Ahead is the little barn, rebuilt after the microburst of our first summer, 1997. It is, like all of the Jubilee Farm buildings, white. The road bends again just before the little barn and arrives three hundred yards later at the main house, passing the guest house along the east-facing creek where the skin-peeled sycamore sweeps down to the pier. The main house was redesigned significantly in 1948 by noted Washington, D.C. architect Gertrude Sawyer, who also created a Southern architectural reference for Point Farm at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum just across the Patuxent River Bridge in Calvert County.
Ms. Sawyer balanced the house’s 1948 addition, a one-story telescope room to the south, with a detached garage to the right, so symmetry works in to the mind’s eye on arrival. The farm manager's office and tool room is contained within the garage building, where formerly a tool room and occasional sausage shop was operated in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
Admiral Felix Johnson, retiring to the U.S. in 1948 after a lifetime of service to country that culminated with assignments in the Pacific during WWII, renovated the farmhouse with his wife Faye who, in turn, inherited the 140 acres as a gift from her father, Colonel Faye. At the time of the gift, the farm was part of Mulberry Fields and known as Blake Creek Farm. It was renamed by the Johnsons to Jubilee Farm. The name Blake Creek Farm had been used since at least 1737, according to the deed we have from the Exchequer in Court in London granting a larger 240 acre Black Creek Farm to Robert Tunnehill after the death of his father, John Tunnehill.
Felix Johnson grew up in North Carolina and had a penchant for growing ---- orchard trees, vegetables, heirloom roses, and especially daffodils. By 1982 when Felix died, he had built up a clientele and a reputation. His clientele received new bulbs in late spring at St. Stephen’s Church in Valley Lee, where he also planted daffodils and tended the gardens. At Jubilee, his reputation gave rise to neighborly habits that included the race for the first daffodil in February, the poaching of daffodils in March and April, and the practice of gifting whole bags of daffodils to friends and family come May..
Daffodils will continue their bloom for sixty years. Only in the past several years are we harvesting and replanting crowded areas that Felix likely planted in his early retirement at Jubilee. Jackie Paskow asked me several years ago if I heard the daffodils crying in the crowded spinney. That launched my crusade to dig and replant, and I think that since I’ve retired a quarter or so of the complaints.