MHT File Photo
Rose Hill Road, Port Tobacco, Charles County
Rose Hill is a five-part, Georgian-style dwelling house. Its two-story central block has side walls of frame, brick nogged, and sheathed with modern beaded siding. The gable ends are brick, each with a pair of exterior chimneys. The brickwork throughout is laid in Flemish bond with random glazed headers. The central block is five bays long and, in addition to the regular fenestration, the north facade has narrow sidelights flanking the central entrance. The windows have 9/9 sashes on the first story and 6/6 on the second story. The two brick hyphens are short in length and have pent roofs. Their south walls are nearly flush with the south walls of the main block and wings. The one-story brick wings have single interior chimneys on their end walls. The segmental arches of the hyphens and wings have alternating glazed headers. The present kitchen wing (east) is a restoration; the winter kitchen was located in the cellar of the main block. The west wing was the office of Dr. Gustavus Richard Brown. The south facade of Rose Hill which overlooks Port Tobacco Creek, has the more elaborate detailing. The central doorway on the south is set within an open pedimented pavilion with flush siding. A bulls-eye window is located within the pediment which extends above the cornice line of the main block. A Palladian-style window on the second story is located above the south entrance. The south door is similar to the north door, but is wider and more elaborate. It is enframed with Roman Ionic pilasters and a traceried fanlight. Early boxwood in formal pattern fills the south lawn which has several terraces, known locally as "falls," which descend in levels toward Port Tobacco Creek. Rose Hill was in a ruinous condition in 1930, but was restored during the mid 20th century.
Rose Hill was the home of Dr. Gustavus Richard Brown (1747-1804) who was a physician and friend of George Washington as well as an avid horticulturalist and landscape architect. Dr. Brown was called to Washington's deathbed at Mr. Vernon, Virginia, to act as one of the medical advisors. Dr. Brown was an outstanding Charles countian who holds an important place in the history of 18th century Maryland. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and returned in 1768 to practice in his native country. With the coming of the American Revolution, his medical practice widened to include soldiers of the Continental Army. Although always involved in medicine--he was an early (1776) advocate of smallpox innoculations and a founder of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland (1799)--his interests extended to other fields as well. He served as a Charles County judge, as a county representative to the Maryland convention that ratified the Constitution, and as a member of the Board of Visitors at St. John's College in Annapolis. His garden at Rose Hill was widely known for its decorative, medicinal, and culinary plants. After the Revolution, Dr. Brown bought four contiguous tracts near Port Tobacco which he consolidated and had resurveyed in 1784. Sometime after the 1783 tax assessment, he built Rose Hill and laid out its gardens. Dr. Brown's daughter, Margaret, was married to Thomas Stone, the Signer of the Declaration of Independence, who owned nearby Habre de Venture. Olivia Floyd, a descendant of Dr. Brown, lived at Rose Hill with her brother and sister in the mid 19th century. During the Civil War, her sympathy for the South led her into espionage activities for the Confederacy. Her most famous escapade occurred in 1864 when Union troops searched Rose Hill while she was in possession of a secret message for Jefferson Davis. It concerned the pending extradition of Confederate raiders from Canada, where they had sought refuge, to the United States. In spite of a thorough search, the soldiers missed the andiron which was Miss Floyd's hiding place for the message. The next day she hid the message in her hair and transported it to a Confederate signal station on Pope's Creek. The message was relayed to Richmond in time to save the raiders from a trip to Federal Prison.