Baltimore County

‘Culturally significant’ Perry Hall Mansion in need of property ownership, says Baltimore County councilman

Baltimore County is seeking prospective property owners for the historic Perry Hall Mansion, a structure built in the early 1700s that was the centerpiece of a 1,000-acre estate which later became the Perry Hall community.

Councilman David Marks, who represents Perry Hall, said the property played a significant role as the site for meetings that led to the development of the American Methodist church. Methodism was chartered in Baltimore in 1784, he said. According to a website for the property, the mansion remained in private hands for more than two centuries.


Today, the estate is condensed down to four acres in a residential neighborhood off of Belair Road near Gunpowder Falls State Park.

“It’s a historic building that is the namesake for Perry Hall and northeastern Baltimore County — the county purchased it in 2001 with the intent of stabilizing the structure,” Marks said.


Plans initially called for the property to be made into a community center, but that never came to fruition. Now the county is looking at many possible options for the historic property, including private use, he said.

“[The county is] looking for ways that it could possibly part with this property, but they want to do so in a manner that is historically sensitive to this unique structure,” Marks said.

The estate originally was owned by Corbin Lee, an ancestor of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, but after Lee died in 1773 his widow sold it to Baltimore merchant Harry Dorsey Gough, according to the website put up in 2009 by Sean Kief of the nonprofit Historic Perry Hall Mansion Inc., established to help preserve the property. Gough renamed the estate Perry Hall, after a family castle in England, and built the mansion. He also became involved with Methodist movement around the time of the Revolutionary War.

The Gough family used enslaved labor to tend to cattle and crops on the estate, including tobacco, according to the history website. The family sold the plantation in 1852, when investors carved up the property into dozens of farms, so many of them purchased by immigrant families from Germany that the area became known as Germantown.

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Baltimore County recently put out requests for proposals to see what interest there was for leasing and restoring the mansion. However, the deadline passed with no offers made.

“A few people had said it makes no sense to repair the structure and not eventually own it,” he said.

According to Marks, the county will look to negotiate separately with private owners who expressed some interest.

“They didn’t get any proposals, but there were several people who are interested, but did not like the terms that were proposed,” he said.


Sean Naron, a spokesperson for Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., said that the county remains committed to working with Marks and the community to identify options for the Perry Hall Mansion that will preserve the history of the local landmark.

Marks called the mansion a “culturally significant” structure and explained that it will not be demolished despite the lack of interest. The property is protected by the county from being destroyed, torn down or developed, he said.

“They did all the paperwork to make sure it can never be abolished and it’s a historic landmark,” he said. “I’m hoping that we can identify some prospective property owners and that the county can sell this mansion to someone who will take care of it and respect its historical integrity.”