Prince George's Heritage





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Historic Places in Prince George’s County

12 Priority Endangered Historic Places for 2008

A 2008 accounting compiled by Prince George’s Heritage,
Prince George’s County Historical and Cultural Trust, and Prince George’s Historical Society

Beacon Hill (Marbury Heights), Upper Marlboro

82A-000-37 5905 Old Crain Highway

Built in 1899—Beacon Hill (Marbury Heights) is a large frame farmhouse with hip and gable roof, Colonial Revival in style. It is distinguished by pedimented gable ends, dentillated cornices, and a projecting bay set diagonally at one corner. The house was built in 1899 for Alexander Marshall Marbury. From 1938 to 1991, Beacon Hill was the home of Judge Charles Clagett Marbury, the second generation of the family. Beacon Hill is a somewhat unusual example of a popular local house form; it is a prominent landmark on the old road south of Upper Marlboro.

Status: Currently unoccupied, the rear wing gutted was by fire in 2007. Developer and redevelopment plans are unknown.

Congressional District 5 - Legislative District 27A - Council District 9

St. Joseph’s Chapel (Ammendale Normal Institute), Beltsville

60-007(NR) 6011 Ammendale Road

Built in 1880—St. Joseph’s Chapel is a front-gabled brick chapel with ornate Queen Anne detail. Jigsawn vergeboards adorn the eaves of the principal gable front, the gothic-arch windows are filled with stained glass, and the interior walls and ceilings are sheathed with pressed tin in a pattern of fleurs-de-lis, palmettes, and a rich, multicourse cornice. The chapel was built in 1880 on the grounds of the then newly established Ammendale Normal Institute. It is an outstanding example of Queen Anne style ecclesiastical architecture. A large cemetery adjoins the chapel.

Status: Boarded up and all but abandoned, signs of deterioration of the metal roofs, masonry and wood trim (parts of the decorative vergeboards are now falling apart) are increasing on the outside of the structure. The Christian Brothers maintain the adjacent cemetery.

Congressional District 5 - Legislative District 21 - Council District 1

7 Forest Way, Greenbelt

67-not listed 7 Forest Way

Built in 1938, this experimental prefabricated Modern home is the last of seven built in the Parkbelt subdivision at the edge of the National Historic District. It is the only one which remains recognizable, retaining its original flat roof lines and steel windows. Designed by Howard T. Fisher and built by General Houses, Inc., the panelized roof and walls, and tubular steel frame are bolted to a concrete slab.

Status: The structure has been vacant for several years and deceased owner’s family has recently listed it for sale. As land values have escalated dramatically, neighbors are concerned that future owners will demolish this unique structure to make way for a larger home.

Congressional District 5 - Legislative District 22 - Council District 4

Compton Bassett, Upper Marlboro vicinity

79-063-10 16508 Marlboro Pike

Built in 1780s—Compton Bassett is a two-story, hip-roof, stucco-covered brick plantation house with projecting pavilion, pilastered frontispiece, and fine interior detail. On the grounds are two brick dependency buildings and a unique surviving brick chapel. Compton Bassett was built for Clement Hill, and remains the home of his descendants to the present day. It is significant for its elegant Federal style detail, its rare surviving dependencies, and the prominence of the Hill family in the Marlboro area.

Status: Reportedly up for sale, the site is currently in a state of managed neglect The property of about 60 acres includes dependencies and the chapel.

Congressional District 5 -  Legislative District 23B -  Council District 6

Butler House, Oxon Hill

76A-014 (NR) 6403 Oxon Hill Road

Built circa 1850-The Butler House is a two-story frame house with a one-story shed-roof kitchen attached; it is sheathed in a modern formstone veneer. The house was originally built to serve as both dwelling and post office; it became the home in 1853 of Henry Alexander Butler, a free black man from Charles County, and the property remains in the possession of his descendants. This modest house is in severely deteriorating condition, but is an important example of the progress of a free black family in the mid-nineteenth century.

