St. Mary's County
In some counties in Maryland you can find what 17th century life must have been like just minutes from the most traveled roads. St. Mary's County is one of these remote areas. Different attractions draw people here each year, yet it stays primarily historic and pristine. You may enjoy learning from the Naval Air Test and Evaluation Museum at Patuxent Naval Air Base or about the Civil War from the Old Jail Museum at Point Lookout State Park with its marvelous camping area and beaches or about crafts at Cecil's Mill and Christmas County Store.
Historic St. Mary's City was the first proprietary colony in America and the first capital of Maryland. It remains much as it was with an old style tavern, called Farthings' Kitchen. Its long tables with benches and its bedroom with rope beds were typical in colonial times. Split rail fences and open fields show the countryside around the city, fairly much as it was all those centuries ago. Graves and lead coffins of the original Calverts were found there recently. Most of the forensic evidence, archaeologists hoped to find inside, however, was destroyed when the coffins were opened to the air.
St. Mary's City is actually a small town with St. Mary's College, a post office, Trinity Episcopal Church and a cluster of museum buildings there. It is the only early English settlement that is relatively undisturbed. Some of the oldest buildings are favorites of archaeologists. Tolle-Tabbs (1750) and Van Sweringen (1600s) are practically reconstructed. St. John's (1638) and the Leonard Calvert House (1635), have the original foundations exposed. Stop at the Visitors Center of Historic St. Mary's City adjacent to the campus. For information on current digs and displays call 800-327-1634.
Tudor Hall - St. Mary's CountyTudor Hall
Near the river in Leonardtown, with an entrance branching off from the main road is Tudor Hall, known far and wide as the ancestral home of the Key family. This Colonial dwelling was built circa 1769 by Abraham Barnes. When he died in 1800 he specified that his three hundred slaves be freed on condition that they take his name, A Mr. Mason of Virginia,the next owner, sold the house to Philip Key, uncle of Francis Scott Key, author of "The Star Spangled Banner." In 1848, it was purchased by Mary Patterson Davidson and donnated to the citizens of St. Mary's County for use as a public library. This WAR of 1812 site now serves as the research library for the St. Mary's County Historical Society's bookstore with books on genealogy and local regional history. Unusual features of the house are the inset porticao, the main hall's hanging staircase and a "triple fireplace" in the kitchen. The portico has four loarge pillars of white plastered brick and is set in five feet. A few steps lead up to the charming leaded door which opens into the hall. A staircase, on the right, rising in a sweeping curve immediately before the entrance, is well conceived and beautifully executed. The laarge and well lighted rooms on the ground floor have fireplaces and simple mantels. A central medallion of plaster adorns the ceilings of the central hall. The kitchen is a replica constructed after 1920. In the rear of Tudor Hall a lofty yew tree towers over the roof. It is one of the oldest of its kind inMaryland. The grounds slope down to the river, distant only a few hundred yards. To the right of the Hall and about a quarter of a mile away is the private graveyard of the Barnes family. Legend has it that on moonlit nights the ghost of Joseph Key takes his ease on the porch in a rocking chair. If one should not be available, Mr Key marches into the house and gets himself a rocker, takes it to the porch and sets it down with a vindictive bang. Then he slowly seats himself and rocks serenely to and fro in the moonlight.
Open Tuesday - Friday, 9 AM-4PM. The Research Center is open Thursday-Friday, 11AM-4PM and on 2nd and 4th Saturdays, 10 AM-4PM. St. Mary's County Historical Society Website
Sotterley Plantation was named for Sotterley Hall, the family seat of the Satterlees, circa 1066 in Suffolk, England. They were expelled in 1471 from Sotterley Hall for supporting the House of Lancaster in the Wars of the Roses. A family with the name of Playter took the house. Satterlee descendants bought Maryland's Sotterley centuries later after it had been owned and lost by descendants of the same Playters. The building has an ancient fairy tale look with roofs steeply declining to a sharp curving. In unique Tidewater Architecture, four chimneys divide it into cottage-like proportions.
James Bowles purchased a portion of Resurrection Manor in 1710 and built the center of the house where the present sitting room and stairway hall exist. The framing he used was crude but he reinforced it, and a portion of the sturdy cedar post construction is visible today inside the west wall. Bowles had plans for further remodeling. They were carried out when his widow married George Plater in 1729. Her husband served Maryland as collector of customs, member of governor's council and Provincial Secretary.
