Select Seller Improvements
|Boundary||Located and marked every property corner.|
|Kitchen Floor||Replaced an 18” closet door with a 3’ louvered door on guest closet, uncovering in the process a hardwood floor in hallway and kitchen. Cleaned two layers of tar paper and linoleum and 5/8 pressed wood sheathing. Hired a contractor to sand and polyurethane the hall ad kitchen.|
|Oct. 1987||Water Treatment System||Well water tested. Water treatment system installed.|
|Nov. 1989||Removed the stairs to attic in bay window bedroom to make closet for that bedroom and the small bedroom in the back.|
|May 1990||12’x 28’ Shed #1||Purchased a 12’x28’ shed for tools and yard equipment. Built a stone and 8”x8”x12’ sled type foundation for it in the back yard. This building has been moved twice. It was moved from the back yard to replace the ‘Office’ building when it was moved to beside the house. The second time (2005) it was placed on a permanent foundation behind the new garage and incorporated into it.|
|May 1990||12’x 28’ Shed #2||Purchased another 12’x28’ shed with double insulated floor, to make an office, finished and insulated inside, windows, door, heat, electric, tv cable, etc. Built a stone and 8”x8”x12’ sled type foundation for it in the front yard next to the old garage. This building was subsequently moved to a similar foundation on the east side of the house where it is today.|
|July 1991||Insulation||Insulated the whole house with spray-in insulation. This stuff has been replaced little by little.|
|July 1992||Replaced ceiling of living room and 2nd floor hardwood floor. Replaced electric cables.|
|June 1993||Vinyl House Siding||Installed Tyvek and vinyl siding on the house over the asbestos shingles.|
|Aug. 1994||Removed the log chinking in the 2nd floor bedroom and sitting room, insulated between logs. Hired a contractor to install vinyl chinking.|
|New Oil Tank||Purchased and had installed a new 500 gal oil tank. The two 250 gal oil tanks were leaking. The soil was tested, removed and replaced.|
|Oct. 1998||New Septic System||Installed a new septic system.|
|Nov. 1999||Built the window seat in the bay window bedroom.|
|Jan. 2001||New Roof||Roofing contractor removed the slate shingles, put 5/8″ roofing over the original 1” chestnut roofing boards, then 30 lb. felt, then lifetime shingles. Also built knee walls in the attic.|
|Brick Sidewalk||Hired contractor to build the brick sidewalk from house to driveway.|
|Feb. 2001||Front Yard Gardens||landscape, hardscape front garden (2 separate landscapers)|
|May 2001||Sliding Glass Door||Installed a good grade sliding glass door in dining room|
|Jan. 2002||Installed a drywall ceiling with acoustical backing in the dining room; new carpet, new wallpaper|
|Jan. 2002||Driveway Improvement||Removed planter, graded and spread and compacted 6” crusher-run gravel base|
|June 2002||New Roof on Office||Replaced roof shingles on office building, painted the building, added the cupola.|
|July 2002||Decks||Built the deck off the dining room and the deck on the ‘Office’.|
|June 2004||Replacement Windows||7 – 1st level front windows, bay windows, and a new front door|
|March 2005||New Garage||Removed old garage, graded site, built the garage, moved shed to back of garage.|
|Sep. 2005||Paved Driveway||Paved the driveway.|
|July 2006||Replaced Gutters||Replaced gutters, removed old wood behind facias and sofits|
|Dec 2009||Living Room Remodel||removed damaged floor from fireplace, replaced floor joists, replace rotten log, dug out under living room, installed new hard wood flooring, fix rear window and wall. Removed plaster and lath from all walls in living room; removed all chinking and daubing; cleaned logs with wire brushes; oiled logs; installed 2×6 studs in front wall; installed fiberglass insulation; didn’t work; removed fiberglass insulation, taped of logs and studs; hired a contractor to spray urethane solid core insulation between logs and studs; hired a contractor to install vinyl chinking; bought a 45000btu propane fireplace and had it installed in living room; built the mantel; had hardwood floors sanded, stained, and urethaned; cleaned and painted.|
|Feb. 2010||Removed Fireplace||Removed old wood-burning fireplace and chimney, closed hole in living room ceiling, 2nd floor floor and ceiling, and the roof.|
|June 2010||Our Propane Tank||Purchased our own propane tank, had it delivered and installed|
|July 2010||New Washer and Dryer||Purchased new Washer/Dryer|
|Playground||Bought and installed the playground in the back yard.|
|Oct. 2010||New Sump Pump||Replaced the sump pump in basement|
|July 2011||New Well||Had a new well drilled (450 feet). Filled in the old well. Installed a new constant pressure pump and constant pressure system. Harford County would not allow the old well to be in the basement of the new addition.|
|Aug. to Dec. 2011||850 S.F. Addition||Built the addition according to governmentally approved addition plans. Existing septic system is adequate for the dwelling.
Replaced all plumbing, plumbing fixtures, and electrical lines in entire house.
Installed central vacuum system on all floors.
Added a new heat pump for the addition.
Replaced the air conditioning unit in the attic to accommodate the addition.
Waterproofed the old basement; added drain tile all around the walls in the old basement. Two sump pits and pumps in the basement and one septic pump.
Poured concrete walls, metal studs, blown-in urethane solid core insulation.
Plumbing and electric in place for wet bar or small kitchen in basement.
|Aug. to Dec. 2011||Kitchen/Side Entryway & Bathroom Remodel||Remove stairs to basement; remove all walls in kitchen, dining room, pantry, hallway, guest closet; gut kitchen – walls and ceiling; gut the first floor laundry room and bathroom – walls and ceilings; remove all electric and plumbing; remove all insulation; clean studs, joists, etc.; level all floors; install new plumbing and new electric as per floor plans; blown-in insulation in all exterior walls; install walls, ceilings, all cabinets, island, appliances; picture frame the floor, trim out; sand and finish all hardwood floors; paint; clean.|
|Aug. 2012||New Bathroom||Complete remodel and enlargement of the second floor bathroom.|
|Jan. 2013||Transfer Switch||Installed a whole house electrical transfer switch, in old basement, for a portable generator.|
|July 2014||Air Conditioner Replacement||Replaced the air conditioner unit in attic.|
|Jul. 2014||Gutter Upgrade||Repair and upgrade all of the gutters on the house.|
|July 2014||Stairwell Project||Refinish banister; repair/paint walls, new carpet up the steps and hallway.|
|Aug. 2015||Remodel Front Porch||Replaced old wood columns with no maintenance columns, repaired and painted block wall, removed bricks on floor.|
|Dec. 2017||Tree Damage Repaired||Repaired siding and most of the roof due to storm damage.|
Houses Don’t Move
by Everette C. Smith
1. Nicholas Sauer – 9 May 1742 to
Unpatented tract #119
Proprietary Lease GGB #B (2)/ 451, 9 May 1742
“… laid out for Nicholas Sauer, a tract of land, being part of the land reserved in said county for his Lordship’s use …”
To be held by the Manor of Baltimore by the name ‘Armagh’
In 1742 Nicholas Sauer a native of Armagh, Ireland received his patent for the lease of a 100 acre tract in the Upper Node Forest of Baltimore County, from Lord Baltimore, the Proprietary of Maryland. He named his newly patented property Armagh. He promptly built a house on the property – 16’X31’, 2 story, 2 room, chestnut log house with a basement. He was a tobacco farmer and had rented these wide open fields specifically for that purpose. As an added bonus, the southern boundary of Armagh ran along a local tobacco rolling road with York, Pennsylvania on one end and Baltimore, Maryland on the other.
