The present Laird’s house was built c.1600, and is a later form of the traditional fortified tower house, less defensive but still incorporating gun loops at the turnpike stair on the north side and narrow loops or vents to the ground floor of the wing on the south side. The property developed over the years as a farm with the steading acquiring numerous outbuildings to the north of the house.
Although known locally as Dowies, (pronounced ‘Doo-ies’) the house is called the Old Place of Monreith. In earlier days, it was called Moure and was the first possession in Wigtownshire of the Maxwell family. Sir Edward Maxwell of Tinwald, second son of Herbert, 1st Lord Maxwell, first acquired the estate in 1481, from a Cunninghame of Aikhead. The site would have been a strong one, for the now marshy valley was formerly a loch. Although there was an earlier castle nearby, the nucleus of the present building was occupied by Edward Maxwell’s descendants until the 1680s.
The Maxwell family had the usual share of black sheep and heroes. One of the family, John Maxwell of Garrerie, was convicted of the murder of John McKie of Glassoch and beheaded in 1619. The eldest son of a later laird, another John Maxwell, was a fervent Covenanter and after escaping the Battle of Rullion Green, in Lothian, he rode home without stopping. His old father was so impressed by this, that he declared the horse had done enough in one day for a lifetime and built a special stone-walled field for it, called the Horse Park. Here the gallant steed spent the rest of its days - not entirely idly, however, for under the name of Pentland, the stallion left a great many descendants of note in Galloway.
In 1683, growing prosperous, the Maxwells bought the (now ruinous) Tower of Myretoun nearby from the McCullochs, and moved there. After a period of neglect, the Old Place was considerably altered in the 19th century (especially its roofline) and became a farmhouse.
The plan is cross-shaped, the main block lying approximately east and west with a square wing projecting to the south and a circular stair-tower to the north. There are two storeys and an attic beneath a steep roof. The windows are fairly small, many with simple roll mouldings. Above one on the first floor of the west gable is a projecting gargoyle mask. The two arrow slit windows in the basement of the south wing are unexpected, giving an appearance of greater antiquity and one has an ogival head. There are two good shot-holes at first and second floor level in the stair tower. The door which was originally at the foot of this tower had been reduced to a window, with some more elaborate moulding remaining. Above is an empty panel-space with a chequered surround. The present doorway to the south is modern. A tall and massive hall chimney stack rises from eaves level to the west of the stair tower.