(See the pictures of before and after)
by Ailene W. Hutchins
Although it is not possible, at this time, to trace the complete history of the Phillips' house, some details have been found about the property, which may prove interesting. As earIy as 1860, a tract of 120 acres in and around the Courthouse had been owned by Captain Joseph Griffiss. In 1861, Judge Daniel Magruder bought that property and erected a hotel in Prince Frederick. No indication was given in the records to show whether a building other than the hotel existed on the land.
In 1867, Judge Magruder mortgaged the land he had bought from Captain Griffiss to Henry E. Morton. That contract described the tract as the house and lot known as "the tavern property" as well as 27 acres located "between the Courthouse lot and St. Paul's Church." An insurance policy he took out named only the tavern as a building on the tract. By 1884, the mortgage had not been paid so there was an equity, case in the courts and the 27 acres were then sold at public sale to a John W. Jenkins. In 1888, Jenkins had not completed paying for the tract and sold it for $40.00 to Francis Gantt. which deed described it as adjoining the courthouse lot and the Episcopal Church.
Francis Gantt was an attorney, admitted to the bar in 1882, who had a law office in Prince Frederick. In 1894 be transferred the 27 acres to his wife, Margaret Waring Gantt, and it was then described as part of the estate of Daniel Magruder. Other references to the Gantt family indicate that Francis Gantt and his wife were living in Prince Frederick 1890. He died in 1912, and in 1913 his widow sold the same 27 acre parcel to Goodnian Goldstein who. in 1919, sold the tract to the Calvert Motor Company.
One year later, the Calvert Motor Company sold the same land to Thomas O. Tongue, and reserved one-half acre "where the brick garage stands". That building stood on land which is now part of the Courthouse grounds. When Mr. Tongue bought the land from Calvert Motor Company, the deed mentioned that the bounds ran to the corner of a frame building occupied by Charles H. Alton as a barber shop. As near as can be determined, that shop was located on the side of the latest Courthouse addition, and was on the side of the Manning building next to the Courthouse.
Mr. Tongue, in 1921, sold Mary Bourne 5 1/2 acres from the original 27 acres which had belonged to Calvert Motor Company. The metes and bounds description stated that the land was on the line of the M.E. Church parsonage lot and ran past St. Paul's church and along a row of cedars down to a branch near the spring. For those who may not remember, the Methodist Church parsonage stood on part of what is now part of the parking lot for Lusby Motor Company. "Miss Mollie", as many, knew her, lived in the house with her sister, Miss Emily. In 1928, Mr. Tongue and Miss Mollie agreed to exchange some of the property originally purchased by her. That deed indicated that Miss Mollie was to have one acre on the southeast side of the church lot and it ran to the Bourne residence and parallel with the church fence. Mr. Tongue, in return, obtained the land near the spring. Conversations with Mrs, Virvinia Somervell and Mrs. Elizabeth Anne Wilson revealed that the spring was located down the hill behind and near what is now, the Calvert Cafe next to the former home of May T. King Warfield. There was even a little bridge across the spring down in the meadow.
Miss Mollie and her sister lived in the house they owned until Miss Mollie died. Then, in 1944, Benjamin Hance, as administrator of her estate sold the tract as 5 1/4 acres, to Martin A. McGrory, of Washington. D.C. for $3000. Five vears later. Mr. McGrony and his wife conveyed the same property to Mary Y. and Emerson C. Phillips. The Phillips family owned the property until the death of Dr. Charles Murto, who had married Mary Y. Phillips (known to most as "Billie Phillips").
This completes the circle of ownership from 1861-1993. However, there is additional information about the land around the Courthouse and the families who lived there. Perhaps some of it will provide clues which will be helpful so that a date for the construction of the house can be found and presented later.