With an expansive history and traditional elegance, Montpelier Mansion in Laurel, Maryland, stands as a exceptional destination for capturing portraits of all kinds. Built between 1781 and 1785 by Major Thomas Snowden, a prominent planter and ironmaster, this Georgian-style plantation house holds a rich heritage that adds depth and character to any photographic composition.
The architecture of Montpelier Mansion is a stunning hidden gem tucked away in a wooded hillside. Comprising a five-part structure, the house features a central block flanked by end pavilions connected by hyphens. The two-story central block, with its impressive five-bay elevation, boasts a projecting three-bay pavilion crowned by a pediment, while the hipped roof is accentuated by striking projecting chimneys. The front and rear doors, flanked by pilasters and open pediments mirror each other with a graceful design.
Throughout its existence, Montpelier Mansion was home to four generations of Snowdens, as well as enslaved individuals such as Nance and Catte Creek, and Ben, a skilled blacksmith. The property served not only as a family home but also as a bustling agricultural operation and ironworks, creating a significant impact on the development of Prince George’s County. Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1970, Montpelier Mansion now falls under the ownership and management of the Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation Department. The mansion opens its doors to the public for tours and special events, offering a glimpse into the past and allowing visitors to appreciate the architectural and cultural significance of the property, as well as the location’s sometimes sordid history.
For portrait photography, Montpelier Mansion presents a multitude of benefits. Besides it’s easy geographic access, ample parking, and permissive visitors policies, the house itself provides a striking and sophisticated backdrop, combining the Georgian style with the weight of history. The meticulously maintained grounds can further enhance the photographic experience, and offer a serene and tranquil atmosphere that promotes relaxation and creativity.
One of the notable advantages of Montpelier Mansion is the diversity of its surroundings. From meticulously landscaped formal gardens to enchanting wooded areas, the grounds offer a wide range of picturesque settings for capturing timeless portraits. Whether seeking a classical and refined ambiance or a natural and rustic backdrop, sessions held here will find ample opportunities to compose stunning images.