How long he farmed tobacco is unknown. He did re-rent his land to James Finley who began farming the land, paying the rents and living in the house. Finley also re-rented and began farming a neighboring piece of property called “Sauer’s Refuge” 39 acres (originally rented to Joseph Butler), to the south across the road. It is interesting to note that up until the establishment of the Mason-Dixon Line in 1767 these properties were, sometimes, in York Co., PA. Deeds for some surrounding properties were found recorded in the York County Court House.
On March 22, 1774 Harford County was created from the eastern part of Baltimore County with a population of 13,000 people.
2. James Finley purchases confiscated British property
Western Shore Land Office of Maryland
Purchased at auction October 1782 at Slade’s Tavern in Baltimore County
Certificate recorded in Liber I.C. No. K, Folio 229, 21 March, 1787 (MD State Archives)
Patent recorded in Liber I.C. No. G, Folio 563, 19 August 1795 (MD State Archives)
Armagh = 100 Acres, Sauer’s Refuge = 39 ¼ Acres, Vacant land = 25 ¼ Acres
Named “Honesty is the Best Policy”
164 ¾ Acres
After the original 13 colonies created and signed the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union in 1781 (Maryland was the last to sign), the proprietary colony of Maryland (soon to be a State) started confiscating British owned land. Since the Lords Baltimore had never sold their land, only rented it, the newly formed State of Maryland became the owner of all their land which constituted all of Maryland. To raise money for the new State, they auctioned off this once British owned land. In the Baltimore and Harford County area, the auctions were held at Slade’s Tavern in October 1782. James Finley bought the two pieces of land (Armagh, 100 acres, and Sauers’ Refuge, 39 acres). Land that he had been paying rent, living on, and farming for many years (citizens who had been living, working, and paying rents on the land had first right of refusal for the property going up for auction). In addition, James bought the unowned land between his two pieces for a total of 164 ¾ acres. He received his patent 13 years later in 1795 and named his property “Honesty is the Best Policy”.
In 1804 James died. His wife, Jane, occupied the place until she got too old to farm it and gave it to her children. Only one daughter, Margaret, was still in Maryland, the rest were living in Ohio. When their mother, Jane, died in 1819 the children sold ‘Honesty is the Best Policy’ to Francis Grupy, businessman tanner of Havre de Grace and Baltimore.
Note: Alexander Finley, son of James and Jane, was born in this house in 1766. When of age, he made his way to Ohio. According to the Ohio Historical Society he is listed as one of Ohio’s ‘First Settlers’. That Historical Society has quite a file on Alexander and his descendants. For instance – he settled in southeast Ohio, bought property, worked it and improved it. He sold property to John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, who planted apple orchards on it and promptly lost the deed. The Finley and Chapman families have been in litigation over ownership for many generations.
3. Francis Grupy – 8 June 1819 to 3 July 1838
from – John Finley, Robert Finley and Mary his wife, Alexander Finley and Mary his wife, of Richland County, Ohio; Barnet Williams and Mary (Finley) his wife of Fayette County, Pennsylvania; Margaret Finley and Hannah Finley of Richland County, Ohio
HD Liber 3, Folio 455
8 June, 1819
164 ¾ Acres
1819, 8 June – HD, Book 3, Page 445 – The children of James and Jane Finley (both deceased); John Finley, Robert and Mary Finley, Alexander and Mary Finley, all of Richland County, Ohio; Barnett Williams and Mary (Finley) of Fayette County, Pennsylvania; Margaret Finley and Hanna Finley of Richland County, Ohio; sell “Honesty is the Best Policy”, 164 ¾ acres, to Francis Grupy.
Grupy did not farm. He used the land to harvest and burn big piles of wood, covered in a thick layer of dirt, to create coke and tannic acid for his tanning businesses in Baltimore and Havre de Grace. Some of his employees lived in the house.
4. Henry D. Farnandis (Trustee of Francis Grupy) – 23 July, 1838 to 2 April, 1844
from: Francis Grupy
HD Liber 20, Folio 324
23 July, 1838
164 ¾ Acres
Bankruptcy and divorces cost Grupy everything he had. He asked Henry D. Farnandis, Esquire, Attorney at Law to sell all of his real estate in Harford County and pay his debts. He deeded over all of these real estate holdings to Farnandis. Grupy could still use each of piece property until it was sold. The money went to pay Grupy’s debts and provide ‘support and maintenance’ to him during his lifetime.
5. Frederick Deets – 2 April, 1844 to 20 March, 1907
from: Henry D. Farnandis
HD Liber 29, Folio 267
2 April, 1844
164 ¾ Acres
Frederick made the most changes to the land and the house. He and his family owned it for 63 years.
Frederick sold 30 Acres of Honesty to Mark Stengle on February 8, 1848 (HDG Liber 34, Folio 92) and used the proceeds to put an addition on the house. This first addition was applied to the south side of the Nicholas Sauer house and stuck out to the west from the area the original house and the addition looked like a backwards L. It was two story, 17’ wide by 22’ long, made with 8”and 10’, flat sided, adz cut chestnut logs. The logs are exposed in the current house and you can see how the addition was added and changed over the years. It was built to be a kitchen, it is currently the living room. The door into it from the original house is currently behind the plaster at the foot of the steps. On the second floor a similar door from the original house is exposed in the back bedroom closet.
Frederick died in 1769 and left everything by will to his family. His son Samuel got all of the land on the north side of the road, about 115 1/ 2 acres.
About 1780 or so Samuel put the second addition on the house. It was built by his brother George using 2” x 4” rough-hewn oak studs and 10” floor and ceiling rafters. Two stories with a bay window on each floor.
Nearly all of the Deets clan is buried at Bethel Presbyterian Church, a mile to the west, along Norrisville Road.
6. Carville, C. Burton – 20 March 1907 to 15 March 1917
from: Louisa Deets, widow, William F. Deets and James E. Deets exeutors of Samuel Deets, late of Harford County, deceased, James E and Sarah I. Deets, William P. and Sadie Deets, Hannan E. (Deets) Rampley and William S. her husband, Laura V. (Deets Lamb ad Charles her husband, Mary E. (Deets) Burton and Carvill C. her husband
WSF Liber 120, Folio 372
20 March 1907
Carville Burton was Samuel Deets’ son in law. He married Samuel’s daughter Mary. They lived in Fork, Baltimore County, Maryland.
