Edgewater in Anne Arundel County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
William Brown House
Location, Location, Location
One of the mysteries that still surrounds the lost town of London is the William Brown House. Built between 1758 and 1764 overlooking the South River, William Brown intended it to serve as his dwelling and an upscale tavern.
However, its construction at a time when most of the townspeople and businesses had deserted London Town raises many questions about this expensive building and its ambitious builder.
Was he trying to recapture some of the old town's prominence? Was he hoping the remaining ferry business would support his extravagance? Or, was he making a personal statement about his wealth and aspirations?
We may never know, and sadly, William Brown never finished his building - he lost ownership in the 1780s because of debt.
Anne Arundel County purchased the house and 10 acres in 1828 for use as the almshouse, or county "poor house." Poor and mentally ill county residents lived here until 1965 when a federal law known as the Welfare Act was passed, reforming treatment of the poor.
Through the efforts of many concerned citizens, the William Brown House was saved in the early 1970s and become a National Historic
Measuring 50 by 40 feet and 49 feet high, the Brown House is the only known structure in the Chesapeake Bay region where header bond brickwork is used on all four walls (headers are the short side of the brick). It was an expensive technique, usually signifying the wealth of the owner.
The quality of the brickwork on each wall tells us about the importance of each side. The front of the building, facing what was once Scott Street, has brick of uniform color as does the riverside. The remaining two sides have bricks of mixed coloring, indicating that these sides are not as important.
On the front of the house in the lower right corner, you will see a brick with the initials, "PS," possibly those of the brick mason who remains unidentified.
[image of floor plan] Floor Plan: Another mystery about the William Brown House is its floor plan. It is an unusual layout for a house, supporting the theory that is main purpose was a tavern or inn. The four corner rooms are elevated, possibly to give greater privacy to lodgers. Learn about other theories during your tour of the house.
Another clue about its use as a tavern is an arched opening in the interior brick wall (now bricked in). It may have served as an opening to pass beverages from a corner bar in the entry to the larger public room.
The aspiring and multi-faceted William Brown was a ferrymaster, tavernkeeper, joiner and cabinetmaker. His carpentry shop was located on a lot nearby.
His talents led him to become an "undertaker," or in today's language, a building contractor. He supervised the construction of the Dr. Upton Scott House in Annapolis. Completed in 1764, it bears a striking resemblance to his own house.
Brown owned slaves and had indentured servants. On one occasion, he had trouble with a runaway servant. This advertisement appeared in the Maryland Gazette on June 12, 1753.
FOUR PISTOLES REWARD
Run away on the 6th of March last, from the Subscriber living at London-town, a Convict Servant Man, named Edward Merriott, by Trade a Joyner, he is about 5 feet 4 inches high, much pitted with the Small-Pox, has a hoarse way of speaking, is a well-set Fellow, with large Eye-Brows, and a full red Face, like one that drinks hard, he is about 50 Years of Age, and has short, black, curl'd Hair.
Had on when he went away, a blue Fearnought Jacket, much worn, another light colour'd Jacket, lined with red, a Pair of grey Halfthick Breeches, light Yarn ribb'd Stockings, much darned, Country made shoes, an Osnabrigs Shirt, and an old Worsted Cap.
He has got a forged pass.
Whoever takes up the said servant, and secures him, so as he may be had again, after the Date of this Advertisement, shall receive Four Pistoles Reward, and reasonable Charges paid, if brought home.
Location. 38° 56.479′ N, 76° 32.38′ W. Marker is in Edgewater, Maryland, in Anne Arundel County. Marker can be reached from Londontown Road 1.3 miles north of Mayo Road (Route 253). Touch for map. Marker is on the grounds of London Town Park, at the end of Londowntown Road, near the brick house. Marker is in this post office area: Edgewater MD 21037, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. London Town Publik House (a few steps from this marker); Archaeology at London Town (a few steps from this marker); Establishing a Colonial Town (a few steps from this marker); Scott Street (a few steps from this marker); The Ferry at London Town (within shouting distance of this marker); Dr. Hill's Medicinal Plants (within shouting distance of this marker); The Lord Mayor's Tenement (within shouting distance of this marker); London Town Ferry (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Edgewater.
Categories. • 20th Century • Colonial Era • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 3, 2009, by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 723 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on September 3, 2009, by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland.