Landscapes of work: the domestic outbuildings of central Maryland, 1760-1929

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University of Delaware
This dissertation is about domestic outbuildings in central Maryland, buildings associated with changing ways of rural life and work from the second half of the eighteenth century to early twentieth century. The research illuminates the choices that went into the creation and evolution of highly significant, but understudied, rural landscapes in central Maryland, and ultimately it considers issues related to historic farm building and rural landscape preservation. Central Maryland's domestic outbuildings emerged as people from two of North America's oldest Euro-American cultural regions--the Chesapeake and southeastern Pennsylvania--along with Native people and free and enslaved African Americans, co-mingled in Maryland's Piedmont, building upon fortuitous ecological conditions to create a significant hybridized landscape. Domestic outbuildings fueled Maryland's expanding rural economy at the same time they facilitated long-held practices of everyday life. Over the course of the nineteenth century, hybrid patterns gave way to a convergence--one where Northern models dominated, while at the same time, the region's farms moved toward a national agricultural culture. Domestic outbuilding use endured long into the twentieth century because these structures continued to be a useful part of the highly diversified farming strategies of many rural families. Deeper understanding of these phenomena strengthens the case for the preservation of domestic outbuildings and the historic rural landscapes of which they are a vital part.