This two-story frame farm house was built in 1856 for John Miley Maphis, a
prosperous miller and merchant. The house sits on a bluff across a creek from the
pre-Civil War milling community of Lantz Mill. Maphis’s enterprise contributed
to the bustling village, which boasted by the mid-19th century a grist mill,
saw mill, rifle factory, and general store, as well as carpentry, woodworking, and basket-making shops. Within a few years (and likely by 1861) after the construction
of the front hall-and-parlor portion of the house, a two-story wing of nearly the
same dimensions was added on the south side.
The Civil War brought Maphis heavy losses. His mill and barn were burned by Federal forces and his Confederate bonds turned worthless. In 1894 the property was sold out of the family and passed through various owners until 1987, when Ann Cottrell Free and Elissa Blake Free purchased it. Ann Cottrell Free (1916-2004) was the first woman Washington correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune, the Chicago Sun, and Newsweek magazine, covering war-time Washington during World War II.
In addition to the house, the property features a ca.-1870 bank barn that replaced the one destroyed during the Civil War, a ca.-1900 wash house, and a ca.-1920 chicken house.