Durham Court, La Plata, Charles County
Situated on the crest of a hill and commanding a superb view of the Port Tobacco Valley, Linden is a rambling frame house embodying many traditional characteristics of Tidewater architecture. Its present plan consists of three parts: a 2 1/2-story main block, a 1 1/2-story east wing, and a 1-story kitchen wing positioned at a right angle to the main house. Prominent exterior features include four chimneys and a one-story porch extending across the south front and east end. The house as it exists today, reflects five known phases of development, exclusive of minor alterations and several additions about which little is known. The first stage of Linden was begun early in the 1780s. A one-story house containing two ground floor rooms positioned back to back, two small attic chambers, and a double outside chimney joined at the base by a shed-roofed pent, it was a house type that attained great popularity in Southern Maryland in the last quarter of the 18th century. The pent was removed when a one-story addition was made to this end of the house. In about 1800 the house was enlarged by the addition of a hall on the west end, and a shed-roofed room and porch on the north, rear side. In the late 1830s the house was again enlarged, attaining its present basic plan. This 2 1/2-story addition, with four 9/9 windows and a dentiled cornice on both the front and rear elevations, and two end chimneys doubled the house in size. The exterior walls of the addition, like the earlier part, were sheathed with random width beaded clapboards. Two chimneys were built against the west end and a one-story porch with turned tapered posts and balustrade (later removed) was built across the full width of the front. The gable roof, sheathed with butt end shingles, had a single pedimented dormer on its front slope. Between the time that this addition was made and the first decade of the 20th century several other alterations and additions were made. Those of which there is evidence include a 1- or 1 1/2-story gable roofed frame wing on the west end of the largest section and a second wing of similar dimensions on the east end. The only evidence of their former existence is the imprint of the roof flashings on the chimney they covered. Both of these are believed to have been removed prior to 1910. In addition to the main house, which is shaded by two large linden trees and several magnificent boxwoods, there are two gable-roofed dependencies, both set close to each other not far from the east end of the house, and dating from about 1825.
Linden is one of the few houses in Charles County to display a clearly discernable and logical process of development, from that of a modest two-room house to a larger and more formal center hall, four room plan. The earliest section is of particular importance as one of the few essentially intact survivals of a once extremely popular house type. Linden was probably built as a summer residence c. 1783, by Henry Barnes, a wealthy Port Tobacco merchant, whose wife had inherited the land, which had been in the family since its original patent in 1666. Barnes' descendents retained the house until 1976. Linden is one of the very few properties in Maryland that remained in the same family for over 300 years. It has been owned and lived in by some of Charles County's most illustrious personalities, each of whom left evidence of his tenure of ownership, if not physically then historically. The house itself, showing a very interesting process of development, makes a significant contribution to the study of regional architecture.