44300 Sotterley Lane, Hollywood, MD, USA
Sotterley Plantation Hollywood Reviews
Sotterley Plantation Jun 17, 2013
The only colonial-era Tidewater plantation house in Maryland open to the public, Sotterley was built in 1703 along the Patuxent River by one James Bowles. His father was a wealthy London merchant who made a fortune trading in tobacco, sugar, and slaves. When Bowles died in 1727, his widow Rebecca married George Platter who renamed the estate Sotterley after his ancestral home in Suffolk, England. Their son George was a member of the Continental Congress during the American Revolution, governor of Maryland, and president of the state convention held to ratify the American Constitution in 1788.
The British had the last laugh on the rebellious Bowles during the War of 1812 when warships ransacked the house in 1814 and freed most of the slaves (two of whom became property owners in the Bahamas). The family was forced to sell the tobacco plantation in the 1820s. By the time of the Civil War, it was owned by the Briscoes who were Confederate sympathizers, along with much of the white population in southern Maryland. Three of the Briscoe sons joined Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. During the seige of Petersburg late in the war, they fought on the Southern side while one of their escaped slaves fought for the Union.
In the early 20th century, the estate was bought by a guy with a similar last name, Herbert L. Satterlee, who was married to the daughter of millionaire tycoon J.P. Morgan. The house was turned into a summer retreat with most of the land sold off to local farmers. Their daughter Mabel Satterlee Ingalls lived in the house until her death in 1993, when it was opened to the public. Ingalls was one of the founders of Planned Parenthood, a controversial group that provides free medical services for women as well as contraception and limited abortion services (hence the dislike of the group by some Americans on religious or political grounds).
What struck me about Sotterley was its similar layout to Gunston Hall, a colonial plantation close to where I live in Virginia. Both have a steep hill in front of the house facing the river and a large field or deer park extending to the water. This was to allow residents time to flee if enemy ships came sailing up, such as the 1814 British raid.
Sotterley is about an hour drive from the Washington, D.C., suburbs in St. Mary's County, the home of Maryland's first colonial capitol. There are some trails that go through the woods to the river, but no brochure maps to help you navigate. It was a little too hot for me to go exploring so I hung around the main house, which was scenic enough with its surrounding garden. I also skipped the audio tour you can rent for the grounds and took the escorted house tour instead (no photography inside). A relaxing day trip if you want to brush up on your history and have exhausted the more famous sites around D.C.
Part of the list Maryland
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