Status: On last year’s list – no change. As no progress is made toward its preservation, perhaps documentation of this significant structure in African American history should be conducted immediately as demolition-by-neglect has nearly undermined possible restoration efforts.

Congressional District 4 - Legislative District 26 - Council District 8

Washington Gas gasworks facility, Chillum

65-not listed Chillum Road

This early 20th Century gasworks site embodies an important industrial process, supplying natural gas to the surrounding neighborhoods in the District and the county. At 250 feet in length, and composed of a side gabled standing-seam metal roof on massive brick masonry piers with large banks of industrial steel windows between ,it is a substantial industrial structure and appears in maintained condition.

Status: Hidden from view by security fences, gates and stands of scrubby trees, this wonderful early 20th C. gas works plant may be removed in favor of Liquefied Petroleum Gas storage tanks. A battle currently being waged by Chillum resident and advocates has at least stalled the construction of a new gas facility here, but no proposed alternatives have been presented if and when an alternative site is selected. Documentation and interpretation of, and education about our industrial heritage are important aspect of preservation today.

This site has excellent educational potential and its proximity to Sligo Creek would present a model “brown fields” restoration opportunity.

Congressional District 8 - Legislative District 47 - Council District 2

Gwynn Park, T.B. (Brandywine)

85A-013 8118 Grayden Lane

Built in 1857—Gwynn Park is a two-story, side-gabled brick house with Georgian plan and a decorative cornice composed of courses of molded corbelled bricks. The interior exhibits Greek Revival style trim and there is a one-story kitchen wing at one end. A small frame meat house, slightly older than the house, stands on the grounds. Gwynn Park was built in 1857 for William H. Gwynn, to replace the house destroyed by fire earlier that year. It is a noticeable local landmark and is significant for its unique cornice treatment.

Status: Up for sale. A recent article suggests the property has only been stabilized and is in poor condition relative to the asking price, a significant encumbrance to its sale. At the center of the Hampton[s] subdivision, the [minimal] 1.14 acre site, reserved from the 700 acre Gwynn estate by agreement between the developer and the county HPC is another significant example of the need for more effective policies which protect environmental settings, and promote and encourage good preservation practices in the development of suburban housing communities.

Congressional District 5 - Legislative District 27A - Council District 9

Mt. Nebo A.M.E. Church, Queen Anne

74B-010 17214 Queen Anne Road

Built in 1925—Mount Nebo is a one-story, gable-roof frame meetinghouse style church, with centered pyramidal-roof entry tower. Immediately to the north is a small cemetery with gravestones from the early twentieth century. Mount Nebo was built to replace the 1877 chapel which, together with the adjacent 1875 schoolhouse, had become the focal point for the local African-American community. Mount Nebo Church exemplifies the long history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in this rural area.

Status: Largely abandoned by the Mt. Nebo congregation now worshipping in a new church building approximately on mile north, the building is in a state of disuse and severe disrepair. The roofing is failing, significant water damage is evident, and it is unsecured.

Congressional District 5 - Legislative District 23B - Council District 6

Grimes House and Store, Aquasco

87B-036-16 22609 Aquasco Road

Built circa 1800 and circa 1850—The Grimes House is a 1˝-story, gable-roof frame house built in two sections, with roof lines of varying pitch. A handsome bracketed Victorian porch ties the two sections together. The oldest (south) section was probably built circa 1800 for the Rawlings family, and was later (after 1850) enlarged by the construction of the adjoining north section. Since 1910 it has been the home of the Grimes family, who operated the nearby store and undertaker’s establishment. The house is an interesting example of expansion of a modest dwelling.

Status: The house and store are unoccupied and in severely deteriorated condition.

