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Forest Heights in Prince George's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Architecture of Oxon Hill Manor

 
 
The Architecture of Oxon Hill Manner Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), December 22, 2018
1. The Architecture of Oxon Hill Manner Marker
Inscription.  A cupola used to ornament the top of this house in the old days, where it was pleasant to sit on summer evenings and watch the sun set over the hills back of Alexandria...with the broad Potomac flowing between. The view is still very fine, for the hill is high, rising from the water's edge continuously for a mile. At its foot Broad Creek empties into the Potomac, and one can see as far down the river as Mount Vernon when the weather is clear.
The Life and Times of Walter Dulany Addison

Built by Colonel Thomas Addison and completed in 1711, Oxon Hill Manor ranked among the finest plantation houses of the Chesapeake Tidewater region, rivaling estates like Mount Vernon and Montpelier for its size and splendor.

In an era when most colonists lived in one-room cabins with earthen or wood-plant floors, plantation houses like Oxon Hill Manor represented great wealth and power.

Inspired by classical English and Italian architecture these masonry houses boasted numerous rooms and multiple stories, as well as luxurious details including glass-paned windows, marble fireplace mantels, elaborately
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carved wood, and molded plaster.

Built around the main house were kitchens, sheds, workshops, stables, and slave and servant quarters. Interspersed among these structures were lawns, gardens, orchards, carriage paths, and livestock yards.

Although Oxon Hill Manor was destroyed by fire in 1895, archaeologists and historians have managed to identify many of its key features, including the exact size and location of its cellar foundations.

The two images above are among the only surviving views of Oxon Hill Manor. They illustrate other important characteristics of its design: a two-story plan with a central stair hall, columned porch, center gable, massive end-wall chimneys, and a cupola (likely added in the 19th century).

Oxon Hill Manor shares a number of common characteristics with other colonial-era houses still standing in Prince George's County. By studying these houses–several of which were owned or occupied by the Addison family–we can learn more about the appearance of Oxon Hill and the lives its residents.

Want Water

Some speculate that Want Water was built in 1690, but it is more likely that the house was built in 1708 after the property was patented by Colonel Thomas Addison, who also built Oxon Hill Manor. Want Water's gambrel roof and asymmetrical plan were typical of Colonial
The Architecture of Oxon Hill Manner Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), December 22, 2018
2. The Architecture of Oxon Hill Manner Marker
Tidewater architecture. Today the two end-walls are all that remain.

The house's unusual name references an early hand-dug canal that was built on the property. Connecting with Broad Creek and eventually the Potomac River, the canal allowed the property to be used as an inspection station for tobacco shipments.

Harmony Hall

With a fine view overlooking the Potomac River, Harmony Hall was built adjacent to Want Water and bears a striking similarity to Oxon Hill Manor. Likely built in 1768 for Enoch Magruder, a wealthy tobacco merchant and planter, Harmony Hall was later occupied by descendants of Colonel Thomas Addison.

In 1793-1794, the house was rented by brothers John and Reverent Walter Dulany Addison and their brides. The newlyweds' happy life in the house was the inspiration for its name.

Montpelier Mansion

Among the grandest colonial plantations of the Tidewater Region, Montpelier was built in 1783 for the Snowden family, whose estate at one time totaled 27,000 acres.

Inspired by the 16th-century Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, Montpelier features a fully articulated, five-part plan, sometimes referred to as a Palladian plan.

Montpelier has entertained a number of distinguished guests, including George and Martha Washington and Abigail Adams.
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Today it is operated as an historic house museum and is open to the public.

The Anatomy of Colonial-Era Houses
Style: Colonial Tidewater
Key Features: 1½ stories, asymmetrical plan, gambrel roof with dormers, wood frame construction, end-wall chimneys

Style: Early Georgian
Key Features: 2-2½ stories, partially symmetrical plan, gabled roof with dormers, masonry construction, end-wall chimneys, central stair hall

Style: Georgian/Palladian
Key Features: 2-2½ stories, fully symmetrical plan, hipped roof, masonry construction, interior chimneys, Palladian-inspired 5-part plan

[Image caption:]
The designs of Colonial and Federal-era plantation houses like Oxon Hill Manor and Riversdale (shown here) were drawn from the best English and Italian precedents. Riversdale was built by the Calvert Family (descendants of Lord Baltimore) and completed in 1801.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureColonial Era. A significant historical year for this entry is 1711.
 
Location. 38° 47.35′ N, 77° 0.863′ W. Marker is in Forest Heights, Maryland, in Prince George's County. Marker is on National Harbor Boulevard south of Capital Beltway (Interstate 95), on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 121 North Cove Terrace, Oxon Hill MD 20745, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. After the Addisons (within shouting distance of this marker); Africans Becoming Americans (within shouting distance of this marker); Archaeology at Oxon Hill (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The First People (about 600 feet away); Discover Gorgeous Southern Prince George's (approx. 0.2 miles away); Franklin D. Roosevelt (approx. 0.2 miles away); Dwight D. Eisenhower (approx. 0.2 miles away); Skipjacks (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Forest Heights.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 21, 2019. It was originally submitted on December 22, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 287 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 22, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 17, 2024