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A Short History of 137 & 203 S. Seton Avenue

Anne Cissel 

The brick residence at 137 S. Seton Avenue and the Carriage Factory adjoining at 203 S. Seton are located on lot #75 and #76 of the original survey of Emmitsburg. They are located in the Emmitsburg Historic District. Both buildings date between 1858-1873, with at least one of them built before 1868.

These structures were associated in ownership for most of their history, and it is believed that the early owners of the home operated the next door carriage-wagon making facility. Since 1909 Sebold House has been owned by three generations of the Sebold family.

The 1858 Bond Map of Frederick County shows no buildings on the east side of the Frederick Road (S. Seton Avenue). In 1855 David Gamble a brickmaker who owned 400 acres in-and-around the town, sold 4 lots, 74,75,76 and 77 to Charles A. Shorb for the sum of $190.00. Shorb also purchased lot #73 separately for $60.00 from David Gamble (Fred. Co. Deeds ES8-267 and 268) Following Shorb's death in 1863, ownership of the lots descended to John Smith.

Some improvement, (whether house or factory or both is unclear) had taken place by 1868 when the same 4 lots were sold to Nicholas Baker for $650.00. Nicholas Baker is mentioned in Helman's "History of Emmitsburg" as a wagon maker. He was born 1837 and died in 1906, leaving his widow, Isabelle who was his second wife.

On the Titus "Atlas of Frederick County", drawn in 1873 "N. Baker" is occupying lot 75 with Black Smith Shop and Carriage Shop adjacent on lot 76. At this time the Blacksmith shop was separated from the main carriage making facility. Between 1896 and 1903 Nicholas Baker placed a $1,500 worth of notes and mortgages his properties. These debts and mortgages was still unpaid at the time of his death of 1909. Frederick County Equity Case #8152 concerns the partition and sale of these lots.

137 S. Seton

This home is a fine example of late Greek Revival residential architecture. Of two and a half storied, brick with a balanced facade and raised center entry, it originally was nearly square. The 1890 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows it with a full width front, probably a late Victorian addition. Following its purchase by Attorney Vincent Sebold in 1915 a large two-story brick addition was made to the west or rear. There is evidence in the brickwork that some of the long, narrow Victorian era windows on the southside have been filled-in and replaced by fashionable shapes. The interior was modified to create a large office-study where Mr. Sebold conducted his law practice and his management of the Emmitsburg Railroad. Additional alterations included new porches on two sides. The front porch was replaced by a columned portico more consistent with the building's original architectural style.

201 S. Seton

The carrriage factory was originally covered with random-width, rough-cut board-and batten (vertical) siding which remains under the later German, lap siding. Some of the original six-over-six windows remain on the east side. Carriage-making required metal work from the blacksmith shop as well as a large facility to paint the wagons-carriages. This latter process required as many as 14 coats of paint, and was quite time-consuming. The building on the north side marked "repository" on the 1890 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map may be the place that the carriage or wagon "reposed" between coats of paint or varnish.

The larger south building with three sections is marked Carriage Factory and Black smith. Entry for the vehicles was provided by a wide, sliding door on the ground floor, still in evidence.

Between 1873 and 1890 the space between the "repository" and the main factory had been filled in to create a center bay. From 1927 to 1995 it belonged to the Hubert L. Joy family having been altered to comprise a family residence. The home entry in the south building is balanced by a shallow bay widow fronting the former "respository"; a three bay centered porch has four slender columns on raised piers, The original porch behind the repository remains as shown in 1890 Insurance Map. In 1890, the brick residence is identified as McDavitt residence, although it was owned by the Bakers. It is not know whether Mr. McDavitt had any connection with the adjacent factory. It is known that in 1887 there were at least three carriage factories in town.

The McDavitts, like the Sebolds, Roddys and Bakers were a longtime Emmitsburg Catholic Family. The archives of Mount St. Mary's mention that Mr. McDavitt had collected $600 in contributions in 1824 to pay for construction of the Seminary Building. In 1906 lot owner, Nicholas Baker died without a will. His heirs petitioned the court for a partition of his estate complicated by the outstanding debts. Equity Case #8152 was filed, and trustee appointed for the sale. The "Emmitsburg Chronicle" advertised the sale to be held on July 3rd, 1909.

Isabelle Baker, widow of Nicholas purchased Lot # 1 (137 S. Seton, aka The Sebold house) for the sum of $2,000. She also purchased the Carriage Factory lot for $735.00. The deed mentions a 10' "public alley" dividing the two lots. The following year she sold the carriage factory site to the family of Edwin Chrismer (Deed 322-191)

Attorney Vincent Sebold purchased the brick house in 1915 for the sum of $2,500. (Deed 312-272). Mr. Sebold was well acquainted with the house, having been a party in the 1909 sale. There is some family tradition that Mr. Sebold lived in the house after 1909 and may, in fact, have been renting with some sort of agreement to purchase it. Mr. Sebold and his partners had already purchased the a 3 and 1/2 acre unimproved lot behind the house, (Lot #5 of sale) which also had use in common to the alleyway. This acreage was known as the "Ball Field", and adjoined the lands of the Sisters of Charity. The Vigilant Hose company may had some claim in the court petition.

The biography of Mr. Sebold is given in William's "History of Frederick County". He was the grandson of Peter Sebold  who emigrated from Germany in 1822, Peter appears on the 1850 Census, farming in the Emmitsburg District.

Vincent was born in Sabillasville and following his entry into the law profession he attained prominence. Among his services to Frederick county was as cousel to the Board of County Commissioners. In Emmitsburg he was instrumental in saving the bankrupt railroad for Emmitsburg and became its general manager. This railroad, only 8 miles long was vital to the town, linking it to the main Western Maryland line at Rocky Ridge. After his death, his daughter Louise and son-in-law Joseph Alvey would manage the railroad until it ceased in 1940.

Vincent Sebold married Annie I Roddy of Mechanicstown (Thurmont.), the 11th child of Abraham and Hannah Roddy. The Roddy's came from Ireland just after the Revolution and resided in the Mechanicstown to Mount St. Mary's neighborhood after 1820 Roddy's Bridge at Owens Creek is one of the several historic structure associated with this family.

Read other articles on histories of homes in Emmitsburg

Read other articles by Anne Cissel