Photo credit: Margaret W. Cook , 1977

Property Name: Content
Date Listed: 9/13/1978
Inventory No.: PG:79-16
Location: 14518, Church Street, Upper Marlboro, Prince Georges County

Description: Content, also known as the Bowling House, is a 2 1/2-story, two-part frame structure built in three stages. Located in Upper Marlboro, Content faces east towards the county courthouse. The first section, built in 1787, consisted of the present main block. A stair hall and porch were added c. 1800. A 2 1/2-story wing to the north was added before 1844. The main block has a two-story galleried porch, now partially screened. On both the first and second floors, there is an entrance in the north bay and three windows in the remaining bays. Those on the first floor are 9/9 sash, while those above are 9/6. Many have louvered shutters. The principal entrance, once six-paneled, and now glass above two panels, is framed by pilasters and sidelights, with an elliptical fanlight over all. The original side and fanlights have been replaced with single sheets of glass. The south gable end has two large exterior chimneys with a brick pent between containing a small 4/4 sash window. The attic gable contains a 6/6 sash window between the chimneys. East of the east chimney are single 6/6 sash windows on either floor. The wing was built onto the north gable end of the main block, to the north of the stair hall. Slightly shorter than the main block, the wing is only one room deep, and has a single exterior chimney on the north gable end, flanked by small 4/4 sash windows at attic level. The east facade of the wing is three bays wide, with an entrance in the first floor south bay, and 6/6 sash windows with louvered shutters in the remaining bays. The west facade is similar, but the entrance is in the north bay, and a shed-roofed partially enclosed porch now covers the first floor openings. On the west facade of the main block, the division between the 1787 portion and c. 1800 addition are clear. A door in the north bay leads to the stairhall, and remaining windows match those on the front, all with louvered shutters. On the interior, the floor plan of the main block consists of the stair hall on the north, a large room in the southeast corner, and a slightly narrower room in the southwest corner. A small square room has been created in the northwest corner of the latter; t his room was also divided originally. In the hall, the living room door appears to be the only original, comprised of six panels and with its original lock. Other similar doors have been stored in the cellar and attic. A transom with vertical louvers surmounts the dining room entrance; a cross-arch with molded trim; and narrower chair rail with a carved low relief design. The stair, in the northwest corner of the hall, has a plain walnut hand rail, square balusters, and scrolled step ends. The spandrel is paneled, and contains a door to the basement stairs. The mantel in the southeast room is of black marble in an ornate design, and a cornice in this room consists of a design of scrolls and flowers.

Significance: Content is one of the oldest buildings remaining in Upper Marlboro. Construction on only two buildings in the town was begun earlier. Content and these other two are the only three 18th century houses surviving in Upper Marlboro. The main block of Content is representative of the two-story structures of this period, while Kingston and the Buck (or James Wardrop) House were both 1 1/2 stories when first constructed. Content is the most untouched of the three; Kingston was Victorianized and the Buck House made over into a two-story dwelling. The several rows of terraces and falls on the east and north sides of the house are typical of the sort of landscaping done in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Although no plantings remain, it is unusual enough for the terraces themselves to have survived. Content has always been owned by families who were prominent in the civic, economic, and social affairs of Upper Marlboro, Prince George's County, and the State of Maryland. These have included the Magruder, Beanes, and Lee families, as well as the Bowling family of the 20th century.




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