ROCKVILLE, Md. -- In the brisk Washington real estate market, the white colonial was an easy sale -- three bedrooms, easy access to a major commuting route and an acre of land, a rarity in the tightly packed suburbs.
But the 18th-century house had one thing the McMansions could never claim -- the original Uncle Tom's cabin.
Attached to the side is a small, one-room building, its walls made of graying split oak beams. A massive stone chimney rises at the back, above the large hearth where slaves once tended meals for a plantation owner.
Among the farm's slaves was Josiah Henson, the man whom Harriet Beecher Stowe used as a model for the Uncle Tom character in her 1852 novel on slavery, ''Uncle Tom's Cabin."
Less than a month after being put on the market for about $1 million, the cabin and the house are being purchased by Montgomery County.
''We don't want it to turn into a dentist's office," said Peggy Erickson, executive director of Heritage Montgomery, an agency that promotes historic tourism and that worked with the county to raise money to buy the house.
The owners recently signed a contract with the county, rejecting rival bids from a private bidder and from a group of doctors who wanted to establish a center to study world health. The sale price wasn't immediately released. The sale is expected to be final at the end of January.
Greg Mallet-Prevost's parents had owned the house since the early 1960s, and he put it up for sale after his mother died in September at age 100. The Mallet- Prevosts were history buffs and took great care of the cabin, he said.
The house was once the anchor of a 3,700-acre farm that sprawled over much of modern-day Rockville.
Mallet-Prevost said he and his two siblings sold in part because they couldn't afford to maintain the cabin.
''The best thing for this house is to have the county own it and keep it open to the public," he said.