McDonald & Company – The Old Stone Store in Sykesville

This is from the Maryland Historical Trust Inventory of Historical Properties.

http://www.mdihp.net/dsp_county.cfm?search=county&criteria1=M&criteria2=CR&criteria3=&id=8463&viewer=true

Site Name: McDonald & Company Store (Sykesville Warehouse)

Address: 7609 Main Street

Town: Sykesville

Site Number: CARR-266

Summary: The John McDonald & Company store (stone warehouse) is located on the east side of Main Street in Sykesville, Carroll County, Maryland. It is a two-story, five-bay by three-bay rubble stone structure with a two-story, two-bay by one-bay rubble stone addition on the north end. All of the windows in the main block are 6/6, with wood sills, and large stone lintels on the first story, while the second story has small stone lintels. The first story of the west elevation of the main block has, from north to south, a window, glazed double doors with a 1/1 sash in the top, a window, a six-panel door with a boarded-up transom, and a window. There is a gable roof with asphalt shingles, and a box cornice. The west elevation of the addition is set back about four feet from the front of the main block. The first story of the main block

The John McDonald & Company store (stone warehouse) is located on the east side of Main Street in Sykesville, Carroll County, Maryland. The building is set slightly out of parallel to the street, and faces west toward it. The east elevation backs up against a hill.  It is a two-story, five-bay by three-bay rubble stone structure with a two-story, two-bay by one-bay rubble stone addition on the north end. Both sections have rough quoining at the corners. All of the windows in the main block are 6/6, with wood sills, and large stone lintels on the first story, while the second story has small stone lintels. They all formerly had exterior shutters or blinds. The window frames are mitered at the corners and flat on their face, but their interior edges were not visible for inspection.  The door frames have a beaded interior edge. The first story of the west elevation of the main block has, from north to south, a window, glazed double doors with a 1/1 sash in the top and a single panel in the bottom of each door, a window, a six-panel door with a boarded-up transom, and a window. The second story has five windows. The south elevation has a pair of 6/6 sash flanking a six-panel door on the first story. The cast window and door are later, as this whole section is infilled with later stone. The second story has three 6/6 , and the gable end has aluminum siding with two 6/6. The east elevation has a later one-bay CMU shed addition on the first story, approximately in the center of the building. This apparently covers an original door. The second story has, in approximately the second bay from the south, an original doorway with a large stone sill. There is a new flush door, and new stairs and hood. Evidence, in the form of sloping tar line that suggests the presence of roof flashing, suggests that there were covered stairs here previously. There is a gable roof with asphalt shingles, and a box cornice.

The west elevation of the addition is set back about four feet from the front of the main block. This was necessary because the street curves around the northwest corner, and comes very close to the addition at that point. There is a new 6/6 sash to the north, and a six-panel door that appears new, to the south. Above are two 6/6 sash. The door frame is mortised and tenoned and pegged. It is not clear whether the door is surrounded by infill or a boarded-up transom and very narrow side lights. The windows have wide, lapped frames with a beaded interior edge, wood sills, large stone lintels, and formerly had exterior shutters or blinds. The north elevation has a new 6/6 sash on the first story. The second story apparently was originally a door, but now has a new 6/6 above an infill panel. The east elevation of the addition is flush with the main block, and has no openings. There is an exterior CMU chimney stack toward the north end of this elevation.

There is no cellar under any portion of the building. The first story of the main block is one open room and has 2 ½ -inch wide pine floors that run north-south. The walls have a ten-inch-high baseboard, with random width vertical board wainscot above that is topped by a chair rail which is early, if not original. Above this the wall is plastered. There is a drop ceiling. Centered on the north wall is a vertical board door into the addition. On the east wall is an interior brick chimney that was originally plastered. It has a hole for a stovepipe that is now closed off. North of the chimney are rather recent stairs to the second story. This story has random width pine floors running east-west and plaster walls applied right to the stone. The southern three bays were apparently originally one room, but now the south bay of the second story is divided into two additional rooms by new walls. North of this is the remaining two-bay room, with a six-panel door centered on the north wall. West of this door is a later door of five lying panels, set in a later opening. The two northern bays of the main block were another room. This room has the staircase from the first story along the east wall, and a staircase to the attic along the north wall. In the southwest corner of the room a smaller room is partitioned off. The walls and trim work appear to be original. There is a four-panel door and boarded-up transom on the east wall of this small room. The south wall of this room has the five-lying-panel door previously mentioned. On the north wall of the larger room is a two-panel door, set in a reduced opening, that leads into the addition. The second floor windows have no surrounds, while the doors surrounds have a beaded interior edge. The window sash is mortised and tenoned and pegged.

