Harford History

Deed reveals origins of early Bel Air House

April 01, 2007

On April 3, 1788, in a deed from Aquila Scott to John Bull, one acre of ground was purchased for 54 pounds, 8 shillings in specie gold and silver. The land consisted of a pair of half-acre lots - No. 39 and 41 - as laid out on the Plat of Bel Air.

The lots were on the west side of South Main Street. Today they are under the shopping center that includes Looney's Pub North. No mention of a house was made in the deed, but it is thought that when John Bull sold the property in September 1789, there was at least the beginning of a house.

In 1813, Thomas Hays bought the house, and by 1814 he was making additions, probably so that the house resembled the way it looks today. Before his death in 1861, he pulled down the log kitchen and added a large stone, L-shaped wing. The wing has not survived. The log kitchen was restored recently by volunteers of the Historical Society of Harford County and the Hays House Museum.

Thomas Hays was the biggest land owner in Bel Air, and the house was one of the most important of its day in Bel Air. It was saved from demolition in 1960. Safeway Stores Inc. donated the house to the historical society, and it was moved to its current location, next to Bel Air High School on a lot owned by the county and leased to the historical society.

[ Source: An Historical Account of the Hays House, The Historical Society of Harford County, 1994.]

Research: Harford County Public Library

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