Blandair, 6651 Highway 175, Columbia, Howard County, MD
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6651 Highway 175, Columbia, MD
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Documentation compiled after 1933.
Survey number HABS MD-1149
Unprocessed field note material exists for this structure (N944).
Significance: The Howard county property known today as Blandair dates to a land grant of 1087 acres, called Talbot's Resolution Manor, which was patented in 1714. The property, in various configurations, passed through several owners over the course of the 18th century. A 1798 tax assessment lists two houses on the property, including a two-story brick house, although its dimensions (46 x 36 feet) do not correspond to the existing house. In 1804 the property, at that time consisting of 382 acres, was purchased by John Compton Weems, a planter from a prominent Anne Arundel County family, who subsequently served in the U.S. Congress (1826-29). Weems named his new plantation Lagrange. In 1833 he sold Lagrange, then 400 acres, to his daughter-in-law Martha P. Weems, the wife of his son John W. Weems.Difficult economic circumstances forced the Weemses to sell the property in 1843. It was purchased by Theodorick Bland, who had been appointed Chancellor of the state of Maryland in 1824. In a letter to the Weems's lawyer at the time of the purchase, Bland noted that "the Dwelling House...is but a shell...." Bland maintained residence in Annapolis, using the plantation, which he renamed Blandair and had surveyed at 402 ½ acres, as a country house. Bland died in 1846, leaving the property to his daughter, Sarah Bland Mayo, the wife of Captain Isaac Mayo, USN. In 1857 the Mayos gave the property to their daughter, Sophia, on the occasion of her marriage to Thomas H. Gaither.The Blandair house which survives today was most likely built by the Gaithers at the time of their wedding. Constructed of load-bearing brick masonry, with fieldstone foundations at the exterior walls, Blandair is two stories tall with a pitched side-gable roof enclosing a full attic. The house sits on a raised cellar, with a simple brick ledge serving as the water table. Machine-made bricks are laid in a seven-course American bond pattern on the exterior. Brick jack arches span the door and window openings. Granite was used for the door and window sills, and for the corner dentil blocks. The floors, roof, and some interior partitions are built of wood frame construction. Interior walls and ceilings were plastered. Sylistically plain, Blandair exhibits both Greek Revival and Italianate features.In plan Blandair consists of a large, rectangular, five-bay main block (approximately 38 x 52 feet), with a smaller, off-center service wing (approximately 23 x 36 feet) extending to the east. The layout of Blandair is typical of Chesapeake plantation houses of the period, consisting of a center passage, double-pile plan. A center hall runs front to back, with the main staircase rising against the side and back walls. To the west of the hall, two parlors of equal size are separated by tall pocket doors. A large dining room and smaller sitting room are found to the east of the center hall. The service wing on the first floor originally consisted of a large kitchen room and two pantries. The second floor of the main block consists of four bedrooms, two on either side of the center hall. The two bedrooms on the east side are separated by a long service passage leading to the wing. The second floor of the service wing was divided into three rooms, most likely a nursery and accommodations for servants or slaves.The Gaithers sold Blandair in 1867, and the property passed through a series of owners over the next 70 years. In 1937 Blandair was purchased by Baltimore developer Henry E. Smith and his wife Lillie, for use as a country estate where they could raise Arabian horses. The Smiths undertook substantial renovations to the house, inserting the first electrical and plumbing systems, upgrading the heating system, and installing Colonial Revival trim and finishes. Smith died in 1939, but his wife continued to operate Blandair as a farm until her death in 1979. Blandair was inherited by the Smiths' daughter, Elizabeth, who resided in the house until she died in 1997. In 1998 the Blandair estate was purchased by Howard County for use as a county park.
Schara, Mark, Field Team
Davidson, Paul, Field Team
Gray, Karen, Field Team
Toplaghaltsyan, Armen, Field Team
Rosenthal, James W., Photographer
Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)
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