After Carville and Mary bought the property they continued to live in Fork and let the Deets family continue to live on, farm and maintain the land.
It was only after Carville’s sale to Henry and Annie Standiford that the remaner of the Deets family moved out.
7. Henry E. and Annie E. Standiford – 15 March, 1917 to 28 March, 1925
from: Carville C. and Mary E. Burton
JAR Liber 155, Folio 120
15 march, 1917
8. Norman E. and Myrtle W. Standiford – 28 March, 1925 to 7 March, 1931
from: Henry E. and Annie E. Standiford
DGW Liber 193, Folio 6
28 March, 1925
9. Charles P. and Rickie Breidebaugh – 7 March 1931 to 5 January, 1965
from: Norman E. and Myrtle W. Standiford
SWC Liber 218, Folio 259
7 March, 1931
10. Whitmac, Inc. – 5 January, 1965 to 2 February, 1966
from: Mildred B. (Breidenbaugh) Quesinberry and her husband Lester F.
Ruth B. (Breidenbaugh) Hanley and her husband Harry V. Hanley
John C. and Sue C. Breidenbaugh
GRG Liber 666, Folio 109
5 Jan 1965
69.744 Acres on the north side of Maryland Route 23 (Norrisville Road) where this property is located.
19.130 Acres on the south side of Maryland Route 23 (Norrisville Road) where Jarrettsville Elementary School is now.
‘Whitmac’ is a contraction of Helen R White, a real estate agent in Harford County, and D. Franklin ‘Mac’ Mc Ginnis a Fallston lawyer and one of Harford County’s County Commissioners.
They rented the house out to tenants.
11. Norman A. and Mary E. Showers – 9 February, 1966 to 2 February, 1967
from: Whitmac, Inc.
GRG Liber 701, Folio 337
9 February, 1966
Due to health and other limiting circumstances conditions, Helen and Mac sold the developable part of ‘Honesty’ Norman and Mary Showers who were going to finish the approval process on the preliminary plans and develop the property. They didn’t.
They also rented the house out to tenants.
12. Northern Land and Development Corporation – 2 February, 1967 to 10 July 1968
from: Norman A. and Mary E. Showers
GRG Liber 739, Folio 56
2 February, 1967
Cristian P. Klapproth, President of Northern Land and Development Corporation had the finances and expertise to make Harford Downs a subdivision.
The “Honesty is the Best Policy” house was not part of the subdivision. It could not be sold until the subdivision lots and roads had been computed, platted and recorded. The size and shape of the house lot was dependent on the computed lots and road configuration. When all computations were completed and the County had approved the record plats for the parts of the subdivision surrounding the house, the Northern Land and Development Corporation sold its first piece of property, the only part not recorded, to Burns and Ennice Monk.
13. Burns K. and Ennice D. Monk – 10 July 1968 to 13 August 1982
from: Northern Land and Development Corporation
GRG Liber 783, Folio 257
10 July, 1968
Burns and his wife purchased the old tract house of the original ‘Armagh’ lease, and ‘Honesty is the Best Policy’ patent. This piece of property was not included in the Harford Downs subdivision and as such could not be conveyed as a recorded lot. It had to be surveyed as a separate entity. It is still not a part of the surrounding subdivision and does not have to comply with any of the subdivision rules and regulations.
Burns and his adjoining neighbor to the south, John Breidenbaugh, purchased Lot #21 in the Harford Downs subdivision (which adjoined both of them) and split it in half – 0.355 acres each – as shown on a recorded plat Liber 23, Folio 34. It increased the property size from 1.35 Acres to 1.705 Acres.
14. Christopher Brian Donhauser (son) and Thelma M. Petticord (mother) – 13 August, 1982 to 28 July, 1986
from: Burns K. and Ennice D. Momk
HDC Liber 1168, Folio 941
13 August, 1982
Brian was an auto mechanic his mother, Thelma worked for the telephone company. She put a telephone in each room, including the bathrooms. Electrical and telephone wires were strung round the house on the outside instead of routing them through walls or ceilings. Brian liked bricks. He mixed and poured concrete on the hardwood floor in the second floor back bedroom and set bricks into the wet mortar. Then he had to cut the doors off in order for them to open and close.
15. Everette C. and Patricia R. Smith – 28 July, 1968 to Today
from: Christopher Brian Donhauser (son) and Thelma M Peddicord (mother)
CGH Liber 1342, Folio 602
28 July, 1986
Everette C. and Patricia R. Smith
From: Joseph B. Spencer, Jr.
CGH Liber 2553, Folio 427
6 June, 1997
A 0.237 acre piece purchased from Spencer in order to move the property line away from the house to the other side of the tree line.
Everette C. and Patricia R. Smith
from: Everette C. and Patricia R. Smith
CGH Liber 3992, Folio 124
21 May, 2002
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
The Frederick and Frances Watkins House is significant as a late example of a time-honored building type in Prince George’s County, viz., a large estate-like dwelling on an expansive, and in this case elevated and commanding, site. At 4,700 square feet, dwellings comparable to the Watkins House in design and execution can be found in exclusive subdivisions nationwide. However, the Watkins House historic setting fixes it as a descendant of the plantation houses of the eighteenth and early-nineteenth century such as Montpelier (PG:62-6), Riversdale (PG:68-5) and others. After pausing for a Victorian interlude, the large, isolated classical house type was revived in Prince George’s County in the early twentieth-century and took the form of architect-designed estates and large dwellings. Examples include Belle Chance, (1912; PG:77-14), Beechwood (1913; PG:79-60), Boxlee (1923; PG:70-39), Langley Park (1924; PG:65-7), Gregor Hall (1926; PG:79-12), Oxon Hill (1929, PG:80-1), Marché House (1932; PG:68-62), the Newton White Mansion (1939; PG:73-6), Perrywood—an 1840s house which was remodeled into a five-part mansion in 1942—(PG:79-58) and Drumsheugh (1950; PG:79-34), the design of which also involved John M. Walton, Sr. The persistence of the type across three centuries is significant, as is the Watkins House’s unusual integrity of workmanship, feeling and association, excellent state of repair and customized features that reflect the Watkins’ style of living. Further, the Watkins’ and Walton’s enthusiasm for the architectural traditions of the county and Maryland, and the Watkins’ choice of commercial architects Walton and Madden is indicative of the owners’ wish for robust construction and timelessness. Finally, the seamless integration of the Study’s wholly Modern design within the otherwise traditionally styled dwelling distinguish the house as a unique example of its type, and reflects both the period of significance and the eclectic, sophisticated taste of both the owners and their architects.
