Waters House Condos

Only the foundation remains of the oldest and finest federal style brick houses in what is now Germantown.

In the 1790s, the Waters brothers received land from their father when they married, about 500 acres apiece in present day Germantown. Zachariah and Basil Waters built houses to the east of William’s, whose house sat where the Waters House condos are today, at the intersection of Father Hurley Boulevard and Waters Road.

The stone foundations of the William’s house remain, surrounded by a nice little park. A plaque offers history about the place — but it doesn’t tell the whole story. The history of this house reflects the county’s transition from wilderness to agriculture to suburban development.

The large house was built of brick in about 1790 on tracts of land called “Siria Love” and “Well Paid For.” The bricks were said to have come from England, brought by oxcart from Annapolis. Here William brought his bride, Susanna, daughter of Revolutionary War hero Zadock Magruder, soon after they were married in 1785. They may have first lived in one of the two log houses on the farm until the brick house was ready. They kept building onto the house, which has not completed until 1800. They had three children: Nathaniel, Horace and Gulielmaria.  After their father’s death in 1817, Nathaniel and Horace divided the farm, Horace owning the original House and farmstead of about 350 acres, as well as 17 slaves.

Horace married his cousin, Charity Boyd, and they had three children, Franklin, Horace Jr., and Mary Elizabeth. Horace Jr. was born in 1823, the same year that his father died. Since his older brother went on to become a doctor, Horace was to inherit the farm. His mother, Charity Boyd Waters, remarried to James Thrift, and ran the farm until Horace came of age.

Horace Jr. added extensively to the farm holdings becoming a prominent figure in the county, being a founding member of the Montgomery County National Bank, continuing on the Board until his death. He was a Southern sympathizer during the Civil War and hired a substitute to fight for the Union in his place when his name was called up in the draft. Horace Jr. married twice and had nine children. The oldest, Horace Dorsey Waters, inherited the farm in 1903.

Horace Dorsey Waters owned the Germantown General Store. He was killed during a robbery of the store in 1932. He and his wife, Valeria Pumphrey, had seven children. Their youngest son, Julian Boyd Waters, and his wife, Eleanor Cissel, inherited the farm.

Julian and Eleanor developed the farm into a dairy farm, building a modern dairy barn. They also raised chickens, producing 100 eggs a day, and planted wheat, corn, barley and vegetables which were sold by Eleanor at the Women’s Farm Market in Bethesda on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Eleanor was trained as a teacher and firmly believed in progressive education for their four children, Julia, Virginia, Mary and Julian. She served on the County Board of Education for 12 years.

There were many outbuildings in the farmyard. The big L-shaped house faced south and about 50 yards opposite the entrance was a large banked barn.  To the southwest of that barn was the new dairy barn. Directly west of the house was the old milk barn, the hog house, and a garage. On the east side of the house was the chicken house. There were also old slave quarters, meat house, spring house, ice house, workshop, and a brick making operation. The family graveyard lay about 40 yards directly north of the house.

After Julians’ death in 1962 the farm was sold. It became the property of Churchill Investments in 1965. The house and outbuildings were left abandoned to slowly decay and succumb to vandalism, not being boarded up or protected. In 1972 it was deemed “worthy of preservation” by the Maryland Historical Trust and determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in 1981, but allowed to be demolished by the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission in 1981 due to “demolition by neglect.” The tombstones in the family burial ground were removed to the Neelsville Presbyterian Church cemetery, but the remains were “unrecoverable,” according to the developer of the property.

Jeff Hawkins September 19, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Interesting......yet at the same time..........a sad story. Thank you for posting this.


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