East New Market

Property Reports

12 Railroad Avenue

John Arlington Baker House (1910)

The John Arlington Baker house (12 Railroad Avenue) was built in 1910 on the lot formerly occupied by the easternmost property labeled M.A. Baker on the 1877 map.  The James M. Murphy House was formerly on this lot until it was moved to 109 Main Street.  

From "Between The Nanticoke and the Choptank, An Architectural History of Dorchester County, Maryland"   Edited by Christopher Weeks, with contributions by Michael O. Bourne, Geoffrey Henry, Catherine Moore, Calvin Mowbray, M. Fred Tidwell.

Baker House (ca. 1910) - Most of the houses along Railroad Avenue differ greatly from the older houses standing on School Street to the south.  While the latter are usually relatively small, plain, self-contained units, houses such as the Baker House display typically Queen Anne, late-Victorian characteristics including several projecting gables, large, expansive porches, and asymmetrical compositions.  They are indeed a reflection of the expansiveness of the town's economy during this period, in which several new businesses opened and previously vacant land was developed.

Notes from Kirk Hurley

I remember both Miss India and her son Mr. John Arlington. They were both what one might call characters.  Miss India was quite old by the time I was born and I can remember her coming to services on special occasion at Trinity usually with many of the family in attendance.

Her maiden name was Smith and she was a sister to Samuel J. T. Smith (also known as old man Sam Smith). He was married to Mary Willis and their children were Agnes,  Mathew, Willis,  Samuel, Mary, and Jimmy. Miss Mary Willis Smith’s parents were the Willises who ran Willis’s store and it was in the Willis’s home they came to reside.

Miss India married John Anthony Baker who was known as the kind of man who made sure he got his dollar’s worth. Miss India by the time of her death was considered to be near indigence.  After her death she was found to have been sitting on a rather sizeable estate with only her son and nieces and nephews to inherit.  The word frugal in describing her is more than overly generous.

With the above comments made one might wonder why the house was built.  Simply in an era when there was a need to display success this neatly accomplished the task at a time when John Anthony Baker was making a splash in local politics.  He came to serve (I believe) as County Commissioner in this time period.  Greater aspirations were attributed to him but he never openly sought higher office.

Mr. Arlington as he was called never married and spent his life as a teacher at an all girls’ school in Harford County.  After he retired he came home to live with his mother who by that time was living only in three rooms on the first floor.

One could always tell when he approaching. He constantly shuffled his feet as he walked.  If one did not hear him, there was almost always a pipe stoked with “Cherry Hill” pipe tobacco which had the most pleasant aroma announcing his presence.

Mr. Arlington spent the end of his life, after Miss India’s death in the Eastern Shore Hospital Center.  After Miss India’s death the family became aware of the size of her estate.  After Mr. Arlington’s death it was divided among the cousins. 

From the Maryland Historical Trust State Historic Sites Inventory Form

The John A. Baker house, now known as the Allendorf house, stands at 12 Railroad Avenue in East New Market, Dorchester County, Maryland. The two-and-half story frame house faces south with the modified gable roof oriented on a north/south axis.

Built in 1910, the two-and-a-half story four-room plan frame house is supported by a rusticated concrete block foundation and sheathed with plain, narrow weatherboards. The gable roof is covered with patterned slate. Rising through the center of the house is a narrow brick stack finished with a simple corbeled cap.

The south (main) facade is an asymmetrical two-bay elevation with a glazed door entrance marking the west bay. A diamond-shaped window flanks the front door to the west and a large-size single-pane sash window fills the east bay. The window is framed by louvered shutters. Stretching across the front of the house and around to the east side is a Tuscan columned porch with a square baluster handrail. Large sets of concrete steps with serpentine sides provide access on the south and east sides. The second floor is lighted by a pair of single-pane sash windows. Instead of a flush gable front wall, the attic level of the house is set back slightly from the plane of the front wall to allow for a small porch to be built within the section of roof that runs across below the level of the Palladian-style window. The window is framed by patterned slate which covers the wall surface.

The west side is an asymmetrical elevation as well with an off-center projecting bay flanked with single-pane stair landing windows to the south and single-pane sash windows to the north. The bay is lighted on three sides with single-pane sash, and the flat roof is trimmed with a balustrade. Above the bay a gabled dormer, also sheathed with slate, is pierced by a three-part window.

The east side of the house is dominated by a larger two-story, five-sided projecting pavilion that incorporates a glazed door side entrance and single-pane sash windows on each wall. The pedimented gable is detailed in a similar way with a slate covering and a center window. Located north of the pavilion is a gable roofed cellar entry also covered with a slate roof.

The north side of the dwelling is largely covered by a two-story turned post porch that has been enclosed on the first floor with aluminum siding and modern windows. The second floor retains its open design with a square baluster handrail that stretches between the posts. The gable end above the slate porch roof is pierced by a three part window as well.

The first floor interior is divided into four rooms with the entrance hall located in the southwest corner. A square newel post and a series of square balusters support a molded handrail. The stringer is molded, and a five-panel door provides access to the stair closet beneath the second landing. A large double-door opening provides access to the front parlor which is distinguished by a corner hearth. The mirrored overmantel is supported by a detached Tuscan columns below. The frieze is decorated with an applied floral ornament.

Pocket doors separate the front, parlor from the back living room which is distinguished by a 1930s brick hearth wall. A round arched firebox is topped by a decorative brick mantel shelf, and a mirror is set within the overmantel. Pocket doors also divide the living room from the dining room which is fitted with high paneled wainscoting with a plate rail fixed atop the wooden paneling. The room is distinguished by another mirrored mantel piece that embellished the northeast corner hearth. Detached columns frame a burnt-orange tile hearth. The windows in both the dining room and living room remain fitted with paneled and louvered interior shutters. The kitchen, which was built into the rear shed, has been reworked with modern paneling.  The second floor was unseen.

Standing in the back yard is a two-story gable-front outbuilding sheathed with pressed metal siding that assumes the appearance of rusticated concrete block.

Significance - The John A. Baker house, now known as the Allendorf house, is one of the most elaborately detailed of the early twentieth-century frame houses in East New Market. Not only was the patterned slate generously used to cover the roof surfaces, but the gable end walls were treated with slate as well. The main two-and-a-half story center block is extended on each side by two-story pavilions or original porches. The interior is as well preserved as the exterior with Colonial Revival mirrored mantels and a four-flight open stair that rises to a third story. Colored tile hearths, high paneled wainscoting, and pocket doors are some of the other fine interior details.

John [Anthony] Baker is credited with erecting this house in 1910 after relocating an older dwelling, the Murphy house, to a new site on North Main Street. The large two-and-a-half story structure was built in the Queen Anne style, popular during the years surrounding the turn of the century. The well-built house has not been altered significantly since 1910.