The estate remained in the Plater family for nearly a century and through four generations of George Platers. George Plater III expanded the house to its present size. As naval officer of the Patuxent, member of the Maryland House of Delegates, member of the Continental Congress, President of the Maryland Senate and Sixth Governor of Maryland, he was Sotterley's most distinguished resident. He was possibly buried on the estate's grounds. One of his daughters married Francis Scott Key's uncle in the garden on the Fourth of July. Her scrawled signature, "Eliz Key" is on a pane of glass in the drawing room window.
A story told by a slave, Harriet Brown, concerns a woodcarver named Richard Boulton. Boulton, an indentured servant, employed himself by drawing a model of the proposed staircase. When his master saw the fine ingenuity of the drawing of the Chinese Chippendale stair, he said that anyone who could do such work should be a free man.
George Plater, the builder's grandson, lost Sotterley in a game of chance to Colonel Sommerville. His sale in 1822 brought the mansion into the hands of Thomas Barber and step daughter Emeline Dallam who marred Dr. Walter Brisco in 1826, beginning another century of ownership by one family.
Finally came the Satterlees. In 1910, Herbert Satterlee, a New York lawyer, bought Sotterley as a retreat from Washington where he was serving as Under Secretary of the Navy. He studied its history, restored it to its 18th century appearance and underpinned the structure. Between 1910 and 1940, he, his wife and two daughters lived without central heat and electricity, used the 18th century garden privy and carried candles in order to preserve its authenticity.
The house is open to the public June 1 to Sept 30. Phone 301-373 2280.
Hale House, a new bed and breakfast in St. Mary's County is near Point Look Out in Scotland. The spacious house, which looks out on a panoramic waterview, was built on the old Hall Plantation, noted in Regina Hammett's History of St. Mary's County. Steamboats docked at this location at one time. The Hales have owned all of the property since 1957 and built the present house with its decks near the Bay, where guests may dock.and enjoy the sunset from the balcony overlooking the living room. This open room contains a beautiful Oriental screen with soaring herons. A family room to the right of the foyer and living room is cozy for guests. Three guest rooms nearby have private baths. The first room has a large double bed and is very spacious with a mini kitchen, while the second room has two double beds for hunters or families. The third room is a suite with an adjacent alcove, containing a single bed and bath. Each room contains a television and one has a VCR. A luxurious pool and golf tees are available.
Innkeeper: Renie Hale. Three with baths and TV. Swimming, golf putting. Near Point Lookout State Park, St. Mary's City
Trent Hall Farm and B¦ - St. Mary's CountyTrent Hall Farm and B&B
Three distinguishing characteristics of Trent Hall Farm in historic St. Mary's County are its age, 1789, the fact that it is still a working farm and its island-like location. Surrounded on nearly all sides by water, this beautiful property covers 500 acres along with adjacent Washington Creek Farm.The original 2200 acre plat was granted to Major Thomas Truman in 1658 by Lord Calvert, and the land was owned by the Brisco and Thomas families for years. In July of 1814, 500 British troops arrived on its shores, according to The War of 1812 in THE CHESAPEAKE, in pursuit of a traitor's property. They then went on to burn Washington.
The house was built in 1789 by John DeButts, who is pictured in the master bedroom. The farm was purchased by the Virts and Bailey families in 1955,and your hosts, Nancy and Henry Virts will greet you warmly after you turn right on Trent Hill Farm Road just a few miles off Rt. 6 near Mechanicsville. Bud, who was Secretary of Agriculture, is a retired locally loved veterinarian, while Nancy is a retired, widely traveled occupational therapist. You may enter the inn casually through the original kitchen with its beamed ceiling and large hearth, which was once twice the present size with two swinging cranes for cooking until a fire occurred. Since colonial homes were one room thick to catch the cross breezes, you can look out on fields or on the lovely Patuxent River from the kitchen or dining room through a charming screened porch. Some guests choose to have their continental breakfast with fresh fruit and yogurt on this spacious porch. Others like the formality of the dining room with its gracious oval table, spinning wheel and candlelit fireplace. It is entrancing especially in winter when Eggs Benedict and English muffins with jams from the Amish might be served.
From the kitchen or dining room, a staircase, once the old servants stair, takes you up to a guest room which has two double beds that were once rope beds. Here a lovely glass case displays the Virts' own antique toys. The private bath has a washstand and shower with gold fixtures. Each guest room looks out on the water on one side and fields on the other. The rooms on the other side of the house can be a suite. The master bedroom with queen bed offers a bath with a tub and a small bedroom down the hall, which could be used as a sitting room or room for another couple.
