Maryland lays claim to an abundant share of American history, much of it preserved in our homes and the very land on which they stand. In few places is that more evident than in Ellicott City’s Folly Quarter Manor and Equestrian Estate, a piece of our nation’s past on the market for $7 million.
The asking price includes a magnificently appointed 8,000-square-foot stone manor house, an 1,800-square-foot guest house, a caretaker’s cottage, a 10-stall horse barn, pool, tennis courts and gardens to rival any English manor.
But there is more. This incomparable equestrian estate, sitting on 47 acres of rolling hills and prime Howard County pastureland with its own pond and trout stream, possesses something even more rare — a pedigree traced from a prominent 18th-century landholder to a Founding Father, a newspaper mogul and an industrialist-turned-racetrack tycoon.
“In 1702, a land grant [of] originally 7,000 acres … was given to Charles Carroll the Settler,” explains Shawn Gladden, executive director of the Howard County Historical Society. “By 1703, he had about 10,000 acres, which by that time was certainly the largest property in what was, at that time, upper Anne Arundel County.”
Carroll spent most of his time on this land he called Doughoregan Manor. The connection between the Carrolls and the growth of Howard County’s economy is an interesting one, according to Gladden.
“The Carrolls and the Ellicotts were entrepreneurs in regard to farming and milling,” he says.“Together they were very important to the growing Colonial history here, for sure.”
The Ellicotts helped revolutionize local farming by persuading farmers to grow wheat instead of tobacco, and by introducing lime as a fertilizer, according to Rachelina Bonacci, CEO of the Howard County Office of Tourism and Promotion. The Carrolls were some of the first to adopt those practices.
In the 1760s, Doughoregan Manor house, believed to be built in 1727 by Charles Carroll II, passed into the hands of his son, Charles Carroll III of Carrollton, signer of the Declaration of Independence. The signer’s grandson, Charles Carroll V, then “remodeled and enlarged the Georgian house in the Greek Revival style shortly after his grandfather’s death in 1832,” according to the nomination form for easement and inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
Over the subsequent decades, the original tract of 10,000 acres was parceled out and changed hands numerous times. Today, Doughoregan Manor is still owned and farmed by Carroll descendants.
The current estate at 3925 Folly Quarter Road, while not on the National Register of Historic Places, constitutes 47 acres out of the original tract owned by the founding family.
But its history of prominent owners doesn’t end in the 18th century. Real estate listings tout the home’s 1936 builder as the owner of Pimlico. And there’s more.
Morris Schapiro, who held an interest in Pimlico, built the main house on land sold to him in 1924 by Van Lear Black, publisher and chairman of the board of directors at The Baltimore Sun.
The property, then called Folly Quarters, hosted more than one of Black’s extravagant gatherings. A 1913 Baltimore Sun article describes a “Harvest Home Festival” to which Black and his wife invited 1,200 to 1,500 neighbors. The entertainment? A “real circus in a big tent, with gymnasts, contortionists, clowns, trained dogs and peanuts.” A planned menagerie reportedly never arrived due to train delays.
According to a 1921 New York Times article headlined “Foreign Writers at Real Barbecue,” Black invited 400 international correspondents and Washington reporters to Folly Quarters for a Wild West show and cookout.
The account explains how a “train of 60 automobiles” took guests to a tented affair complete with cornbread, Maryland oysters and “a huge ox [that] hung over a fire being slowly barbecued.”
Imagine the stories, if only those rolling hills could talk.
Schapiro’s story, on the other hand, is a more somber one. The one-time Folly Quarters owner arrived in Baltimore in 1902 after fleeing Russian persecution of Jews in Latvia. He worked his way up to ownership of a thriving scrap metal business and became the principal stockholder in Laurel’s racetrack, one of five racetracks (including Pimlico) in which he held interest. In his 1969 obituary, The Baltimore Sun called him “perhaps the most powerful man in Maryland racing.”
Morris Schapiro’s sons, as executors of the estate, sold the property to William Bennett, his wife and survivors. The current owners have had the estate since 1992.
“I call this one of the prime principal properties of Howard County sitting on one of the highest elevations there,” says Creig Northrop, the selling agent with Long & Foster Real Estate. “At one time, it was the nicest of thoroughbred farms. It’s basically its own resort with a million-dollar view. It represents what I call the novelty property of the county.”
An aerial photograph reveals the magnitude of the estate and the outbuildings clustered around the manor house.
“From the secure iron gated entrance, a long brick-paver driveway lined with blossoming Japanese cherry trees leads to the circular estate entrance,” notes the real estate brochure compiled by Leslie Rose, a consultant for Long & Foster. “Rolling hills, manicured lawns and tranquil gardens frame the stone facade of the manor residence.”
Inside the main home, a winding staircase is the centerpiece of the marble-floored grand entrance hall. Greek-style iron balustrades and classic wainscoting lead to a hand-painted wall mural.
The home’s long gallery, from which other rooms are accessed, features a breathtaking barreled ceiling and marble flooring. A banquet-size dining room gleams with handcrafted mahogany paneling. No expense was spared on the formal living room, where the flow of hand-painted canvas walls is broken only by large multipaned windows, an impressive fireplace with an ornately carved mantel (one of six in the mansion) and pocket doors that open onto a paneled library.
Six bedrooms, five full bathrooms and three half baths are found in the mansion. Only the finest of appointments enhance the beauty throughout. The rooms, hallway and open areas are graced with intricate moldings, fluted columns, Carrera marble flooring, murals and a Tiffany chandelier. Multiple balconies dot the mansion’s exterior – perfect spots from which to savor the countryside beauty.
“As much as the house is gorgeous and beautifully updated, the land is as valuable as the house,” Northrop says. “You can look for years; you’re just not going to find that anymore.”