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Eastern Shore estate had blue-chip origins

A view of Hartefeld Hall, the main residence of the Raskob estate in Queen Anne's County. The white circular plaques bear sculptured likenesses of the Raskob children.
A view of Hartefeld Hall, the main residence of the Raskob estate in Queen Anne's County. The white circular plaques bear sculptured likenesses of the Raskob children. (Baltimore Sun files / 1935)

Late last year, then-President Barack Obama closed Pioneer Point Farm on the Eastern Shore. Since 1972 it has been a weekend vacation retreat house for Russian diplomats and embassy workers.

The property, at the Corsica and Chester rivers, was once the home of millionaire industrialist John Jacob Raskob and his wife, Helen.

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An aerial view of the Raskob estate at Pioneer Point on the Eastern Shore. The property was bought by the Russians in the '70s as a retreat.
An aerial view of the Raskob estate at Pioneer Point on the Eastern Shore. The property was bought by the Russians in the '70s as a retreat. (Baltimore Sun files / 1940)

Raskob began as a $7.50-a-week clerk and rose to be chairman of both General Motors and the Democratic National Party. He was a promoter of the unsuccessful 1928 presidential candidacy of New York Gov. Alfred E. Smith. He also opposed Prohibition.

The Raskobs had 12 children who lived at Pioneer Point. They decided the children needed a dormitory building separate from Hartefeld Hall, the estate's main, 35-room residence, described by a Sun feature writer as "a cross between institutional Georgian and New Orleans Southern." Hartefeld had a private Roman Catholic chapel and numerous wall safes for visitors' jewels.

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Mostley Hall was built for the use of the Raskob children and their friends.
Mostley Hall was built for the use of the Raskob children and their friends. (Baltimore Sun files / 1972)

When the Raskob children's home was nearing completion, one of them walked through the commodious structure with its two-story recreation-dining room and said, "It's mostly hall." The name stuck and the building was then known as Mostley Hall.

Helen Raskob also owned a stable of thoroughbreds. She quartered them at Pioneer Point part of the year and then shipped them across the Chesapeake Bay to the old Bowie Race Course.

John Raskob died in 1950, and Pioneer Point was sold two years later to industrialist R. J. Funkhouser.


jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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