Historic Structures

Building Description Harmony Hall - Battersea, Friendly Maryland

Harmony Hall is a two-and-a-half story, seven-bay-wide, one-room deep brick plantation house with almost identical carriage and riverfront facades. The east front differs from the west rear only in the doorway treatment and in the addition of a roof pediment and dormers on the east facade. From the east front the grounds are flat, large trees flank the house, and there is a circular driveway. To the west rear, however, the house sits high on a knoll overlooking Broad Creek. A Ha-Ha prevents the horses in the lower pasture from entering the west lawn.

The brick walls are laid in Flemish bond with a molded-brick water table, and a beltcourse at the east front and west rear. The east front doorway, located to the center of the facade, has a narrow wood surround consisting of a large inner bead, double four-panel doors, and is covered by a pedimented portico with benches to either side. The west entry has a frontispiece with fluted pilasters and a pediment, and has a single six-panel door. This entry--which is elevated due to the sloping site--has a balustraded stoop with a two-run stairway to either side.

The typical window is a nine-over-nine-light-sash on the first floor, and a nineover- six-light-sash on the second. There are narrower six-over-six and six-over-four- light sash windows flanking the first floor entries and the center second floor bays, front and rear. The windows have flat-arched brick lintels, wood sills, and a narrow inner-bead surround. The only windows currently at the sides are small four-light casements to either side of the chimney block in the gable ends (it appears that windows at the sides have been bricked in). As mentioned, a large brick pediment with an oval window has been added at the east front, as well as flanking gable-roofed dormers with round-arched eleven-over-six-light-sash windows, with pilasters supporting a boxed return. The house has a gable roof covered with asphalt shingles. The cornice at the east front has crenelated molding, and there is dentil molding at the west facade. There is a interior brick chimney at each gable end.

To the south side of the main block is a two part wing, a recent addition which replaces a previous addition. These two sections telescope out from the main block. The center section is a one-and-a-half story, one-room deep, two-bay wide brick structure with a gable roof with wall dormers (one front and two rear). The brick is laid in Flemish bond and the nine-over-six-light-sash windows have flat-arched lintels to match the main block. The section to the south end is similar but is slightly shorter and wider. It is also two bays wide with entries at all sides--french doors at the south side and west rear.

The interior has a one-room-deep, center-hall plan, with a wide stairhall with flanking parlor and dining room. An elegant, decorative stairway--the width of the hall--rises along the south wall to a landing, turns ninety-degrees to a second, longer landing and turns again along the north wall and continues to the second floor. This is an open-well, open string stairway with low risers, turned balusters--three per step--and turned newel posts, and scrolling S-patterns in the step ends. There is a shadow rail, complete with newel posts, along the inside wall of the stairway. The walls are plaster with a wide horizontal-board wainscoting with chair rail in a reticulated oval-and-diamond-pattern fretwork, and there is a dentiled cornice molding. The doorway and window surrounds are stepped architrave (except the front doorway--undoubtedly a replacement--which has molded trim with cornerblocks) and the windows are recessed into the wall (creating shallow window seats). The floors are of wide rough-finished boards.

The north parlor has similar moldings, including wainscoted walls, but with a triglyph-and-metope-pattern chair rail, and a dentiled cornice. The windows are the same, with interior paneled shutters which fit into the splayed reveals. The fireplace has a shouldered bolection molding and a bracketed mantel shelf, and there is a simple overmantel with an old painting to the center. 1 The south dining room has no wainscoting, only a plain chair rail, and the cornice is without dentils. On the south wall is a fireplace and china cupboard with paneled walls. The fireplace has only a simple bolection molding and no shelf. The cupboard has round-arched paneled doors with a keystone molding. A doorway to the other side of the fireplace leads into the (modern) kitchen wing.

The second floor, like the first, consists of a large hall flanked by chambers. The second floor, however, has simpler moldings than those found on the first. There is a molded chair rail (without the fretwork or wainscoting), a coved cornice, stepped architrave doorways and architrave window surrounds. In the hall, there is a boxed-winder stairway to a finished upper level. In the north (bed) chamber, a bathroom and closet have been added which flank the doorway, creating a hall into the chamber. There is a fireplace at the north wall with a shouldered architrave surround, three-part mantel shelf and a shouldered overmantel. The south chamber has a bathroom and closet added to the southwest corner. There is a fireplace on the south wall (once closed, but since reopened), with a simple architrave surround only. A doorway to the east side of the fireplace leads into the wing.

The house was built in the early to mid 18th century. 1723 is the date traditionally given. This was based on the belief that the builder of nearby St. Johns Church built this house after finishing the church in 1722. This, however, has not been documented. This property was originally referred to as "Battersea" which was the name given to it when patented by Humphrey Haggett on the 27th of October 1662. By the early part of the 18th century, the property had been acquired by William Tyler. His will of 1718, leaving the property to his son William Tyler, Jr., mentions on the property, "my own dwelling plantation," indicating there was perhaps an earlier dwelling here (Collins). From William, Jr., the property passed to his son, John Tyler, in 1755. It is therefore due to the many years spent here that Harmony Hall is attributed to the Tyler family.

In 1769, Battersea was purchased by Enoch Magruder, a wealthy county landholder who had previously purchased the adjoining property "Want Water." Because Enoch Magruder owned so much property in the county, it is difficult to know whether he ever resided at Battersea. Some sources believe that both he, and later his son, Dennis Magruder, split their time between Battersea and Mount Lubentia in Largo. After his death in 1786, both Battersea and the adjoining Want Water passed to his daughter, Sarah, and her husband, Col. William Lyles. Sarah and William most likely lived at Want Water, so perhaps Battersea was the occasional home of Enoch and Dennis Magruder. It is known that Battersea was rented in 1793-94 by two brothers, Walter and Dulaney Addison and their brides, who designated the home "Harmony Hall."

Harmony Hall--as it was thus renamed--remained in the Magruder/Lyles family until November of 1850 when it was purchased by William J. Edelen. It would remain in the Edelen family for the next twenty-five years or so. From 1892 until 1929 the property was owned by Richard Stein and was known as "Broad Creek Farm". In 1929 it was purchased by Charles and Sue Collins. The Collinses added a one-and-a-half story pantry wing, and a kitchen building connected by a covered passage, in 1930. These additions have since been removed and the current telescoping wings built. (Evidence of brick foundations indicate that the house was once flanked by brick wings.) Charles Collins died in December of 1964, and two years later his widow sold Harmony Hall to the National Park Service, retaining a life estate.