The Catonsville Historical Society’s Home and Garden Tour on Saturday May 5, offers a special stopover this year: the newly renovated historic Hilton Mansion.
The building, one of Catonsville’s original estates, was recently remade into a student center off Campus Drive at the Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville.
The new student center opened in February, after a $6.5 million renovation. CCBC Catonsville Campus Director Joan Swiston said the school worked with specialist architects to preserve original details in the building.
Carved molding still lines the ceilings and stairwell, and checkered marble floors have been preserved — alongside newly installed Wi-Fi access and large, digital displays in conference rooms.
The Hilton Mansion was built between 1828 and 1835, according to a CCBC history pamphlet. It took its current form after George Knapp, director of the National Enameling and Stamping Co., purchased it in 1917 and hired Baltimore architect Edward Palmer to renovate it in the Georgian Revival style. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“People drive by here all the time but, a lot of people have never had the opportunity to come in and see it,” Swiston said. Being a part of the tour allows the campus to “showcase the beauty” of the property and allow for the “opportunity to see the beautiful way in which it’s been renovated.”
In addition to the Hilton Center, the tour includes five private residences dotted around Catonsville, from Edmondson Avenue near the Colonial Gardens to Newburg Avenue and Rolling Road, near Catonsville High School. The tour ticket doubles as a brochure that includes a map of where the homes are, brief write-ups and photos of the properties.
The owners at the five privately owned other homes on the tour are first-time hosts, according to organizers.
The focus is primarily on the homes, said Catonsville Historical Society President Anne Luco, but “often the houses do have nice gardens in the back, too.”
Planning for the tour each year starts well in advance, Luco, said. Sometimes, it involves going house-to-house and knocking on doors to find volunteers.
“We … always have a running list of homes that we’d like to see on the tour,” Luco said. “We interview [owners] and see what the house is like on the inside.”
Starting the process early — during the summer before the next tour — gives homeowners time to prepare and maybe “finish up that project” that’s been put off, Lucco said.
The tour schedule, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Luco said, “gives you a nice, leisurely pace to get into and see all six homes.” The tour has included up to eight homes in the past, but having to see more than one home in each hour has made things “a little more rushed.”
Luco said the annual event is the historical society’s biggest fundraiser each year, and typically brings in $8,000-$10,000.
The money allows the society to maintain its offices and museum, and sponsor events throughout the year. The historical society has an event planned in June on the history of the Catonsville Nine, with more details to come.
The home tour was first held in the 1970s and then sporadically after that. It became an annual event in 2014.
Tickets for home tour are $30 if purchased ahead of time online or $35 the day of the event, when they can be purchased at the Catonsville Historical Society at 1842 Frederick Road, from 9 a.m.-11 a.m.