E. Hensell House (18BA556)

The E. Hensel House (18BA556) is the site of a 19th- to 20th-century dwelling near Priceville in Baltimore County. The existing landscape has been significantly altered by the construction of nearby I-83, which included in its ca. 1951 construction right-of-way a residence, 7 outbuildings, and a mill race located at the terminus of an unnamed road. The dwelling (the Hensell house) was relocated to the west in 1959 or 1960. A shed and a turkey house associated with the dwelling were demolished at that time, along with the original foundation of the Hensell House. Two wells located to the rear of the dwelling were filled, but are still visible at the site, as is a brick retaining wall on the crest of the slope overlooking the aforementioned stream. The two-story residence known as the Etta Hensell House is currently located just off-site, outside the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) right-of-way for I-83. It was situated on-site prior to 1959 and is believed to have been built in 1876. The house demonstrates the architectural characteristics of a house constructed in the late 19th century.

The site originally was owned by Samuel Price, who was bequeathed 100 acres of Price’s Chance in his father’s will, ca. 1760. Daniel Price (born 1761), son of Samuel, inherited the tract ca. 1825 and bequeathed the same property to his son, Joel Price (born 1803), around 1846. In an 1850 map, the historic Kenneth Fisher House, built in the time of Samuel Price (before 1798), was listed as “J. Price”. As recorded in the 1798 Federal Tax list, this stone house was described as standing on a tract known as “Sammy’s Meadows”.

The manufacturer’s census from 1850 listed a “John Price, woolen manufacturer”. Jehu Price sold the property including 3 acres, the “Factory or Mill thereon and also the use of the present head race”, to Daniel and Elizabeth Marks in 1859. In the 1850-1880 Censuses, Marks was listed as a miller. An 1877 atlas denoted the property as a saw and grist mill owned by a “D Marks”, and the 1879 Directory for Baltimore, Carroll, and Harford counties lists a “Daniel Morrax” [sic] as a miller in the community of Belfast. It was during this period that the E. Hensel House was most likely constructed.

Upon Mark’s death in 1887, his widow sold the mill to William McKelvy in 1887, and McKelvy shortly mortgaged the property to Joshua F. Cockey. Court records from 1892 include recordation of a trustee’s advertisement for the property, which at that time was described as being occupied by Robert F. Stabler. The property was sold to Francis A. Ensor in 1905.

Ensor was taxed fifty dollars for the stone mill according to the 1896 county tax assessment. In 1905, Ensor sold the three acres, the mill, and the rights to the mill race to Albert and Harry Fahnestock. Operations at the mill ceased at the beginning of the 20th century according to 1979 oral histories. The Fahnestock brothers were listed as bankers in the 1910 Federal Census and they retained the property until 1941, when Bessie Wetherill Fahnestock, widow of Harry Fahnestock, devised the property to Milton and Catherine Schrufer. In September 1942, the Schrufers sold the two acre property to Gertrude Maxwell, who then sold it directly to Etta Hensell. Etta Hensell owned the property when the Maryland State Roads Commission decided to construct Interstate 83 (I-83) through the vicinity, ca. 1952.

An undated sketch of the house prepared by right-of-way agents for the state is presumed to have been drawn during the late 1950s prior to the relocation of the Hensell House. The sketch indicated that the house was a two story clapboard dwelling with a stone foundation and asphalt shingle roof. Perched near the crest of the ridge, the residence originally was oriented southwest/northeast to front the end of Priceville Avenue.

The site was examined archaeologically during a combined Phase I/II project in 2007. The 2007 archaeological work consisted of pedestrian survey, and the excavation of 40 close-interval shovel tests, three judgmental shovel tests, and eight 1 X 1 m test units. Site 18BA556 was the only site identified during the combined Phase I/II study in 2007. The site yielded 10 prehistoric artifacts, 8,382 historic artifacts, and included 3 historic archaeological features (1-01, 4-01, and 6-01) and 3 visible historic landscape features (two wells and a retaining wall).

The prehistoric component was defined by a diffuse, low density scatter of lithic material that extended across the site and which lacked apparent concentration or centralization. Finished Savannah River and Piscataway projectile points suggest this component dates from the Late Archaic/Early Woodland to Middle Woodland periods. Although the Savannah River projectile point was recovered from intact, natural stratigraphy, all other prehistoric artifacts were obtained from disturbed soils or from fill contexts.

The historic component dates from the 19th to mid-20th centuries and reflects the period of occupation of the relocated Hensell residence. Diagnostic materials include ceramics, glass, metal, and manufactured items that suggest historic use of the site from at least the early 19th century. Active historic occupation of the site ceased during the mid-20th century, 959, when the historic Hensell House was relocated to the west. In addition to the visible landscape features that reflect the historic landscape that surrounded the house’s original location, the archaeological study identified a remnant of the residence’s original stone foundation and cellar (Features 1-01 and 4-01), and a trench of indeterminate function (Feature 6-01).

Based upon the results of the cultural resources investigations, Site 18BA556 does not have sufficient research potential to address meaningful questions related to occupation of the site and development of the Priceville area.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)

References

  • Child, Kathleen M., and Heather McMahon
  • 2008. Cultural Resources Investigations of Site 18BA556 for the Proposed I-83 Priceville Community Noise Barrier, Baltimore County, Maryland SHA Archeological Report No. 386.

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