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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: MHT Files, n.d.
Hard Bargain Farm
Inventory No.: PG:83-2
Other Name(s): Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center
Date Listed: 10/8/2014
Location: 2001 Bryan Point Road, Accokeek, Prince Georges County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1912-1961
Architect/Builder: Designer: Alice L.L. Ferguson Builder: Jack Pierce
Description: Hard Bargain Farm was purchased in 1922 by Alice L.L. Ferguson as a country retreat. In 1961, her husband, Henry G. ("Fergie") Ferguson, began the process of deeding the property to the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF), which utilizes the property today as an environmental and cultural education center. Accessed via Bryan Point Road, HBF is comprised of 52.62 acres, situated about 15 miles south of Washington, D.C. The property is distinguished by its diversity of terrain, which includes steeply rolling hills, heavy forest growth, agricultural fields, and landscaped gardens. Further, overlooking the confluence of the Potomac River and Piscataway Creek, HBF has an unparalleled view shed that includes Virginia's Mount Vernon Estate, Alexandria, Virginia, and downtown Washington, D.C. Alice Ferguson transformed the land through renovation into a working farm, as wall as through her integrated architecture and landscape designs, which incorporated aspects of the Country Place era of landscape architecture. In 1924, Alice Ferguson constructed a main farmhouse at the hilltop, which overlooks the viewshed and gardens. Through the 1930s, a number of agricultural and domestic outbuildings were constructed to support farm activities. Ferguson also constructed a number of elements reflecting the influence of the Country Place era of landscape design, including a serpentine road to the hilltop farmhouse and a planned garden complex. Originally consisting of over 300 acres during the Fergusons' time, HBF's acreage has been reduced to to transfer of land along the Potomac River by the AFF to the National Park Service (NPS) in 1968, for the formation of Piscataway National Park. Through an agreement with NPS, the AFF continues to utilize this land for agricultural and educational purposes. HBF has integrity of materials, worksmanship, and design, with extant buildings and landscape features designed and constructed by Alice Ferguson. Further, the property has strong integrity of setting and location, partially as a result of the covenants and ownership agreements made with NPS, which have helped to preserve the natural surroundings and view shed. As a result, Hard Bargain Farm has exceptional integrity of association and feeling to Alice and Henry Ferguson's period of residence. Significance: Hard Bargain Farm is historically and architecturally significant, and is locally significant as the country retreat of Alice L.L. and Henry G. Ferguson. The property represents the Fergusons' progressive influence and creativity in the areas of Social History, Art, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Archaeology, and Science. The period of significance extends from 1922 to 1961, encompassing Alice Ferguson's purchase of Hard Bargain Farm to its stewardship by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Alice Ferguson was an acclaimed early-20th-century artist and amateur archaeologist, who conceived and implemented the building and landscape designs at Hard Bargain Farm in the Country Place style. She led excavations on the Potomac River shoreline of her property that significantly advanced scholarly understanding of local prehistory and history, work that resulted in the landmark designation of Accokeek Creek Archaeological Site. Henry Ferguson, known as Fergie, was a prominent geologist with the United States Geological Survey, recognized for his pioneering study of mineral deposits in Nevada and for his contributions to the Military Geology Unit during World War II. The Fergusons supported the local community of Accokeek, establishing Hard Bargain Farm as a working farm that provided food and jobs for local residents during the devastating years of the Great Depression and World War II. Their dedication to Accokeek prompted the couple to undertake a series of real estate ventures that served as the basis and inspiration for community conservation activities focused on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. These philanthropic activities have ensured the protection of the riverfront and its significant viewshed. In 1954, Fergie helped to establish the Alice Ferguson Foundation, a non-profit organization chartered to benefit local educational programs. Today, the Alice Ferguson Foundation continues to honor the Fergusons' legacy, educating and advocating Hard Bargain Farm's unique environmental and cultural importance to Accokeek and Prince George's County. The Fergusons were associated with this property during the most productive years of their lives, contributing significantly to social history, the arts, archaeology, science, and conservation that had local and national influences.


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