Tudor Hall is an exceptionally fine example of picturesque pattern book architecture from the antebellum period. Popularized by the best-selling publication Rural Residences by Andrew Jackson Davis, this romantic vision of country living encouraged the construction of villas and cottages with fanciful Gothic Revival or Italianate details. Davis’s success inspired many imitations including William H. Ranlett’s pattern book, The Architect, published in 1847. Renowned Shakespearean actor Junius Brutus Booth purchased a copy of The Architect and began building a new country house on property he had owned since 1824. He chose a brick Gothic Revival design, “Parsonage in the Tudor Style,” depicted on plates 44 and 45. The design was characterized by a generous porch, a small decorative balcony, and steeply pitched gables and cross gables. Clustered chimneys and diamond-pane leaded glass windows added to Tudor Hall’s picturesque charm. The house was one of Maryland’s earliest examples of a Gothic Revival cottage.
Booth emigrated from England in 1821 and was as famous for his transatlantic theater career as for his unconventional personal life. Initially he lived in a whitewashed log cabin he had moved from his rural Harford County farm and he embraced his role by encouraging neighbors to call him “Farmer Booth.” He lived at Tudor Hall with Mary Ann Holmes, who eventually became his second wife, and their ten children. Two of their sons became equally prominent actors, Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth. Edwin Booth became a major figure in the history of American theater with a reputation greater than that of his notoriously difficult father. His brother John Wilkes Booth is best known today as President Lincoln’s assassin, a fact that has overshadowed the stage accomplishments of the Booth family. Now on a smaller parcel of land surrounded by suburban development, Tudor Hall retains its romantic Gothic Revival appearance. A detached kitchen house was incorporated into the footprint of the main structure with infill additions dating to the late nineteenth century.
Weeks, Christopher. An Architectural History of Harford County, Maryland. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.