The land on which the Frederick and Frances Watkins House stands was originally part of a tract called Partnership that was patented in 1680 to Nicholas Sewall and John Darnell. Early in the eighteenth century, more than 1,000 acres of Partnership were sold to Benjamin Hall of Charles County. Benjamin Hall’s will of 1720 devised his plantation equally to his wife Mary and his son Francis. Francis Hall inherited the property in 1721 and died in 1785. His will devised his land to his two sons, Benjamin II and Richard Bennett Hall. Richard Bennett Hall’s will of 1802 devised his property to his son Francis Magruder Hall, who devised the property to his son Francis Hall, who devised it to his son Col. Francis Magruder Hall (b. 1829), who devised it to his son Julian Steuart Hall in his will dated March 15, 1905.18 The ruins of the house called Partnership (PG: 74A-15) begun by Benjamin Hall II in the 1780s still stand west of Church Road, and the Hall Family Cemetery (PG: 71B-12) is located to the south of the subject property below Central Avenue (MD 214) and slightly to the east.
Julian Steuart Hall (1868-1960) used his land north of Central Avenue (MD 214) for tobacco cultivation. In July 1960 Hall conveyed a 50-acre tract to Frederick and Frances Watkins. The land was improved with a two-story tenant house located approximately at 1122 Delcastle Court, accessed from Central Avenue by a 500-foot long drive. A tobacco barn straddled today’s Danbury Drive at the locations of numbers 1004, 1008 and 1007. Julian Hall died just five months after selling his property to Mr. and Mrs. Watkins. The 1960 deed specifies that “all crops raised on said property during the year 1960 shall be the property of the said Julian S. Hall, owner.”19 (After 1961, the Watkins’ leased a large portion of the acreage to a tenant farmer who continued to cultivate it for tobacco.20) Hall is buried in the Hall Family Cemetery (PG: 71B-12). His occupation was listed as “farmer” in the 1920 census, when he was then 50 years old; his wife Estelle (Berry) Hall was then 45. Estelle died in 1952 and is buried in Saint Barnabas Church Cemetery (PG: 79-59).
FREDERICK AND FRANCES WATKINS
Frederick Lewis Watkins, Jr. (1905-1998) known as “Fred” was born in Washington, D.C. He worked in and later ran his family’s lumber and hardware business, the F. L. Watkins Company in Seat Pleasant, Maryland. F. L. Watkins began as grocery store in 1917. In the early days, Watkins operated more as a general store, selling a range of items from chicken feed to English broadcloth shirts. The store stayed open late in the evening to serve ham sandwiches for railroad passengers on their way from Washington, D.C. to the Chesapeake Bay shore. The town post office was in the basement. Later the store diversified into a hardware, coal and lumber supplier. After his father Frederick Lewis Watkins, Sr. (1875-1941) died, Frederick Jr. inherited the family business and an it for 50 years. The store operated until the late 1990s. Watkins also served on the board of the Seat Pleasant Bank. Watkins married Frances Elizabeth Penkert (1908-1997) in 1926. Mrs. Watkins was also a Washington, D.C. native. Both were longtime parishioners of St. Margaret’s Catholic Church in Seat Pleasant.24 With his mother, Helena Watkins, Fred Watkins also owned several parcels in the Oakmont subdivision in Seat Pleasant, which the family sold over time. Watkins’ father, Frederick L. Watkins, Sr. was much admired for building housing for low-income black families starting in 1938 in the Jefferson Heights neighborhood on the northern border of Seat Pleasant. Frederick Watkins Jr. finished the project after his father’s death. In 1978 the Watkins’ were honored at a Jefferson Heights fortieth anniversary reunion. Fred Watkins was a successful businessman and the Watkins’ were fashionably dressed party-goers and party-givers; period photos clearly show them enjoying their life and their house.
In 1939, Fred and Frances Watkins purchased 20 acres known as “Largo” south of Central Avenue and built a house for their family sometime shortly after that. In 1945 Fred and his mother purchased an additional 15 acres to the east. The property today has no address, but the area comprises the loop of the MD 214 off-ramp to Truman Drive and the Arbor West condominiums. The house was a side-gabled frame dwelling with a gabled wing and two-story porch and was approached by a 750-foot-long driveway from Central Avenue. Three barns and a frame cottage, some of which may have dated from before the construction of the house, were located to the south.30 The house, with its Colonial Revival form, dignified approach, and relative seclusion, possibly served as a model for their future house on Church Road. It was occupied by the Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce until it was demolished circa 1995.
Sited near the new I-495 interchange, the Largo property soon became desirable as a location for dense development. According to John Petro, in 1960 developer Robert Warren Ammann structured a deal whereby Julian Hall would sell 50 acres of his land to the Watkins’ and they could build a new house, and Ammann would purchase Largo and allow the Watkins’ to live there for one year while the new house was being built. Doing business as Lord Fairfax, Ltd., a Maryland corporation, Ammann and his partners Sherman H. Hollingsworth and Nathan M. Lubar purchased both Largo parcels from the Watkins’ on September 9, 1960, with the deed specifying the Watkins’ were to retain possession of the dwelling house and yard for a period of one year.
WALTON AND MADDEN ARCHITECTS (1953-1969)
The Watkins’ commissioned the Mount Rainier firm of Walton and Madden Architects to design their new house. Largely a designer of institutional buildings, Walton and Madden evolved from the firm Kea, Ross and Walton, which was changed to Ross and Walton when Paul Kea left the partnership in 1941. The firm became Ross, Walton and Madden in 195032 with the addition of partner Dennis William Madden, AIA (1921-2013) who had joined the firm in 1946. It became Walton and Madden in 1953 with the retirement from the partnership of R. Webster Ross.
In addition to the Watkins House, the firm’s known work in the county includes an addition to the County Courthouse in Upper Marlboro (1955, Colonial Revival); the Citizen’s Bank of Maryland in College Park/Hyattsville (PG: 68-26; 1956, International Style); the Hyattsville Fire Station (1958, Colonial Revival); Cumberland Hall at the University of Maryland (1962, Colonial Revival); WSSC Headquarters’ Addition (PG: 68- 82; 1963, International Style); the Salvation Army Corps Community Center in Hyattsville, (PG: 69-065; Prairie School/Modern); the Hyattsville Branch Library, (PG: 68-112; International Style); and the Red Cross Building in Hyattsville (1966, Colonial Revival). In 1969 Walton and Madden Architects, Cooper and Auerbach Architects and John M. Walton and Associates joined their firms and became Walton, Madden, Cooper and Auerbach, AIA.
JOHN MACARDELL WALTON, SR.
