1772 home in Howard to be restored

URBAN LANDSCAPE

February 03, 1994|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Sun Staff Writer

It's not as well known as Mount Clare Mansion in Baltimore, or as grand as the Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis. But in a few years, a Howard County structure known as Clover Hill on Elk Ridge will join them as one of the few local pre-Revolutionary War residences that have been restored and reopened to the public.

The Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks has hired Baltimore architect John Brunnett to coordinate plans for a $2.8 million restoration of the 1772 building and surrounding 17.5 acres, now part of Rockburn Branch Park off Old Montgomery Road in Elkridge.

Design work began in 1992, and an archaeological study of the site was finished last fall. Restoration work on the house is due to begin next year and be completed in 1996. Once access roads and other improvements are in place, the building will be available for tours, meetings and receptions.

The Parks Department "has been been instrumental in preserving the county's history and culture -- not for the sake of preservation alone but for contemporary use," Mr. Brunnett said.

The county acquired the four-bedroom house and surrounding acreage in 1975 as part of a 400-acre tract it was assembling for public recreation. The county began developing Rockburn Branch Park five years later.

An architect who specializes in historic preservation, Mr. Brunnett said Clover Hill is significant for its time because it was built by the son of a "tenant-farmer turned landowner," rather than by an aristocrat.

"Clover Hill is very unusual in that a working-class farmer built such a substantial structure prior to the Revolutionary War," he said. "It's generally something that only the aristocracy would have had the money to do -- a two-story house, made of brick. The quality was very good. He must have been very industrious."

"It has stood the test of time," added Clara Gouin, senior park planner for Howard County. She said the county wants to restore the house because it's an attractive part of Rockburn Branch Park and "we don't have an historic farm complex in our park system. It will be an opportunity for students to see what life was like two centuries ago."

According to a 1992 report, Clover Hill was built by a farmer named George Scott on land that was purchased in 1767 by his father, Michael Scott, from Capt. Edward Dorsey Sr. Besides growing crops, George Scott made his living as a miller, tanner and tradesman.

His heirs sold the land in 1807 to Thomas Lee, the oldest son of Maryland's Revolutionary-era governor, Thomas Sim Lee. In 1825, the governor's granddaughter, Mary, married Charles Carroll, son of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and master of Doughoregan Manor in Howard County.

One of Charles and Mary Lee Carroll's nine children, John Lee Carroll, also became governor of Maryland.

The county intends to restore two smaller farm structures that have been moved to the property: the "Gorman cabin," a 12-by-20-foot structure dating from the late 1800s, and an 1864 log barn called the McKenzie barn. Both were donated to the county by owners whose land was being subdivided.

Clover Hill is the second historic residence that Mr. Brunnett has been hired to restore for Howard County. The first was Marlow Farm House, an 1840s-era log structure that reopened in December in Schooley Mill Park, near Route 108 in Clarksville.

"In an area that is rapidly being developed into residential subdivisions," Mr. Brunnett said, Marlow House "presents an authentic image of an indigenous farm house from the pre-Civil War era."

College Park

Two California-based teams of the five architectural teams competing to design an $80 million performing arts center for the University of Maryland College Park have asked for extra time because they were disrupted by the Jan. 17 earthquake.

In response to requests from teams headed by Moore Ruble Yudell and Barton Myers Associates, state officials gave all five teams one extra day, so the deadline is now Feb. 8. Moore Ruble Yudell also lost a key design partner when Charles Moore died on Dec. 16. A winner will be announced Feb. 11.

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