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Doughoregan Manor Is Listed as Imperiled

The 892-acre Doughoregan Manor in Howard County is owned by the descendants of Charles Carroll, a Founding Father. The family is said to be weighing development options for the property.
The 892-acre Doughoregan Manor in Howard County is owned by the descendants of Charles Carroll, a Founding Father. The family is said to be weighing development options for the property. (By James M Thresher -- The Washington Post)

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By Philip Rucker and Susan DeFord
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 22, 2007

Doughoregan Manor, the largest expanse of undeveloped land in Howard County, is one of 11 sites identified as Maryland's most endangered historic places during a recent campaign by Preservation Maryland, a nonprofit organization.

The "Endangered Maryland" list is the first statewide catalogue of threatened historic properties. Preservation Maryland plans to publish such lists annually, modeled after the National Trust for Historic Preservation's yearly list of the most endangered historic sites.

Built in the early 1700s, Doughoregan Manor has been occupied by members of Founding Father Charles Carroll's family for centuries. The 892-acre estate is historically significant because it is the only home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence still in his family's hands.

The property faces a crucial juncture this year, with the Maryland Historical Trust's easement on it set to expire May 23. The family has been considering development options to raise money for repairs, according to Preservation Maryland.

County Council member Courtney Watson (D-Northeast County), whose district includes Doughoregan, said she and County Executive Ken Ulman (D) have met twice with members of the Carroll family in the past four months.

Watson said zoning allows them to develop as many as 400 single-family homes on their 892 acres. "It really is a dilemma for the county and for the property owners about what to do," she said. The county, she said, "is trying to be as open to ideas and as helpful as possible while they're working through their options."

She pointed out that the Carrolls "do have the right to develop. They could develop a piece of it while they're trying to work things out" for the remainder of their holdings.

Kristen Harbeson, education and outreach director of Preservation Maryland, said all the sites on the list face "immediate threats."

"A lot of these sites suffer, there are pretty significant challenges facing them, but there is a solution that's possible," she said. "We're hoping that through educating people about what sites are out there and what challenges they're facing, there might be different solutions. . . . Sometimes it's a matter of money or getting political support. Sometimes it's a matter of encouraging the owner to do something."

The "Endangered Maryland" list includes three other sites in the Washington region. They are the Ridgeley School in Prince George's County, Comsat Laboratories in Montgomery County and the Bond-Simms tobacco barn at Greenwell State Park in St. Mary's County.

Built 80 years ago on Central Avenue, the Ridgeley School is one of about 5,000 so-called Rosenwald schools in the South built in the 1920s and '30s for African American children before public schools were integrated. Some hope to renovate the school and convert it to a museum celebrating the history of African American education in the county.

The Comsat Laboratories building, along Interstate 270 near Clarksburg, is a space-age building made of aluminum and glass that was designed in 1969 by Cesar Pelli, the Argentine American architect. The building is considered a significant example of Pelli's early work in the post-World War II era. Pelli later designed airport terminals and skyscrapers across the United States, as well as Malaysia's Petronas Twin Towers, which were the world's tallest buildings when constructed in the 1990s.

Preservation Maryland says the Comsat building could be substantially altered or destroyed by its owners' intentions to develop the campus.

The 19th-century Bond-Simms barn is thought to be the oldest hewn log barn in St. Mary's County. The barn stands on its original timber and log walls, and Preservation Maryland fears that water and termite damage could splinter and destroy the structure.

Historians want to preserve the barn as an icon of tobacco farming, which for years defined Southern Maryland's culture, economy and geography.

For more information on the Endangered Maryland campaign, visit

© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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