- The Washington Times - Friday, December 1, 2000

A classic Georgian manor house, isted on the National Register of Historic Places, stands in the middle of a park in Bowie on land that was once a 300-acre tobacco plantation.

The 300 acres were sold to the city years ago, section by section, says David Danelski, owner of the Georgian house, until the house was left with about five acres.

Now it is surrounded by White Marsh Park. The park closes at 11 p.m., and a chain link gate at the entry is locked at that time, but Mr. Danelski and his wife, Jill, have a key and a legal easement through the park.

This gives them, in effect, a private gated community, Mr. Danelski jokes, but as much as they treasure it, it is time to retire and downsize, he says.

The house, built in 1813, is on the market for $735,000. The architecture is typical Georgian, Mr. Danelski says, with a center entry hall and rooms arranged symmetrically on either side.

On one side are twin parlors, separated by enormous double doors that are 9 1/2-feet tall. On the other side are the formal dining room and a library, which Mr. Danelski says he believes was the plantation office.

Each of these four rooms has a fireplace, as do the kitchen and four bedrooms upstairs, for a total of nine fireplaces.

The Danelskis use only four of the fireplaces and have had two of the house's chimneys relined to accommodate them. Mr. Danelski says the other chimneys probably should be relined if the other fireplaces are to be used.

The kitchen, originally a separate building, was connected to the house years ago by a small, enclosed hallway. The area above the kitchen served as servants quarters and includes a bedroom and a bathroom. There is a narrow rear staircase by the kitchen in addition to the original formal staircase in the center entry hall.

Light from a window on a landing floods the formal staircase as it turns and ascends to the second floor. A small balcony overlook in the upstairs hall faces the window.

The house has a total of five bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths, although the Danelskis have turned one of the bedrooms into a sitting room to create a comfortable master bedroom suite. The powder room is on the first floor, off the entry hall, and the other three bathrooms are on the second floor with the bedrooms.

Although now in excellent condition, the house "was not in good shape when we bought it 12 years ago," Mr. Danelski says, "but it was already listed on the National Register and we could see the potential." The couple restored the house, and "It turned out beautifully," he says.

The house has its original wide-plank pine floors and its original formal banister and newel post. It boasts high ceilings with deep crown moldings and chandeliers hanging from ceiling medallions. The kitchen floor is new, made of a Swedish product called Pergo. It looks like wood but is easier to maintain and is installed on a pad to make it more comfortable to walk on, Mr. Danelski says.

The bathrooms, he says, were added to the house around 1942, with tile floors and walls typical of the period. The Danelskis restored them, retaining the 1942 decor.

The couple installed a red silk wall covering in the library and period window coverings in the parlors that will go to to the new owner. The house has a full unfinished six-room basement with concrete floors and thick, white brick walls. There is a door to the yard through an outdoor stairwell covered by slanted cellar doors.

The exterior of the house is red brick with white trim and black shutters. The brick on the front facade is laid in Flemish bond, a pattern Mr. Danelski describes as "brick, header, brick, header," the headers being bricks mortared in place with the shorter end facing out. The bricks elsewhere are laid in English bond, which he notes are staggered rows of "brick, brick, brick, brick" with no visible headers.

There is an allee of mature boxwoods flanking the brick walk to the front door and a large circular boxwood garden in the back yard.

Two of the Danelskis' four daughters were married in the boxwood garden, their father says. The yard also contains four large Southern magnolias and four mature American hollies among other specimen trees.

The Danelskis restored an old carriage house on the property to create a three-car, detached garage. The house was built by John Johnson, who was then chief judge of the Circuit Court of Prince George's County and later a judge on the Maryland Court of Appeals in Annapolis. Mr. Johnson bought the 300 acres from a family named Duvall, who had established the tobacco plantation. The Duvalls had owned the property more than 100 years, Mr. Danelski says.

Part of the original estate now owned by the city of Bowie is a wooded tract of parkland across a park road from the side of the manor house property. There is a paved trail through the woods that crosses a narrow bridge over a stream and comes out about a mile away, near a shopping center.

Several other shopping centers are one to three miles away by car, and the manor house property, in Prince George's County, is convenient to cultural events in both Washington and Baltimore, Mr. Danelski says. He says he and his wife particularly enjoy the opera in both cities.

Mr. Danelski says the location is one of the best of all the places the couple has lived, but they are "going back to California" because "Four of our five children and four of our six grandchildren live in L.A."

The house is 10 miles from the Route 50 interchange with the Capital Beltway.

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