The first story of the addition has been converted to a kitchen. The only historic details surviving are the enclosed stairs in the northeast corner of the room. They contain a four-panel door near the foot of the stairs, with three steps below the door. The upper story is also one room only. It has random width pine floors that run north-south, and plastered walls. The window frames are also mortised, tenoned and pegged. The addition was butted up against the north wall of the main block, without a south wall of its own.

 The attic joists of the main block are about 6 ½ inches deep and appear to be hewn. The rafters, which are about 2 ½ by 4 inches, are hewn, and are half-lapped and pegged at the ridge. They are numbered, but are not set in order. They have collars of 1 by 8 inch boards that are nailed to the side of the rafters with cut nails. Some of the rafters have two collars. The rafters are set two feet apart on center, and every fourth rafter has a vertical king post set off center. This post is notched to hold the collar board, and is reduced in depth at the top, with cut nails used to attach the top of the post to the rafter. The rafters support random width, wide board sheating. The south wall retains horizontal board sheathing on the exterior side of the studs. The north wall has circular sawn lath with stucco on the exterior wall. This was done, and appears to have weathered, before being covered by the addition of the north.

 The attic joists in the addition are about 3 by 8 inches, set 26 inches on center, and are circular sawn. They run east-west and support tongue-and-grove random width floor boards. The rafters are also circular sawn, are 2 by 6 ¼ inches, are set 26 inches on center, and the rafter feet rest on the joists. The connection here cannot be observed. The rafters have collars of 1 ½ by 8 ½ inch boards nailed to the sides of the rafters with cut nails. There is no ridge board. The rafters are mitered and butt at the ridge, and are nailed here with cut nails.

Summary:

Local history regarding the origins of the John McDonald & Co. Store building are conflicting. One author claims that the store “…was built by Dr. Owings…for his son-in-law in 1865 and sold to another merchant, John McDonald, in 1868.” J. Thomas Scharf reported in 1882 that “John McDonald & Co. erected their elegant stone store in 1865….” The earliest deed uncovered for the property, however, was in 1873, when Dr. Orrellana H. Owings purchased the four-acre tract from Martha Waters for only $93.75. Less than a week later, Owings sold the parcel to Dr. Allen C. Hammond for $1,000, indicating that a substantial improvement had been made to the property. In 1876 the “stone storehouse, warehouse, etc.” is identified among Hammond’s real estate, and is appraised at $1500. Hammond died on 27 August 1881, at age 76. In addition to the fourteen room house was “…a large stone store and Frame Dwelling now under a lease to John McDonnell [sic] & Co., having about six years yet to run, at an annual rent of $400. John McDonald purchased the store property from Hammond’s estate for $6100. McDonald was born in County Wicklow, Ireland, in 1846 and came to Sykesville ten years later. In 1889, McDonald was assessed for a “New Store House” worth $1000. This was very likely the stone addition built on the north side of the store. John McDonald died on 23 September 1906. After John McDonald’s death his widow, Kate, continued the business. A private sale was made in December 1916 to Harry Phelps for $8000. Phelps owned the property, and presumably ran a store there, until his death in the early 1930’s. His widow and son then took the business over until they sold the property to the Sykesville Volunteer Fire Department in 1939. It continued as a firehouse for ten years, when the fire company moved into its new headquarters and sold the store building to the present owner.

Geographic Organization: Piedmont

Chronological/Development Periods: Industrial/Urban Dominance A.D. 1870-1930

Historic Period Themes: Architecture, Economic

Resource Types: Stores, Rural Vernacular

 Local history regarding the origins of the John McDonald & Co. Store building are conflicting. One author claims that the store “…was built by Dr. Owings…for his son-in-law in 1865 and sold to another merchant, John McDonald, in 1868.” The source of this information is unknown. J. Thomas Scharf reported in 1882 that “John McDonald & Co. erected their elegant stone store in 1865….” The earliest deed uncovered for the property, however, was in 1873, when Dr. Orrellana H. Owings purchased the four-acre tract from Martha Waters for only $93.75. Less than a week later, Owings sold the parcel to Dr. Allen C. Hammond for $1,000, indication that substantial improvement had been made to the property. It is possible that Owings was leasing the property as early as 1865 for the purpose of building the store, and simply no record has been yet found to show that. Many deeds in Carroll County are dated some years after the actual sale date, and in many cases building were erected before the deed was executed. The 1866 tax assessment does not mention McDonald, Waters, or Owings. The 1873 transaction from Owings to Hammond is mentioned, but does not clearly indicate a stone store. In 1876, however, the “stone storehouse, warehouse, etc.” is identified among Hammond’s real estate, and is appraised at $1500.

