Susan G. Pearl
11904, Old Marlboro Pike, Upper Marlboro, Prince Georges County
The Cottage is a 19th century plantation complex which consists of the principal three-part plantation house with its grouping of domestic outbuildings and four tenant farms, scattered over 282 acres. The plantation house consists of three sections, arranged in telescope plan: a 2 1/2-story main block constructed in the 1840s, a middle-height central section dating form shortly before the Civil War, and a lower two-story kitchen wing on the end. Principal windows are all 6/6 sash with louvered shutters. First-floor windows are surmounted by a shallow pediment above a plain frieze. The box cornice has crown molding, and a significant overhang, and is returned at the gable ends. The plain frieze board is ornamented by deeply profiled jigsawn brackets. All three portions of the house are flush on the north elevation, but each steps back on the south elevation. The westernmost, or main block, three bays by two bays, is of a side-stairhall and double parlor plan. The principal entrance is in the west bay of the south facade, and consists of a paneled door with four-light transom and two-light sidelights with paneled soffit and jambs. The first floor is covered by a shed-roofed porch with square posts and a balustrade of criss-cross truss design. This block has two interior chimneys rising from either roof slope on the east end. Two small windows pierce the attic between them. The southern window is 6/6 sash, while the northern is 6-light. The north facade has a door with two-light sidelights in the westernmost bay, and the window above it is lower than those in the other two bays. The west facade is pierced only by two small 6/6 sash windows in the attic gable. On the interior, wood trim is bold Greek Revival in style, and parlor mantels are of black marble with plain pilasters, frieze, and shelf. The formal staircase has a heavy turned newel and tapered maple balusters, and rises to the third story. The stairhall is divided by a handsome elliptical arch with a paneled soffit and tapered fluted pilasters. Extending to the east from the main block is a lower 2 1/2-story three-bay wing, constructed shortly after the main block. This central section has the same wooden siding, and cornice and frieze decoration. Its principal entrance is in the east bay of the south facade. The first floor of this elevation is covered by a similar porch to that on the main block, but the southeast corner of the porch is hipped. The central section also has an interior chimney on the east end of either roof slope, though these are somewhat smaller in scale, and the two windows in its attic gable are both 6/6 sash. The north facade of this block has an elaborate door, with a 2-light transom, in its western bay, covered by a one-bay flat-roofed porch on paired columns, with an enclosed balustrade above. Wood trim in the central section is severe Greek Revival in style, plainer than that of the main block. Extending still farther east is a lower two-story kitchen wing, two bays wide and two deep. This addition has all the decorative features of the earlier portions of the house, including window treatment and brackets. The kitchen wing has a single interior chimney rising from the east gable. The only opening on the east end of the kitchen wing is a single paneled door in the north bay. Within 150 feet to the northwest of the house is a complex of domestic outbuildings, including a well house, ice house, and meathouse. To the north and east of the principal dwelling complex are four interrelated tenant farms, each including a dwelling and ancillary domestic and agricultural buildings. Three of these date from the early 20th century, while a fourth is from the late 19th century.
The Cottage is an excellent example of a 19th century Prince George's County plantation. The plantation house itself is one of the best surviving examples of a side-hall-and-double-parlor plan dwelling in Prince George's County; it exhibits typical Greek Revival style interior trim and distinctive Italianate cornice brackets. The Cottage plantation, developed in the 1840s for Charles Claggett at the time of his marriage, represents a large and successful 19th century plantation of a prominent local family; the plantation house is one of six surviving frame dwellings in the Marlborough area which were built or acquired for the heirs of Thomas Clagett VI of Weston. Its unique profile and prominent location make it an outstanding visual landmark on the old road between Washington, D.C. and the county seat. The resource is also important for association with Charles Clagett (1819-1894), a prominent member of Upper Marlboro social and political society during the second half of the 19th century. In addition to serving on the Vestry of Trinity Church and on the building committee for the new courthouse (1881), he was president of the company which constructed the Washington-Marlborough Turnpike after the Civil War, and served for 20 years as a judge of the County Orphans Court being elevated to Chief Judge in 1882. He also served as a county commissioner following the Civil War.