The Magruder House (18PR982 is located at 4703 Annapolis in Prince Georges County.  The extant house (ca. 1742) was used as a residence, farm, and doctor’s office.  The historic period of occupation for the site spans the mid to late 18th century and the 20th century.   Evidence of prehistoric occupations dating to the Archaic and Woodland periods have also been documented.

Archaeological Investigations

The Maryland State Highway Administration and URS Corporation, Inc. undertook archeological investigations at the Magruder House property (18PR982) in May of 2009. The investigation included the excavation of 21 STPs and seven 5 x 5-ft square TUs around the extant house. The investigation resulted in recovery of 266 prehistoric artifacts, 12,489 historic and modern artifacts, 4,424 faunal remains, and 489 floral remains. Thirteen historic cultural features were identified. Features include two post holes and/or molds, three soil stains or artifact concentrations, four pits, three trenches, and a gravel path. Artifacts andfeatures span the historic period of occupation from the mid- to late 18th century to the 20th century. The prehistoric components date to the Archaic and Woodland Periods and indicate long-term use of the landscape by prehistoric populations. Approximately 22 percent of the prehistoric artifacts from Magruder were recovered from below the historic strata; the remaining artifacts were found in association with historic artifacts in mixed contexts. In addition, both Archaic and Woodland Period artifacts were found together, indicating mixing within the prehistoric strata as well. The prehistoric components likely indicate seasonal or short-term occupations focused on the procurement of resources. The historic component at Magruder House was characterized by fill deposits exhibiting varying levels of disturbance or mixing. Although the proportion of mid-19th century and later artifacts decreased with depth, whiteware and white granite were found in the lowest historic stratum of all test units. No intact 18th-century strata remained. 

The historical records indicate (and are supported by the archeology) that the extant house was constructed around 1742 and that the property has been continuously occupied to the present. The Magruder property was initially only 1 acre, and 2 acres were later added to the south; the southern acres primarily consisted of lowland and meadow. The long period of occupation and the presence of mixed contexts complicate a determination of which portions of the assemblage can be positively identified with specific owners or inhabitants. However, some general associations can provide insight into the historic periods at the Magruder House. The mid-18th-century Hilleary ownership (1742-1763) did not produce many artifacts that could be securely dated to this period. The historic ceramics were recognizable, but the faunal remains and artifacts with broader periods of manufacture were harder to attribute. During this period the Magruder House may have been occupied by tenants. The Henderson and Ross ownership tenures (1763-1802) represent a period in the late 18th century when the wealthy merchant owners of the Magruder House resided on the property with their families and enslaved African Americans. Distinguishing between the Henderson and Ross assemblages was not possible because the same wares were in production through both occupations (notably creamware and pearlware). Separate strata within this time period were not distinguished. According to 1798 tax records, the property at that time included a variety of outbuildings, including a log wash house and quarter, frame milk house, stone meat house, frame hen house, frame stall, and a shed on the 3 acre parcel. It is unclear if these buildings were added during Richard Henderson’s ownership (1763-1793) or David Ross, Jr.'s period of ownership (1793-1802).

No clear evidence of outbuilding locations was found in the feature or artifact distributions identified during the archeological investigation. Artifacts of all functional groups and all time periods are tightly concentrated behind the house and near the back door. No stone foundations were found to indicate the location of the meat house. 18th- to early 19th-century features within the Magruder site consist of refuse pits andarchitectural debris concentrations; one trench is also present. It appears that the area tested may have been used as a work yard during the 18th to early 19th century. Outbuildings noted in tax record from 1798 were likely located further from the house in areas not tested. Highway or parking lot construction may have disturbed the outbuildings. The early 19th century is represented by a series of tenant occupations (1803-1853). No distinct contexts date to this period, although early ceramics such as the multiple pearlware fragments with polychrome painted designs in blue, orange, and brown may indicate that the occupants used matched sets.

The Magruder family owned and occupied the house from 1853-1880. No distinct contexts or features can be associated with this period. In general, the 19th-century assemblage showed an increase in artifact quantity and a continuation of the domestic nature of the site.

The later domestic occupation of the Magruder House (1880-1954) is represented by tenant and owner occupations. Separate strata within this time period were not distinguished. To the south of the house, multiple modern fill strata to a depth of 1 ft or more were observed, along with alternating layers of pebble gravel. This low portion of the property flooded in the past prior to highway construction. The fill and gravel deposits, as well as several trench features, may represent attempts by the occupants to control water.   

Archeobotanical Studies

Three flotation samples measuring a total of 25.25 liters in volume were processed and analyzed from the Magruder House Data Recovery.  In addition, one hand-collected botanical sample was selected for study.  Analysis was conducted by Kathleen Furgerson. 

The assemblage includes 464 remains.  Wood fragments comprise 86 percent of the assemblage, followed by seeds (eight percent) and miscellaneous material (six percent). Both carbonized and uncarbonized remains were included in the analysis. 

Ten botanical taxa were identified.  Wood remains were carbonized, and represent locally available trees.  Maple, pine, red oak, and coniferous taxon were identified.  Seeds were largely uncarbonized and might represent modern intrusions.  Poke, blackberry, catchfly, Chenopodium/Amaranth, elderberry, carpetweed and woodsorrel were identified.


Crowl, Heather, Benjamin Stewart, Carey O'Reilly, Kathleen Furgerson
Bladensburg Archaeological Investigations: Magruder House (18PR982), Market Master House (18PR983), and Indian Queen Tavern Site (18PR96), Prince George's County, Maryland. SHA Archeological Report No. 432 (URS Corporation) MHT # PR 593.
Furgerson, Kathleen
2012 Archeobotanical Analysis Report.  Appendix F.  Bladensburg Archaeological Investigations: Magruder House (18PR982), Market Master House (18PR983), and Indian Queen Tavern Site (18PR96), Prince George's County, Maryland.  By Heather Crowl, B. Steward, C. O’Reilly, and K. Furgerson.  SHA Archeological Report No. 432 (URS Corporation) MHT # PR 593.

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