Lauretum is an outstanding example of the exuberance and eclecticism of the late Victorian period, embracing elements of the Queen Anne, Eastlake, Gothic Revival, and Stick styles. Lauretum’s architectural scheme also invokes sensibilities of the picturesque, then fashionable for both residential and landscape design, and of upper-middle-class expectations for comfortable living. Located on a 40-acre tract formerly known as “Peach Tree,” Lauretum was built on the outskirts of Chestertown—a suburban estate conducive to the life of the gentleman farmer. The house was built in 1881 for Harrison W. Vickers, a Chestertown lawyer who was prominent in the political and civic affairs of Kent County, serving two terms as state’s attorney and in both the state and U.S. senate. Lauretum, which is Latin for laurel grove, is one of the few nineteenth-century residences on the Eastern Shore known to have been designed by a professional architect.
Lauretum is a large, three-story, stuccoed frame residence. Upon approach, the visitor is presented with the long, west-facing rectangular main block with its eastern cross-gable projection, western service wing with tower, and welcoming piazza. The piazza is integrated into the surrounding landscape while also providing a comfortable space for outdoor leisure. Doorways and floor-to-ceiling windows facilitate access to the piazza, although the principle entry is the east end, covered by a jerkinhead-roofed porch with an incised panel. Both sections have jerkinhead or clipped gable roofs pierced by shed-roof dormers, with a mansard-roofed tower protruding from the northern slope. Lauretum’s irregular massing and cross-gables evoke the Queen Anne Style, as do the many windows that include multiple, small-pane lights (some colored), and patterned faux-slate roof shingles and other textured surfaces. The porch post and brackets, exposed rafters and overhanging eaves are in the Stick Style, with incising indicative of Eastlake designs found in the entry porch, window surrounds, and door details. The Gothic Revival influence is seen in the two towers, one with pointed-arched dormers, and the projecting oriel window.
Lauretum’s architect, Edmund Lind, was one of Baltimore’s most prominent and influential mid- to late-nineteenth-century architects. English-born Lind received his professional training at the London School of Design and, upon immigrating to the United States in 1855, began work in Baltimore. He was a leading figure in the American Institute of Architects (founded in 1857) and a founder of the organization’s Baltimore Chapter (1871), serving as its second president. Lind left Baltimore in 1882 to practice in Atlanta where he is noted as one of Georgia’s few nationally prominent architects of the Victorian era. Lind’s relocation was part of a larger movement of northern architects to the south during the post–Reconstruction era.
Lauretum remained in the Vickers family until 1985. It is currently a bed and breakfast.
Belfoure, Charles. Edmund G. Lind, Anglo-American Architect of Baltimore and the South. Baltimore: Baltimore Architecture Foundation, 2009.
Kurtz, Peter E., “Lauretum,” Kent County, Maryland. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1997. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
“Lind, Edmund G.” Baltimore Architecture Foundation. Accessed December 22, 2014. http://baltimorearchitecture.org.