Nibbling, sipping part of Gramercy Mansion's 'Spring Has Sprung' tour

They came. They sniffed. They smiled. They sipped. They left — still smiling.

That pretty much describes the behavior of guests at last weekend's Spring Has Sprung Tea and Garden Tour at Gramercy Mansion in Stevenson.

The nearly 50 participants were split into two groups and each alternately toured the Tudor-style mansion circa 1902 and its gardens at 1400 Greenspring Valley Road. In between their tours, they all sat down together for high tea, which included, along with the tea, served on fine china, four courses of scones with Devon cream, hors d'oeuvres, finger sandwiches, truffles and petite fours.

Heather Rathbone, assistant to mansion owner Anne Pomykala, said the paid tours are offered in the spring "when our gardens come to life," complete with rows of tulips and blooming magnolia trees.

Gramercy Mansion was built in 1902 by Alexander J. Cassatt, president of the Pennsylvania Railroad and brother of the American Impressionist painter, Mary Cassatt, according to Wikipedia.

Gramercy Mansion was presented as a wedding gift to Cassatt's daughter, Eliza. Later owners included the prominent Brewster family, one of whom became a senator from Maryland. In the 1950s the 45-acre estate became home to the Koinonia Foundation, a predecessor of the Peace Corps, before being bought and restored by Dr. Ron and Anne Pomykala in 1985.

Gramercy operates as a bed and breakfast, and throughout the year, hosts weddings and parties, and private tours. Anne Pomykala, a Master Gardener, also hosts horticultural events, Rathbone said. They are all ways to "showcase Gramercy," she said.

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