Born in Hyattsville, senior partner John Macardell Walton, Sr. AIA (1912-2000) was also the senior partner of John M. Walton and Associates. (John M. Walton and Associates was located in Arlington, VA, and the firm’s work was restricted almost entirely to Virginia, especially Northern Virginia.35) Walton designed many buildings during his career, both commercial (shopping centers, malls, motels, and office buildings) and institutional (churches, schools, hospitals, courthouses) but also many private houses. In Prince George’s County, it is known that he designed a 1939 Colonial Revival residence for the Yates P. Boswells at 400 Jackson Avenue (now 6500 40th Avenue in University Park). Although much smaller, the house shares some features with the subject property, including the corbelled chimney and portico balustrade. He also designed a number of houses in the National Register District of College Heights Estates (PG: 66-30) including 3917 Calverton Drive for the Arthur Seidenspinners.
From 1955 until 1990, Mr. Walton owned and lived at the National Historic Landmark Poplar Hill on His Lordship’s Kindness (PG: 81A-1) a 1784 five-part Georgian house in Clinton. The property is now owned by a foundation established by the Waltons. Walton’s son John M. Walton, Jr. relates that, overwhelmingly, his father’s favorite style of architecture was Georgian Revival or early American revival. Together, he and his wife Sara “shared and enjoyed a mutual love of early American history, architecture, antiques and historic preservation.” Walton designed the 1950 Georgian Revival house Drumsheugh (PG: 73-34) for the late Judge Ralph Powers. Drumsheugh, located off Largo Road and now part of a subdivision of the same name, is more traditionally interpreted but very similar in overall character and setting to the Watkins House. Although other examples are unknown at this time, Walton appears to have been the architect of choice in the county for those who shared his appreciation for Georgian and Colonial Revival styles and could afford to build expansively.
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.
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.
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.
Frederick & Fances Watkins House Significant Interior Details
The house features a center-hall plan with identical door, fanlight and sidelight ensembles in the north and south elevations. The dogleg open-string stair on the west wall is articulated with a varnished handrail supported on white painted turned balusters with square bases (three per tread) ending in a left-hand volute supported on a half-circle end tread with a center varnished newel. An ogee white-painted chair rail rises with the balustrade against the west wall. The stair is visually separated from the Entry Hall by a double arch on paneled pilasters without a center supporting post in the manner of Tulip Hill (AA: 138); however, the arches are segmental rather than circular as they are at Tulip Hill. A small chandelier with faceted glass drops is installed where the arches meet. The front and rear door ensembles are bracketed by slim fluted pilasters as are the flanking openings to the east and west giving access the Living and Dining rooms, respectively. The segmental arches of the room entrances feature a fluted wood keystone. The downstairs formal rooms in the main block have plaster cavetto crown moldings finished with a single wall bead and double ceiling bead. The eight-inch high mop boards in these rooms have varnished quarter-round shoe moldings and a cavetto top trim piece. The floors are two-and-one-quarter-inch oak with the original beech-colored stain. The peach-colored damask wallpaper in the Entry Hall and Stair Hall features a baroque garland-and-leaf design.
The Living Room to the right of the entry spans the width of the house. Directly facing the entrance is a segmental arched and fluted pilaster opening fitted as a bookcase. The chimney breast in the center of the east wall is articulated with a white-painted wood mantel of Colonial Revival design. The mantle has fluted wood pilasters and the header is enhanced with a four-part carved festoon. The surround is faced with Ocean Green marble, bookmatched on the legs. The cast-iron fireback portrays an image of Zeus. Pairs of nine-over-six sash windows are located in the north and south elevations. The room was originally painted medium pink to which the current owners have added a wide, darker pink stripe. The Lavar Kerman Persian carpet by Karastan, woven in celadon, pinks and cream with a central medallion, was chosen for this room by the Watkins’. The 1910 Steinway studio grand piano is also original to the room. An ormolu six-arm chandelier with faceted glass drops is hung from the plaster ceiling medallion, which has an acanthus leaf design. To the left of the chimney breast is a single-leafed door opening onto the Study. On the opposite wall an opening gives on the Rear Hall. The door surrounds throughout the house have molded (cyma reversa) backband trim with an interior bead. The ceilings on the first floor in the main block are ten feet, two inches high.
Study (East Wing)
The east wing consists of a Study, Bar, Lavatory #2 and a hallway. The main volume of the east wing is unusual in that it is articulated in the Modern mode that was gaining popularity in the period, yet it was built as part of the overall Colonial Revival aesthetic of the house. While the Modern character is most pronounced on the interior treatment, it is expressed on the exterior in the large multi-light east window that reaches to the gable. The green leather-buttoned cushion on the window seat is original. In the family room, the painted brick chimney is located off-center on the west wall and is fully expressed to the height of the gable where it meets the false beamed ceiling. The firebox is unadorned and opens onto a raised hearth (the flagstones were added by the current owners). The cast-iron fireback portrays an image of Macbeth’s witches. The woodwork throughout the room is varnished with a medium-brown stain. A wet bar in the north wall is concealed behind a pair of bi-fold louvered doors. The counter is of Rojo Coralito marble. A short hallway provides access to the Bar and Lavatory #2. Lavatory #2 features a wall-length pink tiled varnished-wood console with cupboards and drawers, a pink oval drop-in basin with centerset brass faucet, a pink water closet, pink wall tile and a green and pink floor tile. A Regency Revival-style cream painted tole lantern with scrolls, leaves and tasseled drop hangs from the ceiling. The hallway terminates in a closet; to the west a door provides access to the rear terrace.
Dining Room and Kitchen
The Dining Room is found to the left upon entry. Twin shell-back (the shells are plaster) cabinets are located in the southwest and northwest corners. The cabinets have fluted pilasters and fluted keystones and appear to date from earlier in the twentieth century. They may have served as inspiration for the trim work in the living room and hall. The room features a chair rail. A single-leaf door to the Den is located at right center in the west wall and there are two windows in the south wall. A two-tier, ten-arm crystal chandelier with glass drops and bobèches hangs from the acanthus-leaf plaster ceiling medallion, identical to that of the living room. A single leaf door located off-center in the north wall leads to the Kitchen. (The interior doors are all three-quarter-inch solid wood composed of six panels.)
The kitchen retains the original cabinets. The range was originally located to the left of the door to the Hall. The room was originally painted pink and the cabinet knobs had a raised floral design. The cabinet hardware, steel-edged Formica countertop, ceiling fixture and vinyl floor tile were added by the current owners. The center of the kitchen has traditionally functioned as an eating area with a table and chairs. A single-leaf door on the east wall of the kitchen leads to the Rear Hall.
Den (West Wing) and Garage
A single-leaf door in the west wall of the Kitchen gives on the service Hall which runs north to the garage and south to the Den. Located off the Hall are a Laundry and Lavatory #1. Lavatory #1 has light-yellow wall tile, pink hexagonal floor tile and a Sherle Wagner pink and white marble console sink. The sink is fitted with Wagner’s “Empire Counter Legs” in gold plate featuring caryatids and an acanthus pattern widespread basin set with rosette handles, also in gold plate. Wagner’s “Louis XVI Towel Bar” in gold plate is installed to the right of the sink. The stair to the basement is located in the south wall of the Garage. The bays of the Garage are separated by a gypsum wallboard partition. The Den is paneled from floor to ceiling in cherry-stained wood with applied rectangular moldings. The paneling is finished with a chair rail at the height of the windows and a cyma recta crown molding. A fireplace with molded wood surround, brick facing and quarry-tile hearth is located in the center of the east wall. A molded wood keystone supports a wood mantle. A bookcase is located to the left and a door to the dining room to the right. The Den ceiling is eight feet high.
