Merry-Go-Round Farm is a unique community that combines a wide variety of amenities unparalleled in the D.C. area. We have something for everyone, including:
Timeless Architectural Appeal
Drive through Potomac, Maryland and you will see no small number of grandiose homes that could be described as "McMansions" or "faux chateaux." What's more, in many area developments, the same few imposing house designs are repeated en masse.
MGRF was designed as an antidote to the oversized, overdone and overexposed trend in high-end area homes.
"The intention is to avoid two extremes to which ordinary residential developments frequently succumb: either a monotonous repetition of house types that suppress individuality and imagination, or an uncoordinated cacophony of misunderstood historic styles with awkward massing and siting."
From: Merry-Go-Round Farm Architectural and Landscape Design Guidelines (First Edition, 1988)
All of the homes in MGRF are unique -- no cookie-cutter or builder "spec houses" here -- and many were designed by award-winning architects. Although they embody many different styles -- from traditional through contemporary -- they co-exist beautifully, because each house follows a well-conceived set of architectural guidelines that emphasize correct and consistent style, proper scale and proportion and the use of natural materials.
A Sample of Homes in MGRF Designed by Award-Winning Architects
But don't just take our word for it . . . click on the links below to see what others have had to say about MGRF and its homes, many of which have been featured in local and national publications.
Books and Articles that Feature MGRF
- A Home in a Community With a Storied History, The Washington Post (Nov. 25, 2017)
- 30 Great Neighborhoods to Live In, Bethesda Magazine (March 2016)
- Merry-Go-Round Farm, DC by Design Blog (July 2010)
- Merry-Go-Round Farm Tries to Bring Superior Architecture to Potomac (July 17, 2010)
- In Residence: McInturff Architects, Images Publishing (2007)
- Dream Homes Greater Washington, DC, Panache Partners LLC (2007)
- The Farmhouse: New Inspiration for the Classic American Home, Jean Rehkamp Larsen (2004)
- Rural Restraint: Preserving that Country Feeling, Custom Home Magazine (January 2003)
- In Detail: McInturff Architects, Images Publishing (2001)
Ample Outdoor Recreation -- Riding, Hiking, Biking, Tennis and Water Sports
MGRF is a paradise for outdoor and sports enthusiasts. Our residents enjoy
year-round horse riding, hiking, biking, tennis, canoeing, and kayaking in MGRF's striking natural setting.
MGRF has eight miles of private, densely wooded trails in a conservation easement that is used by residents for hiking and trail rides. We also have a comprehensive equestrian facility that includes an indoor ring, an outdoor sand ring and a grass ring with an exceptional view of our paddocks and barns.
There are several small lakes on the property that are perfect for an afternoon picnic, bird-watching and ice skating. In addition, the southern side of the farm property directly borders the Chesapeake and Ohio National Park, a natural and recreational treasure which is famous for its 184 mile "C&O Canal" and towpath, used in the 19th and early 20th century to transport goods between Washi
ngton, D.C. and northern Maryland.
Today, the canal and towpath are used for recreation purposes. MGRF homeowners have access to a canoe shed with two community canoes located just steps from a private input to the C&O Canal.
The towpath extends all the way to Georgetown to the east, and for many miles to the west. It's a nice flat path that is completely isolated from car traffic and is perfect for strolling, jogging and biking. Some of our more adventurous MGRF residents even bike to work in D.C. along the towpath!
In addition to our amazing equine residents, MGRF is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including deer, foxes, raccoons, badgers, frogs, and many types of birds. We are especially proud of our vibrant population of Eastern bluebirds, made possible through a community initiative to install special bluebird "houses" in strategic locations around the MGRF property.
Hey neighbor -- there's always something going on at the farm! Our enthusiastic and engaged Social Committee arranges year-round events to promote a sense of community and good, old-fashioned fun!
We have large, open fields for sports and seasonal festivals and other charming venues for smaller gatherings.
A historic "old pool" serves as a wonderful backdrop for romantic evenings and community events.
Some kind words about MGRF from our neighbors and friends:
- "You're in your own little wonderland."
- "You would never think you're 15 miles out of D.C."
- "When you turn into the farm on weekends, it's like you're on your own little vacation."
- "Everything seems to be just the right size."
- "Our backyard is 200 acres of trails and ponds and creatures. Our little boy has gotten an experience living here that most children do not get."
A Rich History
The community of Merry-Go-Round Farm is the brainchild and legacy of two prominent Washingtonians, Tyler and Elizabeth "Bess" Abell. The farm has a rich history rooted in the rough-and-tumble world of Washington, D.C. politics and journalism.
