Historical SignificanceThe Newton White Mansion is an exceptional example of a country estate centered around a 20th century, Regency Revival-style mansion. The mansion was constructed in 1939 on land owned previously by the Waring family. Marsham Waring was one of Prince George’s County’s preeminent plantation owners who, during the second quarter of the 19th century, acquired large parcels of property in the north central part of the county. The Newton White Mansion was the home of prominent naval officer, Captain Newton H. White, Jr., first commanding officer of the USS Enterprise. The Captain succeeded in transforming a fallow parcel of land into a thriving dairy operation and estate.
HistoryIn 1939, Captain and Mrs. Newton H. White purchased land in Prince George's County with the intention of creating a model dairy farm. The farm proved to be very lucrative and the couple commissioned architect W.L. Bottomley to build a mansion on the property. During his distinguished naval career, Captain White served on the USS Yorktown and the USS Lexington. He named the two-story brick Neo-Georgian style home and the surrounding 586-acre tract Enterprise Estate, after the ship he commanded prior to World War II.
The Newton White Mansion & Warington Cemetery are located in unincorporated Mitchellville, Maryland. Mitchellville was named for John Mitchell (1788-1862) who owned Essington Hall, the plantation that encompassed much of the area. The area around Mitchellville developed at a slower pace than much of Prince George’s County due in part to its distance from a railroad line and major thoroughfares. Another prominent family in the area was the Waring family. Marsham Waring was one of Prince George’s County’s preeminent plantation owners who, during the second quarter of the 19th century, acquired large parcels of property in the north central part of the county. Although his agricultural pursuits were diverse, his principal crop was tobacco. Waring’s plantation included the Cottage at Warington, located west of the mansion; it is also owned by M-NCPPC. The Cottage at Warington was one of the farms making up Marsham Waring’s large Warington estate. At his death in 1860, the inventory of his estate indicated 100,000 pounds of tobacco on hand, and an additional 33 hogshead in Baltimore. Waring bequeathed the Warington plantation to his wife Violetta. Marsham Waring was buried in 1860 in the Warington Cemetery, the cemetery’s first burial. Waring’s headstone displays the common themes of a cross and weeping willow. The property was subsequently bequeathed to the Waring’s daughter, Mary Virginia Mackubin.
In 1906, Mary Virginia Mackubin conveyed the property to Amelia Mary Belt, granddaughter of Marsham Waring. Amelia Belt (nee Waring) was born on March 10, 1856 and married Benjamin Lee Belt, who was born in 1854. The Belts were a farming family, as documented by the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. However, at the time of the 1930 census Amelia and Benjamin Belt were noted as unemployed. Belt died on December 12, 1935; she bequeathed nearly 1,100 acres including what would become the Newton White Mansion & Warington Cemetery to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore.
On November 6, 1937, Joseph Natwick purchased the Belt property (1,092.92) acres from the Roman Catholic Church, via Reverend Michael J. Curley, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore. Joseph Natwick was born in Wisconsin c. 1873. He was married to Mildred Natwick, and the couple had two children, Mary and Mildred. Following a successful logging career in Wisconsin, Joseph Natwick turned his focus to dairy farming. Prior to purchasing the Belt property, Natwick raised a successful Holstein herd on 523 acres in Howard County. On November 6, 1937, the same day he purchased the Belt property, Natwick promptly sold 512.59 acres to Captain Newton Harris White, Jr. Natwick’s hasty land deal may be linked to his failing wholesale lumber business in the City of Baltimore. Subsequently, in 1938, Natwick and his family sold 432.90 acres to Roland Herman Berger and his wife, Thelma Estella Berger. In 1941, White purchased 59.339 acres from Berger. White continued to purchase small parcels of land throughout his lifetime, increasing the size of the estate to approximately 579 acres.
Newton H. White, Jr. was born in 1885 in Wayne County, Tennessee. Educated in a one-room schoolhouse, Newton White propelled his education to the highest level as an alternate candidate for admission to the United States Naval Academy (class of 1906). White’s tenure in Annapolis was marked by his resignation from the Naval Academy after failing an examination. White refused help from his family and instead secured a reappointment through his own efforts. Committed to his studies, Newton H. White, Jr. graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1907.
