Surrender to the elegance of this 6,000+ square foot Late Victorian-Second Empire manor home. MacAlpine was originally constructed for the prominent attorney, James MacKubin, in 1868, and his stock broker son, George, went on to establish Legg-Mason and other successful companies. Macalpine boasts 6 bedrooms, not including 4 large rooms suitable for bedrooms on the third floor, an open gourmet kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances, and elegant parlors & a dining room with ample seating for the most elaborate dinner parties. From the beautiful hardwood floors to the spacious rooms with large bay windows, this magnificent manor exudes sophistication and old world charm from top to bottom. Located minutes from historic Ellicott City on nearly an acre of land with mature trees and colorful gardens in a charming neighborhood, MacAlpine is a Victorian masterpiece of rare and beautiful distinction, close to Baltimore & DC, yet a world away.
NRHP Architectural Description of Rooms
First Floor (12+ Ceiling)
Entry Foyer 23′ x 17′ – Wood floor, jib window, double front door with transom, 1 window with interior shutters.
Front Parlor 21′ x 17′ – Wood floor, fireplace with marble mantel, ceiling molding, hanging lamp with medallion, bay window, 4 windows with interior shutters.
Rear Parlor 27′ x 19′ – Wood floor, fireplace with marble mantel, formal cross beam ceiling & molding, large double doors to the Dining Room, bay window, jib window, 5 windows with interior shutters.
Powder Room – Vintage corner sink.
Dining Room 23′ x 17′ – Wood floor, hanging lamp with medallion, fireplace with marble mantel, wainscot, crown molding, jib window, 1 window.
Kitchen 18′ x 17′ – Wood floor, beam & panel ceiling, exposed brick wall, 2 built-in china cabinets, 2 hanging lamps, recessed lighting, track lighting, exposed brick wall, original crystal chandelier with medallion, granite center island with sink, granite island with professional 6 burner gas range, wine cooler, painted custom wood cabinets, 1 window.
Sitting Area 18′ x 13′ – wood floor, brick fireplace with wood mantel, beam & panel ceiling, side door, 2 windows.
Hallway 20′ x 5′ – Wood floor, back staircase, built-in cabinets and counter, door to small porch.
Mud Room 12′ x 9′ – Wood floor, exposed brick wall, 2 windows.
Master Bedroom 24′ x 18′ – Wood floor, transoms, walk-in closet, bay window, 5 windows with interior shutters.
Master Bathroom 12′ x 6′ – Tile floor, claw foot tub, door to Bedroom 2, 1 window.
Bedroom 2 18′ x 11′ – Wood floor, transoms, hanging lamp, closet, bay window, 4 windows with interior shutters.
Bedroom 3 14′ x 11′ – Wood floor, transoms, closet, 1 window.
Bedroom 4 18′ x 16′ – Wood floor, transoms, 2 closets, jib window, 1 window.
Hall 15′ x 8′ – Wood floor, back staircase, 2 windows.
Hall Bathroom 10′ x 8′ – Ceramic tile floor, transom, whirlpool tub, shower, 1 window.
Bedroom 5 14′ x 12′ – Wood floor, transom, exposed brick wall, closet, door to Office, 2 windows.
Office/Bedroom 18′ x 15′ – Wood floor, built-in bookcases, pass door to Bedroom 5, 3 windows.
Laundry 12′ x 10′ – Laminate floor, sink, 2 windows.
Hall 27′ x 4′ – Wood floor, staircase to roof “widow’s walk”, 2 windows.
Bedroom 6 20′ x 15′ – Wood floor, transom, closet, 2 windows.
Bedroom 7 15′ x 14′ – Wood floor, transom, closet, 2 windows.
Bedroom 8 16′ x 16′ – Wood floor, transom, closet, 2 windows.
Store Room 15′ x 5′ – Wood floor, 1 window.
Bedroom 9 16′ x 15′ – Wood floor, transom, closet, 2 windows.
Full improved basement
MacAlpine is significant as a well-preserved example of a post-bellum country house of the Howard County gentry. It is eligible for the National Register under Criterion C, in that it embodies the distinctive characteristics of its type and period. Country estates once surrounded Ellicott City, but only a few have survived post-World War II development pressures. MacAlpine survives with few changes, and retains a number of the features of comfort that were developed in city houses before the Civil War and were introduced into country houses after the war, such as devices intended to increase fireplace efficiency and heat circulation, and a system of bells to call servants. MacAlpine thus illustrates the evolution of the country house through the last third of the nineteenth century into the early twentieth. The period of significance begins in 1868, the approximate date of construction, and ends in 1946 when the house passed out of the ownership of the original family.