The second-floor Stair Hall’s balustrade curves to meet the enclosed attic stair. The Stair Hall runs from the north door giving on to the Porch to the south and Bath #2 at the front of the house. Two original bag chandeliers fitted with glass drops light the Stair Hall. Bath #2 features its original tile and full-length mirror encased in molding on the back of the door. Two bedrooms are located over the living room; the master bedroom (Bed Room #1 on the plans) is located over the dining room and kitchen. The en-suite Bath #1 retains its original tile, sink and water closet and both a stall shower and bathtub. The master bedroom features a Georgian-style wood fireplace mantel with molded jambs, barrel frieze and dentiled cornice. Although the proportions are different, in composition it is identical to the dining room mantle at Tulip Hill (AA:138). The Watkins House fireplace features a paneled over mantle. The surround is faced with the same pink and white marble used in Lavatory #1’s console sink. The cast iron fire back portrays an image of Medusa. A polychrome five-arm tole chandelier of entwined flowers sprouting from a basket is hung from the circular Adam-style ceiling medallion. The curtains in the master bedroom are the original pink damask selected by the Watkins’ for the living room.
The attic is accessed by a full-sized stair but is unfinished except for a cedar closet. The basement is unfinished and contains a mechanical room and a large rumpus room.
Mount Lubentia – A Short History by Andy Wallace
Mount Lubentia, erstwhile “Castle Magruder”, is one of the grand old houses of Prince Georges County. Sitting on a terraced hill above the old road from Upper Marlboro to Bladensburg , this ancestral home of the Magruder, Beall and Bowie families has been a landmark for well over two hundred years.
Ninian Beall, one of colonial Maryland’s more remarkable immigrants, obtained the original patent on the property, 1031 acres, called Largo, in 1686. In 1717 Enoch Coombs bought a part of this parcel. His daughter, Barbara, married James Magruder, and they had a son, Enoch, born in 1723. By 1739, Enoch was listed in the rent rolls as holding 125 acres of a piece called Norway, a part of Largo, and seems to have steadily acquired more land in the immediate area, as well as Harmony Hall and W antwater at Broad Creek on the Potomac, and additional land in Ann Arundel County. In short, he was a prosperous merchant and landowner, with extensive holdings.
Enoch was a member of the vestry of St. Barnabas (Brick) church in nearby Collington during the 1750s, and took out a mortgage on a “new dwelling in the Collington Hundred” in 1761 which, by family tradition, referred to Mount Lubentia. In 1765 Enoch was deeded the property by his parents. In 1771, Enoch, who must have been living elsewhere, probably at Harmony Hall, rented the property to the Reverend Jonathan Boucher, newly installed rector at St. Anne’s, by appointment of the royal Governor Eden. This probably came about through the offices of Thomas Addison of Oxon Hill, Magruder’s close neighbor, whose daughter, Eleanor, Boucher was courting at the time.
Boucher moved in, along with his pupils Jackie Custis of Mount Vernon, Charles Calvert of Mount Airy and Overton Carr of Caroline County, Virginia in December of 1771. They were immediately snowed in with a tremendous blizzard, and could not get off the property for three weeks. It was Boucher’s students who dubbed the dwelling “Castle Magruder,” described by Boucher only as a “very tolerable house.” In June Jonathan married Eleanor Addison and brought her to Castle Magruder. At this time Boucher was one of the foremost spokesmen for the Loyalist faction in America. In September of 1772 George Washington and his wife Martha came to visit her son, Jackie, and sat down to dinner with Boucher, Governor Eden and Benedict Calvert, son of Lord Baltimore. Given most of the company’s Royal connections, it must have been a lively discussion. Boucher left the property in 1774, after his life was threatened by the Patriot faction, and moved over to the Broad Creek area, where the political climate was evidently more comfortable for him. As the political climate worsened Boucher decided to return to his native land and departed, for good, to England in 1775, though he maintained a correspondence with Washington for another two decades.
In 1779, Enoch Magruder, and his wife, Meek, deeded the property to their eldest son, Dennis (born 1759) along with 929 acres, part of Norway, upon his marriage to Anne Contee. For the next half-century, Dennis Magruder lived, for the most part, at Mount Lubentia, making substantial improvements and alterations to the property, marrying three more wives ( Eliza Gossaway, 1805), Frances Fitzgerald, (1817) and Mary Ann Beard (1820) and siring 24 children. When war with Britain broke out in 1812, state records were moved from Annapolis to Upper Marlboro for safekeeping. A couple of years later, in June of 1814, these papers, as well as the county records, were moved to Mount Lubentia when the British threatened Upper Marlboro on their way to Washington, via Bladensburg. While repairing a second floor ceiling, fragments of what well may have been these papers were found to have fallen through the cracks in the attic floor!
Dennis Magruder married his last wife, Mary Ann Beard at the age of 65, and three years later they had a daughter, also named Mary Ann. A decade later, Dennis left the property to his son, Dennis, Jr., while investing his wife and daughter with life tenancy. Dennis Jr. married and moved to Missouri in 1834 , and in 1836, upon Dennis Sr.’s demise, the elder Mary Ann sold her life’s interest in Mount Lubentia to Otho Berry Beall and moved to First Street in Coxe’s Row in Georgetown, D.C. to give her only child “the advantages of the Female Institution of Mrs. Lydia C. English.” Three years later, in 1840, Mary Ann, then 17, married Otho Beall’s son, Washington J. Beall, with grand nuptials lasting a week. These festivities were recounted in a written account by Mary Ann’s daughter, Rosalie Bowie, in the early 20th century, based on her parents’ recollections. Thus the property remained in the family.
The newly wed couple settled into Woodlawn, an adjacent plantation given them by Otho Beall, and in 185 3, commenced building a new house there, in the Greek revival style. This house is now the rectory for the Riverdale Baptist Church, located on Route 202 about two miles from Mount Lubentia. Otho Beall left Mount Lubentia to his son Washington who, in 1883, sold the property to William J. Bowie, who had married his daughter Rosalie. William died shortly thereafter, in 1888, and his widow remained at the farm, which passed on her death in 1921 to her son, Washington Beall Bowie, who had married Frances Dodge, from a prominent Georgetown family. The W.B. Bowie family lived at Mount Lubentia for 55 years, raising five children in the house. Washington Bowie, who died in 1960, left the house to his wife and son, Forrest, an architect, who took a great interest in the family and architectural history of Mount Lubentia, and hoped to eventually restore the house to it’s 18th century form. Frances Dodge Bowie lived until 1975, and four years later, with the house vacant since his mother’s death, Forrest passed away., leaving the property to his widow Frances Stevenson Bowie. Mrs. Bowie carefully maintained the property until 1997, when she sold the house and 5.5 acres to Andy and Sondra Wallace who are currently restoring the house and grounds.
