Photo credit: Marina King , 05/1986

Property Name: John W. Coffren House and Store
Date Listed: 6/2/1987
Inventory No.: PG:86A-10, PG:86A-11
Location: 10007, Croom Road (MD 382), Croom, Prince Georges County

Description: The Coffren House is a gable-roofed 2 1/2-story frame dwelling with a side hall-double parlor plan, dating from 1861. It has a one-story kitchen wing built c. 1890, and six outbuildings dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Three bays wide and two wide, the house faces east towards Croom Road, with its principal entrance in the north bay, with a four-light transom and three-light sidelights. Windows are 6/6 sash with louvered shutters. A bracketed cornice ornaments the roofline on all sides of the main block. Interior chimneys pierce the south end of both slopes of the roof. On the west facade, the first floor is covered by a shed-roofed porch with square posts. The north bay of this facade contains a four-panel door on the first floor, and a window on the second significantly lower than those in the center and southern bays. The north and south gable ends each contain a 6/6 sash round-arched attic window with louvered shutters. The north end also has a single 6/6 sash window in the center bay of the first and second floors. The c. 1890 kitchen wing, one story high, is flush with the west facade, and contains an interior end chimney and 6/6 sash windows. The interior details of the house are Greek Revival in style. Approximately 75 feet north of the house is the 1853 Coffren Store. This is a three by two bay, gable-roofed frame structure with a catslide roof sloping to the west or rear. The central entrance is a double door of vertical planks, with a single light in each door. Flanking the door are 6/6 sash windows, and the second story holds a window above each of these. The first floor is covered by a shed-roofed porch on simple square posts. A single interior stove chimney pierces the south end of the west roof slope. A window to the west of this chimney and a door in the extreme west end are the only openings on the south gable end. The north gable end has one window per floor, not aligned with each other. A single window pierces the center of the west facade. All windows are now covered with metal grills. The interior has one large room on the first story which served as a general store, and a second-story storage loft. An enclosed wooden counter runs down the north and south side of the room, with an opening in the rear. A cash drawer is located in the northwest section of the counter. On the north and south walls of the building and across the west wall are shelves, drawers, and bins for merchandise. North of the entrance door, on the counter top, is a cabinet of numbered post office boxes. Other buildings on the property include a meat house, corn crib, hog pen, and barn. Several of these buildings were moved to this location in the last decade of the 19th century.

Significance: The John W. Coffren House and Store are significant for their architecture, as well as their association with the commercial history of Prince George's County and for their association with John W. Coffren, local merchant and landowner. The Coffren House, built in 1861, has a Greek Revival entrance and interior detail. It is notable to find examples of Greek Revival architectural details at so late a date. The floor plan exemplifies a style typical of successful landowners of the period in the county. Few such well preserved examples of this house type remain. The Coffren Store, c. 1853, is a utilitarian structure, embodying a type once common in the county but now rare. Such structures have been considered of little value and abandoned or destroyed. The interior, designed for use as a one-room general store, remains largely unchanged from its original appearance. The store is significant to the history of commerce on the Patuxent and in the county. No other well-preserved example of a mid-19th century general store remains in the county. The house and store are distinguishable as an entity that has functioned from the construction of the house in 1861 through the closing of the store in 1945. The significance of the house and store together is that they are an intact example of house and store complexes that served rural communities in the county during the 19th century. Of what was once a fairly common relationship of buildings, only four other examples survive, in greatly altered condition. Last, the buildings are significant for their association with their builder, John W. Coffren (1828-1874), who rose from ditch digger to wealthy merchant, serving on the Vestry of St. Thomas Church in Croom and on the Prince George's County School Board, as well as owning much of the property in the Village of Croom.




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