Montgomery County has agreed to buy an 18th-century house with an attached log cabin that was once home to a former slave whose autobiography inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin," county officials said.
The Montgomery Planning Board is expected to approve the $1 million contract today for the three-bedroom home and acre on Old Georgetown Road, just south of Tilden Lane in Rockville. A log cabin off the dining room was once a detached "summer kitchen" where Josiah Henson and other slaves lived in the late 1700s and early 1800s as part of a 3,700-acre plantation owned by Isaac Riley.
The county signed a contract Dec. 23 to buy the home from the estate of Hildegarde Mallet-Prevost, 100, who died there in September; she and her husband, Marcel, who died in 2000, had owned it since 1962. The family had two other "firm" offers, said real estate agent Pat Haley, a grandson of the Mallet-Prevosts'.
Haley declined to comment on the other two offers, but Gries said, "I was told there was another offer of $1 million, and I had to match it if we wanted to buy it."
For the past 40 or so years, the cabin has served as a small living room, office, occasional bedroom and favorite gathering spot for the Mallet-Prevost family. The dirt floor that Henson wrote about from his slave days has been replaced by creaky pine floorboards, but the same stone fireplace stands at one end of the 13-by-17-foot room.
Greg Mallet-Prevost, 64, and Susanne Haley, 68, said their mother would have liked for the family to have held onto the home. Still, they said, their parents would be happy to know it will be preserved and open to the public.