Our County Councilman has his eye on our community, but cannot tell us why. Mr. Davis has called up for review the Historic conditions for new homes that are being plopped into the middle of a Notional Register eligible district. For some reason Mr. Davis cannot tell neighbors of the new development what exactly his concerns are, so of course they cannot adequately prepare for the hearing.
It occurs to me that there is some question as to the history of my community and the reasons for the conditions recommended by the Historical Preservation Commission. As a neighbor to this development project, I felt obliged to recuse myself as Chairman of the Prince George's County Historic Preservation Commission deliberations that resulted in the current recommendations.
Let me be clear. Our community is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1990 a survey was conducted of our community which listed 88 contributing resources in Woodland. The designation would have come with limited protections against adverse state and federal actions for the owners of historic structures. Historic property owners also would be eligibility for state income tax credit. For the record, my house was built in 1987 and is not eligible. This project will all but certainly destroy that eligibility so that a few may gain at the expense of the many which is typical in this county. The conditions set forth are an attempt to preserve some of the integrity of the community and only applies to the first (front) four lots.
Woodland was eligible as a historic district in the National Register of Historic Places. Our community met the following criteria:
Criterion A – Woodland is a fine example of an intact, rural agricultural community that reflects the continuity of change over time. Woodland is also representative of the importance of tobacco as a cash crop and the use of plantation slavery in Maryland’s agricultural history. It is also associated with the theme of transportation as it is the site of several important roads and bridges in Prince George’s County. Woodland contains two houses associated with freed African-Americans, which illustrates the transition from slavery to freedom after the Civil War.
Criterion C – Woodland contains a variety of architecture that reflects distinct periods of time from the late-eighteenth century to the first-quarter of the twentieth century. Styles represented include excellent examples of Georgian/Federal Greek Revival, Italianate, Victorian Gothic, Queen Anne, and Craftsman styles, which includes both vernacular and high-style designs. Woodland is also the site of a rare example of a private Roman Catholic chapel erected by the Hill family at Compton Bassett. This is believed to be one of the last remaining private chapels in Prince George’s County.
Criterion D – The community has the potential to yield significant information about NativeAmerican inhabitants and the enslaved African-American community in Prince George’s County.
In addition to its historic significance, Woodland has retained, up until this development, its integrity of location, design, setting,workmanship, materials, feeling, and association.
Our Woodland is a rural agricultural community located in central Prince George’s County, east of Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The land associated with the area known as Woodland was owned by Clement Hill, Jr., who patented 748 acres called Compton Bassett in 1699. The first frame building erected on the site was demolished when the family built a large Federal-style brick house circa 1780. Compton Bassett (PG: 79-063-10) is also the site of a rare example of a private Roman Catholic chapel erected by the Hill family. This is believed to be one of the last remaining private chapels in Prince George’s County. The Hill family continued to add acreage to their landholdings, and by 1818, a direct decendant, Dr. William Hill (arrested by the British along with his friends and neighbors: Beanes [buried across the street from the Upper Marlbough Post Office], Bowie, and Weems in events that led to the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner) amassed 2,184 acres which he resurveyed and renamed “Woodland.”1 His holdings stretched from the Patuxent River on the east to the limits of Upper Marlboro on the west. When Dr. Hill died in 1823, his land was divided among his four children.2 After Hill’s death, his descendents constructed several houses located nearby including Bleak Hill (PG: 79-063-06) and Ashland. John C. Wyvill, a prominent local carpenter, was responsible for the construction of several historic buildings in the community including the Eckenrode-Wyvill House (PG: 79-063-08) and Linden Hill (PG: 79-063-50).
Dr. Hill's son, William Beanes Hill, who inherited Compton Bassett from his father, received a charter in 1854 to construct a toll bridge across the Patuxent River, connecting Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties. The bridge became known as Hill’s Bridge and connected to the Marlboro-Queen Anne Road, further establishing the road as an important transportation route.4 William Beanes Hill continued the family tradition of farming and landholding and acquired more than 3,500 acres south and east of Upper Marlboro. He earned income from his various tobacco plantations, as well as from a commercial venture in which he developed a riverfront complex complete with stores, warehouses, wharf, mill, and residential dwellings to take advantage of burgeoning commerce on the river. In 1850, Hill reported owning 62 slaves, ranging in age from one to 100 years old.5 In 1860, Hill had reduced the number of slaves he owned to 32 slaves, who were housed in four “slave houses.”6 That same year, his plantations produced 500,000 pounds of tobacco, considerably higher than other plantations in the area. In addition to being a successful planter, Hill was also involved in the political aspects of life in Prince George’s County, serving for 25 years as the Chief Judge of the Orphans Court and serving one term in the Maryland State Senate.
Other significant buildings in the area include houses of two freedman, constructed on land that belonged to Henry Waring Clagett. A one-and-one-half-story wood-frame dwelling at 3708 Old Crain Highway was built sometime before 1875 by freedman John Henry Quander. A former slave of Mordecai Plummer, Quander purchased one-and-a-half-acres of land from Henry Clagett (Plummer’s nephew). Freedman Nat Beall constructed his one-story dwelling at 3702 Old Crain Highway on land he bought from Clagett in 1874.9 The 1860 Federal Census lists Clagett as owning 26 slaves, thus, it may be possible that Beall was a former Clagett slave.
