MHT File Photo
8375, Hawthorne Road (MD 225), La Plata, Charles County
A two-story, three-bay frame house with a one-story west wing, Locust Grove faces directly south from an elevated situation, commanding a fine view of the Port Tobacco Valley and surrounding farmlands. Existing architectural evidence indicates that Locust Grove began as a small, one-story, gambrel-roofed frame dwelling dominated by a single exterior chimney of massive proportions at the west end. This oldest portion, consisting of part of the existing west wing, contained a single ground floor room with a bedchamber above. Believed to date from the early 18th century, it was built against the side of the hill. Its foundation walls, one full story in height at the west end, enclose a full cellar room with whitewashed ceiling joists and a packed dirt floor. Although little original first floor woodwork remains there is sufficient evidence to suggest that in addition to wide-planked flooring, projecting corner posts and wall plates, and exposed ceiling joists, it had two windows and a door on the south front, a door and window on the north side, a stair to the bedchamber in the southeast corner, and a fireplace opening approximately 10 feet in width in the west end wall. The bedchamber, with the exception of its fireplace surround, retains all of its woodwork, including flooring, beaded baseboards, two-piece chairrails, window trim, and sash. The exterior, three bays wide on its south front with a centered entrance door, retains its early sheathing of wide, beaded boards notched on the underside where they pass over the wall studs and posts. A significant amount of this early sheathing of white pine, secured in place with wrought nails, remains on both the south and west walls. The two windows of the south elevation occupy original locations but have been enlarged. The door opening is also original, but at one time included a transom. In the west gable are two small windows, both original to the house. The area of the former west chimney, which was replaced by an existing stove chimney, is evident in the patching of the siding and the reworked brickwork of the cellar wall. The gambrel roof, with a high, steeply raked lower slope, was covered with butt-end wood shingles. The shingles covering the south side of the roof remain preserved under the present tin covering of the upper slope and, on the lower slope, by the roof of a full length porch added in the late 19th century. In the late 18th or early 19th century, the original portion of the house was extended on the north side, giving the house its present "salt box" profile. About 1825 the house was again enlarged, this time by a two-story Federal style, frame addition built against the east end of the initial house. A one-story dependency, at least as old as the main block, stands close to the north side of the west wing.
Locust Grove is one of Charles County's most notable examples of Federal architecture, important because it survives completely intact, unlike almost all other examples of this particular style in the county. Although lacking many more sophisticated elements characteristic of "high-style" Federal architecture, it is a very handsome house of good proportions with above average detail. Its early-18th century wing is of like significance. There is, for instance, no other known example of a one-room house having a gambrel roof in lower Southern Maryland. Neither is there another regional example of a gambrel roof having such steeply raked lower slopes. It is one of only a few buildings in Charles County known and documented to date prior to 1750. Locust Grove, the house and immediate property, is also a prominent link in a chain of historic sites and structures extending the full length of the Port Tobacco Valley.