Architectural, Historical, and Archaeological Investigations at Blossom Point Farm, Blossom Point Testing Facility, Charles County, Maryland

Part of the Blossom Point Project Page (DRAFT) project

Author(s): Kise, Franks, and Straw, Inc. Historic Preservation Group

Year: 1990


Blossom Point, located at the end of Cedar Point Neck in Charles County, Maryland, is occupied by the U.S. Government as a testing facility under control of the Army Material Command. Beginning in 1942, it was leased from the Society of Jesus by the Harry Diamond Laboratories (HDL). At that time, the property, a former Jesuit tenant farm, contained a brick house as well as various outbuildings. Today, only the dwelling commonly referred to as the Ballast House remains, although its survival is threatened by severe erosion of the riverbank of the Nanjemoy Creek near its juncture with the Potomac River as well as by structural instability. Owned by the U.S. Government since 1980, appropriate treatment of this cultural resource is mandated by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act as amended and Executive Order 11593. The property was determined to be eligible for the National Register and a preliminary case report and memorandum of agreement were prepared in 1979.

With the ongoing threat to the building's preservation, the Army is now seeking to take necessary management actions. To that end, this historical, archaeological, and architectural investigation was undertaken as a means to more fully evaluate the resources of the site and to plan for them accordingly. As part of this documentation, additional Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) documentation was completed in coordination with the National Park Service, Mid-Atlantic Regional Office.

The overall historical and architectural investigations, including the supplemental HABS drawings, were prepared by the Historic Preservation Group of Kise Franks & Straw. The following professionals contributed their expertise to this study as well: Jay F. Custer, Ph.D., archaeologist; Samuel Y. Harris, P.E., Kieran, Timberlake & Harris; Frank S. Welsh, historic paint color consultant; Ray L. Woodie, Advanced House Moving, Inc.; and Robert Tucher, architectural photographer. The contents of this report encompass the findings of the project team's historical, archaeological, and architectural investigations, components of which are included as appendixes. The report also contains a section addressing the feasibility of moving the structure or preserving it in place. The HABS documentation is treated as a separate entity, ultimately for submission to the National ParkService.

As a point of departure for the contents of this report, it should be noted that the name "Blossom Point Farm," is used as the more historically accurate nomenclature for the resource rather than the "Ballast House". In searching through three centuries of archival records, no references are made to a "Ballast House", while Jesuit financial records note the making of bricks for the construction of tenant houses on Cedar Point Neck in 1805, thereby dispelling any notion of the bricks having been ship ballast. Moreover, the property is referred to as "Blossom Point Farm” in the written record on a survey map as early as 1712 and in ledgers and account books well into the twentieth century.

Cite this Record

Architectural, Historical, and Archaeological Investigations at Blossom Point Farm, Blossom Point Testing Facility, Charles County, Maryland. Kise, Franks, and Straw, Inc. Historic Preservation Group. 1990 ( tDAR id: 439160) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8439160

Spatial Coverage

min long: -79.514; min lat: 38.281 ; max long: -76.838; max lat: 39.749 ;

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Contact(s): US Army Corps of Engineers Mandatory Center of Expertise for the Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections, St. Louis District