Clay's Hope

Clay’s Hope is a 2 1/2story, 3-bay brick house facing southwest with the gable roof oriented on a northwest/southeast axis. Built around 1790, this four-room plan Flemish bond brick house rests on a raised English bond cellar underpinned below grade with stone. Above grade the foundation is defined by a beveled watertable that encircles the house. The walls are also marked by beltcourses that define the second and third floor levels. The steeply pitched asphalt shingle roof is finished with boxed cornices and flush gable ends. Extending from the northwest gable end of the brick house is a 2-story 3-bay frame addition built during the second quarter of the 19th century. Also standing on the property is an array of outbuildings including the last known tobacco house to survive in Talbot County. Built around 1800, the wrought nail frame barn was altered during the early 20th century in conversion to a hay barn. Standing next to the tobacco house is an early-20th century stable, dated in the concrete floor to 1911, and a single-pen corn crib. 

Other early-20th century farm buildings include a chicken coop and a dilapidated carriage house. Standing close to the house is a semi-detached 20th century garage which is connected to the 19th century addition by a covered walkway. Behind the house is a smokehouse-like frame structure built as an implement storage building. Along the creek shore is a frame privy, moved to the dock location from an unknown site and the former front porch to the house, an early 19th century gable roofed structure with built-in seats that has been converted into a gazebo. Also located near Tar Creek is a small Harrison family cemetery.

The historic property known as Clay’s Hope is architecturally important with the survivals of a late 18th century Flemish bond brick plantation dwelling and the last known tobacco house in Talbot County. The 2 1/2 story brick house was built in the best masonry traditions of the time with a beveled watertable and beltcourses marking the exterior elevations. Unusual to this house is the below-grade stone foundation. Originally built with a four-room first floor plan, the interior retains a large percentage of its period woodwork. Most significant is the dog-leg stair that boasts feather-edged board paneling. Aside from a consolidation of the two west rooms into one and the installation of sheet paneling over the plaster walls, the interior remains largely intact. The attic is especially noteworthy for its undisturbed finishes. Although the construction of the two-story frame wing has been estimated to predate the brick house, all architectural and historical evidence points to its erection during the second quarter of the 19th century. Highly significant to the agricultural history of Talbot County is the sole surviving tobacco house at Clay’s Hope, a turn of the 19th century, wrought-nail frame structure that was converted to a hay barn during the early 20th century. The mortise-and-tenon braced frame supports rows of common rafters fixed to tilted false plates. Some of the original beaded weatherboards, fastened with wrought nails, remains on several sides. Added during the early 20th century, the side sheds have served to protect the structure. The other farm buildings, a board-and-batten stable and a single-pen corn crib, are more standard agricultural buildings that date to the early 20th century. The stable, supported on a poured concrete foundation, is dated to 1911.