11700 Mansion St, Princess Anne, MD 21853
(in historic Princess Anne)
on National Register of Historic Places
4 bedrooms 4 bathrooms
5,445 square feet
"Beckford" is arguably one of the finest houses in Somerset County, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The late-Georgian 2 ½ story home was built in Flemish bond in 1803 by John Dennis, Sr. on a rise above the Manokin River just without the town of Princess Anne. 5 bays wide and 3 bays deep, it rests upon a basement laid out in common bond and has a hipped roof and two large interior chimneys. On the north end is a 2 story, 2 bay wing built in common bond.
The interior of the main house contains very fine plaster work and moldings, lately restored to their original coloration. The southwest drawing room is especially noteworthy for its large ceiling medallion and cornice of grape clusters and tobacco leaves.
The large central stair hall and other features share many design characteristics with the Teackle Mansion next door. Extensive paint analysis has enabled the duplication of the original interior paint colors. The original smokehouse still stands near the main house.
Beckford and Teackle Mansions share common origins and history. Both were built by wealthy merchants and planters on a 500 acre tract called Beckford which was surveyed by William Stevens in 1679. Stephens was the first judge of the county court of Somerset County when it was established in 1666. In 1681 the Beckford tract was assigned and patented to Edmund Howard, another wealthy merchant. The Maryland Act of Assembly in 1743 set aside 24 acres of Beckford for the founding of the town of Princess Anne. By this time, Henry Jackson, also a wealthy planter-merchant, owned the land west of town which now contains Beckford Manor. The land passed to his son Henry, Jr. who sold it to John Dennis, the uncle of Little Dennis Teackle, the builder of Teackle Mansion.
John Dennis, who was born at the Beverly estate on the Pocomoke River, built Beckford Mansion in 1803. At age 25 he became a 2-term member of the Maryland House of Delegates and was a Federalist U.S. congressman from 1797 – 1805. Remarkably, he joined three other Federalists in 1801 to transfer his vote for President to Thomas Jefferson, a Democrat, and seal the defeat of Aaron Burr. His son, John Dennis, Jr. was born at Beckford in 1807, and was also a Maryland House delegate and Whig congressman in the 25th and 26th Congresses. He was a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention in 1850 and died at Beckford.
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