Most rooms are graced by antique Oriental rugs and fascinating art work. An original print of All Faith Parish Church nearby, founded in 1767 and paintings by the Egelis, famous local portrait artists are remarkable. Coral tones in the hallway setoff these works with verve and the grand piano lends convivial charm. Enjoy the spacious porch with its hammock and rockers, looking out on Nancy's glorious gardens replete with fragrant Day and Asian lilies. This inn offers a sense of paradise with many touches of genuine historic importance, not to be missed.
INNKEEPERS: Bud and Nancy Verts. ADDRESS: 29350 Trent Hall Farm Road, Mechanicsville, MD 20659. PHONE: 301 884-3700. ROOMS: One master bedroom with two double beds and a suite with two rooms. BATHS: private. Individually controlled central air conditioning. PETs: no. CHILDREN: no. MEALS: Light breakfast, wine and cheese in the afternoon. NEARBY: Amish market, Sotterley Plantation, antique shops,St. Mary's City, Point Lookout State Park, St. Clements's Island, Calvert Marine Museum, Anne Marie Gardens.
Website: Trent Hall Farm and B&B
Bards Field B&B, St Marys County
Bard's Field B&B
Bard's Field is owned and operated by James and Audrey Pratt. This beautiful, modest eighteenth century manor house is located on Trinity Manor in Ridge, Maryland. Bard's Field exemplifies "Tidewater Architecture" by its floor plan and exterior appearance. The Pratts welcome guests to their restored 1798 colonial manor home furnished with beautiful antiques and home-made quilts. Come step back in time and enjoy comfortable lodging with the atmosphere and warmth of a family home, located on the lovely Rawley Bay overlooking the Potomac River.
The porch provides a serene place to relax with a book or just sit and enjoy the splendid flower gardens. The garden benches are excellent places for bird watching, especially for observing the osprey and great blue heron.
Upstairs, two bedrooms are furnished with queen-size beds and share the sitting room and bath. A country breakfast is served in the dining room to start your day. This peaceful historic home is located close to historic attractions in St. Mary's County between Historic St. Mary's City and Point Lookout State Park and also those in Calvert County.
INNKEEPERS James and Audrey Pratt. Please, no pets or children. Checks or cash. Bard's Field ADDRESS 15671 Pratt Road, Ridge, Md. 20680. PHONE (301)872-5989 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A rare example of Tidewater Virginian architecture is Mulberry Fields in the Village of Valley Lee near Leonardtown. For more than 200 years the stately house has hosted friends and strangers with warm hospitality. It was owned by the Loker family for many years. Always more of a working plantation than a showplace, the two-storey brick dwelling is thought to have been built before 1767, the date found inscribed in a hall closet. It is uncertain whether the house was built by John Attaway Clarke who in a will of 1779 left the Mulberry Fields property to his wife on condition that she not break up the Avenue and little Pasture about the house he lived in. It also provided that the property should pass to William Somerville, on the remarriage or death of Mrs. Clarke. The plantation reached the peak of its prosperity during William Somerville's ownership. By 1806, Somerville increased his slave force from 46 to 180 and raised corn, wheat, flax and cotton in the surrounding fields.
William's son, William Clarke Somerville, next inherited the house at the age of 16. A romantic, cosmopolitan figure, he served as an Army major in the War of 1812 and subsequently toured Europe. On his return, he renamed Mulberry Fields "Montalbino". When he sold Mulberry Fields, he purchased Stratford Hall, across the Potomac, the birthplace of Robert E. Lee. Later he drowned and was buried on Lafayette's estate.
"Montalbino" passed through several hands between 1822 and 1832, when it reverted to its original name. Thomas Loker acquired the plantation in 1832 for the sum of $4000. He is thought to have made the only major additon to the house, the Doric two-story portico. Four loblolly pines were floated upstream to the Naval Gun Factory in Washington to be turned on the gun lathe and shaped.
The house is a five-bay Georgian brick building. Both porches and kitchen wing are later additions. A dairy; meat house, kitchen and workhouse were built later than the main house and are placed north of it, forming a rectangular court. The home remained in the Loker family until 1916 when it was sold to Col. and Mrs. William Garland Fay. In 1957, Mulberry Fields was purchased by a niece of the Fay's, Mrs. Mary Jansson and her husband Holgar Jansson. In the 1980s, it was still worked as a plantation of about 600 acres.
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