Congressional District 5 - Legislative District 27A - Council District 9

Craufurd Cabins (Bacon Hall), Upper Marlboro

Not listed

These tenant dwellings, possibly slave dwellings, of unusually sturdy construction (two story, wood frame with brick nogging) stand on the Bacon Hall plantation of the Craufurd and Sasscer families. A preliminary field review by historians suggests that these rare and fragile survivors may provide significant information about slave and/or tenant housing and lifeways, though their precise age and period are as yet to be determined.

Status: The site and buildings remain unprotected and steadily degrading ruins.  Considering their fragility and significance, at a minimum a Phase 1 archaeological investigation and HABS type documentation should be undertaken before these structures collapse. Further, their existence suggests the possibility of a larger complex of agricultural and domestic outbuildings which could be revealed.

Congressional District 5 -  Legislative District 27A -  Council District 9

Melwood Park, Upper Marlboro vicinity

78-015 (NR) 10908 Old Marlboro Pike

Built circa 1750 and circa 1800—Melwood Park is a 2˝-story stuccoed brick building with gable roof of uneven pitch and original window sashes of 16/16 lights. Interior decorative detail reflects both the colonial and Federal periods, and includes particularly fine paneled walls and reveals. Melwood Park was built circa 1750 by Ignatius Digges, and raised to its present irregular two stories by his widow circa 1800. This unique dwelling was visited by George Washington on several occasions, and the British Army camped near here during their march on Washington in August 1814. Melwood Park is of exceptional historical and architectural importance.

Status: In severely deteriorated condition, this important site was only recently secured from vandalism with fencing and vented protective window coverings. After years of neglect, the owner has finally contracted with a prominent restoration architect, and there is hope that work will begin soon.

Congressional District 4 - Legislative District 25 - Council District 6

The Historic Town of Bladensburg

69-005 (Historic Community)

Founded in 1742,the Town of Bladensburg was a thriving port focused on agricultural trade, primarily tobacco. Witness to both the American Revolution and a battle of the War of 1812, it was also the site of the first unmanned balloon launch in America and an early therapeutic spa which was frequented by members of the U.S. Congress. The history of the town is important to understanding the evolution of agriculture, commerce, industry and urbanization in the veil of the nation’s capital.

Status: The historic Town of Bladensburg is embodied in six remaining 18th and 19th century sites: Bostwick, the Market Masters House, the Magruder House, St. Paul’s Baptist Church, the George Washington House and the Dueling Grounds. Over time the historic infrastructure: streets and roads and the waterfront, have all been virtually erased in favor of “progress” in the form of industrial development and public services aimed at easing regional transportation and storm water management, and providing recreation at the expense of the historic town center which connected these sites. In recent County Sector Planning processes, the historic core has been given only cursory attention; no funded plan or mandate to create a pedestrian/visitor focused historic precinct has been proposed.

Of greatest immediate concern is the impact of the installation of the new CSX railroad bridge. Besides further dividing these resources and separating them from the Anacostia, collateral damage is evident. Passing on feet behind St. Paul’s Baptist Church (included in the past three Endangered lists), the bridge installation has contributed significantly its deterioration. No assistance as yet has been offered in its stabilization by jurisdiction or transportation authorities.

If this significant colonial and federal town, and battle site is to be remembered as anything other than a suburban cross road, then the Port Towns, County and State must commit immediately to purposefully creating a comprehensive visitor experience. At this propitious moment, as we prepare for the War of 1812 Bicentennial, the plan must recognize that important past and integrate it into a long term preservation and restoration plan which will revitalize history in the Port Towns, promote tourism, and permanently link and unify site visitation experience so that this nationally significant heritage site may be explored long after the celebration has past.

Congressional District 4 - Legislative District 47 - Council District 5

 * Denotes listing as one of the 12 Endangered Historic Places in Prince George’s County in 2005

 + Denotes listing as one of the Endangered Historic Places in Prince George’s County in 2006


© 2008-2011 Prince George's Heritage
Last modified: 10/03/11