MHT File Photo
Habre de Venture
Rose Hill Road, , Port Tobacco, , Charles County
The Thomas Stone National Historic Site, or Habre de Venture, is an irregular five-part Maryland manor house composed of three different early building methods and arranged in the arc of a circle. The central section is a Flemish bond brick 1 1/2-story house with a gambrel roof and corbeled exterior chimneys. The first floor is five bays wide, with a central entrance, and the gambrel roof had three 6/6 sash gable-roofed dormers ranged across it. The first floor windows held 12/12 sash flanking a central door with a large 15-light transom. The north or front facade had a hip-roofed porch supported by six chamfered square posts. A south porch was screened in, and had been added recently. The main section of the house was raised on a brick base. All roofs of the house were wood shingle. The hyphen to the northwest was a small gambrel-roofed structure of three bays with two dormers. Built of Flemish bond brick with glazed headers, this hyphen connects a small two-story frame wing set perpendicularly to the hyphen. This wing has brick end walls with interior chimneys. The center door has a transom, and above this is a 4/4 sash window. The other windows hold 6/6 sash with louvered shutters. To the southwest is a small, completely frame 1 1/2-story gambrel-roofed structure with no dormers and a single 6/6 sash window in each gable end, which served as Thomas Stone's law office. It has an end chimney and framing is visible on the interior. This wing is connected by a low brick breezeway. The principal, central portion--the dwelling house proper--was completely gutted by fire January 1, 1977. The adjoining hyphens and end buildings connected by them to the manor house also were damaged in varying degrees by fire, smoke, and water. Fortunately, the living room paneling had been removed previously to the Baltimore Museum of Art. However, the fire destroyed other remaining early paneling and woodwork. The outlying dependencies were constructed during the 19th and 20th centuries. One of the outbuildings was destroyed during the La Plata tornado of 2002.
Habre de Venture had an unusual floor plan. The architectural quality of the house is attested to by the fact that the living room paneling is in the exhibit of room interiors in the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland. Thomas Stone, (1743-1787), a Signer of the Declaration of Independence, built Habre de Venture after 1771 and lived there for the remainder of his life. A native of Nanjemoy Hundred, Charles County, he had moved to Annapolis to study law under Maryland's first elected governor (1777-1779), Thomas Johnson (1732-1804). In 1764 Stone was admitted to the Maryland Bar after which he moved to Frederick, as did Thomas Johnson, John Hanson, and Francis Scott Key. Stone chose a Charles County bride, Margaret Brown, daughter of Dr. Gustavus Richard Brown (1747-1804), a physician to George Washington. Stone abandoned Frederick after the death of his father, Daniel Stone, returning to his native Charles County, and purchased the Habre de Venture property late in 1770 and began constructing a new house on the property the next year. It probably was completed by the end of 1773. Thomas and Margaret Stone and their three children lived at Habre de Venture until they moved to Annapolis about the middle of 1783. After Mrs. Stone's death in June 1787, Thomas returned to Habre de Venture, apparently living there until he died in October of that year. Although Stone lived at Habre de Venture a relatively short time, it was his home during the most significant years of his political life. From 1777 until the year of his death Stone served in the Upper House of the Maryland Assembly and this state Government service often took him away from his Habre de Venture home. During the critical months of 1776 Stone was returned repeatedly to Philadelphia by the Assembly of Maryland to serve his state during the Second Continental Congress deliberations that lead to the complete break with Great Britain. Shortly after signing the Declaration of Independence Stone was selected by Congress to represent Maryland as a highly respected member of a small, elite group instructed by the Congress to construct the framework for a new central political authority that would guide the affairs of state for the new nation.