Joppa celebrates 300 years with home and garden tour

The "very proud" and "very old" community of Joppa will be showing off some of its fantastic homes and landmarks for a home and garden tour Saturday, celebrating the 300th anniversary of its founding.

Dianna Guthrie, a long-time Joppa resident, is excited for people to discover Joppa's history through the walking tour and Colonial artifacts.

"There's quite a bit of collateral to substantiate our history," she said.

In addition to the community's 300th anniversary, this year also marks the 50th anniversary of when Joppatowne was developed.

Houses will be open for tours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and tea room service, for an additional charge, will be held until 6 p.m. An evening service at Copley Parish Church in the style of the 1700s will be at 6 p.m. Rain date is Sept. 15.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door or at

In 1712, England's Queen Anne granted a charter establishing the Colonial town of Joppa.

The community was once a deep water port a mile wide and served ships from all over the world. Joppa also was once the county seat of Baltimore County.

Colonial Joppa died when siltation made the Gunpowder River impassable and yellow fever plagued the citizenry. The foundations of many buildings from the 1700s remain and are covered with soil to protect them from environmental hazards, such as acid rain. The majority of the Joppa National Historic Site is on land owned by Copley Parish, Gunpowder Hundred, Church of the Resurrection. The church is at the corner of Bridge and Anchor drives on Rumsey Island in Joppatowne.

Guthrie's home on Shore Drive will be on the tour, along with other homes, Copley Parish Church and the historic Rumsey Mansion.

The Rumsey Mansion, built in the 1720s, is a Maryland Historical Site. The dwelling is the sole remaining structure from colonial times and is privately owned.

"Copley Church is where most of the artifacts are from the diggings of the Rumsey Island area," Guthrie explained. Some of those artifacts, she continued, come from Native American tribes and are hundreds of years old.

The once-thriving colonial community boasted a church, courthouse and jail. There was even horse racing. Additionally, many of the nation's founding fathers are thought to have traveled through and spent time in Joppa, while traveling between Washington and Philadelphia.

Ships that sailed into Joppa Town, as it was originally called, would come in near where the Guthries own a rental property on what is today Neptune Drive.

Taking advantage of the nearby water, the Guthries will board people on their boat and take them around Rumsey Island's canals, she said, and finally to the mansion.

The trip, Guthrie said, is to give an opportunity for people to "take a look at the beautiful waterfront we have here." She added: "We go to great lengths to have a very exquisite waterfront."

Tour guides will be dressed in colonial-era costume, and the night will wrap up with refreshments and an evening service at Copley Parish.

Guthrie, who grew up in Baltimore County, but has spent the better part of her life in Joppa, believes most people in the community move around, but not out.

"It's amazing," she said. "They might move house to house, but they usually stay within the community."

She thinks the small town feel of Joppa keeps people in the community, comparing it to the fictional town of Mayberry.

"It's a good place to grow up, it's a good place to raise your children and it's a good place to retire," she said. "Most people know each other, so it's a tight community."

For more information, contact Karen W. Hawley, Chairperson of the Rumsey Island Home and Garden Tour, at 410-852-0433 or

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