Tacaro Estate, 1940

Tacaro Estate in Tracys Landing was built in 1940 by clay baron, E. Taylor Chewning. Based on the architecture of the façade with the large white square pillars, it was clearly designed to look like Scarlett O’Hara’s beloved Tara from “Gone with the Wind,” the groundbreaking film released in 1939 to great fanfare, the year before the house was built. The brickwork of the house, stables, barns, and guest cottage is exquisite. The meticulously constructed Flemish bond pattern adds to the sprawling mansion’s stately Georgian Colonial elegance. Tacaro is a place of charm and beauty, combining the grandeur of the Chesapeake country with dignified and appealing architecture.

E. Taylor Chewning

Chewning was born on June 3, 1889 in Bowling Green, Caroline County, Virginia USA. He died on October 12, 1970 in Annapolis, Maryland at 81. Chewning’s ancestors came to Virginia from Kent County, England, in 1655, so he had a long pedigree in Virginia. He moved to Washington when he was 5 years old where he attended various schools. Chewning founded United Clay Products in 1921, growing it into one of Washington’s largest industries. At one time, Chewning’s companies were the largest distributors of building materials in the South. Three of its kilns remain standing near the National Arboretum. United Clay Products supplied bricks for many familiar structures in Washington, including the Folger Shakespeare Library, the departments of commerce and agriculture, the IRS, the Mayflower and Omni Shoreham hotels, and the Madeira School.

Chewning was married to his wife, Caroline Mosher, for 32 years. He had one son, E. Taylor Chewning, Jr., and his only daughter, Virginia, died in 1963. He had five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Chewning founded United Clay Products in 1921

In addition to founding Continental Clay Products in West Virginia and then United Clay Products Co. in Washington, he also was a director of several national companies, including Armour and Company of Chicago and the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company. He lived and raised horses on Tacaro Farm, and as an avid thoroughbred horse breeder, he was first appointed to the Maryland Racing Commission by former Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin in 1953 and ended up serving on the MRC under two governors until his death.

Chewning named the farm Tacaro

Chewning named the farm Tacaro, a blend of the first two letters of his name with the first four letters of his wife Caroline’s name. He bred racehorses, raised prize Black Angus cattle and grew tobacco on the nearly 1000 acres that overlooked the Chesapeake Bay. Chewning incorporated the farm’s name into many of his horses’ names: Tacaro Milkman, Tacaro Briar and Tacaro Brandy, to name a few. According to the Annapolis Evening Capital newspaper, Tacaro Farm was a private retreat for the Chewnings. The public was rarely permitted to see it. But it was the setting for many lavish private parties with family and friends.

The four-level, 13,280 square-foot mansion features grand public spaces for receptions and parties. Most of the mansion’s rooms have a view of the bay. The 30-foot dining room has one of the home’s 13 fireplaces.

Tacaro preserved

Chewning died in 1970 and his wife Caroline in 1977. Their children subdivided and sold off much of the farmland of Tacaro, but preserved about 78 acres of what is now the current estate and all of the buildings.

New owners, Susan Holley and Luca Luciano

The new owners, Susan Holley and Luca Luciano, who purchased the property in 2021, are just the fourth owners. Susan is an architecture, design, and landscaping aficionado who loves restoring stately old homes. With a keen interest in preserving its history for generations to come, she and Luca rescued Tacaro from imminent sale to developers who had plans to further break up the property into multiple parcels to create a residential development of new homes. Susan and Luca are working to restore the property and its landscaping to its original glory with updated systems, amenities, and decor.