Wednesday, April 10, 2013

James T. Woodward, Belair Mansion Owner, Dies after a Short Illness

April 10, 1910 (103 years ago today): James T. Woodward, owner of the Belair Mansion, died after a short illness.  He left the majority of his estate, including the Belair property, to his nephew, William Woodward.

Much of Belair had been sold in pieces during the nineteenth century, and the property had been largely neglected in the years leading up to 1898 when James Woodward purchased the estate.

Despite only owning Belair for twelve years, James Woodward is responsible for transforming the mansion and property, and creating the iconic images of Belair that we have today.  It was during this time that the east and west wings were added onto the Belair Mansion.  Four dormers, two in the front and two in the back, were cut into the roof line.  New stairs and a porch (pictured here) were added to the north side of the mansion.  Woodward also had the sandstone stable building constructed (the present day Belair Stable Museum).  It is believed that the bridge over Foxhill Lake was built at this time as well, although the pond was not known as Foxhill Lake until some time after Levitt & Sons purchased the property.

The size of the Belair estate changed frequently over the years.  The mansion sat on nearly 400 acres at the time James Woodward purchased Belair, and he added approximately 1,000 more acres before his death by buying adjacent properties.  Belair would grow to be 2,300 acres by the time it was sold to Levitt in 1957.

James Woodward's Belair estate was valued at $63,568.54, and the $3,200 inheritance tax paid by his nephew was the largest inheritance tax levied in the history of Prince George's County at the time.

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