This was a request from one of my readers who was interested in this particular topic. He asked if this home has a historical designation, and in this post, I will find out.
Let's dive in!
This home is located on Cathcart Road across from the Montgomery County Community College. Back then before Cathcart Road was named, this street use to be called "Wood Road." And before the MCCC was established, the area use to be a residential area with huge plots of land.
William C. Layman (1818-1900): Owner from 1866-1898
According to the Pennsylvania Historic Resource Survey Form, this house was built in 1880. Based on the architectural features on the house, and from historic maps, it doesn't seem to me that this house was built at that time. If I spotted this house prior to the 1880s, then this house was built some time before then.
In terms of the architectural features, even with additions and alterations, this house looks like it was from the Colonial era based on these features:
Side-gabled, low pitched roof
6x6 sash windows
Paired interior chimneys
Pent roof (common in middle colonies) with centered gable
Brick structure, covered in yellow stucco (based on 1916 map)
It's pretty mixed: The side-gabled, low pitched roof is common in Federal-style buildings, but the pent roof, meanwhile, is common in Georgian-style buildings. In order to determine the main style of this building, I have to think this question: which structure of the building is NEVER changed or touched?
Pent roofs are also common in Colonial Revival-style buildings, which is considered common from 1880-1955. This could be an additional feature to this house during its standing. With that information, I come to my conclusion that this house was originally a Federal-style building.
This leads to my reader's question: is this house historically designated? No.
This house doesn't really have any historical significance to the community in any way. We may know some things about the owners, but they don't have much significance (maybe except for that fire incident). In terms of the architecture, it won't qualify for the National Register of Historic Places due to the alterations and additions to the home.
In order to recognize a historic building to the NRHP, it has to maintain its integrity, meaning the building has to maintain its original architectural form, and has some kind of historical connection to either in the community, or nationally in America.
There are 4 criteria you have to consider looking into if you're registering a historic building (from Wikipedia):
Criterion A, "Event", the property must make a contribution to the major pattern of American history.
Criterion B, "Person", is associated with significant people of the American past.
Criterion C, "Design/Construction", concerns the distinctive characteristics of the building by its architecture and construction, including having great artistic value or being the work of a master.
Criterion D, "Information potential", is satisfied if the property has yielded or may be likely to yield information important to prehistory or history
For more information about these criteria, click on this link here!
The good part about this is that this home is still standing, and there's someone currently living in this home. People live in old, historic homes because of tax credits, and simply they love to live in history.
You don't have to apply for the NRHP in order to get it recognized. The only thing you have to worry about is taking care of the house.
To learn about Pennsylvania's Grants and Funding with historic properties, visit their website here!
"Distance Calculator." DaftLogic. Accessed December 29, 2020. https://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-distance-calculator.htm.
Hopkins, G.M. Atlas of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Page 031, 1871.
McAlester, Virginia Savage. A Field Guide to American Houses. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017): xv-xvi, 201-232, 409-432.
Mueller, A.H. Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., Plate 29, 1916.
Scott, J. D. Montgomery County 1877, Whitpain, Rahn Sta., Grater's Ford, 1877.
Smith, J. L. Montgomery County 1893, Whitpain and Worcester Townships, Bethel Hill, Fairview, Cedar Hill, Washington Square, Broad Axe Left, 1893.
"Wissahickon Valley Public Library's Ambler Gazette Collection." POWER Library: Pennsylvania's Electronic Library. Accessed December 29, 2020. http://digitalcollections.powerlibrary.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/wivp-gazett.