UPPER MARLBORO – Five historic homes in Prince George’s County may soon receive historic site designation after county planning staff recommended which sites should be added to the list. Last week, the Prince George’s County District Council and Planning Board met in a joint public hearing to solicit opinion on five houses within the county […]
UPPER MARLBORO – Five historic homes in Prince George’s County may soon receive historic site designation after county planning staff recommended which sites should be added to the list.
Last week, the Prince George’s County District Council and Planning Board met in a joint public hearing to solicit opinion on five houses within the county seeking historic designation.
Members and staff of the Historic Preservation Section of the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission Prince George’s County Planning Department’s Countywide Planning Division gave a presentation on the five sites and offered recommendations for historic designation.
The five sites, the Elmo Clark House in Mount Rainier, the Dashiell and Vernon Wright houses in Hyattsville, the Helen Dwight Reid House in Fort Washington, and Odell House in Accokeek, are all up for historic designation after request made by the property owners.
District Council Chair Derrick Davis said these specific requests are part of a new process designated in revised codes. That specific provision listed in Subtitle 29-120.01, Petition for Designation of Historic Properties.
“The owner(s) of a historic property may file a petition for designation as a historic site with the Historic Preservation Commission. As part of this designation process, the Historic Preservation Commission may also find that the property is eligible for listing in the Historic Sites and Districts Plan or in the National Register of Historic Places,” the provision reads.
Although petitioning for historic site designation may seem simple as a concept, it is a long road from petition to official designation.
After a petition is filed, the commission is tasked with researching and reviewing the potentially historic properties within 120 days of receiving petitions for designation.
A public hearing must also be held within that time frame to present the findings and determine if it meets criteria for historic site designation recommendation.
From there, the county planning board has 60 days to hold a joint public hearing with the District Council.
“Following the close of the record, the planning board will review the record of public hearing testimony received,” Davis said. “The planning board will then forward its recommendation on the proposed historic site designations to the District Council.”
Public comment on the designations closes on Oct. 12. The planning board has 30 days from then to make a recommendation to the District Council, who then has two months to make a final decision.
Howard Berger, the supervisor of the Historic Preservation Section, said he and his staff have been pleased with the interest of the public in pursuing historical designation of their homes so far.
“The planning department and the historical preservation section staff are very pleased with the continued interest on the part of private property owners to have their individual properties designated and we are very happy to be able to continue to provide those technical services to them,” Berger said.
Although all five properties petitioned for historical designation were done by their owners, none of them spoke at the public hearing.
Instead, Robert Krause and Daniel Sams from the Historic Preservation Section staff made presentations and delivered recommendations on the sites.
To be considered for designation, each of the five properties had to meet certain criteria, which included having “significant character, interest of value” in regards to the history of the county, state or nation; being the site of a significant historic event; being identified with a group or person who “influenced society;” or is an example of “cultural, economic, industrial, social, political or historical heritage of the county.”
The sites also had to meet one of the following criteria: embody distinctive characteristics of time period or method of construction, represent the work of a master craftsman, process high artistic value, represent a significant entity, or represent an “established and familiar visual feature of the” community.
All but one property met more than two of these criteria. All five of them were recommended for historical designation.
The Elmo Clark House, a cross-gabled, asymmetrical “Queen Anne” dwelling is one of the earliest houses in Mount Rainier. It was recommended for its significant character as well as its cultural significance in the town.
The Dashiell House, an early 20th Century craftsman-style home, is already in the Hyattsville National Register Historic District and was recommended because of its “architectural integrity and culture and historical significance.”
The Vernon Wright House, a brick-veneered Cape Code style home, was constructed in 1939 by George Harrison, a prolific developer of the time. The house was voted unanimously to be considered for designation as it matched four of the criteria to do so.
The Helen Dwight Reid House, a custom midcentury-modern home, was named after Dr. Reid, who commissioned the house.
The house was finished just before her death.
The house was also unanimously recommended because it met seven criteria, including being identified with a person who influenced society.
The Odell House is late midcentury-modern created by Charles F. Waghner, Jr. Waghner is linked to the “post-war reimagining of the area,” Sams said. It met seven of the criteria for recommendation.