Michael F. Dwyer
6013, Old Crain Highway, Upper Marlboro, Prince Georges County
Bowling Heights is a large 2 1/2-story frame house constructed in 1877 in the High Victorian Gothic style. The principal (west) facade is five bays wide, spanned by a one-story porch. The entrance, with paneled double doors, is located in the central bay; floor-to-ceiling 2/4 windows are found in each of the flanking bays. Shuttered 2/2 sash windows define the five bays of the second floor. The central bay is recessed on both levels. The steep mansard roof is clad in polychrome slates and given complex form by multiple dormers and cross gables. Two tall paneled chimneys with corbeled caps rise from the exterior of either end of the main block. A 1 1/2-story T-shaped wing extends to the north, consisting of a two-bay, gable-roofed hyphen terminating in a deeper, one-bay section which features a high, steep hipped roof with decorative ridge cresting and a corbeled chimney rising above its east slope. A one-story, one-bay semioctagonal wing projects to the north; the eaves of its steep hipped roof are broken by gothic-arched stained-glass transoms on three sides. The building is clad in narrow German siding, with applied stickwork defining panels in the window areas of the facade, and vertical board-and-batten siding in the frieze and gable peaks. A wealth of High Victorian Gothic detailing characterizes both exterior and interior. On the exterior, elaborate sawn and carved bracketing enhances the many gables, dormers, and porches; applied stickwork segments the facade; the chimneys are richly paneled and corbeled and polychrome slates form a pattern on the roof. The interior retains a similar abundance of period decoration, marble fireplace surrounds, and plaster ceiling medallions. The property also contains a meat house and dairy which are probably contemporaneous with the house, and several 20th century outbuildings supporting its continuing association with dairy and horse farming.
The significance of Bowling Heights derives from its architecture. As a residence executed in a richly ornamented interpretation of the High Victorian Gothic style, Bowling Heights embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type of architecture that was popular in urban areas in the 1870s and was usually expressed in masonry, but is rarely found in rural Maryland, expressed in wood-frame construction. The important exterior features of Bowling Heights include its complex, asymmetrical massing; its multiple gable forms with elaborate scroll-sawn and stickwork ornamentation; its patterned polychrome slate roof; and the use of recessed bays, applied horizontal-board banding, and a variety of siding treatments to create visual interest in the facade. On the interior, the patterned flooring, Eastlake stair, heavy molds, and ornate ceiling medallions are notable. Bowling Heights is the largest and most fully expressed example of this style in Prince George's County.