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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: MHT File Photo, Undated Photo
Old Chiswell Place
Inventory No.: M: 17-9
Other Name(s): Blue Plains
Date Listed: 9/9/1975
Location: 18125 Cattail Road, Poolesville, Montgomery County
Category: Site
Period/Date of Construction: 1778-1793; 1826
Description: The Old Chiswell Place is a frame, log, and brick structure built in three stages. The south wing sits at right angles to the main block of the house. The east end of the south wing is the oldest part of the house. It is a frame 1 1/2-story gable-roofed building with a stone foundation and external chimneys on either end. The facade is three bays with a central doorway. The sheathing is beaded clapboards. To the west, a one-bay log section was added. The logs are laid up with inverted "V" notches. Where the log and frame sections abut, the ends of the logs in the front and back walls are tenoned into mortises in an upright post. This section contains a fireplace on the east wall which shares a chimney with the west fireplace of the frame section. A long shed-roofed dormer window has been added to the south facade of the frame section, as the only light came from the small gable windows flanking the chimney on the east end. The second floor of the log section is completely separate from the frame section. A two-story Federal style brick section is connected by a one-story frame passageway to the north end of the frame section of the house, giving the house an off-center "T" plan. The frame passageway has a brick "square front" west facade. The brick section is of Flemish bond on the east facade, and common bond on the ends and west facade. Front and rear (east and west) facades are three bays wide. The north gable end has a flush gable chimney flanked by two small attic windows, but no other openings at all. The entrance in the south bay of the east facade has a four-light transom and paneled reveals. First floor windows on both facades are 9/6 sash and second floor are 6/6 sash. An entrance stands also in the south bay of the west facade, but lacking a transom. All window and door openings have splayed jack arches. Several domestic dependencies have survived, including a small stone shed-roofed springhouse, a log meathouse, and a small log barn or shed. The log buildings have inverted "V" notched joining and have gable roofs. Significance: The significance of the Old Chiswell Place lies in the existence today of a community of buildings which have comprised a working farm for at least 170 years. Besides the residence, there is a meathouse of log with an attached springhouse. (The springhouse was moved from its original site by a spring and attached to the meathouse to be near a new well in the late 19th century.) There is a small log house probably used for storage with sandstone chips used between the logs. There is also an early corncrib made of frame and logs. It has the further significance of having been the home of three men distinguished in their period. George Frazier Magruder bought this farm in 1778 and moved from Prince George's County where he had been a fourth generation resident and planter, a Grand Juror as a "Loyal Civil Services" during the Revolution, and took the "Oath of Fidelity and Support" to Maryland. He later took the same oath in Montgomery County. He was a large slave-holder and a man of prominence in the community. The property was owned by William Chiswell in the early and mid 19th century. For many years he was the County Surveyor for Montgomery County. In 1836 he was one of three designated to purchase land for the County. In 1846 he was appointed to a committee to prepare a draft of a constitution for the Montgomery County Agricultural Society. In 1821 he was one of a group to withdraw from their church and found a new congregation for which he furnished land for its new building. He was a planter, attorney, and surveyor in a section of Maryland that was still frontier land.


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