Susan G. Pearl
Brookfield of the Berrys
12510, Molly Berry Road, North Keys, Prince Georges County
Brookefield of the Berrys is a 2 1/2-story frame house begun c. 1810 and completed in 1840. five bays wide with the principal facade facing west, the house has an entrance in the center bay, with a semielliptical fanlight and three-light sidelights. This first story is covered by a hip-roofed porch with turned posts and sawn brackets, and a balustrade. Windows are 6/6 sash with no shutters. Two exterior brick chimneys stand at either gable end. The south facade is three bays wide, with a window in each bay, separated by the chimneys. The center bay also holds a 6/6 window in the attic gable. The north gable end has a one-story kitchen wing attached to its east bay, and no window in the second floor of the west bay. The kitchen wing has a single exterior chimney on its north end, as well as four 4-light windows, two on the first floor and two in the half story. The kitchen is three bays long with a central entrance and flanking 4/4 sash windows on the east facade covered by a shed-roofed porch. The east facade of the main block of the house features a two-story galleried porch across the entire facade. The north bay of both floors is enclosed. The entrance on this side matches that on the west facade, and a smaller entrance stands in the second floor center bay. One window to either side of the door is sheltered by the galleried porch, which also features turned posts, brackets, and balustrades. The building exhibits fine Federal and Greek Revival-style decorative detail. Trim in the wide central passage is Greek Revival in style with sharply profiled grooves and bulls-eye corner blocks with recessed centers. There is a pedestal chair rail with sharp profile, and a high molded baseboard. An elliptical arch divides the central passage, with the same sharply profiled molding as the door surrounds. The capitals of the pilasters are distinguished by overlapping horizontal moldings. Wide floorboards are probably original. All rooms have wooden mantels, Greek Revival in style, but no two are identical. The other trim in the two northerly parlors and the southeast parlor is Federal in style. In addition to the dwelling five outbuildings stand on the property, including a 19th century granary, a 19th century smokehouse and similar balancing 19th century dependency, and a 20th century corn crib.
Brookefield of the Berrys is an excellent example of an early-19th century plantation house of a successful and prosperous planter in southern Prince George's County. The house is particularly significant because it was built in two stages. Construction was begun c. 1810. Structural details in parts of the building, such as the framing of the attic and the use of wrought nails, indicate construction in this period, and the principal entrances and trim in some parlors are Federal in style. The house was finished in 1840 by John Thomas Berry. This second building phase is reflected in the Greek Revival style moldings and mantels in the formal living spaces. Brookefield exhibits several rare or unique architectural details, such as the rare surviving roof form with its ridgeboard and multiple purlins, the unique local example of clapboard interior wall sheathing, and the rare survival of centering in the chimney support. Berry and his descendants lived at Brookefield from 1840 until 1976; three generations of the family have farmed the land continuously, and their farmstead has been one of the most prosperous in the area. This 19th century farmstead is well represented by the complex of outbuildings surrounding the house. Brookefield exemplifies an outstanding plantation house and farm of an important Prince George's County family, from the ante-bellum period to the middle of the 20th century.