While in the Navy, White served in London, England, as the assistant naval attaché to the American embassy. He was promoted to the grade of lieutenant commander in 1919. In 1923, White was assigned to naval intelligence in Washington, D.C. The following year White was promoted to commander, and in 1933, White was promoted to captain. He was assigned chief of staff to Carrier Division 2 in 1937. Captain White had a long and distinguished career, serving on the USS Yorktown and the USS Lexington. On March 1, 1938, White became as the first commanding officer of the USS Enterprise. The USS Enterprise was commissioned on May 12, 1938, and sailed to Rio de Janeiro for her “shakedown cruise.” On January 25, 1939, Captain White retired from active duty.
When Captain White purchased the farm in Mitchellville in 1937, the mansion had yet to be built. Besides being a career officer in the United State Navy, White gained a fortune as the founder of a successful insurance company in his home state of Tennessee White’s interest in classical architecture, like that of most Americans, was most likely influenced by the World’s Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893. The exposition’s planners mandated a classical theme, and many of the best-known architects of the day designed dramatic colonnaded buildings arranged around a central court. The exposition was widely photographed, reported, and attended; soon these Neoclassical models became the latest fashion throughout the country. The Newton White Mansion is a high-style Regency Revival-style building that reflected its owner’s sophisticated and cultured lifestyle.
The Newton White Mansion was constructed in 1939 by builder Robert Johnson following the plans of architect William Lawrence Bottomley. Bottomley was a renowned architect born in New York City in 1838. Bottomley received his degree in architecture from Columbia University in 1906 and continued his studies at the American Academy in Rome and the Ecole des Beaux-Art in Paris. Bottomley returned to New York City c. 1909 and practiced with various other architects through the late 1920s. Working primarily in a neo-classical vocabulary, Bottomley designed houses, apartments, and institutional buildings in New York City and along the East Coast. In 1928, he opened a partnership with William Sidney Wagner and A.J. White. Their best-known commission was the luxury apartment building known as River House, rising twenty-six stories along the East River in New York City. Bottomley’s design of the Newton White Mansion relates more to his twenty-one commissions of stately private residences in Richmond, Virginia, namely in the Monument Avenue District. Eleven of Bottomley’s commissions are individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places, eight of which are in Virginia. Bottomley died in 1951.
Upon purchasing the property, Captain White set out to develop a model dairy farm. The farm became quite profitable, much to White’s chagrin at tax time. White’s talent for farming came from his relatives, as his father and grandfather were both successful farmers in Giles County, Tennessee. White’s father, Newton H. White, Sr., was also an influential businessman and Tennessee politician, serving as speaker of the state senate in 1901 and 1913.
Named Enterprise Farm in honor of the USS Enterprise, White and his wife introduced modern farming practices to the badly eroded land. The property was completely washed away and nutrient deprived due to nearly 300 years of tobacco cultivation. When the Whites purchased the farm it was producing about 25 bushels of corn to the acre. In 1949, due to cover and soil building crops, the Whites expected to harvest about 70 bushels of corn per acre. Enterprise Farm also had one of Southern Maryland’s best dairy herds, with about 60 head of Holstein and Guernsey cattle. The dairy operations were centered around the barns and outbuildings north of the Newton White Mansion. This farming complex boosted multiple barns, outbuildings, and dwellings to support the full-time operation. Most of the farm buildings constructed by White have a residential form as opposed to an agricultural form. This, coupled with their clustered location north of the mansion, is significant in demonstrating White’s planned landscape. The northern nucleus of agricultural buildings was constructed along the ridge of a small valley. These buildings are in-line with the mansion. This is in stark contrast to the Warington Tobacco Barn and the corn crib, which were sited on the property according to their physical landscape. The barn and corn crib, dating from the tenure of the Waring family, were built adjacent or within agricultural fields; the Newton White diary buildings were not. Instead, these buildings were imposed upon the landscape. The central barn is supported to the north, east, and south by auxiliary farm buildings with a large field to the west providing a visual buffer between the agricultural and residential space of the property. This arrangement provided for efficiency and limited the visual impact upon the mansion. The model dairy farm was a financial success, and the accounting of its worth following his death in 1958 totaled more than $6,000,000.
Captain Newton H. White, Jr. died on November 28, 1958 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in honor of his service to the United States Navy. Following his death, his wife made a large donation to the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The athletic center at Johns Hopkins University was renamed the Newton H. White, Jr. Athletic Center in 1965. Captain White became interested in Johns Hopkins University after reading a chemistry textbook by Ira Remsen, second president of the university (1901-1913). This was not the first time the Whites had made a contribution to the school. White instituted the Newton H. White scholarships in 1954, to provide an opportunity for needy students to attend Johns Hopkins University. It is not known what happened to the dairy operations at Enterprise Farm following Captain White’s death.