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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: Michael F. Dwyer, 11/1973
Harmony Hall
Inventory No.: PG:80-11
Other Name(s): Battersea
Date Listed: 6/6/1980
Location: 10511 Livingston Road , Fort Washington, Prince Georges County
Category: Structure
Period/Date of Construction: c. 1760, late 18th century
Description: Harmony Hall is a seven by three bay, 2 1/2-story Georgian country house of red brick laid in Flemish Bond. The main block of the house had a southern wing from the late 18th through early 20th centuries, for which there still exist subsurface rubble stone foundations. A 1930 wing replaced this out kitchen. The west elevation is seven bays wide, with a central entrance consisting of a Georgian-styled door with triangular pediment, entablature, and pilasters. The other bays contain 9/9 windows on the first floor and 9/6 on the second, all with louvered shutters and splayed jack arches. Originally, the east front of the house lacked the two dormer windows, the central brick pediment, and the double front doors that appear today. These changes appear to have been made in the late 18th century. The gable-roofed dormers have return cornices and round-arched sash windows with tracery. The pediment is shallow and five bays in width, containing a large 18-light oval window in the tympanum. The central double doors are covered by a gable-roofed portico. Windows on this facade are also 9/9 on the first floor and 9/6 above, with splayed jack arches and louvered shutters. All four sides of the building have a molded brick water table, and a stringcourse separates the two floors on the east and west sides. A wooden cornice at the roofline of these facades contains fretwork in a Greek key pattern. Flush chimneys rise from either gable end of the main block, flanked by two small windows in the attic gable. These are the only openings on the north facade, although the brickwork clearly shows the location of former windows. A small one-story gable-roofed cellar entrance is now attached to the west bay of this facade. The south facade is covered by a two-bay two-story 1930 addition. The south wall of this new addition never received a covering of red brick over its end wall of hollow clay tiles. This wing is connected by a covered passage to a larger kitchen also built in 1930. The interior of the house contains some very fine woodwork dating from the earliest period. An exceptionally fine staircase is the chief adornment of the entrance hallway. The landing of the staircase has saddles on the rails. The dining room contains a huge cupboard set into the wall with two sets of doors and a rounded arch molding. Rooms contain ornamental cornices with much fretwork design and also much wood paneling and wainscoting. Four mantels with classical Georgian moldings frame the end fireplaces, two to each floor. The first and second floors of the main block contain two rooms separated by a center hall. Interior floorboards are doweled together with black walnut pegs cut by hand and set at intervals. A number of early-20th century outbuildings remain on the property. Significance: Harmony Hall is an 18th century Georgian house overlooking the Potomac River to the west. Architecturally it ranks with the early Potomac River plantation houses, and is significant for its Georgian architecture and elegant interior detail. The name Harmony Hall was given to the house in 1793 by Mrs. Walter Dulany Addision, who was Elizabeth Hesselius, daughter of the famous colonial portrait painter. As a bride she lived there with her husband for a year in 1792-1793, along with her brother-in-law John Addison and his new wife. The two brothers rented the brick mansion for a year from Dennis Magruder while their own estate, Oxon Hill Manor, was rented out. So harmonious was the experience of the two couples living together that Mrs. Addison named the place "Harmony Hall," and the name endured. Originally, the property had been known as "Battersea", the name given to the tract of land patented in 1662 by Humphrey Haggett, a lawyer who practiced in the county court. A residence has been on the site from that time to the present. According to local tradition, the present house was constructed in 1723, the same year in which the nearby brick building of St. John's Parish, Broad Creek was built by the same contractor. In the 1920s, Harmony Hall was purchased by Charles W. Collins, who restored the then-deteriorated buildings, demolished some outbuildings, and constructed additions and new outbuildings. In 1966, the property was acquired by the National Park Service. Archaeological investigations have revealed the original south wing of the building and the site of the c. 1692 house on the property, just outside the east door of the standing house.

 

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