Pimlico – home of the Preakness Stakes – may be the crown jewel of Maryland’s horse racing venues, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all things equestrian here. Between thoroughbred events, steeplechases, dressage and polo, you’d be forgiven for thinking every resident rides or knows someone who does. It was inevitable then that Baltimore-based architect Patrick Sutton would find himself with a project on a horse farm.
What looks like an architectural folly from a distance is, in fact, a kind of cozy clubhouse overlooking a private racetrack. Elevated on a stone base and encircled by a wraparound deck, the building sits on the site of the former clocker tower – where trainers once timed workouts and races. With a tack room-like foyer on the ground floor and two rooms above, the building, explains Sutton, “is tiny, tiny, a place where the owner and his guests can watch horses thunder across the finish line, or sit back and enjoy a game of cards and a cigar.”
The structure draws from local vernacular forms, with the base referencing a stone spring house that has stood over an aquifer on the property since the mid-1900s. Sutton enlivened the Dutch gable roof with a skylight that reads like a chimney and designed an eye-catching stair tower – a separate, light-filled volume with a hint of Greek Revival in its profile. Offering a view not only of the track, but an eye-filling vista across the valley to the wooded hills beyond, this simple building – so sensibly wed to its site – is a smartly functional and straightforwardly handsome contribution to Maryland’s rich equestrian heritage.
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