22 – Long Meadow, circa 1790, North Washington County, MD

longmeadow-640-1Marsh Pike heads north from Paramount, passing subdivisions and single homes facing the road. On the right, behind a modern brick house and a collection of farm buildings and paddocks, sits a large, elegant home. It faces south, perpendicular to the road, surrounded by a grove of tall trees and old boxwoods, a sentinel from a different century. The entrance is shared with the newer house and leads through the farm to this oasis, little changed since the turn of the 20th century.

Colonel Thomas Cresap, the legendary Indian fighter, named his 500 acre proprietary land grant Long Meadow when he received it in 1739. Here Cresap built a log and stone fort after having participated in the bloody border dispute between Maryland and Pennsylvania, which ended only with the surveying of the Mason-Dixon Line in 1767. In 1746, Daniel Dulaney, a Prince George’s County lawyer, purchased the tract from Cresap and increased the holding to 2,131 acres. Colonel Henry Bouquet, a British army officer in the French and Indian War, next acquired the land and increased it to 4,163 acres. Subsequently, the tract was divided. In 1789, it was the property of Thomas Hart, a wealthy merchant who was the business partner of Nathaniel Rochester, founder of Rochester, New York. Hart’s daughter Lucretia married the statesman from Kentucky, Henry Clay. Thomas B. Hall, a government tax collector, owned Long Meadow early in the 19th century. Hall absconded with tax funds, and, after years of litigation, the deed of transfer, signed by Chief Justice John Marshall and Associate Justice George Storey, gave Long Meadow to Dr. Richard Ragan, who had purchased the property at public auction.

During the late 18th century, a one-room stone cottage was built at Long Meadow, and, a little later, another room was added. Later, a two-story frame segment was added to this. The imposing brick Greek Revival section of the house was probably built by Dr. Ragan about 1840. This is, in effect, half a house. It consists of a broad center hall, going from the elevated front entrance through to the back of the house, and two rooms on each floor that are beyond this hall. This section of the house was fairly easy to date because the doors were fitted with large, iron and brass locks made in England by the Carpenter Company. Carpenter locks were imprinted on the keeper with the company name and, beneath that, initials indicating the reigning monarch–in this case, WR. William IV reigned from 1830 to 1837. This elegant brick wing was attached to the frame segment, which had no particular architectural distinction.

The next owners of any duration were members of the William Young family, who lived at Long Meadow from 1885 until 1974. In 1908, the early frame addition was torn down and rebuilt in brick to match the 1840 section. This was the first time an architect, H. E. Yessler of York, Pennsylvania, had been involved with the house. He designed a dining room and a drawing room to mirror the music room and library in the 1840 section. A pair of doors four feet wide and eight feet tall separates these 1840 rooms, each with ten raised panels, while pocket doors divide the pair of downstairs rooms in the 1908 section. This newer section was floored with narrow maple boards, and the hall was refloored with maple as well. The floors in the rest of the 1840 section remain the original pine.

This lovely home, painted cream with black shutters, has a tin, raised-seam gambrel roof and six dormers with small columns beside each of their windows. The main entrance in the 1840 section opens into a broad central hall that contains elegant stairs with square balusters and a beautiful hexagonal chandelier. This fixture, which was found in New Orleans, Louisiana, is made of glass and two colors of brass. The moldings are deep and broad, and the doors have six panels. Tucked into the sides of the chimney in the music room are two small cupboards with shelves for books. Upstairs, above the front hall, is a large bathroom added in the 1908 renovation and still containing its original fittings. It has a claw-footed tub and a black slate shower about four feet square. Four six-pronged handles control the flow of water to two showers–one an overhead ring about eighteen inches in diameter and the other a long horseshoe-shaped loop of pipe connected to the perpendicular wall.

The final reconstruction occurred in 1936 when the original section was expanded to house the family of one of the Young’s sons. Shed dormers were added to the roof in order to accommodate four bedrooms. Downstairs the huge cooking fireplace in the original room was downscaled to a smaller one and the wall paneled in walnut, cut on the property. The fireplace in the second room was retained, and a cupboard was added beside it. This commodious room is now the kitchen of this comfortable wing. In its final configuration, this evolving home has 30 rooms–seven of them in the dirt-floored basement. Serene on its four acre oasis, one of the earliest land grants in the county, Long Meadow is in the National Register of Historic Places.

Epilogue: Judge Daniel Moylan and his wife Ann purchased Long Meadow in 1974. Their names were not mentioned in the original article because of a contemporaneous attack on another local judge. The Moylans were responsible for the continuing restoration of the house and for listing it in the National Register of Historic Places. The small stone wing of the house, referred to by the family as the little house, has always been the primary living space. It has recently undergone another restoration. The kitchen has been redesigned and its fireplace restored, its firebox and surround replastered. The room to the east with its fireplace and walnut paneled wall can now be entered from both sides of the kitchen fireplace and has become a dining room for this wing. The doorway to the porch on the north of this room has been opened and the original batten door found in the basement, restored and rehung. This porch has been enclosed with windows and a laundry/half-bath added on its west side.

For many years Ann planned the porch restoration for the large wing of the house—the big house—and agonized over its details. It has finally been done. When the columns were delivered seven inches short, Dan and his contractor David Gibney devised molded fillets and added necks that make them even better than planned, for they reflect the colonettes on either side of the dormers. 

In the library of the big house, Dan has designed a wall of shelves and paneling that surrounds the fireplace and rises twelve feet to the ceiling. He has used design elements from the rest of the wing, the great oval panel found under each of the tall windows, cut cornered panels found on the doors, that make the library shelves seem as if they have always been there. 

In the northeast corner of the back yard, the smokehouse now has a new roof and has been newly repointed. There are always more projects in a house this size, but that is what makes them wonderful. 

This article appeared in the Herald Mail Sunday, April 7, 1991 as the 22nd in the series. BookBanner