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About the Frederick & Frances Watkins House

The Frederick and Frances Watkins House is a two-story, five-bay Colonial Revival single-family dwelling constructed on a knoll at the northeast corner of Church Road and Central Avenue (MD 214) in Prince George’s County. Designed in 1961 for Mr. and Mrs. Watkins by the Mount Rainier architectural firm of Walton and Madden, the house is constructed of white-painted brick and features flanking one-story wings, a slate roof, and front and rear three-bay porticos. Originally sited on fifty acres, some of which were wooded and some of which were used for the tobacco cultivation, the house is now surrounded by a 1990s subdivision of 74 single-family houses known as Grovehurst, but is buffered from this later construction by mature trees and plantings. The house is reached by a winding, heavily wooded road from Delcastle Drive.

MAIN HOUSE
Constructed in 1961, the Frederick and Frances Watkins House is a two-story, five-bay Colonial Revival single family dwelling constructed on a knoll. The house is composed of a two-story main block with an attic and flanking one-story L-shaped wings that extend toward the rear. The brick dwelling is set on a concrete block foundation. A side-gabled roof of Vermont Purple slate caps the main block and the wings, which terminate at the rear with hipped roofs rather than gables. All roof slopes are 12/7. The cornices are not returned but have a decorative endboard detail. The “K”-type gutters and downspouts are painted aluminum. The main block features a one-story Portico spanning three bays and is supported by four Tuscan columns and two Tuscan engaged columns. The cornice is dentiled and the roof is capped with a wood balustrade consisting of four short square paneled columns linked by a railing of turned wood balusters. The porch is raised on a base of full-color, natural-cleft square and rectangular flagstones laid in a random pattern and set behind a Portico-wide semi-elliptical step. A flagstone walk leads to the driveway. A six-inch high curved slate stoop rises to meet the front door. The roof of the porch is soldered tin which was later covered by a bitumen coating. Corbeled brick chimneys flank the main block; the west chimney, which is set approximately one foot further north than the east, has a central stamped-concrete element two bricks in height located beneath the corbel and bears the legend “1961.” Two four-over-four wood sash windows flank the chimneys at the attic level. The chimneys extend four feet above the apex of the roof. The eight-panel single-leaf front door with a double lock rail is flanked by leaded-glass sidelights over panels. The Colonial Revival pattern of the translucent, rippled-glass lights is a central diamond divided into four diamonds by interlocking parabolas. The door and sidelights are topped by a leaded-glass fanlight in a spider’s web pattern. A central masonry keystone supported by voussoirs and imposts is located above the fanlight. The front door ensemble is flanked under the porch by nine-over-six wood sash windows with hinged louvered shutters secured with lag-mounted “S”-shaped shutter tie-backs. Identical windows are located to the left and right of the porch. On the second floor, five six-over-six wood sash windows with shutters are arrayed equidistantly at five-foot intervals across the façade. The sash windows feature concealed steel lintels and brick rowlock sills.

The west wing is recessed seven feet from the front (south) façade. On the south façade of the west wing are two six-over-six windows with shutters. In the (west) gable end is a picture-window sized opening comprising a central six-over-six window flanked by two four-over-four sash windows and shutters. To the north of that is a six-over-six sash window also with shutters. The windows are located off-center to the north in the elevation. Recessed from the gable is a connector element with a single six-over-six sash window with shutters. The garage wing further north at the west elevation is a two-bay hipped roof pavilion. Each garage bay contains Raynor Manufacturing Company’s vintage “Manor” garage door: a single sectional door consisting of a large nine-light window over a wood panel. Louvered shutters sawn to fold in sections flank the lights, making the garage doors appear to be large shuttered windows. A nine-light over two-panel wood door in the south elevation of the garage was installed by the current owners and replaced an original window, allowing pedestrian access to the garage. As with the garage doors, the door is styled as a window with louvered shutters.

The east wing is recessed nine feet from the main block. The two six-over-six sash windows on the south façade are missing their original shutters. The east façade features a Modern window wall in the center consisting of a 30-light, 14-foot, 2-inch tall wood window extending from the apex of the roof within the gable to a height of one foot above grade, including its wood panel base. The window is centered in the façade and is an original element. (The Midcentury Modern treatment of this wing is continued on the interior of the east wing, which although labeled as “Study” functions more as a family room/den.) A hipped-roof ell extends north off the volume of the east wing and is traditionally articulated with a centered, six-over-six sash window with louvered shutters. Access to the basement is provided by a concrete stair and areaway in the east elevation of the hipped-roof volume. A nine-light over two panel door in the west elevation provides access to the east wing. The door is articulated with louvered shutters.

The rear (north) façade features a two-story square-columned Portico with proportions similar to that of the front Portico. The Porch features a wrought-iron Regency Revival-style railing in the same design as the front and rear doors’ sidelights, rotated horizontally. The railing was added by the current owners and replaced the original ornamental railing of wrought iron perhaps manufactured by the “Logan Company.” The fenestration of the rear elevation is identical to that of the front except for the central window, which on the rear is a 12-light wood door with a screen door which leads to the second-floor Stair Hall. A later circular stainless steel range hood exhaust is located between the westernmost square pilaster and first-floor window. A Chinese railing balustrade (wood bars forming a geometric pattern within a rectangular frame) detailed on the original blueprints was never realized. The flagstone terrace replaced the original terrace of rustic flagstones laid in an irregular pattern, which deteriorated over time.

The east façade of the garage/service wing has a nine-light-over two-panel wood door and six-over-six window, both articulated with louvered shutters. The north façade of the garage contains another six-over-six window with shutters. Electric and telecommunications service enter at this location and a corral of HVAC condensers is enclosed by a low wood trellis fence.

The walls, trim, gutters, windows and doors are painted white. The louvered shutters are painted dark green. The house is surrounded by carefully tended mature deciduous and evergreen trees, shrubs, lawns and ground covers. The house is reached from Delcastle Drive by a winding, wooded road that is otherwise unmarked. Originally, the driveway continued to Church Road and was flanked by white-painted brick and wrought-iron entrance features, similar in design to the second-floor porch railing, both since removed.



INTEGRITY

The Frederick and Frances Watkins House retains a high level of integrity of location, workmanship, and feeling. Exterior alterations by the current owners, such as the Porch railing and the pedestrian garage door are compatible with and sympathetic to the original style of the dwelling. The house is no longer in the possession of the Watkins family, but it remains in use as a single-family dwelling and the interior is virtually unaltered. Because the original 50-acre tract has been reduced to 3.71 acres, the house is now surrounded by other houses and the original approach from Church Road no longer exists. Therefore, the setting retains only a moderate level of integrity. However, because of the contours of the land and the trees that surround the house, the new construction is not visible from the house or its landscaped setting. Overall, the Frederick and Frances Watkins House retains a high level of integrity.

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