Charity V. Davidson
Turner Road, Lusby, Calvert County
Attractively situated overlooking the Patuxent River, Preston-on-the-Patuxent is a modest 1 1/2-story brick house which has had several later additions made to it. The main part of the house, the earliest section still standing, faces southwest. Its principal facade is five bays wide, and there are three pedimented dormer windows on the front roof slope. The four windows of the first floor, all slightly altered from their original dimensions, have flat arches of stretcher brick, 9/6 double-hung sash, and surrounds that stylistically date from about the mid 18th century. The central door was once sheltered by a brick, one-story pedimented porch which is believed to have been removed around the mid 19th century. The doorway, with a molded surround identical to those of the windows, frames an 8-panel double door. At the base of the house is an 11-course watertable with an upper course of quarter-round brick. Below each of the two end windows is a small wood barred cellar window. Fronting the main entrance is a brick stoop of relatively recent construction. The three dormers appear to be later additions, as well. At each end of the roof ridge are single enclosed chimneys and the eaves cornice is boxed and has double ogee and beaded moldings. Although the brick of the facade is laid in Flemish bond, the end and rear walls are of common bond. Each of the end walls are broken by two small closet windows at the first floor and two smaller windows within the attic gable. The rear wall originally had but one opening, a door located toward the southeast end of the wall, that was later changed to a window. The lack of any other pre-1903 openings on this wall suggests that there may have been an extension to the house in this area, possibly one of frame construction, which the existing 1917 additions replaced. This two-part rear wing gives the house its present L shape. While Preston-on-the-Patuxent has a traditional construction date of c. 1651, there is no structural evidence to indicate a date earlier than about 1725. Judging from a comparison of its various construction features and detail with other similar houses in the region, a probable date of the second quarter of the 18th century appears more realistic.
The plan of Preston-on-the-Patuxent is significant, particularly in regard to the original front porch, and provides a useful example for the study of Tidewater Maryland vernacular architecture. Preston-on-the-Patuxent is popularly, if erroneously, known as the seat of the government of Maryland from 1654 to 1657 during the Puritan regime. The extant structure holds no architectural evidence to indicate that it dates to the mid 17th century. The belief that the property was the "capital" comes from evidence that the Council, the Assembly, and the Provincial Court met "at Patuxent" in the 1650s. Richard Preston, a participant in each of the three bodies, most probably hosted their meetings in his dwelling located near the Patuxent River. Preston's prominence in the Puritan community propelled him to a position of leadership in the government. After the restoration of the Calverts (1657-1658), Preston continued his political career as a member of the assembly. He changed his religious beliefs, becoming a Quaker. Preston died in 1669 leaving his extensive landholdings to his grandson Samuel Preston, who abandoned his Maryland inheritance for Pennsylvania, where he became mayor of Philadelphia. The property passed to the Parran family, who owned it from 1687 through the 18th century. Later a Parran daughter apparently married John Gant in the early 19th century, and the Gant family remained at the house for half a century.