| Hampton National Historic Site records more than two centuries
of economic and social change in the Chesapeake region. The Ridgely family began
acquiring land north of Baltimore before the Revolutionary War, but only after
American independence did Hampton become a sprawling estate. Before the Civil
War, it was almost entirely self-sufficient: its holdings, which at times covered
more than 25,000 acres, included ironworks, grain crops, beef cattle, coal mining,
cotton mills, and trading facilities. A combination of people operated the estate
including free whites, indentured servants, and black slaves. By the mid-1830s
most of the slaves had been freed.
In 1948, with only the elegant Georgian mansion and 43 acres remaining the Avalon Society purchased Hampton and began restoring the building and grounds to the early 19th-century appearance. Constructed of local stone and stucco, its two-and-one-half-story main section with wide porticos was set off by two-story wings. Jehu Howell, a local carpenter is believed to be the architect of the mansion and received nearly 3,500 British pounds and 68 quarts of rum for his work. The landscaping is especially impressive with its formal, 18th-century boxwoods, two greenhouses and three well-kept terraces. In 1979, the National Park Service took over the property, which today offers visitors a glimpse of previous eras.
Hampton National Historic Site is located north of Baltimore and is open 9:00am to 5:00pm every day except New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. From I-695, take exit 27-B north, make an immediate right onto Hampton Lane, and follow the signs. From Baltimore, take I-83 to I-695, then follow the directions above.
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