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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: MHT Files, n.d.
Early Family Historic District
Inventory No.: PG:85A-85
Date Listed: 12/12/2012
Location: Cherry Tree Crossing Road, Brandywine, Prince Georges County
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: 1872-c. 1915
Resources: 5 (0 contributing, 0 non-contributing)
Description: The small enclave associated with the Early family is located in the village of Brandywine, in Prince George's County. It is bounded by the Conrail railroad tracks to the east, and Brandywine Road to the south. The western boundary is created by the property of the William W. Early House at 13907 Cherry Tree Crossing Road and the northern boundary is formed by the northern edge of the lot of the Charles S. Early, Jr. House at 13900 Cherry Tree Crossing Road. Running north-south, Cherry Tree Crossing Road travels through the center of the neighborhood. All properties (excluding the William W. Early House, which is located west of Cherry Tree Crossing Road) front the Conrail tracks, which originally served the Popes Creek Branch of the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad. A narrow lane, remnants of which remain running parallel to the railroad tracks, provides access to the houses fronting the railroad. The Early Family Historic District is composed of five primary buildings: The William W. Early House, William Berry Early House, Marian Early Bean House, Cahrles S. Early, Jr. House, and the William H. Early Store. The houses are all located on Cherry Tree Crossing Road; the store is sited on Brandywine Road. This collection of buildings, all of which are associated with the Early family, first developed in the late 19th century with the platting of the railroad village of Brandywine. The village, however, did not develop as planned and the Early family enclave became isolated from the eventual commercial core of present-day Brandywine. The mid- to late-20th-century growth and development of Brandywine is predominantly to the west of the Early family properties, which have not been affected by commercial or suburban construction. This small contiguous area, despite its small size and because of its disassociation from the larger community of Brandywine, is representative of a rural railroad village and the early economic and commercial growth related to the extension of the railroad. The architectural styles presented in this small neighborhood reflect both the elaborate Queen Anne designs of the late 19th century and the more modest Colonial Revival style of the early 20th century. The earliest of the buildings is the William H. Early Store, a wood-frame commercial building erected in 1872. In anticipation of the growth and development of a railroad village, four members of the extended Early family oversaw construction of their single-family dwellings between 1896 and c. 1915 to the immediate north of the store. Significance: The Early Family Historic District is a contiguous enclave composed of five properties historically associated with one of the most influential families in Prince George's County. It illustrates the initial economic, commercial, and residential growth of Brandywine and its dependence on the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad's Popes Creek Branch. Anticipating the benefits to be offered by the railroad's freight service, William H. Early established a general store just one year prior to the 1873 extension of the line. Three years later, in 1876, an enterprising member of the Early family platted Brandywine City, a semi-rural village planned for the upper and upper-middle classes as an escape from the city of Washington and more densely populated areas of Prince George's County. The planned village was indicative of rural railroad suburbs with a rectilinear grid plan composed of 56 blocks replete with landscaped parks and a commercial core centered on the Popes Creek railroad line. The suburb did not materialize as hoped because of languishing passenger service and its distance from neighboring urban centers where prospective buyers worked and shopped. Despite the lack of development and growth, the Early family successfully oversaw construction of their own homes between 1896 and about 1915 on large lots that did not follow the 1876 plat but rather preserved the area's rural setting. The houses represented popular domestic forms such as the I-house (albeit enlarged) and American Foursquare, each fashionably dressed with Queen Anne- or Colonial Revival-style ornamentation. Like the 1872 general store, which was strategically located at the intersection of the main thoroughfare through the village and the railroad line, the houses were oriented towards the railroad tracks rather than the street, signifying the area's dependence on the railroad and acting as an advertisement for the bucolic setting that the Brandywine development offered at the turn of the 20th century. Locally significant, the Early Family Historic District illustrates the valiant, although unsuccessful efforts of a prominent Prince George's County family to create a planned railroad suburb in the late 19th century and their efforts to attract development by the conspicuous siting of their own fashionable high-style buildings in relation to the Popes Creek Branch of the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad.

District Resources (5) (0 contributing, 0 non-contributing)

From associated listing in National Register nomination form. C = Contributing, NC = non-contributing, blank = not evaluated.

AddressStatusResource Name and MIHP (if any)
13900 Cherry Tree Crossing RoadC/NCPG:85A-29 -- Charles S. Early, Jr. House
13902 Cherry Tree Crossing RoadC/NCPG:85A-32-28 -- Marian Early Bean House
13907 Cherry Tree Crossing RoadC/NCPG:85A-9 -- William W. Early House
14134 Brandywine RoadC/NCPG:85A-32-11 -- William H. Early Store
13904 Cherry Tree Crossing RoadC/NCPG:85A-32-10 -- William Berry Early House

 

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