For $4.9 million, Arundel's piece of U.S. history

Mansion: George Washington was a guest in a home for sale in Harwood.

February 21, 2004|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

The real estate listing is deceptively understated: seven bedrooms, five full baths, a finished basement and an unfinished attic.

It's what the listing doesn't say -- that George Washington roamed the hallways and that Confederate soldiers may have hidden in the attic -- that makes Tulip Hill, an 18th-century Georgian mansion in Harwood, a particularly unusual find.

The house on Muddy Creek Road in southern Anne Arundel County went on the market last month at an asking price of just less than $4.9 million.

"I almost think of it as priceless," said Donna M. Ware, historic sites planner for Anne Arundel County. "Tulip Hill is one of the greatest, most significant buildings in Maryland."

Built in 1756 by Samuel Galloway, a prominent shipping merchant and a friend of Washington, the house shows its age, for better and worse. The slate roof, M-shaped arch in the entryway and ornate grand stairway can't be replicated. The home's bricks were made on site.

But some historic details, such as the cramped servants' quarters and the rumored tunnels said to have been used as a passageway for slaves, are reminders of a different chapter in American history.

As a registered National Historic Landmark, Tulip Hill ranks with Monticello, the Virginia home of Thomas Jefferson, and Mount Vernon, Washington's home, as one of the most historically and architecturally significant American mansions, Ware said.

Even at about 10,000 square feet, the mansion is more homey than regal, but it is a home steeped in history and folklore. Each family in the home's long line of owners accounts for a layer of Tulip Hill's past.

The 93-acre property, with a stable and tenant home, stayed in the Galloway family until the late 1800s. Samuel Galloway; his wife, Anne Chew; and several of their children and relatives are buried in a graveyard on the property.

The friendship of Galloway and Washington was cemented by a shared interest in horse racing, and Washington refers to Samuel Galloway and Tulip Hill several times in his diaries.

But at the turn of the 19th century, the grand house, which overlooks Cox Creek, appeared to have fallen into disrepair.

Teen-agers used the "large, decrepit mansion" as a dance hall in the early 1900s, according to a July 31, 1927, article in The Sun. "[S]everal families of contented snakes raised their children" in the vacant mansion, the article said.

After falling in love with the home's centuries-old oaks and tulip poplars, for which the property is named, a Washington couple purchased the home sometime before 1930.

The couple, Mr. and Mrs. Henry H. Flather, are credited with "restoring the house and grounds to their Colonial magnificence," according to the book Colonial and Historic Homes of Maryland.

As World War II drew to a close, Lewis Andrews, a decorated British officer who had been living in Shanghai, China, with his wife, Hope, escaped a concentration camp and fled to the United States, said Ware, who researched Tulip Hill for two architecture books she has written.

They purchased Tulip Hill in 1948 and lived there until Hope Andrews' death in 1984 and her husband's death in 1990. They had no children, and the Andrews estate sold the house to another Maryland family a dozen years ago.

The Andrews and their neighbors, good friends of the couple, turned over the easement for 140 acres around Tulip Hill to the Maryland Historical Trust in the late 1970s, Ware said.

That decade, the mansion was designated a Registered National Landmark -- a step up from being on the National Register of Historic Places -- by the U.S. Department of Interior.

Because of its historic-landmark status, Tulip Hill has been able to stave off the wave of development that has swept over southern Anne Arundel County. (The mansion's listing agent said he has fielded dozens of phone calls from developers who want to subdivide the large waterfront property.)

In June 1990, the state Historical Trust threatened to sue a developer that built a 5,500-square-foot mansion that fell within the view from Tulip Hill -- an easement violation.

The new owner was forced to haul the house out of view and plant a "vegetative screen" to lessen the visual effect, Ware said.

Tulip Hill's current owners, Morgan and Janet Wayson, have maintained the historical integrity of Tulip Hill -- while giving it a few modern touches, such as the commercial-size air-conditioning unit in the basement.

After 12 years at Tulip Hill, the Waysons plan to live full time at their farm in nearby West River, said their listing agent, Karlton F. Morris Jr. of Champion Realty in Annapolis.

The Waysons, like most of Tulip Hill's past owners, are a storied Maryland family.

Morgan Wayson's father founded Wayson's Corner, a hamlet at Route 4 and Marlboro Road, in 1928 and incorporated Hopkins and Wayson, a construction firm, in 1935.

Many of the patriarch's children and grandchildren have worked for the Calvert County-based company.

As a boy, Morgan Wayson would marvel at Tulip Hill as he passed by, said his son, Konrad M. Wayson.

"Then one day he got my brother and I and brought us to the house and said he was going to buy it," Konrad Wayson said. "We asked him, `Are you crazy?' But he just loved it ... and it all turned out great in the end."

Sun staff researcher Jean Packard contributed to this article.

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