Mulberry Fields Property Will Stay As It Is, Say Owners

By Guy Leonard, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (July 17, 2008)—Bruce and Doug Jansson, the remaining owners of the Mulberry Fields property, about 500 acres of wooded rural land with shoreline on the Potomac River that had its origins as an 18th century plantation say that they will keep the property as it is after the recent death of their brother Erik Jansson who had lived there and cared for the property.

Some in the community were concerned about the future of the property, worried that the nearly pristine forest, rural land and shoreline would be lost to possible development if sold off.

Erik Jansson died suddenly June 27 at Mulberry Fields: as a well-known local activist and environmentalist, his death was widely mourned.

The brothers said that they are still unsure how they will maintain the property as they live in California and Wisconsin respectively. Learning how Erik kept the property and what financial resources he left behind would take time, they said.

“We’ve just come into town and are trying to learn how Mulberry Fields has worked so far,” said Bruce Jansson. “But we’re determined to keep the property in its current state.”

The property is protected by a state historical easement “and it can never be developed” Doug Jansson told The County Times.

The property has been in their family since about 1917, Bruce Jansson said, with it first being purchased by their great aunt Jesse Lennox Ray.

Ray eventually sold the property to their parents, Holger and Mary Jansson in 1953.

Both Holger and Mary Jansson had to deal with a business man who wanted to build a river front casino on the property.

A court battle ensued over who were the rightful owners, Bruce Jansson said.

“My parents had to take him to court to prove he didn’t buy it,” he said. “And they won, that shows my mother’s determination to preserve the property from such a horrible use.”

The mansion on the property is also an architectural rarity in Maryland and the only one in St. Mary’s County.

“It’s the only Georgian-style house in the county,” said Teresa Wilson, preservation planner for the county’s Department of Land Use and Growth Management.

The mansion at Mulberry Fields is actually a scaled down version of the kind seen in Annapolis or in Virginia, Wilson said.

The house is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and was added to the list in 1973.Any changes to the house, as well as a portion of the property, would have to first go through the state.

“The Maryland Historical Trust has an easement on the property,” Wilson said. “It means that the trust has some oversight to the property.

“They’d [the owners] have to get approval before any structural changes could be made to the house. It’s a perpetual easement and whoever purchases it would have to respect it.”

The property is also home to a heron rookery, Wilson said, and along with all the forestation and open space makes it a valuable environmental resource.

Other structures such as barns and residences also sit on the property, but despite their age, the brothers said, they don’t seem to present a problem.

“Everything is in good shape, in excellent structural condition thanks to the efforts of our parents and Eric.” Bruce Jansson said. “The question now is how do we, from afar, do we do this.”


Loss of Local Activist Mourned, July 10, 2008

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