Hitching Post Hill

3308 Rosemary Lane, Hyattsville, Maryland

Built in 1840, for a certain Robert Clark who was probably related to Christopher Clark Hyatt (1799-1884), for whom the town over which the house stands was named. In 1836, Clark had purchased 999 acres of land from George Calvert, a descendant of George Calvert (1579-1632), 1st Lord Baltimore and Proprietor of Maryland.
Clark built his home on top of a hill and it was variously known at that time as Ash Land or Ash Hill, though today it goes by the name of Hitching Post Hill. It was located only ten miles outside Washington D.C., that at the time was a far cry from the hustle and bustle of city life and still retains that feeling today due to the surrounding trees on the estate.

In 1875, Clark sold the property to the charismatic General Edward Fitzgerald Beale (1822-1893) and his wife Mary Engle Edwards (1832-1902). The Beales also owned Decatur House that they kept as their city residence in Washington. In 1876, Beale was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Austria-Hungary, returning from Vienna in the following year to enjoy his American properties that also included a ranch in Texas.

The Beales were close friends with Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), who had just stepped down as 18th President of the United States. In 1877, on a trip to his ancestral homeland, Scotland, Grant wrote to Beale: "I will feel more at home back in Washington than anywhere else, and no place more than in visiting your farm with you".

For Grant, Ash Hill was like a second home to him and he was known to frequently ride out to the house after a day's work in Washington as much to see the Beales as to see his two Arabian horses that he kept stabled there - Leopard and Linden - gifts from the Sultan of Turkey. On one occasion, Grant was in such a hurry to reach Ash Hill that he was arrested for speeding on his horse! He gladly paid the fine incurred maintaining that he was not above the law. The original pictures of Grant's Arabian horses are on display at Decatur House, while prints hang at the house on Ash Hill today.

Other notable guests entertained by the Beales at Ash Hill included "Buffalo Bill" William Frederick Cody (1846-1917) and Frances Clara Folsom (1864-1947) with her husband President Stephen Grover Cleveland (1837-1908). Legend has it that Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) also stayed here. In 1895, the Beales sold the home that they called Ash Hill to Admiral Chauncey Thomas Jr. (1850-1919), the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet who added the long porch supported by doric columns that surrounds the house on three sides.

The sturdy Italianate Federal-style house has walls of red brick twelve inches thick, rising two storeys and topped by a roof with a belvedere at it's peak with two chimneys at each gable end. The facade has five bay windows with a fan lit central doorway. The interior has 11 fireplaces and original woodwork, flooring and marble mantels throughout. Outhouses include "The Springhouse" with slate its slate-tiled pyramid roof topped by a cupola, and the brick carriage house that stands in the north yard. A 45-foot holly tree estimated to be 250 years old and a Black Willow tree listed in the Maryland Tree Champions book (1973) are among the many splendid and original trees found on the property.

In 1947, the house was purchased by T. Raymond Burch and his wife, Nellie Grace Finnell (1896-1975). They lovingly restored the property and placed it on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Mr Burch wrote a history of the house published in 1986: Historic Hitching Post Hill-Ash Hill: General Beale and its other owners. In 1983, the home was sold to the current owner, John Giannetti, who could not have been better suited to restoring the house's ornamental plasterwork being the same man who was employed to restore the crown molding in the Lincoln Bedroom and the water-damaged hallway of the East Wing at the White House. In 2015, the property was on the market for $799,900.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 21/11/2018 and last updated on 15/02/2019.

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