Over a period of several years this column has followed the progress of the Van Vleck operation at Lower Marlboro in Calvert County, Md. The history of this Patuxent River port town is nearly as long as that of the nation.
A port of entry in the 17th century, the harbor master's home still stands as a very example of colonial frame construction. Scarcely a city block away (although such things do not exist in Lower Marboro) the superb Patuxent Manor faces the river in somewhat splendid isolation. Its place in our architectural history seems secure: it's living room paneling graces Winterthur. Its faithful replacement, however, is in itself a joy to behold.
The Van Vleck operation was, for the most part, not concerned with the pitifully few remnants form the original town, although it did include restoring the photogenic harbor master's house to its beautiful condition it enjoys today. For the most part Van Vleck was interested in moving to this site a dozen or more relics from the 17th or 18th century found to be fading in their original locations in Maryland or Virginia.
The most recent transfer involves the move of the Mattingly House from Upper Marlboro to a site overlooking the Patuxent in Calvert County township mentioned. The Mattingly House is another 18th century relic, somewhat striking in its resemblance to a great many homes of the Tidewater region built a century or more later than this. Of two stories, frame, with a single wing of one story blanketing the twin chimneys of the other, the Mattingly House is not obviously unlike a thousand others seen on any Sunday afternoon's drive in this general area.
The styling is highly unconventional perhaps, but who is to say it is not good architecture?
James C. Wilfong, who lives near Prince Frederick in Calvert County, has long been interested in architecture.