This 3.9-acre park consists of a house and farm structures that span more than 100 years of Montgomery County’s agricultural and equine racing history.
Today, Waters House residents include Montgomery Parks offices and Heritage Montgomery, a non-profit organization that seeks to promote heritage tourism, foster historic preservation, and provide associated educational programming. The grounds are open to the public during regular park hours, from sunrise to sunset.
The Waters House was built in parts, the oldest dating to the mid-1790s. Basil Waters built the small brick section of the house when he had inherited 200 acres from his father, William Waters of Brookeville. He named the farm Pleasant Fields. Although many descendants of William Waters built houses and still live in this area, only Basil’s house still stands from this period.
In 1799 Basil Waters married Anne Pottinger Magruder, daughter of Revolutionary War hero Zadok Magruder. Basil and Anne had six children. Upon Basil’s death, the plantation (then about 656 acres) was inherited by Basil’s youngest son, Zacariah.
Zacariah Waters married his cousin, Eliza Waters (daughter of Basil’s brother, Ignatius). Sometime before 1858, Zacariah added the brick and frame, two-story addition that is now the center section of the house. After his death, his widow sold Pleasant Fields to her brother, Dr. William Alexander Waters in 1882. Dr. Waters built the third section of the house to accommodate his growing family in the 1890s. This large, three-story frame addition includes a magnificent staircase in the center hallway that extends to the roof. Porches and ornamental details in the Victorian Italianate style, such as carved brackets and scrolls, were added to unify the exterior.
Dr. Water’s son, Charles Clark Waters, was a horseman who raised and bred standard-bred horses at Pleasant Fields. His most famous stud horse was a record-setting trotter named Kinster. The Pleasant Fields Stock Farm was well known in racing circles at the turn-of-the-century. The bank barn, carriage house, and loafing shed were added during his tenure.
Before 1920, Charles and his son, William, shifted their business from horses to automobiles and opened a Buick dealership in Gaithersburg. The business faltered in the late 1920s near the start of the Great Depression. In 1932, the Waters’ house and 988 acres were sold at public auction to pay the family’s debts. Over the next 65 years, the farm passed through several owners before 1997 when 3.9 acres were deeded to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission as an amenity for the suburban community that was being developed on the remaining land. The amenity included all the historic buildings with the farmhouse recently renovated.
A small family burial plot now on Hawk’s Nest Lane is the final resting place of Basil and Anne Waters; their children, Susannah, Robert, Zacariah, and Mary; Zacariah’s wife, Eliza, and son, Bazil; and Dr. William Waters.