6403, Oxon Hill Road, Oxon Hill, Prince Georges County
The Butler House stands in a wooded area next to a field and an abandoned road that once led from Washington, D.C. through Prince George's County. The area immediately around the house is cleared. None of the outbuildings associated with this once-prosperous farm remains, although a c. 1940s Cape Cod-style house stands to the south on the property. The Butler House is a 3-bay, 2 1/2-story, 1 room deep wood-frame and log residence. It is currently covered in cast stone, although wood lap siding is visible on the gable ends. The steeply pitched gable roof is covered in metal panels and wood shake. The main entry is located in the south bay of the west (front) elevation and has a mid-20th century half-glass door. The window openings contain mid-20th century metal sash. A large 1 1/2-story shed-roofed addition containing a kitchen extends from the north gable end. A parged brick chimney rises between the north gable end and the shed addition. A one-story screen porch has been added to the east elevation. The interior of the Butler House consists of one room on the first floor and two rooms on the second floor of the main block. A winder stair is located in the southeast corner of the main block. The kitchen addition has a large room on the first floor and a small room on the second. Most original interior finishes have been covered, however, there is a simple mantel and wood paneling on the first floor of the main block, and wide beadboard paneling and riven lath on the second floor of the main block. The Butler House retains a quiet, rural setting and feeling in part because it is in a secluded, forested area, and in part because it is adjacent to the Oxon Hill Children's Farm agricultural museum. The house has been continuously associated with the Butler family since 1853. Investigation of the physical fabric of the cast stone is likely to reveal that the building also retains its integrity of materials and workmanship.
The Butler House is significant for its association with the African American experience in Prince George's County prior to Emancipation (c. 1660-1865) and the Freedmen's Bureau and Prince George's County (1865-1872). These themes are set forth in the Multiple Property Documentation for African American Historic Resources in Prince George's County. Henry Alexander Butler, a free African American man from Charles County, moved with his family to the property in 1853. Since then, the property has been continuously associated with the Butler family. The Butler House is a rare surviving example of a documented pre-Civil Ward house inhabited by a free African American family. According to Butler Family oral history, the Butler House was begun in 1851 as a post office. Butler moved to the property in 1853 and completed construction of the house. The Butler family possesses receipts for taxes paid on the property by Henry Butler in 1859 and 1860. However, the property was not legally deeded to Butler until 1873. The Butlers turned their property into a small farm that included a chicken house, meat house, barns, and other agricultural buildings. The Butler House faced the main road from Washington, D.C. through Prince George's County. During the Civil War, Union officers are said to have stopped at the house when traveling through the area. Family photographs indicate that the Butlers lived a comfortable, middle class life. They also enjoyed high status in the African American community. Henry Butler became a Reconstruction-era community leader, serving as trustee of the Freedman's Bureau school near Oxon Hill. The Butlers associated with prominent African American Washingtonians including the first African American priest and a Mr. Lewis, master barber at the U.S. Capitol. The Butler House is currently vacant, but is still owned by the Butler family.