Michael O. Bourne
Shepherd Church Road, Four Corners, Caroline County
Willow Grove is one of the few Georgian-style houses in Caroline County. A documented date of construction has not yet been discovered, but architectural details indicate that it was constructed between 1780 and 1790. The two-story brick house covered with a thin coat of stucco, measures 37' long and 34' deep. The northwest facade is five bays with a central door, and the southeast facade is four bays. The house is three bays deep and has a two-story, three-bay brick kitchen wing on the northeast which appears similar to a hyphen and a kitchen, due to a set-back in the wall. Basement windows are placed behind horizontal wooden grilles. There is no watertable, but there is a belt course on three sides of the main block and on the northwest facade of the kitchen. The central doors have semicircular arches with fanlights trimmed with a keystone and impost blocks. The doors and jambs are all paneled. Portions of the southeast door trim have been reconstructed. The windows have 2/2 sash and there are some which have 6/6 sash; the original sash would have had 9/9 lights with paneled shutters. Two windows in each of the gable ends light the attic. Two tall chimneys are set flush with the southwest gable, and one with the northeast gable.
Willow Grove is important for its Georgian-style architecture as well as the importance of the builder, Matthew Drive, Jr., in the growth of the new nation and in the growth of the then newly formed Caroline County. Matthew Driver, Jr., born on August 30, 1740, married John Bayard’s daughter, Margaret Casson. In 1774, Driver was appointed Justice of the first Caroline County Court by the Governor of the Province of Maryland. He was appointed a member of the House of Delegates as well as Chairman of Safety for Caroline County and Captain of the Militia of Caroline County. In the following year he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel and was second in command to Colonel William Whitely; the latter was Commander-in-Chief of both battalions of the Militia in Caroline County. Driver was commissioned as a full Colonel in 1778 by the House of Delegates and in 1779 was commissioned to pay soldiers of the Fifth and Seventh Maryland Regiments for service in the American Revolution. In 1782 he subscribed 30 pounds to the founding and support of Washington College in Chestertown, and in 1786 he gave a two-acre lot to Caroline County for the erection of the county’s first Courthouse. With his son-in-law, Peter Edmonson, and two other members from Caroline County, Driver ratified the United States Constitution at the State Convention in 1788.