HYATTSTOWN — The house is called Labyrinth, because the meandering property once stretched over 2,000 acres, interconnected by lush woodlands and streams.
Today, 18 acres belongs to the property, located on Linthicum Road outside of Hyattstown, just a stone’s throw north of the Montgomery County line. It still retains a sense of grandeur, however, as the house looks out over a pond, fields and woods beyond.
“This is a farmhouse, so it’s not ornate,” said the home’s owner, Marcia Canfield. She has tried to preserve its past, retaining many historical elements throughout the home. Modern air conditioning and an updated kitchen, along with original flooring, plaster walls and antique hardware give it an upscale, yet homey feel.
The house, first built in 1825, is a designated Frederick County Landmarks plaque property, a program which recognizes locally important houses and buildings that have historical value. It’s for sale, presenting an uncommon chance for someone to buy a house in the plaque program. The plaque is number 65 in the program. Just over 300 houses and buildings are part of the plaque program, which began in the 1970s.
The house is also listed on the Maryland Historic Trust Inventory of Historic Properties.
Labyrinth began in 1825 as a two-story farmhouse, built by Samuel T. Simmons Sr., James Simmons and Samuel Simmons Jr., with porches on both levels. The porch has square posts with a scroll-sawn brackets on the first level, and a decorative balustrade on the second level. “The railing is all hand carved,” Canfield said.
One of the Simmons men volunteered to fight in the Civil War toward war’s end, when he was well into his 50s. He apparently was opposed to slavery, and although he may have had people working for him, he didn’t have slaves to help him farm the property, Canfield said. Around 1865, a brick addition was added on the west end.
Outside is a smokehouse with a slate roof. Slate, from a quarry for which nearby Slate Quarry Road was named, also covers the east gable of the house, although the roof long ago was replaced with asphalt shingles. The slate roof on the smokehouse and the siding are likely from the late 19th century. The scalloped pattern of the slate siding is Queen Anne style.
Stone for the front and back of the house, now covered in stucco, was likely quarried nearby also. A stone springhouse collapsed not too long ago, but the stones remain. Springs run throughout the property, which allowed a long-ago property owner to create a pond, now stocked with fish.
Chimneys rise on both ends of the house. The brick addition has a dog-tooth cornice. This end of the house has German siding above the addition. The other side of the house has German siding, stone and the slate siding.
Also on that side of the house is a garage added 50-60 years ago, later converted into a guest room. This room is a step up from the original basement, which still displays the original stone foundation, along with the plaster and lathe walls. Canfield said the house was built directly on rock. No footers were ever used. The updated boiler and other utilities are housed in the cellar.
The house remained in the Simmons family until about 1930, when the Linthicum family bought the property. At the end of Linthicum Road is the Simmons family cemetery, with some gravestones that date to the early 19th century, and many stones that are set too deep in the ground to read the lettering.
Original shutters still flank the old front door. This entrance leads into the front parlor, with windows set into 2-foot thick walls. The walls are so thick that almost no outside sound penetrates, Canfield said. The original fireplace remains, although the parlor side has been closed off and a gas fireplace installed. Flanking one side of the fireplace is a set of built-in bookshelves. Floors on the ground level are yellow pine, and upstairs, the flooring is oak. A back hall leads to the modern kitchen, situated in the brick addition. A working fireplace faces the kitchen and eating area.
On the other side of the parlor is a room now used as a family room. Behind the parlor is an enclosed sun porch, which was once an exterior porch, with views of the pond and fields. The original staircase leads to three upstairs bedrooms, a modern bathroom and even a large walk-in closet off the master bedroom. The paint on the walls is high quality paint, recommended for historic homes, in period colors. Much of the woodwork is plain, although there is some wood paneling, and some decorative pressed tin crown molding.
The property is in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Preservation Program. Canfield has tried to plant native and 19th century plantings. Boxwoods near the front porch and in a large garden off to one side of the house offer green color, even in winter. The smokehouse is now a potting shed, with plenty of storage for gardening tools.
Brick and stone paths and patios surround the house, shaded by large, old shade trees and cedar trees. A dog door off to one side gives the family pet a convenient way in and out of the house.
Large fruit trees and pecan trees, wild blackberries and wild herbs grow on the property. Canfield said the Simmons family was largely self-sufficient, living off produce grown on the property. The 2,000-acre original parcel also contained a sawmill, a grist mill, a general store and an ice house, which was insulated with hay grown on the vast property.
The pond is stocked with smallmouth bass, and a small stable overlooks a pasture. Canfield said she’s loved living in the house, and she hopes to pass it on to another owner who will preserve its character for generations to come. “I have so much respect for the preservation of historic places,” she said.