Photo credit: Julie Darsie , 08/2004

Property Name: St. Mary's Beneficial Society Hall
Date Listed: 3/13/2005
Inventory No.: PG:79-25
Location: 14825, Pratt Street, Upper Marlboro, Prince Georges County

Description: St. Mary's Beneficial Society Hall, constructed in 1892, faces west towards the convergence of Pratt Street and Main Street in Upper Marlboro, and is located nearly across the street from St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, with which it is historically associated. The one-story wood frame gable-front building has a c. 1930s hip-roofed porch on the west, an original shed-roofed wing on the east, and a mid-20th century shed restroom addition on the east The building has a brick pier foundation, wood lap siding with cornerboards, and a metal shingle roof with a boxed cornice and returns. A brick chimney rises from the ridge at the east gable end. The main entry is located in the center of the west gable front and consists of five-panel double doors with a three-light transom and plain surround. The 6/6 wood windows have plain surrounds and louvered shutters. A c. 1930s porch extends across the front (west) elevation. The porch has a concrete foundation, a recent brick floor, square chamfered posts, a beadboard ceiling, and a hipped roof. A c. 1940s box office occupies the south end of the porch. The box office has beadboard wainscoting, lap siding upper walls, a small ticket window (now boarded over) facing north onto the porch, and a full-sized window facing south. On the east side of the building is a two-bay shed-roofed wing with an original window and four-panel door facing north. A small pent shelters the door. A smaller shed addition contains the restrooms. The interior of St. Mary's Beneficial Society Hall consisted of a large hall, a small room to the east, and two restrooms. The interior was completely gutted and remodeled for an office in 1988 when a law firm acquired the building. Although the interior of the hall has been adapted to modern use, the materials and workmanship on the exterior remain entirely intact.

Significance: St. Mary's Beneficial Society Hall is significant for its association with the end of reconstruction in Prince George's County (1872-1896), the institution of government-sanctioned segregation in Prince George's County (1896-1916), and education for African Americans in the county (1896-1954). These themes are set forth in the Multiple Property Documentation for African American Historic Resources in Prince George's County, Maryland. In 1880, African American Roman Catholics founded St. Mary's Beneficial Society to provide for the society welfare in their community. The Hall, an excellent example of an African American multi-purpose building, served as a meeting place, social and political center, and house of worship for African Americans living in a segregated society.




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