 Dr. Hammond obviously never ran the store, but leased it out, most likely to John McDonald the whole time. Hammond was a native of Frederick County, and moved to Berkley Co., Virginia at age 22 to practice medicine. He served two terms in the Virginia Legislature and voted against secession before the Civil War. The 1873 deed in which he purchased the store and other property notes that he was then residing in Charlestown, Jefferson County, West Virginia. Why he decided to move to Sykesville (unless it was to be near his son, who was a lawyer in Baltimore) is unknown. Hammond died on 27 August 1881, at age 76. John McDonald served as one of his pall bearers in Sykesville, and the body was loaded onto a train for Martinsburg, West Virginia, where it was buried. The 57-acre estate where Hammond lived was advertised for sale the following October. In addition to the fourteen-room house, barn, outbuildings, and double tenant house was “…a large stone store and Frame Dwelling now under a lease to John McDonnell [sic] & Co., having about six years yet to run, at an annual rent of $400.

John McDonald purchased the store property from Hammond’s estate for $6100. McDonald was born in County Wicklow, Ireland, in 1846 and came to Sykesville ten years later. The earliest known record of McDonald’s store is the 1879 tax assessment for his stock in trade, which was valued at $3000. In 1889, McDonald was assessed for a “New Store House” worth $1000. This was very likely the stone addition built on the north side of the store. By 1899, in addition to the tin-roofed store, McDonald owned a store dwelling nearby, with a wood shingle roof (this possibly refers to the addition), and a two-story frame warehouse and general store ( with wood shingle roof) known as the McDonald Block, on the west side of Main Street. Besides floods and fire, burglary was a periodic threat. In September 1881, the local papers noted that

…another attempt was made to rob the store of John McDonald & Co. The thieves who were partially successful, first entered the blacksmith shop of Mr. S.R. Duvall, where they procured a brace and bit and a new iron break bar. They bored several holes in the front shutter of the store and pried it open. After gaining an entrance in this way, they opened the front door ready to make their escape at the first alarm. A younger member of the firm, who sleeps over the store room, was aroused by the noise, came hastily downstairs with a pistol in hand, and found one man in the store, whom he fired at. The thief hastily retreated, leaving much of his booty behind. Among other things were a gallon coffee pot of whiskey and two hams. Mr. McDonald does not know the exact amount of his losses, except some missing clothing. It is supposed there were two or three in the party.

The same fate befell the store in July 1911, and probably many other times in between.

John McDonald died on 23 September 1906. The inventory of his personal property includes a complete 45 page list of the merchandise found in his store, giving a good picture of a turn-of-the-century general store business in Carroll County. McDonald carried clothing for men, women, and children, including shirts, pants, suits, skirts, misses vests and pants, ties, ladies collars and ties, undershirts, corsets, leggings, stockings, hose, gloves, handkerchiefs, scarfs, coats, jackets, overcoats, shoes, tennis shoes, Douglass shoes, mens artic shoes, boots (plain, felt, and rubber), shawls, earmuffs, ties, belts, suspenders, linen collars and cuffs, garters, wool drawers, sweaters, overalls, hat bands, hats, caps, straw hats, vests, and suitcases and satchels to pack them in. For sewing there was plaid muslin, Indian linen, velvet, silk, flannel, gingham, calico, creton, flannelette, silkoline, percale, satin, sateen, cotton duck, bed ticking, and cheese cloth, as well as cotton, linen and silk thread, braid, ribbon, needles, bobbins, hooks and eyes, safety pins, and pearl, brass, china and covered buttons. Toiletries such as face powder, curlers, hair brushes, combs, toothbrushes, razors and cologne were available. Jewelry, watches, fobs, rings, studs, eyeglasses and specs could all be had at McDonald’s.  If one was under the weather, there was swamp root, cod liver oil, cough syrup, bitters, fig syrup, castoria, liniment, benzene, pain killer, Magnesia, potash, witch hazel, glycerine, quinine pills, nitre, cathartic pills, Vaseline, Dr. bill’s syrup, Lydia Pinkham’s patent medicine, and many other less well known patent medicines. For those interested in ruining their health, McDonald supplied cigars, cheroots, and tobacco.