MacAlpine was built c. 1868 as the home of James MacKubin, an Anne Arundel County attorney who was born on 12 September 1830 and grew up at Strawberry Hill, Annapolis. He was the son of George MacKubin, the Treasurer of the Western Shore for Maryland, and Eleanor (nee Maccubin), George’s distant cousin. The family name was traditionally spelled with two “c”s, but George apparently changed the second “c” to a “K.” James MacKubin graduated from St. John’s College in Annapolis in 1849 and shortly afterward moved to what was then the Howard District of Anne Arundel County, where he soon began a law practice. James reportedly Uved with the Pue family for some time, where he met and fell in love with Comfort Augusta Dorsey, youngest daughter of Charles Worthington Dorsey. They were married in November 1854, less than two years after the death of his father, and tradition has it that they lived at Grey Rock, the property of Thomas Beale Dorsey Pue. It was at this time that architect Nathan G. Starkwether was designing houses for a number of Dorseys in the area around Grey Rock, including Wilton for William H. G. Dorsey, El Monte for Sally Elizabeth Dorsey, Temora for Dr. Arthur Pue, and Chatham, reputedly being constructed by Charles Worthington Dorsey for his daughter. Comfort MacKubin. These houses were grand Italianate confections with deep, bracketed cornices, round-arched windows in single, paired, and triple configurations, elaborate wrap-around porches, and a lantern on the roof The Dorseys were also responsible for hiring Starkwether to design St. John’s Episcopal Church, of 1859-60, which is located just north of MacAlpine. Comfort MacKubin died in 1858, however, and she and James never moved into Chatham. Instead, it passed to another of Charles Worthington Dorsey’s children.
In 1859 James MacKubin purchased Grey Rock, consisting of 404 acres, for $32,000, and the following year the agricultural census noted that 350 acres of this farm were improved. Among his livestock were eleven horses, six milk cows, six working oxen, six other cows, 90 sheep, and 50 swine, indicating that James was operating a substantial plantation. His principal crops and products were com, wheat, potatoes, hay, wool and butter. The 1860 Martenet Map of Howard County shows that he was living at Gray Rock, at the 13-mile marker on the Frederick Turnpike, and not in the area where MacAlpine now stands. In 1862 he sold the property to his former father-in-law, Col. Charles W. Dorsey, and leased it back, and two years later James subleased the property to John H. Herbert. James remained close to Charles W. Dorsey, and even donated a memorial window to St. John’s Church that was dedicated to him. The property was divided in 1867, with Herbert taking 361 acres and the Gray Rock buildings, and MacKubin taking the remaining 43 acres. There were apparently some problems with the division that were settled the following year in equity court, but the records of this case do not survive. Herbert, however, would remain at Gray Rock for the rest of his life. In November 1868 James married Gabriella Peter (b. 22 April 1844), daughter of George Washington Parke Custis Peter (who was born at Tudor Place in Georgetown). The Peters had a house just north of Ellicott City known as Linwood, which has been described as a summer place but apparently was, or by 1868 had become, their year-round residence. Thus, James presumably knew Gabriella for some time. Much has been made of Gabriella’s connection to Martha Custis Washington, and she reportedly had furnishings from Mount Vernon at MacAlpine. Likewise, she was related to Robert E. Lee, and his daughter, Mary, was an occasional visitor to MacAlpine in the summers.
The west elevation of the main block has center double doors on the first story with two panels each. They have sunken fields and quirked ogee and bevel panel moulds, and are grained. There is head cut trim that has a beveled inner edge, a four-light transom, and a quirked ogee and bevel transom bar. The doors have shutters with one louver above one panel that has a sunken field and an ogee and bevel panel mould. To each side of the door is a six-over-six sash with head cut trim that matches the door and is typical for the house. There are also blinds hung on butt hinges that have two knuckles each. There is a three-bay, one-story porch set on brick piers, with wood tongue-and-groove deck and beaded-edge board soffit. It has a hip roof of standing seam and is supported by four paneled posts that have sunken, flat centers and chamfers with
lambs-tongue stops on the comers. There are quirked ogee and bevel mouldings at the top of each post and approximately two feet below the top. The porch has a plain frieze, a large cavetto bed mould, and a cornice with a large Greek ovolo. There is an internal gutter. The balustrade
consists of super-imposed crosses and x’s, with a wood diamond at the crossing, and it supports a handrail that has a quirked ogee and bevel below it. In the center of the porch a porte cochere projects to the west, supported by four matching paneled posts. It, too, has a hip roof. The
second story has three six-over-six sash with blinds, a plain frieze, and a cornice that matches the porch. There are also internal gutters here. The roof has diamond pattern shingles at the top and bottom, clipped butts in the center, and square butts separating the decorative courses. There are three dormer windows. The center dormer has paired, semicircular arched one-over-one sash with a pediment with returns on the front and a jig-sawn bracket on each side. The end bay dormers have one semicircular arched two-over-two sash with the same pediment. The break in the mansard roof has a plain frieze with an ogee bed mould above it. There is a brick chimney with a corbelled cap over the north bay.
NRHP – National Register of Historic Places Registration Form
Howard County – Howard County Government Website
Tax Credits – State of Maryland For Homeowners
VisitOldEllicottCity.net – Website dedicated to Old Ellicott City
Updated on October 24, 2020 at 8:25 am
Historic MacAlpine c.1868 - 3621 MacAlpine Road Ellicott City, Maryland 21042, United States of America
Historic MacAlpine c.1868 - 3621 MacAlpine Road Ellicott City, Maryland 21042, United States of America