The land where Merry-Go-Round Farm now sits was originally bought as a 280-acre parcel in 1930 by Eleanor Josephine Medill Patterson. Patterson, or "Cissy" as she was known, was a prominent American journalist and newspaper editor, publisher and owner. Patterson was one of the first women to head a major daily newspaper, The Washington Times-Herald. Patterson married Count Josef Gizycka, a nobleman from Russian Poland, and, in 1905, they had one daughter, Countess Felicia Gizycka. Both Patterson and her daughter lived dramatic and flamboyant lives that have been chronicled extensively in many books and articles.
In 1925, Countess Gizycka married Andrew ("Drew") Russell Pearson. Drew Pearson first came to D.C. in the 1920s to work as a journalist for The Baltimore Sun, where he rose to become Chief Correspondent of its Washington bureau. Although his marriage to Gizycka lasted only three years, they had one child, Ellen, and Pearson remained friends with his mother-in-law for a time after the divorce. Pearson found the Potomac property for Patterson, which she bought for $50,000. Patterson later gave the land in trust to Pearson for her granddaughter, Ellen.
From 1931-32, Pearson co-wrote two books that were considered "muckraking" accounts of the lives of prominent D.C. politicians. Washington Merry-Go-Round and More Merry-Go-Round were published anonymously, but it was later discovered that Pearson was one of the authors, and he was fired from The Baltimore Sun. Shortly thereafter, Pearson began writing a daily political column called the "Washington Merry-Go-Round" that was published in Patterson's Washington Times-Herald and helped launch Pearson's long career as a famous D.C. political commentator, columnist and radio personality.
Pearson bought the Potomac land from his daughter Ellen. He built a farmhouse on the property in 1939 at the request of Luvie Moore, who became his second wife in 1936, and who had dreamed of owning a country home. Moore had a son from a previous marriage, Tyler Abell. The Pearson family owned a home in Georgetown and used Merry-Go-Round Farm as a weekend getaway. Over the years, Merry-Go-Round Farm was a frequent host to U.S. Presidents, Supreme Court justices, ambassadors, senators, congressmen and movie stars, including President Lyndon Johnson, Chief Justice Earl Warren, and actress Rita Hayworth, to name just a few.
During World War II, Pearson started a working dairy at the farm. The first 100 cows were delivered to the farm when Tyler was ten years old and his parents were vacationing, leaving him and the family maid to receive "a stampede" of cows on their own. A major by-product of the cows was manure, which Pearson sold to Hechingers hardware stores and directly from the farm as "Drew Pearson's Best Manure -- All Cow, No Bull!" The farm also produced beans, which were originally sold to Jenkins Cannery of Frederick, Maryland. When Jenkins stopped buying the beans, Pearson became the first farmer in the area to offer a "Pick-Your-Own" opportunity. To market the beans, Pearson ran an add in the Washington Post, offering as many beans as a person could pick for $1. Pearson's marketing was so successful that people came from all over to pick the beans, causing the Montgomery County police to complain about traffic congestion on River Road. Also, Pearson raised the price to $1 per bushel.
In 1955, Tyler married Elizabeth "Bess" Clements, daughter of Earle Clements. Mr. Clements served as Governor of Kentucky and later as a U.S. Senator, for a time acting as Democratic Majority Leader. Tyler and Bess met at the Kentucky Derby and eloped after a New Year's party. After his marriage to Bess, Tyler joined the Army. He then studied law and practiced both in government for the Johnson Administration and for a major D.C. law firm. Tyler served as Assistant Postmaster General and as Chief of Protocol. Bess also served in a number of prominent political positions, including Assistant to Lady Bird Johnson and White House Social Secretary, Executive Director of the Democratic Governors' Conference, and Executive Assistant to Joan Mondale in the Office of the Vice-President. She later established a public relations firm.
In 1969, Pearson died, leaving the farm to Luvie. Tyler took over daily operation of the farm, ending the dairy business and focusing on beef production. Eventually, the Abells decided to develop the farm as residential community, but only in a manner that would preserve the special beauty of the land. They enlisted the help of local architect Colden ("Coke") Florance as well as noted landscape design consultant Edward Alexander. Starting in 1990, when other developers in Potomac were building "McMansions" with little regard to architectural style or land management, the Abells created the Merry-Go-Round Farm community. True to its past, the beauty and special amenities of Merry-Go-Round Farm continue to attract many D.C. notables.