Fair Hill Inn today stands at the crossroads of Maryland Rte. 273 and MD Rte. 213 in the Northeastern corner of Cecil County. It has been a landmark in Cecil County for nearly 300 years, and during most of its history served the public in some capacity; either as a tavern, inn, hotel, post office, polling place or since 1980, as an upscale restaurant.