The Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage Tour

For a real treat, set aside May 5th for the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage Tour. Prince George’s County is only on the tour about every 10 years, according to the flyer. The boat trip and the lunch require reservations be made before 4/28/07, so be sure to visit the website for instructions. Other counties are involved as well, on other dates, so visit here for more information.

$25 covers the whole tour (or you can pay $10 per house), but wow — what you get for $25! There are 9 sites on the tour (and a guided pontoon boat trip). For an additional $15, there is a Southern Maryland Buffet at St. Thomas’ Parish Hall.

1. BOWIEVILLE, 522 Church Road. Situated on a high point in the “Forest” of Prince George’s County, Bowieville was built 1819/20 for Mary Bowie Wootton Bowie, twice-widowed daughter of Governor Robert Bowie. In establishing this grand home for her nine minor children, she created the most sophisticated late Federal period house in the County. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Bowieville has been fully restored to its former beauty and prominence.

2. GROVEHURST, 14307 Delcastle Drive. A local building supplier, Fred Watkins, and his wife Frances, built Grovehurst in 1961 in an earlier Federal style. The property abuts the famous Belt Woods, where the avian density is one of the highest observed on the East Coast and where both the threatened Glade Fern and endangered Wister’s Coralroot grow.

3. MOUNT LUBENTIA, 603 Largo Road. Mount Lubentia is one of the grand old houses of Prince George’s County. It stands on a terraced hill above the old road from Upper Marlboro to Bladensburg. For well over 200 years it was home to many generations of the Magruder-Beall-Bowie families. In the years before the Revolution the property was rented by Jonathan Boucher, the Tory Anglican minister at St. Barnabas’ Church, who preached to his Rebel congregation with loaded pistols at hand. Mount Lubentia, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is situated on five acres of landscaped grounds, all that remains of the original thousand-acre plantation. Many of the present plantings date to the first half of the twentieth century, reflecting what was once a showcase Colonial Revival garden.

4. GOOD LUCK, 12502 Brooke Lane. Built in 1790 and enlarged in 1840, Good Luck was known as Oakland when built by the Clagett family and later owned by the Brooke family. It is a two-story, gable-roof frame house in three telescoping sections. Situated on a high hill, this elegant home, furnished with a blend of antique and contemporary furnishings and art, is surrounded by ancient oaks, chestnuts, sycamores and massive English boxwood.

5. PATUXENT FARM, 4700 Old Crain Highway. The core of this house – the one-room Patuxent Elementary School – built in 1903 to serve farm children east of Upper Marlboro, had neither electricity nor plumbing. The Robert Hall family, to whom it reverted in 1926, added three rooms to create a residence—an early example of adaptive-reuse. A second story expanded the house in 1933 and in 1938, a Colonial Revival living room wing was added. A 1974 addition included a Neo-Classical dining room, garden room, and terrace. The smokehouse still functions and outbuildings have been adapted to modern life on these former farmlands of the 18th century Clement Hill. Sixty-year-old boxwoods on both east and west sides of the house are descendants of old local boxwoods. The current owners live with an eclectic mix of European and American furnishings, including 19th century Baltimore furniture.

6. ST THOMAS’ EPISCOPAL PARISH CHURCH, 14300 St. Thomas Church Road. The most tranquilly picturesque church in Prince George’s County, St. Thomas’ is listed in The National Register of Historic Places.

7. WEST END FARM, 10709 Croom Road. Standing on a hillside on a 10-acre rural property, the West End Farm house still offers a glimpse of its history as the nucleus of a larger plantation. The house is representative of the County’s most typical mid-19th-century dwelling: a main block of wood frame construction, with side-hall-and-double-parlor plan and Greek Revival style decorative detail. The present owners enjoy the wide stone terraces in the side yard which serve both as an outdoor entertainment area and as a cascading walkway to an enclosed pool area.

8. MAGNOLIA KNOLL, 17414 Nottingham Road. Magnolia Knoll, also known as the Turton-Smith House, is a small early-to-mid-19th century vernacular dwelling, well situated on the picturesque Patuxent River in the former town of Nottingham . The owner’s collection of antique furnishings and paintings create a cozy atmosphere in this former waterman’s dwelling.

9. MOUNT CALVERT, 16302 Mount Calvert Road. At the present time, Mount Calvert is the centerpiece of Mount Calvert Historical and Archaeological Park. The house now exhibits a trove of archaeological finds from the site, representing over 8000 years of Native American, Euro-American and African-American culture. Weather permitting, site work may be observed on the day of the tour. Artifact collecting is strictly prohibited.

9a. A GUIDED PONTOON BOAT TRIP ON THE PATUXENT RIVER. Departing from a landing at Mount Calvert, naturalists and historians from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission will take pre-arranged groups on a special narrated boat tour along the beautiful freshwater tidal marshes of the upper Patuxent River and nearby Western Branch. The Western Branch and Patuxent are home to a rich variety of aquatic plants and wildlife, including the Great Blue Heron, the Least Bittern, and the Sora Rail. Several boats will be operating and tours will depart approximately every half hour from 10:00 until 4:00. Advance reservations are REQUIRED to guarantee a seat and may be made up to Saturday, April 28th through Donna Schneider at 301-952-8539 or donna.schneider@juno.com.

© 2007 Susan Pruden.

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