Transportation is a significant theme in the Woodland community. Old Crain Highway, which bisects the community, is an important early road that roughly follows the circa 1700 Marlborough-Queen Anne Road, connecting the two port towns. When Upper Marlboro was designated as the new county seat in 1721, the Marlborough-Queen Anne Road began to see more traffic.11 Hill’s Bridge was constructed in 1854 over the Patuxent River, providing a connection between Anne Arundel and Prince George’s County. The construction of Robert Crain Highway in 1927 brought additional traffic through the agricultural community. This highway resulted in the closure of a portion of the original right-of-way, located near Bleak Hill. The construction of the Marlboro Bypass in the 1950s, which was later expanded and became U.S. Route 301, moved traffic to the east, effectively removing the majority of traffic through the community. This highway has allowed Woodland to remain a rural agricultural landscape.
The 1861 Martenet map shows a rural landscape in the Woodland area. The only identifiable houses include that of Clement Hill and his son William Beanes Hill. Also shown is Hill’s Bridge across the Patuxent. By 1878, the Hopkins map documents more growth in the area. The Hill family has expanded and constructed additional buildings, and their waterfront complex on the river is also shown. Many other families are represented, including the Clagetts, Quander, and Beall families. The map also shows significant growth along what is now Marlboro Pike, leading into Upper Marlboro, the county seat.
There were seven sites designated Historic in Woodland in the 1990 survey, one of which has since been lost to fire:
• PG: 79-063-05, Bowling Heights (NR), 3610 Old Crain Highway
• PG: 79-063-06, Bleak Hill, 4103 Old Crain Highway
• PG: 79-063-08, Eckenrode-Wyvill House, 4501 Wyvill Road
• PG: 79-063-10, Compton Bassett (NR), 16508 Marlboro Pike
• PG: 79-063-11, Ashland (NR), 16107 Marlboro Pike, 1867
• PG: 79-063-50, Wyvill House (Linden Hill), 4102 Old Crain Highway
There is one Historic Resource and one new historic site :
• 79-063-12, Gregor Hall. 4004 Old Crain Highway
• PG: 79-063-07, Site of Bowling-Buck House, 4106 Old Crain Highway
 COUNTY COUNCIL OF PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND
1999 Legislative Session
Proposed by Council Member Estepp
Introduced by Council Member Estepp
Date of Introduction
July 27, 1999
A RESOLUTION concerning
Old Crain Highway
For the purpose of designating Old Crain Highway in Upper Marlboro, within the limits described herein, as a Scenic Road pursuant to Subtitle 23 (Roads and Sidewalks) of the County Code.
WHEREAS, Subtitle 23 (Roads and Sidewalks) in the County Code authorizes the County Council to designate Scenic Roads; and
WHEREAS, a Scenic Road, as defined in Section 23-102, is a public or private road which provides scenic views along a substantial part of its length through natural or manmade features such as forest or extensive woodland, cropland, pasturage, or meadows; distinctive topography, including outcroppings, streambeds, or wetlands; traditional building types; historic sites; or roadway features such as curving, rolling roadway alignment and “leaf tunnels;” and
WHEREAS, the Master Plan for Subregion VI, approved in 1993, recommends preservation of historic and scenic roads in the Subregion and refers to the Rural Historic Landscapes and Scenic Roads Study, Subregion VI, December 1988, which also recommends preservation of historic landscapes and scenic roads; and
WHEREAS, the Master Plan for Subregion VI specifically names Old Crain Highway southwest of Upper Marlboro as a “significant historic landscape;” notes that the highway "still offers vistas of rolling farmland, continuing the historic usage of this area;” and states that the highway is the location of Weston, “the early 19th-century plantation of the locally prominent Clagett family, with its tree-lined entry drive, its wooded house site and burial ground, and its clearly defined agricultural spaces, as well as a line of Bald Cypress trees planted along Old Crain Highway;” and
WHEREAS, the Master Plan for Subregion VI makes the following specific recommendation:
Old Crain Highway traverses a landscape that is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The area should be preserved through land use policies, complemented with the preservation of the historic road alignment. Special landscape features, such as the Bald Cypress trees near Weston, should be protected.
WHEREAS, to implement these Master Plan recommendations, the County Council deems it appropriate to designate Old Crain Highway south of Upper Marlboro, between the town boundary and U.S. Rt. 301, as a Scenic Road.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the County Council of Prince George's County, Maryland, that Old Crain Highway southwest of Upper Marlboro, between the boundary of the Town of Upper Marlboro and U.S. Rt. 301, is hereby designated as a Scenic Road pursuant to Subtitle 23 of the County Code.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that it is the Council’s intention in designating Old Crain Highway as a Scenic Road that the scenic and historic character of this road be preserved to the greatest possible extent consistent with the public health, safety, and welfare, and therefore roadway improvements should be limited to those necessary to meet safety requirements and otherwise satisfy prudent design and construction standards.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Department of Public Works and Transportation shall apply its Design Guidelines and Standards for Scenic Historic Roads, as most recently approved, to all roadway improvements on Old Crain Highway.
Adopted this 27th day of July, 1999.
COUNTY COUNCIL OF PRINCE
GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND
Dorothy F. Bailey
Joyce T. Sweeney
Clerk of the Council