The earliest reference to the present house is contained in the 1798 Tax assessment. It describes a two story brick dwelling, 48′ x 37′, with a brick passage and 32′ square kitchen adjoining the house, along with numerous brick and frame outbuildings. The assessment notes that the house was being worked on inside. The valuation was $1500, one of only four houses in the Collington and Western Hundreds valued at over $1000.
Was this the house that Enoch Magruder built ca. 1761, undergoing alterations by his son Dennis, or a later structure that Dennis built? As with most early dwellings, absent a written record, the answer is uncertain. The brick structure, laid in Flemish bond, with rubbed brick jack arches over all the windows, and a high molded water table, could have been built anytime during the second half of the 18th century. Original grade appears to have been about 8-9 inches lower than present and the basement windows were three brick courses larger with vertical wooden bars, shown in the earliest photos. There are shadow lines on either side of the entryway indicating that there were, at one time columns applied to the brick, possibly part of a portico of some type. The windows are 6 over 9 double hung sash on the first floor and 6 over 6 on the second floor, which would indicate a late 18th or early 19th century date for the sash. Some of the original glass is intact. The floor plan is classic Georgian, with a center hall, flanked by rooms on either side, with the unusual feature of a curved staircase, occupying the entire right side of the entranceway, where a small room would ordinarily be located. This staircase is light and graceful and has federal features which would date it to the 1 790s. There is an archway separating the front hall from the rear. Front and back doors are aligned, but off center in the hall. The left edges of the trim are clipped at the capitals. All of the first floor rooms have wainscoting and federal style mantles, with no two rooms detailed the same. There is however a definite hierarchy of these public spaces with the two rear rooms, apparently a drawing room with glass doored cabinets flanking the fireplace to the left and the dining room containing the largest and most elaborate mantle, on the right. The dining room is serviced by a back hall, located under the stair landing, with doors leading to the front hall, the basement (where a winter kitchen was located), and to the porch in front of the kitchen passage. This passage was clearly intended for servants= use, rather than the public. It is much more simply trimmed. All downstairs walls are plastered above the chair rails and there is no evidence of cornice moldings. Taken as a whole, the house appears to be Federal in style, with some trim elements possibly dating to an earlier period.
The kitchen described disappeared during the 19th century, and the passage seems to have been expanded into a more formal room early in the 19th century, possibly the plantation office. This became evident during restoration when the remains of the old passage wall were found under the floor. It also became evident that the common wall between the main house and the passage was originally an exterior wall with Flemish bond and finely tooled joints, and that the passage was added to join the kitchen to the main house, after the two buildings had stood separately. This is also evidenced by the fact that the bricks do not line up in the rear (west). This would seem to indicate, as was often the case, that the house developed in stages, over time, rather than being built as a unit. Further evidence surfaced of early alterations when I was restoring the dining room, located off the right rear of the stair hall, leading to the passage. This room underwent a major rebuilding in the late 18th or early 19th century, when there was a major structural failure of the brickwork over one of the windows. In fact, it is likely that all of the first floor rooms were finished, or remodeled at different times in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The second story contains three bedrooms, all with federal mantles, chair rails and simple trim. The large hall space continues the hierarchy of the downstairs hall. The door casings are stepped, but contain two different architraves for the front and back doors. There is a small room at the back of the hall, which may have been added early on. This was converted to a bathroom in the 20th century. A door in the right rear bedroom leads to the back service stairs, descending to the old passage. It is likely that this door was added when the roof to the addition was raised early in the 20th century. This bedroom, like the dining room below it, has the west (window) wall firred out and lathed with split lath and forged nails. It also had interior shutters, the only room on the second floor with this feature, although all of the first floor rooms have shutters. The mantle in this room is also elaborate and very similar stylistically to the one in the room below it. These two mantles are quite different than the others, obviously done by a different hand and, presumably, at a different time. The third floor was converted to living space in the 1920s, and a decade earlier, the passage addition was raised to a full two stories from its earlier loft configuration.
Mount Lubentia retains a remarkable amount of its 18th century materials and detailing. It has, of course, undergone many changes over two centuries of day-to-day living. Besides early alterations, the house underwent at least two major periods of work. When the Bowies reoccupied the property, after a shadowy period of almost 50 years, from 1840 to 1883, the house was reputedly in ruinous condition. The earliest photos of the place show that the entire northeast comer had collapsed and been rebuilt. Large Victorian style porches were added to the front and back at this time, and new floors were laid in large parts of the house. As mentioned, major work was also done in the teens and twenties of the 20th century. With all of this work, however, great respect was shown for the original building, and it remains an extraordinary example of a Georgian-Federal plantation house.
The Grounds and Outbuildings
While little remains of the 18th century landscaping at Mount Lubentia, the grounds contain a wonderful variety of old plantings, some dating back over 100 years. Foundations oflong vanished outbuildings are scattered throughout the property, and an early 19th century com dryer survives, which has been converted into an office/shop. In 1971, Forrest Bowie moved a unique 18th century octagonal dairy house from Graden, a Berry family plantation demolished when USAir Arena was built, and it remains on the grounds, and is now undergoing restoration. In 1931, Forrest Bowie, then 16, executed a detailed drawing of the grounds of Mount Lubentia, noting all of the plantings in what was then a showcase Colonial Revival garden. The original is in the archives of the Prince George’s County Historical Society. The plan has proved invaluable in restoring elements of the garden.
Mount Lubentia – Tree List
Nellie Stevens holly
English plane tree
Rose of Sharon Iolanthus
Barberry ( several kinds) Mock orange
Bridle wreath spirea Spirea
The Graden Dairy House at Mount Lubentia
Among the significant outbuildings still standing on the grounds of Mount Lubentia is an octagonal eighteenth century dairy house, now sitting about 50 yards north of the house and in ruinous condition. The dairy house was originally located at Graden, a Berry family plantation several miles north of Mount Lubentia; it is listed there in the 1798 Federal Tax Assessment for Prince George’s (P.G.) County1 In the 1970s Forrest Bowie, then owner of Mount Lubentia, moved the dairy house from Graden at the time when the US Air Arena was being built on the Graden site. (The Arena has now been replaced by the Boulevard at Cap Center shopping mall.)
