Ancestral Homes · Longwood



The history of Longwood and its "beloved" doctor is well known to the people of Howard County. Gustavus E. Warfield, son of Dr. Charles Alexander Warfield, the distinguished patriot, was born on March 31, 1784, at Bushy Park, a few miles north of Glenwood. Living in the shadow of an illustrious father, he was by comparison a humble man. When his father died intestate and Bushy Park did not pass to him, he experienced some resentment. When he built his home in 1820 on generous land grants which he had previously received, "he called it 'Longwood', after Napoleon's retreat on the Isle of St. Helena, for whom he felt a strange compassion.

On October 27, 1810, having received his medical degree from the University of Maryland, Gustavus Warfield married Mary Thomas, daughter of Evan William Thomas, at Whitby Hall near Philadelphia. It would prove to be a "joyful marriage". They lived for a time in Bushy Park, where several of their children were born. During the war of 1812 Dr. Warfield served as surgeon of the US Third Cavalry. After the war he remained at his father's house until Longwood was completed.

Like his father, he became a "country doctor" and instructed a number of young men in the basic arts of his profession, using his office as a classroom. During this period of time, Dr. Gustavus Warfield built up his practice. For him, "no distance was too far; no hour was too late; no illness, too petty to treat." It was said later that it required nearly a dozen physicians to service the same geographical area.

Considered a "handsome man" in his day, Gustavus Warfield was constant in his devotion to his wife, about whom the following brief story survives:

Just before the completion of the first building, the young wife of Dr. Gustavus Warfield, then living at Bushy Park, thought she would pay a visit to her father, Evan William Thomas, of "Whitby Hall", near Philadelphia, before settling down in her new home in Longwood. A few nights after her arrival there, she saw in a dream a picture of Longwood in flames, with her husband lost in the wreck. Firmly convinced that her dream would prove to be a reality, she resisted all appeals to await the news and started immediately for her home. In reality the house had been burned that very night, but its master, fearing to send the news by letter, had started the next morning for Philadelphia. He arrived to find that his wife had taken another route for home. Immediately retracing his steps, he followed her. She had reached the old toll-gate upon the Frederick turnpike before having heard anything to comfort her. There she was met by General Thomas Hood, who gave her the information, that though her house was in ashes, her husband was safe and had gone to Philadelphia to meet her. He took her to his home nearby and left word with Mr. Musgrove, the Keeper of the gate, to tell dr. Warfield where his wife might be found. His well-known voice, that night, she afterwards recorded, "was the sweetest sound she had ever heard".

Notwithstanding the disaster, Longwood was rebuilt. While not visible from the road, Longwood, with its stately columned portico, and attached doctor's office, is still standing. Restored in 1964 by Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Goldsmith and again in 2005 by its current owner, Mr. Smith, formerly employed by the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., the structure is considered one of the finest examples of antebellum architecture in the country.

Excerpts taken from "Old Homes and Families of Howard County, Maryland", Celia M. Holland, 1987, p 289

Longwood Longwood
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©2005 George A. Scheele MD