Michael O. Bourne
Turkey Hill Road, La Plata, Charles County
Constructed c. 1800, Oak Grove is a one-story, two-part brick house of excellent proportions and detailing which combines elements of both traditional regional architecture and conventional Federal design. Facing north, the three bay wide main block is of Flemish bond masonry above a chamfered watertable, and has two flush gable chimneys at both ends of its dormered roof. In addition to the brickwork, notable exterior features include first floor and gable windows with mortised and tenoned frames and rubbed brick arches. The main entrance door, occupying an end bay of the principal facade, is of interest for its delicately fashioned transom of stylized concentric circles. A second formal entrance, located at the west end and now bricked in, included a fanlight framed by a segmental arch of rubbed brick. The first floor room configuration of the main portion of the house consists of a corner stair hall and three rooms, with basically the same arrangement repeated above. Both levels retain woodwork typical of the early Federal period, including window reveals with reeded panels and mantels decorated with reeded panels and pilasters, punchwork, and fluting. At the east end of the house stands a brick kitchen wing, the original portion of which is now painted white. The wing initially incorporated a separate kitchen room with fireplace that was joined to the main block by a narrow brick walled passage. The connecting passage area was enlarged in the mid 20th century by a gable fronted brick addition to house a modern kitchen. The old kitchen wing included a full cellar that was exposed on the south side and east end. Among several ancillary structures are two dating from the early 19th century. The most interesting of these is a small frame dependency built c. 1830. Containing a single room and loft, it has high foundation walls of fieldstone and brick construction and a brick exterior chimney with stepped shoulders and freestanding stack. The other is a small corncrib with flanking sheds. Believed to be contemporary in age with the house, it was extensively renovated and partially rebuilt at various times in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Oak Grove is a significant example of Southern Maryland's early-Federal architecture, successfully combining many of the more sophisticated qualities of regionally traditional 18th century architecture with design motifs popular during the American Federal period. Of excellent proportions and detail, Oak Grove is particularly significant to Charles County, being the only extant example of a brick, one-story, early Federal house of this type. Among its many locally important features are its finely executed Flemish bond construction and chamfered watertable, arched west-end door, rubbed brick window and door arches, the exterior fenestration and door arrangement, and the survival of its original mortised and tenoned exterior door and window frames. Of additional significance are its four-room first floor plan, a locally unique example of this arrangement in the Federal house, and its brick kitchen passage wing over a partially exposed cellar, of which there are no other recorded examples of similar form in this area. Oak Grove is believed to have been built c. 1800 by Basil R. Spalding, a prominent Charles County merchant and landowner. The property, renamed Oak Grove in the 1940s, was originally part of Green's Inheritance, a 2400 acre proprietary grant surveyed in 1666 for the sons of Maryland's second Provincial Governor, Thomas Green. In 1713 two hundred acres of Green's Inheritance was purchased by John Spalding, in whose family the property descended for a period of 216 years.