Helen West Stewart Ridgely (1854-1929), wife of Captain John Ridgely, was an accomplished artist, antiquarian, author, and botanist. An excellent manager of the finances and day-to-day operation of the family estate, she was especially interested in Hampton’s grounds. Helen’s important innovations in the formal gardens improved efficiency of maintenance while maintaining their beauty. She encouraged her children to write and paint – two of her own favorite endeavors. She also continued her own education throughout her life, taking classes and attending lectures, concerts, and other programs at educational and cultural organizations throughout Baltimore.
During her long association with the Maryland Chapter of the Colonial Dames of America, Helen fought to preserve the physical remnants of Maryland’s colonial history and commemorate its heroes, interests that led her to write two books on local history that are still in print. Her numerous diaries document her many activities and daily life at Hampton. She was the first Ridgely to drive and own a car (a Model-T) but did not want electricity to be introduced to the mansion. A woman of extraordinary energy, she was known to have worked on the farm all morning, clean up and, in the afternoon, travel to Washington D.C. and have tea at the White House with Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt.