When Mousa Hejazi was contacted about restoring this 1857 Georgian house in Brandywine, Md., he thought it would take him about six months. Two and a half years later, he’s finally put the finishing touches on it.
In 1988, the Prince George’s County Historical and Cultural Trust designated it a historic house, calling it “a rare surviving example in Prince George’s County of a mid-19th century brick plantation house.”
The house was built for William H. Gwynn and his wife, Christina, replacing a home that was destroyed by fire. Although at the time this home was built, Brandywine was a rural outpost, the house was constructed as if it were an elegant and stately dwelling in the city.
The house’s architectural details reflect a Greek Revival style, most notably the cornice. If the cornice and roof of a house can be considered its hat, this one would hold its own against those worn at the Kentucky Derby and the fascinators at a royal wedding. Described by the historical trust as a “particularly fine decorative molded brick cornice,” the seven layers of exquisite brickwork include egg-and-dart, dentil and anthenium.
According to a Prince George’s school system document on the history of Gwynn Park High School, which was built on land once part of the estate, the bricks were made of clay from a local pond.
Perhaps because the first house burned down, this one was built to last. When Hejazi began work on it, he discovered that not only are the exterior walls brick — laid in a Flemish bond pattern — but so, too, are the thick interior walls.
In 1865, the sturdy brick house reportedly withstood the search for John Wilkes Booth, who fled through the county after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. When J. Eli Huntt bought the house in 1889, he named it Gwynn Park Manor. The house remained in the Huntt family until 1986.
Robert Brinckloe bought it in 2007 with the intention of restoring it, but he put it on the market a year later. The current owner purchased it in 2014.
Hejazi has brought new life to the 162-year-old house with his seamless restoration. With help from his wife, Raouda, an artist and designer, he blended the past with the present to create a gracious and functional home.
Because Hejazi was impressed by the original builder’s craftsmanship and attention to detail — “There was so much intelligence to it,” he said — he preserved many original features, including the curved fireplace mantels, the doors and deep baseboards. And where he needed to make repairs, he went to great lengths to stay true to the period, such as grinding chalk into cement to replicate the look of old cement.
Hejazi said he is most pleased with the refinished, random-width heart pine floors, which are also original. He used three contractors and tried out 20 stains before he achieved the result he wanted.
Many times when historic houses are incorporated into new-home communities they stick out badly. Not in this case. Credit the county and the developers of the Hamptons community for not only carving out a large green space in front of the house but also for designing the homes around Gwynn Park Manor in sympathy with it.
The five-bedroom, four-bathroom, 3,640-square-foot house is listed at $989,500. An open house is scheduled for Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Listing: 8118 Grayden Lane, Brandywine, Md.
Listing agent: Bashar Hijazi, Fairfax Realty Premier
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