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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: William D. Morgan, 06/1969
La Grange
Inventory No.: CH-3
Date Listed: 10/22/1976
Location: Port Tobacco Road (MD 6) , La Plata, Charles County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: c. 1763
Description: La Grange is a large, two-story, gable-roofed frame house with brick ends and four large exterior chimneys. The clapboarded principal facade faces east and has a central, Palladian-style, pedimented pavilion. Constructed like a double-height portico, it has on the second story, one window of 9/9 sash flanked by two blind panels and four fluted pilasters. On the first story is a triple arch motif, i.e., flanking either side of the central doorway is a recessed, arched panel containing small, 4/4 pane windows and surmounted by an incised triangle simulating a pediment. The door, set in a slightly larger niche with a semicircular fanlight, is flanked by two flat pilasters. At either end of this triple arch motif stands a fluted, engaged column with Ionic capitols, cushion side out. All columns and pilasters rest on plinths. Four 9/9 sash windows flank the pavilion on both floor levels, two on each side, with the first floor windows proportionately larger and wider than those of the second. Fronting the pavilion is a large frame stoop with flanking side stairs and front balustrade that was added to the house in the mid 20th century. The west, or rear, elevation has a 20th century farm porch running the length of the house. Like the facade, this elevation is five bays in width, but without the central pavilion. The rear entrance doorway, probably contemporary with extensive early-19th century renovations to the house, has a semicircular fanlight and narrow sidelights, all set in a simple frame. The roof cornice of both elevations is decorated with mutules and ogee bed and crown moldings, a treatment continued into and below the pediment of the front pavilion. On both brick ends of the house, the flat-headed windows of the first and second floor levels are replacements of slightly narrower, shorter windows with arched heads. The windows of the attic level, two on each end of the house, also have flat heads and might be alterations over previous openings. The brick of the ends is laid in common bond, with a course of header brick every fourth row and a random sprinkling of glazed brick. The four chimneys, two on each end, have flat, tapered weatherings and corbeled caps. At the south end of the house is a two-story semi-detached kitchen that appears to date to the early 19th century. A brick hyphen linking the kitchen to an original one-story projecting pent closet between the two south chimneys seems to date somewhat later. The projecting one-story, shed-roofed chimney pent has narrow windows on its side walls. Also interesting is the fact that the hyphen does not actually provide a passageway from the house to the kitchen. Instead, passage to the kitchen was gained by a door on the west side of the southwest chimney of the main block (later altered to a window), through a roofed breezeway on the west side of the hyphen, and then through a door near the west end of the north wall of the kitchen. Significance: La Grange, the home that Dr. James Craik, a Scottish doctor who served as a surgeon in Colonel Fry's regiment of colonial troops, and personal friend of George Washington, built on land acquired from William Smallwood, is of importance as one of only three 18th century Charles County houses that attempts an academic neoclassic form of architectural expression. The significance of La Grange, however, is perhaps greater than the other two for the formal treatment of the principal facade, its probable modeling after a prepared architectural design, and the application of these elements on a regionally characteristic house type. Not only does La Grange represent an interesting coupling of the Georgian neoclassic style with an otherwise typical regional house plan, it is also the only surviving Georgian house in Southern Maryland that renders it with such success. Its ownership and probable design and construction by such a notable 18th century personality and Revolutionary-era figure as Dr. Craik only further establishes its place as one of Maryland's most important historic and architectural landmarks.


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