Hampton historic site offers tours, performances to mark Black History Month

The Hampton Mansion is on the grounds of the Hampton National Historic Site, in Towson.
The Hampton Mansion is on the grounds of the Hampton National Historic Site, in Towson. (File photo by Amy Davis / File photo)

Every Sunday during February, the Hampton National Historic Site will host free programs telling the stories of African Americans in commemoration of Black History Month.

The site, which was primarily occupied by the Ridgely family, once included 25,000 acres of land along with an "ironworks, grain crops, beef cattle, thoroughbred horses, coal mining, marble quarries, mills and other mercantile interests," according to the National Park Service, which operates the historic site on what remains of the former estate.


The 63-acre park includes dozens of historic structures.

Programs slated for this month include guided tours of the 18th century estate and a visit from an award-winning children's entertainer and educator. During the tours, Park Ranger Anokwale Anansesemfo will dress in attire from the mid-19th century and discuss "the history of those who toiled" to make the estate's former owners 'lavish lifestyle possible, according to the site's web page.


"My sole focus is to talk about people who were in bondage there," Anansesemfo said Thursday, adding that the programs being offered on Sundays this month are also offered year-round.

"Black History Month is every month at Hampton," she said.

The Ridgely family owned one of the largest enslaved African American populations in Maryland between 1790 and 1830, and slaves were instrumental in building the site's Georgian-style mansion, according to the National Park Service.

Catherine Burnett, a descendant of the Ridgely family who built the Hampton Mansion in Towson, grew up near the 23-room house and now serves as a board member and volunteer.

Indentured servants, free workers and British prisoners of war were also employed there.

On the tours Anansesemfo will give visitors a general sense of what it would have been like to work on the estate as a slave or indentured servant, she said. People will be allowed to handle replicas of iron collars and whips, which would have been used at the site.

"You can have a surreal experience; not only can you handle these replicas but [you're] actually able to go into the quarters," she said.

On Feb. 12 the site will offer a tour titled "Forced Servitude at Hampton: In Black and White," which will include a tour of the estate's mansion, ice house, and the foundation of an octagonal house built off the mansion's kitchen.

On Feb. 19, "On the Hampton Plantation: The Overseer's House and Slave Quarters Tour," will include a tour of the slave quarters, dairy and overseer's home.

"A Kinderman Black Hall of Fame Show," which will focus on African Americans' contributions to the country and the world, will be presented Feb. 26. Anansesemfo said the show, hosted by John "Kinderman" Taylor, is well suited for children. According to the event's online description, it is a chance to "sing, rhyme, dance and tap along while learning history."

The site's hours of operation are 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. There is no entrance fee. For more event listings or details about the programs, go to www.nps.gov/hamp.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun