Michael O. Bourne
Oxon Hill Manor
6701, Oxon Hill Road, Oxon Hill, Prince Georges County
Built in 1929, Oxon Hill Manor is a neo-Georgian house of 49 rooms. It consists of a two-story main block facing east, and a wing to the north. Resting on a foundation of brick on concrete footings, the walls are of Flemish bond brick backed by hollow tile. The framing on the first floor is of reinforced concrete slabs. Hollow tile interior partitions support wooden joists. Roof trusses are of wood. Steel I-beams support those chimneys which do not descend below the second floor. Interior chimneys pierce the hip roofs in various places near the cornice. The house has truncated hip roofs with slopes covered by rectangular slates. The wood cornices are of cyma recta form supported by modillions ornamented with leaves. Eaves and gutters are concealed behind paneled brick parapets with stone coping. The service wing parapets are above brick string courses in lieu of the cornices; these parapets are unpaneled. The principal facade is five bays wide with a central, three-bay, projecting pavilion. A string course and quoins were laid into the brickwork. This pavilion and each of the flanking sides of the main block are each divided into three bays in that the central bay of each is composed of heavily ornamental wooden enframements which stretch from foundation to cornice, contrasting with the brickwork to either side to form a decorative vertical stripe. The entrance in the center bay has paired, three-paneled wooden doors hung below a two-light, hinged, rectangular transom. The door architrave has a cornice supported on consoles ornamented with leaves. Above the cornice is a broken, segmental-arched pediment with a terra cotta cartouche of a coat of arms in the center. The door sill is of molded stone. The main block has French casement windows throughout. The principal first-floor windows are paired, four-light casements set under hinged, rectangular two-light transoms; these can also serve as doors. Eight of the first-floor, main block windows have molded wood crossetted architraves with flat cornices. The north and south windows of the east elevation open onto wooden, console-supported, balustraded balconies and have triangular pediments. The central west window has an architrave duplicating the east entrance. All windows in the service wing have 4/4 sash with brick flat arches. On the first floor are five major rooms arranged in an irregular manner around a large entrance hall and narrower hall leading north towards the service wing. On the east side of this hall is the main staircase. The closed-string oak staircase has an oak railing supported by wrought-iron S-shaped scrolls of foliated pattern. The railing and it supports turn at the bottom to form a newel post of volute plan resting on a curtail step. The flooring in the first floor halls are paved with squares of white marble and smaller squares of black marble set diagonally at the corners of the white squares. The other first-floor rooms have oak floors laid in a herringbone pattern. Interior ornament includes paneled walls, modillion cornices in the hallway, other ceiling cornices with plaster frieze of Adamesque arabesques and octagonally framed urns in low relief, hall doorways with molded wooden pedimented architraves, and painted-fabric covered walls. To the south of the house are two outbuildings contemporary with the house. These are a five-car garage and attached manager's quarters and greenhouse, and a stable, both of brick painted white with hip roofs. There are formal gardens to the south of the house.
Oxon Hill Manor today is of interest for both the present structure and the association of the estate land with Maryland's early history. Essentially unaltered, the present house is expressive of a high level of 1920s prosperity. It was designed in 1928 for Sumner Welles from a neo-Georgian design by the Washington architect, Jules-Henri de Sibour (1872-1938). The house successfully captures the essence of a Georgian country estate in the residential scale of its interior spaces and the development of the site with garden vistas and long views beyond the lawns. However, the architectural embellishment is inconsistent when compared to authentic 18th century details. The mansion is typical of stylistically conservative, major American houses of its period. The property is also significant for a number of historical associations. The colonial-era Addison family, active in the development of Prince George's county and in colonial government, built a mansion on the property in 1711, north of the standing house. In 1778, Thomas Hawkins Hanson, nephew of John Hanson, first "President of the United States in Congress Assembled" under the Articles of Confederation, married an Addison widow and acquired the property. In the fall of 1783, a year after his term in the congress, John Hanson visited his nephew at Oxon Hill Manor. In ill health, he died there on November 15 and may have been buried on the property. After a period of ownership by the Berry family, much of the property was sold off. A group of land speculators bought some of the lots in 1892, and three years later, in 1895, the original Oxon Hill Manor burned. In 1927, the property was bought by Sumner and Mathilde T. Welles, and had the standing house constructed in 1928-29. Sumner Welles (1892-1961) served as Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador to Cuba, and under Secretary of State in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration.