Howard County is filled with a slew of planned communities and over-the-top McMansions. But it’s also home to a number of historic houses — some of which you can tour or rent.
Here are eight worth checking out:
Built in 1738, this 83-acre manor house used to be a slave plantation and remained a private home until 1962. Now, it’s home to picturesque gardens, ponds, sloping landscapes and the site of elaborate weddings and other events. The home is believed to be one of the oldest Colonial buildings remaining in Howard County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Purchased by the county in June 2013, the property is now run by Howard County Recreation & Parks.
The public has a number of opportunities to visit, including free summer movie nights held in the formal garden behind the manor; ghost tours, which range from $15 to $25; winter afternoon teas, which range from $35 to $40; and free open houses. The next open house is scheduled for Aug. 18 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The former home and office of Dr. Bruce Brumbaugh, a doctor believed to have delivered close to 5,000 children during his 60-year career in Elkridge, now houses the Elkridge Heritage Society’s headquarters. The two-story, 2,000-square-foot Victorian style home was originally built in 1870 and had two additions, including a sun room and master bathroom in 1930. Now the home is amid a $35,000 renovation, which is expected to be completed by the fall, according to Dave Grabowski, president of the society.
“He was the village doctor,” Grabowski says. “He delivered my seven younger siblings.”
Brumbaugh originally came to Elkridge in 1917 to assist another doctor who suffered a stroke. He never left and retired in 1981, according to Grabowski.
Once renovations to the home are complete, the society will offer free weekly tours, which include Brumbaugh’s preserved medical office.
Built in 1802 by by Colonel Rezin Hammond for his grandnephew, the Federal-style manor house now operates as an animal sanctuary and eco-retreat. The family of Hammond, who was active in Revolutionary War politics in Annapolis, owned the property for 125 years.
The home, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, is surrounded by the original stone smokehouse and gatehouse, a 1940s bathhouse, a wine cellar and a cemetery where the second generation of Hammonds are buried. The 5,000-square-foot home features Flemish bond brickwork.
Other than the addition of electricity and a modern kitchen, the home has largely remained true to its origins, according to Larry Cheskin, who owns the property with his wife, Lisa Davis, who is president of Burleigh Manor Animal Sanctuary, which is home to 40 animals. The couple purchased the property nine years ago.
Occasional tours are available, though none are currently scheduled. The animal sanctuary is available to visit for a donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Built in 1832 as the summer estate by Founding Father Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the home is amid a $3.5 million renovation expected to be completed in the fall, according to Joe Hamilton, director of mission advancement for the Franciscan Friars Conventual, Our Lady of the Angel Province, which has owned the property since 1928.
The home was also owned and occupied by former Baltimore Sun publisher Van-Lear Black from 1910 to 1924. During that time, he entertained his friend, President Warren G. Harding. In fact, to celebrate the Washington Naval Conference, which was the first time that major Naval powers agreed to an arms reduction, world leaders gathered at the property.
The 13,000-square-foot Greek revival/neoclassical home on 236 acres will eventually host meetings and offer free historic tours, according to Hamilton.
Now home to a fine dining restaurant specializing in New American cuisine on a 13-acre swath in eastern Howard County, the structure was originally a tavern with an elegant family home that was later attached. James and Andrew Ellicott, Jr. modernized the property around 1800 (it was originally built in 1744).
The three-floor building — situated on 13-acres of land that is part of the Patapsco Valley State Park System — features a mix of transitional Federal/Greek revival detailing throughout, including double leaf doors. Surrounded by Linden, Holly, and Magnolia trees, the building, which features a third floor luné window, also offers views of the Patapsco River.
The building is now on the National Register of Historic Places, the Civil War Trails and the National Washington-Rochambeau Trail. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources acquired the property from the Department of Transportation in 1988. In 1992, Donna Wecker, her husband Dan, and other family members put in a bid to open a restaurant/catering business, and The Elkridge Furnace Inn was born. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday.
Built in 1740 and named Howard’s Resolution, the Manor House now operates as Glenelg Country School classrooms for the lower grades and as a rental facility for formal events. In 1854, the structure was remodeled to resemble a Scottish Castle. Coincidently, the school is named after town in Scotland. In 1963, after remaining empty for years, the building along with 50 surrounding acres were purchased by the founders of the growing Glenelg Country School. The 5,000-square-foot building — now sitting atop 90-acres— is a selling point for the school, according to Greg Ventre, Head of School. “It was the first thing I saw on the campus,” he recalls. “It’s a gem.” Ventre, who is a historian by academic training, touts the uniqueness of the structure because of its size and architectural features.
“These fireplaces are unique because of the Italian marble. The romantic sweeping staircase in the middle [of the building] as well as many of the parts of the manor house are from the 18th century,” he says. “They are part of the attraction.”
Originally surveyed by John Dorsey in 1688, the 1,100 acre swath of land was known as Felicity and was part of Upper Anne Arundel County. A log and stone home and a second log home were the only homes on the property at that time. In 1811, Charles Sterrett Ridgely, who was the Speaker of Maryland’s House of Delegates, constructed Oakland as a country home. The home was built in a Federal style and later became a blend of the Federal, Greek revival, and Colonial revival. The 13,000-square-foot house at one point was a “fat farm” that attracted the likes of First Lady Mamie Eisenhower and Lucille Ball, according to Jeryl Baker, executive director of the Town Center Community Association, which operates out of the home.
The 3.8-acre property was purchased by the Columbia Association in 1989 and is now used for community meetings, weddings and special events. Its gardens reflect plantings similar to when it was first built. And the park-like landscaping features southern magnolia, boxwood, and rhododendron.
The building will host a number of events where the public has an opportunity to enter, including a free Juneteenth celebration on June 15 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; an Instant Pot cooking class on June 12 at 6:30 p.m. for $45; and Bark In the Park, a free dog-centric event event on July 21 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia. 410-730-4801. historic-oakland.com
Mt. Pleasant farmhouse
The Mt. Pleasant farmhouse was donated for preservation to the Howard County Conservancy by Ruth and Frances Brown, retired Howard County schoolteachers whose family owned the property for eight generations dating back to a log cabin built in 1693. In 1993, the 2,916-square-foot farmhouse and property became its current iteration — a space for educational programs and special events. The surrounding 232-acre farm is open to the public from dusk to dawn for hiking, exploring their nature center, and visiting the John L. Clark Honors Garden. Each year, 18,000 students come to the property for field trips, according to Meg Boyd, executive director for the conservancy.
Boyd describes the structure as a “classic farmhouse” that has gone through four additions throughout the centuries. On July 13 and Aug. 27 (both from 10 a.m. to noon), the conservancy will join the Howard County Historical Society for history scavenger hunt, in which the farmhouse will be open. A viewing window on the western side of the house, which was added two years ago, allows visitors a glimpse of the original log cabin.