This is a past tour--for information only
Saturday, April 27, 2019
10:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M.
Established in 1658, and named for the third Baron Baltimore, Charles Calvert, Charles County has a rich and long history. This year’s tour is centered around Port Tobacco, a village established in 1634 and one of the oldest towns on the East Coast. In 1658, it was designated the first county seat of Charles County. Early Port Tobacco area residents assumed important roles in state and national history. John Hanson was elected first President by the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation. Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer was a signer of the United States Constitution, and Thomas Stone was one of four of the Maryland delegation who signed the Declaration of Independence.
Chairs: Mrs. R. Wayne Winkler, Mrs. Christopher Zabriskie.
Committee Chairs: Ads: Mrs. Albert Raucheisen and Ms. Polly Zimmerman. Flowers: Ms. Lucille Attick and Mrs. William Hobbs.
Special Project: Daffodils and Daydreams. Rich in history, daffodils came to the colonies as “soft reminders of English springs.” The quintessential spring flower, the daffodil has transcended its humble status as a garden perennial to become nothing less than a cultural icon. Thriving even in places where they have obviously been accidentally dropped or discarded—they define the remnants of farm yards long gone and peek out brightly among crumbling brick ruins. Cultivars are astonishingly similar in shape and color, all twentyseven thousand of them, and although it is a cultivated plant, it can survive just fine on its own. Above all else, the daffodil is a survivor. Port Tobacco Village is a survivor too. Serving as an early county seat and an ocean-going seaport, the Village has endured and is one of the state’s oldest and smallest incorporated towns. Spanning history that includes Native Americans, revolutionary patriots, missionaries, assassins, spies, slaves, merchants, farmers, an arsonist, and everyone in between, there is almost as many stories as there are daffodil cultivars. The project incorporates the planting of 630 sq. ft. of bulb gardens in selected areas at the reconstructed Port Tobacco Courthouse in Port Tobacco, Maryland. A minimum of 5,000 daffodils along with some companion bulbs and selected perennials such as hellebores and heuchera will add a bright note to the village green. In addition, two colonial benches made by local Pioneer Woodcrafting, renowned for architecturally correct period pieces, will give visitors a spot for day dreaming and reflection.
1. STAGG HALL
Built in the 1730s for John Parnham, a prosperous Port Tobacco merchant, Stagg Hall is one of the few remaining original structures of the 35 to 40 known to have existed in Port Tobacco at the time. The house’s architectural integrity is unparalleled by any other pre-Revolutionary War structure recorded in this part of Southern Maryland. Its center hall tworoom plan and gambrel roof predate other examples of the same in the area by more than 20 years. In the 1798 Port Tobacco tax assessment, the house and seven outbuildings (a store and dependencies) received the fourth highest valuation. The woodwork in this property is a museum-worthy example of the regional craftsmanship of the period. In fact, in 1932, the home’s owners sold it. The purchaser subsequently donated it to the Art Institute of Chicago. For several years, this piece of Port Tobacco history took its place in an exhibit titled “Tap Room” and labeled as “American, from Port Tobacco, Charles County.” Years later, the museum dismantled the exhibit, and fortunately for us, descendants of the sellers bought it back and reinstalled it. The last private owners of Stagg Hall lived in the dwelling for three generations before selling it to the County. The site is the information center for this year’s tour
2. PORT TOBACCO COURTHOUSE
The town’s centerpiece, this reconstructed 1819 courthouse was destroyed by fire in August of 1892 and rebuilt in the early 1970s. The courthouse is a reminder of the town’s robust past. Once known as a major 18th century port and the cradle of American revolutionaries, this town’s early history tells a story that few Maryland towns of the era can match. In 1608, Captain John Smith first spotted the Indian village of Potopaco near the site of the town. The name Port Tobacco is a derivative of the Indian word. In addition to the courthouse, in its heyday, the town boasted a hotel, two newspapers, and a score of shops. A victim of deforestation and ecological disaster, topsoil washed off the surrounding hills and into the river, blocking the shipping channel locals relied upon. As one looks at the town’s swamp, the last remaining remnant of trade along the area’s colonial water, it is hard to imagine three three-masted ships and other vessels once ever-present in views from Port Tobacco. Today, through a range of exhibits and programs, the Port Tobacco Courthouse provides a window into the region’s rich past.
3. MULBERRY GROVE
Located on the east side of the Port Tobacco Creek, Mulberry Grove sits on the 18th-century site of John Hanson’s birthplace. A prominent Maryland patriot, John Hanson served as the sheriff of Charles County, a member of the Maryland General Assembly, and the first President of the Continental Congress. In 1934, a lightning strike devoured the original dwelling. Reconstruction began in 1938 and finished by 1950. The new house incorporates the foundation and cellar of the earlier structure as well as many salvaged materials. About two hundred yards north of the house is a large private cemetery begun in Hanson’s time. The property also includes several outbuildings and a breathtaking view of the Port Tobacco Creek and valley as it approaches its confluence with the Potomac River.
Situated in the midst of gently rolling lawns, Ellerslie is a commanding, five bay, twostory house of basic Georgian styling with two exterior chimneys at each end. Originally built in the mid-18th century, the house went through extensive alterations and enlargements beginning in 1790. The property is part of land granted to Bartholomew Coates in 1661. In 1720, the Land Commission patented it to Dr. Daniel Jenifer, the father of Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, a politician and patriot. Born here 1723, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer served as the first President of the Maryland State Senate and represented Maryland in the Continental Congress. Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer is a signer of the United States Constitution. Ellerslie, then known as Coates Retirement, stayed in the Jenifer family until 1835. Mulberry Grove, Mulberry Grove Place, Port Tobacco 30 The present dwelling is the only one still standing of the five houses once on the original tract. Recently, the grounds became home to over 500 white pines planted to create forest buffers to protect the health of the Port Tobacco River and its watershed.
5. HABRE De VENTURE
Now officially known as the Thomas Stone National Historic Site, Habre De Venture (or Haberdeventure) is the home of Thomas Stone, one of the 56 signers of the United States Declaration of Independence. In 1770, Stone purchased the property and a year later began construction on a home for himself, his wife Margaret, and their two daughters. A son arrived after the home’s completion, and the property remained in the Stone family until 1936. It stayed under private ownership until 1977 when the house tragically succumbed to a fire. Thankfully, the structure’s original paneling escaped destruction and is housed in the Baltimore Museum of Art. That institution purchased the woodwork in 1935. Today, the restored property is owned by the National Park Service. A careful reproduction of the woodwork enhances the home’s great room, and the interior is designed to look as it did during Stone’s time. Descendants of Thomas Stone have donated several pieces of furniture and other artifacts to help tell a story of one of the region’s most significant early patriots.
6. FRIENDSHIP HOUSE
This early tidewater dwelling is one of Charles County’s oldest houses. Built by the Dent family in the mid-18th century, the house is a hall-and-parlor home with brick noggin between its wood beams. Rescued from collapse in 1968, the Historical Society of Charles County lovingly moved the structure from its 31 original site along the Nanjemoy Creek to its current location at the College of Southern Maryland. The property is furnished to reflect life in 18th-century Maryland.
7. BOWLING-HURLEY HOUSE
Built in 1993, this meticulously maintained and stately brick Georgian Colonial combines traditional styling with modern amenities. The main 33 house comprises over 8000 square feet of living space. The carriage house includes separate living quarters, three garages, and a workspace. A large brick fence provides the perfect backdrop for lush gardens that surround a salt-water pool.