Susan G. Pearl
James Hamilton House
16810, Federal Hill Court, Bowie, Prince Georges County
The James Hamilton House, built in the mid 1870s, is a 2 1/2-story gable-roofed frame Late Victorian house with Italianate detail. Its 3 bay by 1 bay main block is a refined form of the traditional I-house plan, highlighted by clipped gable ends, asymmetrical projecting bays, and central cross gable on the main north facade. The principal entrance is in the central bay of the north facade, and consists of a four-panel door with deeply molded round-arched Victorian panels. The three-pane transom and two-pane sidelights are now filled with clear glass, replacing earlier colored glass. The cornices of the main block, projecting bays, and north porch are embellished with bold jigsawn brackets. This hip-roofed porch is supported by chamfered posts. Windows are 4/8 sash windows on the first floor, created by additional muntins applied to the original 2/4 sashes. Windows in the second story are 5/6 double hung sash, replacing the original 2/2 sashes (3/3 in the central bay). All have plain surrounds and louvered shutters. Each of the east and west gable ends of the main block have two-story projecting bay windows, not symmetrical to one another. The east gable end has a hip-roofed semi-hexagonal bay with 6/6 windows in each of its two faces. South of this bay is a side entrance to the house, sheltered by a one-story shed-roofed entry porch supported by chamfered posts. In the west gable end is a hip-roofed semi-octagonal bay with 6/6 sash windows in each of its three faces; this west bay fills the entire gable end. The eaves of the two projecting bays are punctuated by boldly profiled jigsawn brackets. The present windows replace 2/2 sashes. A rear kitchen wing extends to the south, inset slightly from the east gable end of the main block. The house is sheathed in German siding, painted white, and rests on a brick foundation. The jerkinhead roof is covered with original slate shingles. Two corbeled brick chimneys rise form the ridge, flanking the central bay, and serving fireplaces in the interior walls of the two parlors. The interior plan of the main block consists of a central stairhall flanked by two parlors. The open-string two-run staircase has a heavy turned newel, turned balusters and bracketed stair ends, and a plain spandrel. The stairhall has a circular plaster ceiling medallion with floral motifs. The door and window surrounds throughout the main block are particularly fine, with a large outer torus bead, and inner courses of frieze, fillet, and cyma reversa moldings. Each of the parlors has a fireplace with identical mantels of dark marbleized stone with applied central shield/cartouche below the shelf. The living room, to the west, has a high molded baseboard, and plaster ceiling medallion with floral and acanthus-leaf motifs. The dining room, to the east, has a pedestal chair rail, below which is vertical beaded wainscoting. The oval plaster ceiling medallion has grape motifs. Outbuildings include a board-and-batten meat house contemporary with the house, a garage constructed in the 1950s, and a large concrete block dairy barn to the east of the house, constructed in the 1960s.
The James Hamilton House is a good example of a Late Victorian farmhouse, typical of the post-Civil War period in rural Prince George's County; it has fine detail both exterior and interior. Built in the mid 1870s, it is distinguished by clipped gable (jerkinhead) roof treatment, central cross gable, jigsawn cornice brackets, and asymmetrical projecting bays. It was built by John C. Wyvill, a locally well known carpenter and (together with Ingleside, Navaho, and Kenilworth in the Marlboro area) is a prominent surviving example of his work. The Hamilton House has undergone a minimum of alteration, and has been the home of three generations of the family for whom it was built.