The dairy house move was executed in two stages five years apart. The wooden structure itself was moved in November 1970. For unknown reasons, it was not until 1975 that the brick foundation and floor of the structure were taken apart and moved to Mount Lubentia, where the bricks have been stored ever since. Both the 1970 move and the 1975 removal of the brick foundation were documented with photographs by Forrest Bowie; copies of the photos are appended to this report. Also appended are Forrest Bowie’s drawings of the drain system in the floor of the structure, and papers related to the transfer of the building to Mount Lubentia.
The National Register of Historic Places listing for Mount Lubentia, in its description of the property (by P .G. County historian Susan Pearl) notes, “Also on the property and of significance in and of itself is the octagonal frame dairy which was moved onto the property in the 1970s. The dairy is the best surviving example of an architecturally conscious domestic outbuilding of the 18th century in the county, and possibly in the state.”2 A recent article in Colonial Williamsburg magazine, discussing dairy and milk houses in the Tidewater region, features the Graden dairy as an outstanding example of its kind. 3 John Michael Vlach states in Back of the Big House, ” … dairy buildings were exceptional elements in the built landscape. A dairy was thus an architectural emblem signaling the wealth of the planter class.”4 The Graden dairy fits this description and is unusual in several respects – in its shape, in its degree of finish, and notably in its asymmetrical, shuttered and latticed window openings.
It is this last feature of the Graden dairy that most puzzles me. Why , in a building with a high degree of sophistication, built during a period when exterior symmetry was so important, are the window openings sandwiched into the corners of the sides, with one opening missing altogether? Why for that matter are there windows, instead of the usual long horizontal openings with slats or latticework? The window placement is dictated by the way in which the frame was built. The fact that the principal vertical supports, or posts, were located in the middle of each side, rather than at the corners, dictated that the window openings would have to be offset, rather than centered on the sides. But why was this post placement chosen? This is not typical practice in post and beam construction. Normally the posts would be located in the corners of the octagon, particularly since the main cross beams rest on the plates at the corners, not at the midpoint of the sides. I have never encountered a structure framed in the manner. Is it a result of local building practice, a technique that originated in a particular area of England where the joiner or his ancestors came from, or is it simply the whim of a particular builder? As to windows rather than high horizontal openings, there are a few precedents for this. Olmert in his article gives a couple of examples and Vlach a sites a notable dairy with windows at Folly Plantation, Augusta County, Virginia. Closer to home, Orlando Ridout of the Maryland Historical Trust sent me a photo several years ago of a small outbuilding, similar to the Graden dairy, in Sandy Springs, Montgomery County, Maryland. But the windows in these buildings are all symmetrical.
The Graden dairy house is a frame structure, octagonal in shape, twelve feet across with an eave overhang of one foot, for an outside diameter of fourteen feet. It is sheathed with wide southern pine boards, beaded and lapped, which range from ten to fifteen inches in width. Each side is five feet long and eight feet from eave to foundation. The dairy has latticed windows with exterior board and batten shutters on six sides (Photos DH 7, 13, 22) and one completely sheathed side, with a door, opening inward, centered in the remaining side. The windows are offset rather than being centered on the sides to accommodate the principal posts, which are at the midpoint of each side (DH 37), providing principal support for the top plates. Posts are joined to sills and plates with mortise and tenon joints. Studs are tenoned into the top plates and nailed to the sills. Sills are also joined with pegged mortise and tenons.
The building was originally nogged with brick and plastered inside.
The ceiling structure is quite elaborate, with two heavy cross beams or girts, which are lapped at the center and joined (m &t) with four horizontal struts about 16″ out from the center. Twelve ceiling joists extend from these struts to the ends of the eaves (DH 24, 27). Girts and joists lapped onto the plates, but not fastened with pegs or nails (DH 19), and support the roof.
where water was carried in from a nearby well and poured into a trough containing crocks of milk that ran around the perimeter of the dairy floor. This would seem to describe the construction of the Graden dairy floor.
The ceiling was lathed and plastered inside the quadrants of the principal beams, leaving about two inches of the cross beams exposed. These exposed surfaces were beaded on the comers
The roof rafters extend from the top of a central post, which is mortised into the cross beams and secured with a wrought iron strap wrapped around the beams. (DH 26) The roof rafters are nailed to the central post at the top (DH 28) and extend to the ends of the ceiling rafters where they are nailed to false plates which sit on the ends of the joists and beams. (DH 17, 23,
25).There are rafters at each comer and in the middle of each section for a total of sixteen rafters. The roof was sheathed with riven oak boards, overlapped at the comers and spaced for wood shakes. (DH 23, 28). The original roof had been replaced at least two times, as there were both wrought and cut nails remaining in the sheathing boards. An asphalt shingle roof was in place when the building was moved in 1970.
The structure originally sat about a foot and a half above grade over a brick pit with drain which was 38 inches below the sills (DH 8, 9, 10). A wide, lapped shelf of pine boards, now mostly rotted, sat on top of the sills around seven sides of the building (DH 14, 15), and a shelf, hanging down about 30 inches, was suspended from the principal cross beams DH 36, 37, 38). Almost all of the structural elements of the dairy house are original (see appendix B), including framing, siding, roof sheathing, hardware and nails, but significant sections are rotted or missing.
The Graden dairy is currently (January 2006) in the process of stabilization and restoration. New sills of pressure-treated yellow pine have been installed, and missing or damaged framing elements are being duplicated or repaired. These include two of the posts and one of the plates, as well as sections of several ceiling joists. In each case wood of the same species as the original has been used . (See Appendix B) Structural epoxy has also been used to repair sections of beams, plates, joists, studs and posts. Windows with their lattice and shutters and the door have been removed and stored until they are restored and reinstalled. The roof rafters and post have also been removed and stored. Several of the rafters need to be repaired or replaced, but the post and strap securing it are in good shape and will be reinstalled. (See photos DH40-67)
The building now sits on concrete piers, awaiting relocation this spring to a different site on the property a few yards north and west of its current location. This will place the dairy at the end of an allee of American boxwoods on an axis with the rear porch.
The complete restoration of the Graden dairy is a long range project. Elements of the restoration, i.e. rebuilding of the foundation and brick floor with drains, and the replastering of the interior, will be dependent on obtaining grants to accomplish the work. The short range goal is stabilization, and restoring the exterior of the frame structure to its original appearance. The following tasks will be undertaken in the next year or so:
1. Moving the structure to a site north and west of its current placement and placing it on concrete piers for further work.
2. Rebuilding of the roof structure using existing parts and replacements of like material.
3. Installation of a wood shingle roof by a roofing contractor specializing in historic structures. Bids are being obtained.
4. Repair and reinstallation of the window frames and shutters, including reproduction of missing or damaged HL hinges.
5. Replacement of siding, eaves and soffits with new material of the same form and dimensions. Poplar boards are currently being air dried for this purpose by the owner, and will be lapped and beaded as the originals. Original wrought nails, salvaged from the building, will be used to attach this material whenever possible.
6. Painting the structure with white paint to duplicate appearance in 1970, when it was moved to Mount Lubentia.
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