Marshall Hall, Maryland

From Southern Maryland Wiki @
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Marshall Hall, Maryland is the site of the Marshall family mansion. Marshall Hall is located near Bryan's Road in Charles County, Maryland, next to the Potomac River, more or less across from Mount Vernon, Virginia, the home of George Washington. The home was one of the finest built on the Maryland shore of the Potomac in the early eighteenth century. The Marshall family were minor gentry and owned as many as 80 slaves by the early 1800s.

Soon after the Civil War, the site became a highly frequented picnic ground. Washingtonians fled the summer heat of the city for all sorts of events at the picnic grounds, from exclusive catered events to popular cultural events such as a swimming exhibition given by the daredevil Robert Odlum in the summer of 1878, seven years before his death at the Brooklyn Bridge.

Marshall Hall Amusement Park later became one of the first amusement parks in the Washington, DC area in the 1890s, offering numerous "appliances of entertainment" (as one deed described them) for visitors who wanted to do more than picnic, many of them arriving by river boat. By the early 1900s, annual jousting tournaments took place at the site. New attractions were added throughout the twentieth century, and gambling became a major draw for a while after World War II. Between 1949 and 1968, the four-county Southern Maryland area, including Marshall Hall, offered the only legal slot machines in the United States outside of Nevada.

The National Park Service gained control of the park after Congress mandated that the views from Mt. Vernon had to be protected and returned to something resembling the days when George Washington sat on his porch and looked across the Potomac. The Park Service tore down all vestiges of the amusement park in 1980, whose popularity had declined due to competition by much larger new parks. A fire destroyed much of the colonial house soon after.[1]

In January 2003, a truck driver slammed his rig through the remaining hulk.[2]

The damage done to the brick shell was repaired the following year.Template:Fix

It is now part of Piscataway Park operated by the National Park Service.


From Historic American Buildings Survey:

Marshall Hall was built ca. 1725 by Thomas Marshall on property that had, in part, been acquired by his grandfather in 1650. The western portion of the house constituted the original part, and was the largest dwelling in southern Maryland to be documented as dating prior to 1740. Marshall added the eastern section ca. 1760, presumably to house a kitchen and servant's rooms. Dating from this same general period is a one story brick office building, approximately 30 feet to the southwest of the house. Until is demolition in the 1960's, there was also on the property a large brick stable and carriage house that dated from the mid-18th century. The estate was owned by the Marshall family until 1866. By the turn of the present century, the former plantation had been converted into an amusement park, and soon became a popular excursion spot for Washingtonians, who combined visits to Marshall Hall via steamboat with Mount Vernon on the opposite shore of the Potomac. During the early 20th century, a number of structures were built surrounding the house to accommodate the amusement park. In 1966 the interiors of the mansion were converted to office uses, though the plan was left unaltered. In 1974 the property was acquired by the U.S. Department of the Interior as part of the Piscataway National Park, to preserve the view from Mount Vernon in as natural a state as possible. In October 1981, the mansion and a nearby structure dating from the amusement park era were totally destroyed by fire. The brick walls remaining from the fire will be stabilized, and archeological excavations may be undertaken in the future. The office will be maintained, and may eventually be used by the National Park Service to display exhibits interpreting the site.

Photo & Drawing Gallery


  1. M. E. Marshall (1997). "Marshall Hall on the Potomac". Marshall Hall Foundation, Inc.. Retrieved on 2007-10-21.
  2. Margaret Foster (January 16, 2003). "Truck Crashes into Historic Brick Mansion". Preservation Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-10-21.

External links