Fellow blogger, JCB, has arranged a series of house tours throughout the area over the last few years, and I’ve been fortunate to be invited along. I’ve joined her and her group at Evergreen and Homewood, both in Baltimore.
This weekend, fellow bloggers JCB, Architect Design and Michael Hampton, as well as another friend, took a tour of the incredible Hampton Mansion, for 200 years home of the Ridgely family and now a National Park property. The property originally consisted of more than 25,000 acres of rolling hills and fertile fields north of Baltimore, with a house measuring 24,000 square feet, the largest Georgian-style residence in the States.
There are a number of buildings on the property including the main house, stables, an orangery, a smokehouse, a farmhouse and slave quarters. The family were the ultimate packrats and kept everything they ever had! There are more than 40,000 artifacts at the house and more than 100,000 archival papers. The house remained in the same family until the early 1930’s when it was sold to the Mellon Foundation to raise the money for back taxes. They kept it for 24 hours before turning it over to the National Park System, which ignored it for many years. The property is the story of an American family over 200 years from the beginning of the country, though the “War of Northern Aggression” during which life changed for the family, and up through the Depression when they raised chickens in the living room to get money for gas for their cars. In fact, my mother was just telling me that my uncle was friends with one of the family members and they didn’t have any money, just the house.The ceilings on the first two floors are 14 feet high and the third floor ceilings are eight feet. The house two hyphens and two wings, one of which, unusually, included the kitchen. Of course, the family had several strata of servants and slaves to keep the house running. All of their slaves were freed after the Civil War and that was when the family’s decline began in earnest.The details on the house are spectacular. Broken pediments above many of the interior windows, beautiful detailing on the dormer windows, incredible fireplace surrounds,
Some of the parterred gardens.The house from the front drive. Two stone barns, which look like the cottages in the French country-side which I wrote about a few months ago. We all agreed that these would make a nice place to live! The family’s symbol was a deer, which was prominent throughout the house in the curtain tie-backs, the stained glass over the front door and several other places.
There were marble statues and urns strategically placed around the house for maximum photo opportunities. All in all, it was a great day out with some old and new blogger friends!Thanks for setting this up, JCB!