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7500 BCE-c. 1900 CE; 1932–1966, Gertrude Sawyer; Rose Greely and Cary Milholland Parker, landscape architects. 10515 Mackall Rd.

This 512-acre park includes a variety of archaeological and historic sites, as well as a museum, trails, picnic areas, the Morgan State University Estuarine Research Center (1994), and the Maryland Archaeological Conservation (MAC) Laboratory (1996–1998, Ayers/Saint/Gross Architects). Over thirty prehistoric sites ranging in age from 7500 BCE to contact have been identified that are characteristic of both upland and lowland utilization of the Chesapeake Bay tidewater region by Native Americans. The prehistoric sites range from simple temporary campsites to extensive shell- and fish-gathering stations. Nearly twenty historic archaeological sites including house foundations, privy pits, and wells are on the property, with the oldest dating from around 1640.

Three clusters of extant historic buildings largely relate to the twentieth-century ownership of career diplomat Jefferson Patterson. With his wife Mary Breckenridge Patterson, a pioneering filmmaker and journalist, he built Point Farm, a retreat and model farm complex, in the 1930s. Both Pattersons came from wealthy families—his father was a founder of the National Cash Register Company, and her grandfather founded B. F. Goodrich. When the couple married in 1939, Marvin (as Mary was known) was working for journalist Edward R. Murrow reporting on the war in Europe as the first female broadcaster for CBS, a career she had to leave to avoid conflict with her husband’s diplomatic work.

Point Farm was realized by an all-woman design team that included architect Sawyer and landscape architects Greely and Parker, all graduates of the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Sawyer was working for Washington architect Horace Peaslee when she was hired by the Pattersons, and she opened her own office shortly after in 1934. Sawyer was an early female member of the AIA, and her career focused on residential work including many Colonial Revival renovations and additions. Her thirty-four-year association with Point Farm was her most extensive project, encompassing a master plan, twenty-six new buildings including the house and agricultural complex, renovations of two existing houses on the property, and later alterations.

Greely also worked for Peaslee before becoming the first woman architect licensed in Washington and opening her own office in 1925. She specialized in residential design integrating house and garden and was a prolific writer. Her work at Point Farm from 1933 to 1935 focused on creating the walled garden at the house and overall landscape planning. Parker continued these efforts from the late 1930s through the 1940s, refining the garden designs for the property.

An excellent late example of the American country house tradition in the early twentieth century, the main house at Point Farm is a sprawling two-and-a-half-story Colonial Revival brick manor with indoor and outdoor spaces for entertaining and formal gardens. It sits on a bluff overlooking the Patuxent River at the mouth of St. Leonard Creek. A three-car garage was incorporated into one wing of the house, with servant quarters above. Now vacant and awaiting restoration, the house includes a series of alterations by Sawyer up until 1966. The walls, terraces, and gardens around the house are in a similar state of intact neglect. The landscape includes water elements such as an octagonal fish pond in the enclosed garden at the south-east corner of the house and an in-ground swimming pool at a lower terrace with a pool house.

In addition to the house, Sawyer designed numerous agricultural buildings, most notably the farm manager’s complex. Its focal point is the 1932 dairy barn with whimsical weathervanes on louvered cupolas, sited at the long end of a U-shaped yard flanked by a chicken house and granary. In 1998 the state-of-the-art Maryland Archaeology Conservation Laboratory opened next to the farm complex. Its design invoking a modern interpretation of the agricultural buildings was reviewed and approved by an elderly Sawyer. After the archaeological significance of the property was discovered in the early 1980s, Marvin Patterson began donating it to the State of Maryland. The final portion containing the main house was transferred upon her death in 2002.

Writing Credits

Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie


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Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie, "JEFFERSON PATTERSON PARK AND POINT FARM", [St. Leonard, Maryland], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Maryland, Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2022, 42-43.

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