Ogle Hall

247 King George Street, Annapolis, Maryland

Completed in 1742, for Dr William Stevenson (d.1739) and his wife, Francina Augustine Frisby (1719-1766). Ogle Hall has a rich history and is intimately linked to the Governors of Maryland: it was home to three, and home to the children of two more; and, during the latter half of the 18th century it was the Governor's official residence at Annapolis. It was also home to a co-founder of The Key School and his wife, a crime fiction writer. Today, it is named for Colonial Governor Samuel Ogle whose family lived between here and Belair Mansion for some fifty years. Since 1967, it has been the Alumni House of the U.S. Naval Academy and has become a popular venue....

This house is best associated with...

Samuel Ogle

Lt.-General Samuel Ogle, of London & "Belair" Governor of Maryland


Ann (Tasker) Ogle

Mrs Ann (Tasker) Ogle, of Belair


Benjamin Ogle

Benjamin Ogle, of Belair; Governor of the State of Maryland


Henrietta (Hill) Ogle

Mrs Henrietta Margaret (Hill) Ogle


James Steele

James Steele, of Ogle Hall, Annapolis, Maryland


Mary Nevitt

Mrs Mary (Nevitt) Steele


Sarah (Lloyd) Lowndes

Mrs Sarah Scott (Lloyd) Lowndes


Charles Lowndes

Commodore Charles Lowndes, U.S.N., of Annapolis, Maryland


A native of Lancaster in England, Stevenson was described as a "beloved doctor" but died in the year that work started on his new mansion - the first of its kind in Annapolis. His widow, Francina, oversaw its completion and then lived there with their children. In 1746, she remarried Daniel Cheston (1712-1754) and according to the custom of the day the property came into his possession. The following year, they leased it to Samuel Ogle (1694-1752), for whose family the house is named today.

Ogles and Taskers

In 1747, Ogle and his wife Ann Tasker (1723-1817) returned to America after seven years in England to take up his third term as Proprietary Governor of Maryland. They maintained the Hall as their official city residence during "the season" while spending their weekends and summers at their magnificent country home, Belair Mansion. Ogle was well-known for his love of horses and racing - notably at Belair - and he built his stables at Annapolis beside the front walk so that he could easily greet his horses as he left or returned home!

Samuel Ogle - who was 27-years older than his wife - died in 1752 and the following year his widow's brother, Benjamin Tasker Jr. - owner of the Baltimore Iron Works - purchased Ogle Hall from Cheston for 70-tons of pig iron. Rather than live there, he tended to Belair while his widowed sister and her children lived year-round at what was now his house in Annapolis. Eight years later (1760), Mrs Ogle bought the house and purchased a plot next door the following year, dividing the two properties by way of an 8-foot brick wall.

Governor Benjamin Ogle & Entertaining Washington

In 1773, Mrs Ogle transferred her Annapolis property - consisting of the main house, gardens, kitchens, and other dependencies - to her only son, Benjamin Ogle (1749-1809), who together with his second wife, Henrietta Hill, divided their time between the Hall and Belair. That same year, Presidential records show that Ogle held a dinner at the Hall for his friend, George Washington (1732-1799). Two years later (1775), Benjamin added the semi-octagonal ballroom wing, but as Revolution neared it took longer than planned before moving all their furniture by carriage down to Belair for safe-keeping. 

In 1798, Ogle continued family tradition when he was appointed the 9th Governor of the State of Maryland. On his death, he left his Annapolis home to his widow who in turn left it to their eldest son, Benjamin Ogle II (1775-1844), with instructions that on her death he was to sell the property, then described as, "a commodious brick dwelling with offices, coach house, stable, ice-house, and garden with fruit trees".

Steele, Lloyd, Lowndes & Governor Pratt

Mrs Henrietta Ogle died in 1815 and her son obeyed his her wishes by selling their home in  Annapolis that year for $6,760 to James Steele (1760-1816), heir to a fortune derived from land and slaves, and the son of one of the wealthiest men in Dorchester County.

Steele died just one year after taking ownership but his widow, Mrs Mary (Nevitt) Steele, continued to live there until her death in 1836. Three years later, her children sold the house, its contents, livestock, and six slaves for $4,754 to their aunt - Mrs Steele's half-sister - Mrs Sarah (Lloyd) Lowndes, the wife (and first cousin) of Commodore Charles Lowndes (1798-1885), who were both distantly related to the Ogles. But, only five years later (1843), Sarah placed it back on the market when it was described as:
Containing ten rooms and many conveniences for the accommodations of a large family. A good Back Building which includes pantry, store rooms etc., a large and good kitchen and laundry adjoining with excellent accommodations for servants. A paved yard, with a pump of fine water, smoke house, ash house, coal house, stable and carriage house. A delightful Garden, well-stocked with an abundance of choice fruit now in full bearing, the House yard and Garden, including a half square, is divided from the next residence by a substantial brick wall 8 or 10 feet in height, and is well calculated to train grapes etc., on, as the house presents two fronts. It is surrounded by a large court yard, and is decidedly one of the most desirable residences in the City.
In 1847, Ogle Hall was purchased for $4,250 by another Governor of Maryland, Senator Thomas George Pratt (1804-1869), and his wife Adeline MacKubin Kent (1814-1897). In about 1859, they enlarged it by way of adding a one-and-a-half story rectangular brick addition, attached to the house via a brick hyphen.

Masons, Porters and Browns at "Mansion House"

In 1865, the Pratts leased the house to Congressman John Thomson Mason, Jr. (1815-1873) and his wife, Margaret Augusta Cowan (1821-1899). Two years later, the Masons purchased the mansion from the Pratts for $5,000, when Ogle Hall became referred to as the "Mansion House". Mason died in 1873 and though his widow sold off some of the land she maintained the house until her death in 1899 when she bequeathed it to her two surviving daughters, Louise Gilmer Mason (1844-1921) and Elizabeth Mason (b.1848). The following year, the property was conveyed to Elizabeth after she paid her sister $1,475.

Elizabeth took up residence with her two daughters by her husband, Commodore Theodoric Porter (1849-1920). Elizabeth died circa 1908, when her two daughters - Margaret Mason Porter and Rosalie Porter (1885-1960) - put up "an imposing brick structure" next door, designated as 243-245 King George Street. In 1923, Margaret sold her share in Ogle Hall to Rosalie and her husband Carroll Van Ness (b.1874). The Van Ness' lived further down the street and leased the house out until 1934 when they sold it to Ford K. Brown (1895-1977), a co-founder of "The Key School," and his wife, the crime fiction writer, Zenith Jones (1898-1983), who wrote under the pen-name, "Leslie Ford".

The United States Naval Academy Alumni House

The Browns made several alterations before selling it in 1967 to the United States Naval Academy who maintain it today as their Alumni Association House. It is also available to hire as a weddings and events venue. 

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 09/10/2018 and last updated on 13/09/2021.


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