newtown manor

Tour guide Drew Dowdell tell visitors of Newtown Manor’s history.


Newtown Neck, MD – For the first time in many years, visitors to historic St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Newtown Neck were able to tour Newtown Manor Saturday, Nov. 17.

The stately 18th century home of Georgian architecture was a structure that housed Jesuit priests during the colonial period.

It’s also a structure with significant history.

Newtown Manor is the forebear of Georgetown University in Northwest Washington.

The noted educational institution has its roots at Newtown.

A recent public apology Sunday, Nov. 13 by the university for having sold slaves in the colonial period was a direct reference to transactions conducted at Newtown Manor.

The manor house at Newtown Neck is actually the third manor house constructed there. This building replaced an earlier manor built in 1720 just 10 feet from the current structure.

The location of the first manor built in the late 1600s has never been found.

“The house has not been lived in since 1984,” Friends of Newtown Manor member Drew Dowdell said.

The house is Georgian-style architecture, he noted, with a “five-bay design,” each line of vertical windows being a bay.

“All of the rooms are different sizes,” he pointed out.

The rooms have corner cabinets in the downstairs rooms, with shelves cut and shaped specifically so that a person can get into the closet and reach the shelves further back.

Newtown Manor has its share of problems, one is the moisture coming from somewhere below and going up into the structure.

“At Tudor Hall, we had the opposite problem,” Dowdell noted. “The moisture there came from the upper rooms down into the structure.”

Fortunately, they have not had any mold issues with the historic structure and that is significant, he said. Mold remediation would cripple restoration efforts, which are challenging enough.

Friends of Newtown Manor have gained $260,000 in funding to help with renovation.

“It’s a good start, but we need around $4 million,” he said, “and even that is not going to be an answer to all of our problems.”

“We hope to come up with grant money to help fund the restoration,” he said. “We have done some previous work. We covered the windows to help with the drainage problem to keep water out of the windows.”

The rooms have a colorless pallor to them. That’s because the Jesuits were not fond of bright colors, he said.

“Their color palate was rather drab,” Dowdell noted.

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