Notley Young’s Mansion…and Chapel?

Mar 12 2011

Detail: King Plat of Notely Young's Mansion, 1794

We’ve been working on modeling Notley Young’s Mansion.  There is very little information other than the footprint that appears on the 1794 King Plat (above), and a very small hand drawn image of the house on the John Frederick Augustus Priggs’ 1790 map (below).

Detail: Priggs' 1790 Map, George Washington University Collection

But neither of these images match the written descriptions of the mansion, nor do they show that a chapel may have been attached to the house.

Notley Young was a Catholic and at that time in Maryland, Catholics were persecuted.  It has been suggested that the chapel was not drawn on the King Plat for those reasons.  Perhaps that is why the small addition on the South East side of the mansion is not clearly defined.  Is it a porch?  Kitchen? Chapel?

There are a few leads to pursue, but it appears likely that we will have to make an educated guess as to how the mansion looked. For the time being, the mansion is modeled and awaits comments and vetting.  The unknown addition on the SW side has been added to match the footprint on the King Plat, but it’s just a foundation waiting for more clues as to its purpose and looks.

Notley Young Plantation: Mansion Draft 2

Please send us comments or guidance.  Following is the information we have uncovered online so far.

Written Descriptions of Notley Young’s Plantation and Mansion:

The Mansion and Family of Notley Young, by George Henning, 1912.  This is published in the Records of Columbia Historical Society of Washington DC, pages 1-24.  This contains a very complicated description of an addition that was on the SE side of the house.  The exact time period is not clear.

The Development of the Catholic Church in the District of Columbia from the Colonial Times Until the Present, by Margaret Brent Downing, read before the Columbia Historical Society, February 21, 1911.  This mentions that there was a chapel in Notley Young’s Mansion.

Southwest Neighborhood Assembly, Inc. Fun Facts: On this Spot. This mentions that there was a chapel attached to Notley Young’s Mansion.

6 Responses to “Notley Young’s Mansion…and Chapel?”

  1. Julia King July 7, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    I looked at the website with great interest.
    With reference to Notley Young’s house and the addition by George Hadfield, the following quotation is from my catalogue raisonne of his work.

    On bluff overlooking Potomac, now G and 10th Streets, SW
    1819 Addition to original house, which was built in 1756 (Pl. 105)
    Demolished 1856
    Nicholas Young’s father Notley, one of the original proprietors of the city, had a private chapel in the house where Hadfield probably attended mass as he does not appear as a regular communicant at the local churches
    City of Washington Gazette, 17 April 1819
    Froncek, T. (ed.), The City of Washington, 60.

    • Dan Bailey July 16, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

      Sorry for the delay here in getting back to your comment. Somehow we missed that you had sent it in.

      This is very clear and helpful information. We were not aware specifically of the 1819 Hadfield addition and now it is clear that George Henning in his 1912 paper was describing the house with the addition. I think we are moving forward with the south side markings on the King Plat, being a simple garden and work area.

  2. J. Rick Weber July 23, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    Dear Mr. Bailey,

    I was awe-struck Thursday, when I fell into your websites! Fantastic job! My wife & I have tried to visualize where Notley’s plantation & mansion would have looked on today’s landscape for 20 years. We thought we knew, but your work has confirmed our speculations!

    Thanks, so much!

    In my files, Source: “St. Matthew’s of Washington 1840-1940”: “According to tradition, the first celebration of Mass within the area later incorporated in the city of Wash., was by Father Thomas Digges, S.d., during a visit in 1760 to the home of his sister, who was the first wife of Notley Young. Young’s home overlooking the Potomac (G St.) a shelter and refuge for Catholics. Chapel formed west wing of building.”

    The extension on the east side of the building is not completely enclosed. If it was 1960, instead of 1760, I would say it was a carport, but we don’t know if it had a roof.

    Yours truly,

  3. J. Rick Weber July 24, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    CATHOLIC FOUNDERS OF THE CAPITOL, By Margaret B. Downing, 1917 in “CATHOLIC WORLD”, a monthly magazine vol CV page 732-743, Apr.-Sep., 1917

    Of such stern and uncompromising Catholic ancestry came Notley Young, a patriarchal figure in the early days of Washington city. He was twice married; first to Mary, daughter of Ignatius Digges of Melrose, and second to Mary, daughter of Daniel Carroll of Upper Marlborough. By the first alliance he became the brother of Rev. Thomas Digges, S.J., who celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the first time within the boundaries of Washington city, and by the second, of most Rev. John Carroll, first Archibishop of Baltimore. More than thirty years before Washington came from Mt. Vernon to confer with the proprietors along the Potomac, the manor house of Notley Young was a shelter and a refuge for the Catholics in the vicinity. It stood on the high river bank on what is now G Street, between Ninth and Tenth, southwest. A commodious chapel led from the pillared portico overlooking the Potomac and occupied the entire western wing of the dwelling….

    ….Notley Young was buried with his kindred in the stately mausoleum on the river bank. When the growing city began to encroach not only on the homes of the living but of the dead, Robert Brent, the mayor, had all the remains reverently laid in the Carroll burial ground at St. John’s on Rock Creek. It is a reproach that the exact location of the grave of this Catholic founder of the National Capital is unknown. But the memory of such men as Notley Young survives without the aid of imposing mortuary marble…

    …The old graveyard, to which reference has been made as the burial place of Notley Young and his kindred, is a sacred spot, although one little known.

  4. J. Rick Weber July 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Southwest Neighborhood Fun Facts
    (found on google)

    First Southwest Residence – Notley Young inherited much of South Washington just before the federal district of Washington was established. As an indication of his exceptional wealth, Young was the third largest slaveholder in Maryland. Young’s palatial brick residence boasted a commanding view of the Potomac River.

    Notley Young and his fellow Catholic neighbors often congregated in a custom-made chapel adjoining his residence. Catholics were prohibited from worshiping in public churches before the American Revolution. A patriarchal figurehead in early Washington, Young supported much of the Catholic church’s development in the city bequeathing lands in Rock Creek, Georgetown, and Southeast Washington. Young’s grandson, Father Nicholas Young Jr., helped establish St. Dominic Catholic Church which remains in Southwest today.

    SITE: G Street between 9th and 10th Streets, SW NOW: L’Enfant Plaza

  5. J. Rick Weber July 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm #


    By Margaret B. Downing

    …The Notley Young mansion was on the high river bank, in what is now G street, between Ninth and Tenth Streets, S.W. It was long and rambling, built of yellow brick, with a wide portico opening in the west into the noble chamber which served as a chapel during the penal days. It was in this room that father Thomas Digges, riding up from Melwood to visit his sister and her family, celebrated Holy Mass for the first time in city limits proper. The year may be fixed approximately as about 1760. ….