J. Richard Rivoire
Fire Tower Road, Welcome, Charles County
Rosemary Lawn, a rambling, two-story, frame farmhouse, is believed to be a largely rebuilt version of a house of similar size and configuration that was under construction in 1844-1847. Facing east, the house is three bays wide on its front facade, with a hip-roofed screened porch covering the central door and flanking 2/2 sash windows. A shallow cross gable with a fan-shaped window is centered on the east roof slope. Interior brick chimneys rise from the peak of the shallow gable roof. The west facade is also three bays wide, but the porch on this side is open. The south gable end is two bays wide, with a two-story polygonal bay window in the east bay and 2/2 sash windows on either floor of the west bay. A single 6/6 sash window lights the attic gable on this end. The north gable end is mostly covered by a 2-story wing housing a rear service stair and passage, and a flanking room with a fireplace centered on the partition wall. Attached to the west side of this section of the house is a gable-roofed, one-story wing. All three parts of the house are sheathed with German siding and have asphalt roofs. Most of the exterior and interior finishes of the existing house are contemporary with the c. 1880-1920 period. The front and rear doors in the main block open onto a central stair passage flanked by four rooms. This same room arrangement is repeated on the second floor, which also has a small room at the front of the hall. There are additional finished rooms at the attic level. The stair is of a basic Eastlake design, with boxed newel posts and turned balusters. Most of the interior door and window architraves consist of one-piece facings and simple corner blocks. The house stands on continuous brick foundations, with a T-shaped cellar beneath the hall and two west rooms of the main block. Framing timbers and other construction details observable from the cellar and crawl spaces indicate tha the entire floor framing system of the main block, including the sills, was replaced in the early 20th century. Other details of more limited accessibility--notably brick nogging, partially hewn studs and posts, and cut nail fasteners associated with the interior partition walls--indicate that the house is probably older than it outwardly appears, and may in fact incorporate all or most o fhte framing of the house known to have existed in 1847. Immediately adjacent to the main house's northwest and north sides are several early-19th century domestic dependencies. These include a frame, pyramid-roofed dairy, a frame, pyramid-roofed "cooler" built over elevated foundations enclosing a cellar chamber, and a timber-framed, pyramid-roofed smokehouse. Directly north-northeast of the house is a large, gable-roofed frame garage/equipment building that was constructed early in the 20th century. Between this building and the smokehouse to the west is the site of a 19th century carriage house, suggesting that the garage/equipment building may have replaced a former stable. About 100 feet north-northeast of the garage/equipment building stands a heavily timber-framed structure designed for corn and grain storage, with animal sheds to the sides. Distinguished by narrow sides and a broad, gable-fronted facade, this building stands on brick foundations that rise a full story in height on the rear elevation. Constructed on the side of a hill, the foundations enclose a large central room originally used for housing livestock. About 125 feet southeast of this building is a three-part frame structure which also occupies a sloped site. This building consists of an early-20th century corncrib or granary on brick piers. In the early 20th century a second building of matching design was built parallel to the first, at which time the latter was extensively repaired. A small connecting shed was then built between the two, its single-sloped roof camouflaged behind a false gable. Bordering the entrance road is a mid-19th century tobacco barn with a later addition. The site is occupied by assorted other small barns, sheds, and former feeding stations dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries that are now in near ruinous condition. About 300 yards west of the house is a private cemetery of the Barnes family who owned and occupied the property from at least 1783 until 1873.
The Rosemary Lawn farm complex is unquestionably one of Charles County's most significant 19th and early-20th century historic properties, regardless of whether it is viewed in a historic agricultural or historic architectural context. The Rosemary Lawn property embraces a singularly unique collection of historically and physically integrated agricultural buildings and domestic support structures, and constitutes the largest and best preserved collection of such buildings known to exist in their original setting in this region. In addition to the rarity of several of the buildings--notably the two dairies and the oldest granary--the manner in which each of the buildings was constructed to maximize its functional use, and their obviously carefully considered placement, is of exceptional interest and importance.