A wide variety of food stuffs was available, including salt, potatoes, flour, sugar, vinegar, oranges, eggs, corn meal, pickles, Cream of Wheat, Quaker Oats, Jello, gelatin, coconut, mustard, cocoa, yeast, corn starch, noodles, tapioca, baking soda, baking powder, powdered sugar, brown sugar, coffee, green and black tea, rice, rolled oats, ginger snaps, soda crackers, macaroni, spaghetti, nutmeg, celery seed, arrow root, alum, cloves, maple syrup, ginger root, tartaric acid, mace, canned pineapple, canned salmon, canned dried beef, catsup, olives, canned tomatoes, salad dressing, chamomile, canned chipped beef, corned beef, potted tongue, sardines, cinnamon, pepper, allspice, chocolate, canned peaches, b. beans, sweet potatoes, peas, currants, raisins, root beer, cheese, biscuits, hominy grits, and lard. To outfit the kitchen, there were plates, dishes, bowls, cups, and saucers of every description, as well as kettles, butcher knives, can openers, egg beaters, coffee pots, tea pots, pitchers, sausage grinders, potato mashers, pie plates, bread boxes, slaw cutters, freezers, muffin pans, tumblers, goblets, graters, sauce pans, cake pans, collanders, funnels, rolling pins, and knife and fork sets.

 Tools and supplies were available to build or repair your house or outbuildings. The former included saws and handles, screwdrivers, awls, punches, files, augers and bits, axes and handles, paint brushes, sand paper, drawing knives, hatchets, picks and monkey wrenches. The latter included spring hinges, butt hinges, strap hinges, shutter fasteners, knob locks, padlocks, door stops, latches, nails, tacks, brads, bolts, screws, rivets, window glass, frames,  and sash, putty, tarpaper, wire, faucets, pipe, plaster, doors, brick, lumber, flooring, chimney pots, shutters, wire screen, wood stain, varnish, house paint, gilt, linseed oil and turpentine. To make a clean sweep of it all there were wash boards, scrub brushes, clotheslines, wash basins, brooms and buckets. For household pests, one could buy mouse traps, rat traps, rat biscuits, “Rough on Rats”, louse killer, fly dip, fly paper, insect powder, cattle powder, and muzzles. For larger pests there were revolvers, gun powder and shot. One could fill the house with carpet, linoleum, oil cloths, chairs, blankets, quilts, lace curtains, mirrors, linen and paper shades, chamber pots, cuspidors, glass and brass lamps, lanterns, chair seats, coal buckets, and different grades of coal to put in them.

If there was work to do around the outside of the house, McDonald could have supplied you with rakes, hoes, shovels, spades, picks, axes, sickles, scythes, buckets, pails, watering cans and flower pots. The musically inclined could get harmonicas, banjo strings, violin strings, and even violin bridges. Adults might be interested in ink, paper, and envelopes while children would need slates, chalk, school books and tablets, pens, and lead pencils. Children of all ages would no doubt be interested in the baseballs, bats, rubber balls, pair of skates, croquet sets, and playing cards. Everyone may have been talking about the weather, but at McDonald’s you could do something about it with his umbrellas and thermometers.

 The horse set, which at the time included just about everyone, might be in need of horse brushes, horse blankets, harness, barbed wire, and axle grease. Many other miscellaneous items could be found, such as clothespins, shoe strings, coat hangers, matches, soap, pocket knives, scissors, hat pins, birdseed, clothes baskets, rope and toilet paper. The store was described in 1910 as “…a substantial structure of stone…of two stories, with ample space for sales rooms and storage. The main store is on the first floor, where the groceries and provisions form an attractive display… On the second floor is a full line of “Douglass” shoes,… furnishings and underwear hats and caps… collars and cuffs…. Umbrellas and other necessaries of comfort form a neat display.”

 After John McDonald’s death his widow, Kate, continued his business. The store was managed by Edgar A. Easton, who had started working for McDonald in October 1894 as a junior clerk and two years later became chief clerk. Easton resigned his position on 1 June 1911 and was replaced by N.W. Buckman, a clerk who had worked for the McDonalds but who had left several months earlier.  The executors of the estate continued to maintain the store property for a time. Included in their accounts was a bill for “building stone wall in rear of store building” and also for installing iron gates and whitewashing. At some point between 1911 and 1916, the business was rented to Harry Phelps for $600 a year. Kate McDonald must have been interested in disposing of the property, so Equity court proceedings were instituted between her and Phelps in 1916. Among the testimony was the record that “… said buildings are now in need of considerable repair and painting.” A private sale was made in December 1916 to Harry Phelps for $8000. Phelps owned the property, and presumably ran a store there, until his death in the early 1930’s. His widow and son then took the business over until they sold the property to the Sykesville Volunteer Fire Department in 1939. The fire company opened up the south wall in order to get its trucks into the building. The renovation work was done by the Selby brothers, carpenters from Eldersburg. It continued as a firehouse for ten years, when the fire company moved into its new headquarters and sold the store building to the present owner, who closed up the large door on the south.

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