General View of East (Front) Elevation, HABS Photo
|Location||12806 Woodmore Rd., Mitchellville, Maryland|
|Area||10 acres (4.0 ha)|
|Built by||Duckett, Isaac|
|Architectural style||Federal, Adamesque|
|NRHP reference #||76002168|
|Added to NRHP||April 30, 1976|
Pleasant Prospect is a historic home located at Mitchellville, Prince George's County, Maryland. It is an outstanding and important example of a Federal style plantation house, consisting of a 2½-story main structure over a full basement with a 2-story kitchen linked by a 1-story hyphen. The kitchen wing and hyphen are typical of late eighteenth century ancillary architecture in Southern Maryland. The walls are laid in Flemish bond, and the chimneys are typical of Maryland; wide on the side, thin and high above the ridge, rising on the gable ends of the house flush with the building wall. The interior exhibits outstanding Federal style trim, including elaborate Adamesque moldings and plasterwork ornamentation such as garlands, swags, and urns applied to interior doorways and mantles. A pyramidal roof, log meat house stands on the immediate grounds.
The architectural design and unique features of the house were documented in the permanent collection of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) at the Library of Congress in 1936 and again in 1983. This documentation notes: "Pleasant Prospect reflects the wealth and elegance of the upper class of planters in Prince George's County during the late 18th and early 19th century. The house was unusually large and well appointed for its time, with a large hall or passage, formal parlor, separate dining room and a library in the main block of the first floor."
Pleasant Prospect was built c. 1798 for Dr. Isaac Duckett, described as one of the most opulent planters in the state. It is one of four houses built in Prince George's County during this period that were valued at $1,500 or more in the 1798 Federal Direct Tax assessment and is described in that document as “a new Two story Brick dwelling, very elegantly furnished with passage 20 by 16, kitchen 19 by 14, all of Brick." Pleasant Prospect is one of three plantations built by the Duckett family in Prince George's County. The other two are Fairview, built by Isaac Duckett's brother Baruch around 1800, and Melford in the 1840s.
Pleasant Prospect is significant for its association with prominent families of Prince George's County for over 200 years. Once the manor house and centerpiece of a 1,095-acre slave plantation, Pleasant Prospect was constructed c. 1798 for Dr. Isaac Duckett on land originally patented in 1698 as Sprigg's Request. During his ownership the plantation thrived, and by 1800, 47 human beings were enslaved, and forced to work, on the property. The primary crop of Duckett's plantation appears to have been tobacco, based on the number of enslaved human beings and notices in the National Intelligencer.
Upon Dr. Duckett’s death in 1823, Pleasant Prospect was transferred to his son-in-law, Captain John Contee. Contee was notable for his service during the War of 1812, where as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, he commanded the Marines aboard the USS Constitution during her victorious engagements with the HMS Java and the HMS Guerriere. Contee resigned from the military in 1813 and returned to private life. He earned a Congressional Silver Medal for each of the two battles in which he served, and was awarded the honorific title of Colonel. In 1824, Contee married Anna Louisa Snowden of Montpelier. In 1830, the legislature of Maryland passed a unanimous resolution expressing its “high sense of the gallantry of John Contee” and granting him an honorary sword for his service.
Records show that in 1839, upon John Contee’s death, the property was deeded to his son, John Contee. The junior Contee graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, became a Navy lieutenant, and, like his father, was commended by Maryland for his gallantry in battle during the Mexican–American War. Pleasant Prospect continued to thrive during this period and 81 enslaved human beings were forced to work the land. In 1861, Contee was elected Captain of the local cavalry company called “The Planters’ Guard” during the Civil War.
In 1868, Jonathan T. Walker, a leading builder and lumber merchant in Washington, DC, purchased Pleasant Prospect and completed numerous Victorian renovations to the exterior of the home. The home remained in the Walker family for a century, where generations of the family were farmers and notable participants in Prince George’s County’s business community until 1978. In August 1982, Pleasant Prospect was sold to Ambassador Raymond Garthoff and his wife Vera. They restored the property and returned it to its original Federal appearance by removing the Victorian era exterior detailing. Ambassador Garthoff has served a number of diplomatic posts for the United States, including as Ambassador to Bulgaria from 1977-1979. The Garthoffs sold the estate to the current owners in 2015.
- National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Frank White (March 1975). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Pleasant Prospect" (PDF). Maryland Historical Trust. Retrieved 2016-01-01.
- "Historic American Building Survey- Pleasant Prospect" (PDF). Library of Congress. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- "Archives of Maryland, Volume 0729, Page 1984 - 1798 Federal Direct Tax". aomol.msa.maryland.gov. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
- "Prince George's County Planning Board, No. 05-61" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-03-04.
- "Letter from Lt. John Contee to Lewis Bush - USS Constitution Museum". USS Constitution Museum. Retrieved 2015-10-20.
- Pleasant Prospect, Prince George's County, Inventory No.: PG:74A-6, at Maryland Historical Trust website
- Pleasant Prospect, 12806 Woodmore Road, Mitchellville, Prince George's County, MD: 22 photos and 22 data pages, at Historic American Buildings Survey
- Pleasant Prospect Official Website, at WordPress