J. Richard Rivoire
Howard Drive, Port Tobacco, Charles County
Situated in the midst of gently rolling lawns, Ellerslie is a physically commanding, two-story house of basic Georgian styling. Of frame construction, the house is five bays wide on both side elevations and has two exterior chimneys at each end. At the west end of the house is a one-story, two-bay frame wing. The house and wing are sheathed with lapped clapboards, and all of the windows have louvered exterior blinds. The roof of both parts of the house is of painted tin, on the main block replacing the original wood shingles. The principal facade of the main block faces north. The entrance door, which has a double, 8-pane transom, occupies the center bay and is flanked on each side by two windows of 9/9 sash. The five second floor windows, each aligned with the opening below, all frame sash of 6/9 panes. The two first and second floor windows closest to the west end are positioned closer together than those at the opposite end of this elevation and define the area of an earlier structure that was extensively remodeled and extended to create the present house. At the main entrance door is a Federal-style, one-story pedimented porch with balustrades, slender tapered posts, and a vaulted ceiling that extends through the tympanum of the pediment. Built c. 1965, the porch is of a design appropriate to the date and architecture of the house. The rear elevation repeats the fenestration and door location of the front; however, there is no transom over the door and a shed-roofed porch with turned posts and balustrade is centered across the middle three bays of the first floor. At the east end of the house are two windows of 6/6 pane sash in the gable and a single first floor door located between the chimneys. The door is fronted by a brick stoop and steps with a wood balustrade matching that of the front and rear porches. At the west end of the house is one 6/6 gable window and a single second floor window between the chimneys. At this end the southwest chimney is larger than the others to accommodate an additional flue servicing a kitchen fireplace in the west wing. The other three chimneys each service two fireplaces. All four chimneys are of brick construction and have stepped weatherings. On both side elevations the eave cornices have ogee crown and bed moldings with the end boards shaped in the same profile. The house sits on high brick foundation walls with five grilled window vents on the front. A door near the west end of the south elevation provides access to a partial cellar beneath the main house. The west wing was built c. 1968 on the foundations of an earlier structure of similar styling. There is significant architectural evidence to indicate that Ellerslie began as a smaller structure, possibly built as early as the mid 18th century, and was extensively altered and enlarged c. 1790-1820. The house as it exists today represents its plan and appearance following the completion of the alterations, although a few features of the original building can still be seen.
Attractively maintained, architecturally distinctive, and historically significant, Ellerslie is one of Charles County's most important historic landmarks. Built in the late Georgian style with Federal interior decorations, it is one of the best preserved examples of late-18th century architecture in lower Southern Maryland. Its long association with two of Southern Maryland's most political and socially prominent families, the Jenifers and the Mitchells, serves to further establish its regional landmark status.