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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: JPPM,
Patterson Archeological and Historic District
Inventory No.: CT-755
Other Name(s): Point Farm; Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum; Patterson Center
Date Listed: 4/12/1982
Location: 10515 Mackall Road (MD 265) , Mackall, Calvert County
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: 9000 years B.P.; 1932-1966
Architect/Builder: Gertrude Sawyer, architect; Rose Greely, Cary Milholland Parker, landscape architects; G. Walter Tovell, builder
Description: The Patterson Archeological and Historic District contains within its 512 acres a representative sample of a range of archeological sites characteristic of both upland and lowland utilization of the Chesapeake Bay tidewater region during the prehistoric and historic periods. Ranging in elevation from sea level to 110 feet, the District is strategically located at the mouth of St. Leonard's Creek, the largest tributary of the tidal portions of the Patuxent River. The district has approximately 9000 feet of frontage on the Patuxent River and approximately 3000 feet of frontage on St. Leonard's Creek with marsh areas and streams providing access to the bluffs overlooking the shorelines. The ideal environmental setting was apparently attractive to a variety of people during both the prehistoric and historic periods. Many of the sites recorded on the property are associated with significant historical events or people, while the standing structures were altered or constructed under the guidance of the 20th century diplomat, Mr. Jefferson Patterson. While modern plowing has disturbed the upper layers of many sites, in situ prehistoric shell middens and storage pits as well as in situ historic house foundations, privy pits, and wells have been documented at various sites. Thus, the sites on the property contain both vertical and horizontal deposits which were useful in determining the extent and the nature of the prehistoric and historic occupations. The 31 standing structures on the property include three clusters of buildings conceived and constructed by the Pattersons since the 1930s, as well as two late-19th century structures which have been modified during the 20th century. The main residence, “Point Farm” or Patterson House, is a large brick house in the Colonial Revival style, constructed beginning in 1932. The main block stands 2 ½ stories high and faces north. The brick is laid in Flemish bond. The north façade is five bays wide, with a central entrance defined by a gabled portico supported on slender columns with acanthus leaf capitals. The paneled entrance door is framed by sidelights and an elliptical fanlight, all holding delicate leaded tracery. The flanking bays hold 2/2 sash; on the upper story, 3/3 sash are aligned above the first-floor openings. All window openings are detailed with splayed jack arches and fitted with shutters. All three gabled dormers are arrayed across the front slope of the slate-clad gable roof. Significance: Point Farm is significant as a representative example of a late phase of the American Country House movement. In the early 20th century, the construction of a country house within substantial grounds became popular among the nations urban elite. These properties emphasized leisure and recreation, with amenities such as swimming pools and tennis courts. Country houses of the 1930s frequently adopted the Colonial Revival style, and incorporated technological improvements directed toward comfort and convenience. The surroundings were artfully landscaped, featuring gardens and greenhouses, and often included model farming operations. The design team is noteworthy for having comprised three early female practitioners: architect Gertrude Sawyer, and landscape architects Rose Greely and Cary Millholland Parker. All were graduates of the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and licensed in their respective professions. They are among a group of early women practitioners who are beginning to gain scholarly attention as part of a re-evaluation of women’s contributions to the design professions. Several recent books on the subject of women in architecture include Gertrude Sawyer and Rose Greely, both of whom are becoming recognized as pioneers in their fields. The property derives additional significance for its association with Jefferson Patterson and his wife, Mary Marvin Breckenridge Patterson. In a career of over 36 years with the diplomatic service, Jefferson Patterson (1891-1977) served in numerous posts on five continents. He was instrumental in securing a ceasefire between Egypt and Israel in the 1948-49 Palestine War. In 1956 he became US Ambassador to Uruguay. “Marvin” Patterson (1905-2002) was a pioneering filmmaker and photojournalist in the 1930s, and was hired by Edward R. Murrow as the first female broadcast journalist for CBS at the beginning of the Second World War. The overall integrity of the domestic complex and designed landscape is excellent. The buildings and landscape have remained essentially unaltered, and the few changes that have occurred were occasioned by the evolving requirements of the Patterson family. All alterations were designed by the original architect, Gertrude Sawyer. The buildings have been maintained adequately; only the Gardener’s Cottage has suffered substantial loss of integrity through deterioration. The entire complex offers an exceptional opportunity to interpret the lifestyle associated with the American Country House movement in the period. The main house is particularly valuable in this respect, in that it retains virtually all its architectural fabric and interior finishes intact, and also contains the full complement of furnishings, decorative treatments, and household items selected and used by the Pattersons. The period of significance extends from the purchase of the property by Mr. Patterson in 1932 until 1966, the date of the last architectural project during the Pattersons’ occupation, by which date it fully achieved its historic context and appearance. Non-contributing additions to the property since 1966 are limited to the Morgan State University Estuarine Research Center (1994), and the MAC Lab (1996). Mrs. Patterson continued to occupy the property until her death in 2002. Within that span, significant dates include the initial building campaign in 1932-1935 and the dates of alterations documented by drawings in the JPPM collections: 1941, 1951-53, 1959, and 1966. The 61 archeological sites formally identified on the property to date encompass a representative sample of the range of human activities dating from 9,000 years ago to the present. Located at the mouth of St. Leonard's Creek in the estuarine portions of the Patuxent River drainage, the 512-acre district contains dozens of prehistoric sites which are characteristic of the types of occupations associated with both the upland and lowland micro-environments of the middle Chesapeake Bay regi
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