Hercules Road, Annapolis Junction, Anne Arundel County
Grassland, built in 1853, is a three-part brick structure constructed in a telescoping manner, with the axis running east to west. It is laid in common bond and has a corbeled brick cornice. It rests on a stone foundation with no watertable. There are three sections, each covered with a gable roof with asphalt shingles. The larger 2-story, 4 bay by 2 bay section is located at the east end and is marked by two flush gable-end chimneys. A slightly lower, 2-story central section, measuring 2 bays by 1 bay, abuts the west gable end of the large section. A larger flush gable end chimney rises from the west wall of the central section where it abuts the small 1 1/2-story, 2 bay by 1 bay kitchen at the west end of the entire structure. A one-story board-and-batten addition (c. 1950) almost completely covers the north elevation of the house. The south facade of the main block consists of four 6/6 sash windows at each level. This facade of the 1 1/2-story kitchen is covered by a partially enclosed two-story porch, and has an entrance in its southeast bay. The principal entrance to the house is located in the north bay of the east gable end of the main block. This entrance and the 6/6 sash window to its left are covered by a one-story open shed-roofed porch supported by four Doric columns. Both of these entrances have a paneled door with a transom and sidelights. Windows throughout are predominantly 6/6 sash with single course flat jack arches. There are small 6-pane attic windows located at both gable ends of the main block and the half-story level of the kitchen wing. A single 6/6 sash window pierces the north elevation of the main block at the west bay, indicating that the main staircase runs along this wall. The two-story frame porch covering the south elevation of the central section was an open porch until c. 1950 when the second floor was enclosed and the first floor screened in. The interior of the larger section is in a side passage double-parlor plan. The east entrance leads into the stair passage. The majority of interior trim remains intact in this section, including door and window architraves of symmetrical molding with plain corner blocks, a turned newel and balustrade, and simple mantels. Other structures associated with the property are the one-story frame slave house with brick-nogged walls to the northeast of the main house, a small stone smokehouse and the remains of a summer kitchen to the north, and a frame harness shed, storage shed, and the ruins of a bank barn to the south.
Grassland is significant for its architecture, and for its association with black history. Architecturally, the house and outbuildings present a well-preserved example of the type of plantation complex which typified rural Anne Arundel County in the mid 19th century, nearly all of which have vanished in the face of intensive development pressure in the 20th century. Grassland is especially noteworthy for the variety of mid-19th century agricultural outbuildings which remain associated with the site, including a smokehouse, corncrib, harness shed, storage shed, and the ruins of a bank barn; such structures generally fall victim to obsolescence, and the survival of such a diverse grouping is highly unusual. Also highly significant is the frame slave cabin, one of perhaps fewer than a half dozen which survive in the county. The farm buildings are known to have been erected between 1852 and 1854 by the plantation slaves, making this site significant in black history and Maryland history, as well. A farm journal, which records the construction of each structure and other information on daily plantation life, was kept by the plantation owner, William Anderson. Anderson's grandson, John Bowie, Jr., gave the journal to the Maryland Historical Society. This journal and the property itself are significant for the study of the building craft and skill of black slaves in Southern Maryland.