Annual Montgomery County Awards for Historic Preservation
COUNTY EXECUTIVE’S AWARD
FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION
Three years ago Montanverde was vacant and condemned for occupancy.
The country house in Darnestown near Seneca Creek -- built by Major George Peter about the time he fought at the Battle of Bladensburg, and that hosted Abraham Lincoln at a political rally in 1848 -- was on a downward spiral, and its absentee owner wasn’t motivated to act. Alarmed by this unexpected turn of events, descendants of Major Peter, preservationists from MPI and Historic Medley, and Berryville Road neighbors formed “Save Montanverde” to stabilize it and to find a caring purchaser. In early 2014, Meakin and Tucker Bennett, a young couple with toddler twin boys, took on this daunting project.
The Bennetts assembled a team to work on both houses simultaneously, with Meakin as general contractor. In 6 months, they rehabbed the 1930s tenant house and moved in to be on site for work on the 1812 Peter house. First orders of business were to repair the roof and halt collapse of the center hallway with new steel beams to pull the house together and hold the second floor in place. The Bennetts removed rotten wood and lead paint, re-leveled all floors, repaired windows and fire damage, and added insulation plus modern electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. Everywhere, their architect and contractors restored original features and materials when possible.
In keeping with their vision, the Bennetts maintained the classical symmetry of the house, adding only a modest one-story mudroom and laundry. They took advantage of tax credits available for County-designated and National Register properties. The Maryland Historical Trust accepted a perpetual easement on the building exteriors and rolling landscape of nearly 13 acres. With the County condemnation lifted, they moved into the main house in time for Thanksgiving last year. For their rescue, restoration, and rehabilitation of an extraordinary residential property, this award is presented to Meakin and Tucker Bennett.