September 27, 2009

Historic House Tour: Hampton Mansion

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.

hampton 055There 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. hampton 010The 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.hampton 038The 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.hampton 014The details on the house are spectacular. Broken pediments above many of the interior windows, hampton 015 beautiful detailing on the dormer windows, incredible fireplace surrounds,

hampton 024 hampton 026

and beautiful dentil work and moldings everywhere.hampton 039Here are some more images: The center section of the house from the back, with the urns on every corner and the cupola just showing.  hampton 045

Some of the parterred gardens.hampton 047The house from the front drive. hampton 051Two 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!hampton 054 The family’s symbol was a deer, which was prominent throughout the house in the curtain tie-backs, hampton 012 the stained glass over the front door hampton 022 and several other places.

There were marble statues hampton 021 and urns strategically placed around the house for maximum photo opportunities.hampton 063 All in all, it was a great day out with some old and new blogger friends!tres bloggersThanks for setting this up, JCB!

20 comments:

  1. Spectacular tour. Thanks for taking us along.

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  2. Wonderful - thanks for posting the pictures.

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  3. Worth someone doing a book on this house.

    Lovely pics & writing.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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  4. This is fantastic. Thank you for sharing!

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  5. Very interesting tour. The house design is rather unusual, in its non conformance to a specific style - the dome changes the Georgian into something very different, but maybe it's typical of the era and area?

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  6. Col... The dome was an early air-conditioning device. They would open the doors on the main level and then open the windows of the dome and the hot air would chimney out. It was their summerhouse and Baltimore's quite hot and humid in the summer. It was suggested that the urns on the roofline and the dome were the builder's signature. This was a family who aspired to be more than they were (tradesmen).

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  7. Gorgeous! Sounds silly to say this in light of all of the gorgeous architecture, but I'm pining for those tie-backs!

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  8. Wow, stunning. Looks like you all had a great day together.

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  9. Just a little place of my own. Somewhere to hang my hat....

    I love the fireplace surrounds and the grey/blue trim on the white walls in that first interior shot. Unexpected. Well, I didn't expect it anyway.

    Thanks for the tour. I bet it was a fun day.

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  10. If there isn't already a book on this house, I agree with Tara that this would be a great subject for a book - the history of the family, economics of slavery and literal and figurative restoration. Amazingly, I imagine that so much remained unchanged because there was no money for "updates" and time went along.

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  11. At first I thought this had to be in the English countryside. What a truly elegant and gracious building and complex. Being a former archivist I shutter at the staggering amount of papers. Glad they saved though!

    Thanks for the tour,

    Marjorie

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  12. Linda... basically, the house wasn't really re-done after the civil war.

    CdesM... It does look like an English country home, doesn't it? We all agreed on that!

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  13. Oh, what a stunning tour! I LOVE receiving my email updates with all that you're sharing! Got you on my blogroll too!

    xoxo lylah

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  14. I went here recently and your pictures capture everything fantastically!

    What a treasure tucked away that many just don't know about!

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  15. The 'stone barns' you refer to and have photographed were once in fact slave quarters. A lifestyle far from the picturesque French countryside.

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  16. anon... my understanding is that the quarters for the enslaved people were across the road, and that these were carriage houses. i am very well aware of the history of this house and property, but chose not to focus on it.

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