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Baltimore County 

Ruxton & Towson

Sunday, April 28, 2024

10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

 

Please note that the private homes on this tour are not ADA accessible and we recommend care when walking on walks and lawns and along public roads–we thank the owners for opening their homes to tour goers. Pilgrims assume responsibility for their own safety

when driving, parking and walking on the tour.

 

Please note: Tickets and Tour Books for this tour will be available for purchase and pickup ONLY at the Fire Museum on the day of the tour. A wrist band will be given at the Fire Museum–it will be required at all other sites for entry. Thank you for your cooperation.

 

This year’s Baltimore City/County tour takes pilgrims through towns which were originally rural areas outside of Baltimore, but which were important industrial sites that supported Baltimore by providing important goods and industrial products during the early republic. Ruxton, north of the city, was first mentioned in the Maryland archives in 1694, when Thomas Hooker received a patent for the land between what is now Charles Street and Falls Road.

In the late 18th century the farm, just west of the Ruxton railroad bridge, was owned by Nicholas Ruxton Moore, a Revolutionary War officer and Maryland congressman. During the 19th century many prominent Baltimoreans built summer places here in what was

then deep country. Despite increased development, century old trees, open lawns and narrow winding roads preserve a rural setting. The beautiful nature of the place has been preserved in the Ruxton and Circle Road area and Lake Roland lays at the heart of the community. The Ridgely’s of Hampton owned vast acreage north of the beltway and operated iron works during the Revolutionary War period and into the 19th century. The 20th century gave way to development of their land for residential use and eventual sale of the remainder to a foundation and then to the Parks Service.

 

Co-Chairs: Thomas M. Bruggman and Linda H. Schwab.

 

Special Project: Proceeds from this tour will go to the Fire Museum of Maryland. The Fire Museum hosts thousands of school children from around both Baltimore County and the city of Baltimore. The money raised will help to improve this experience and aid in teaching fire prevention.

 

Lunch: Available for pick up 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Callahan Gardens at 2212 Old Court Road, Site #2. Lunches are available for $20. A vegetarian and non-vegetarian option will be available. Please send a check payable to Callahan Gardens. Mail checks to 18809 Brickstore Road, Hampstead, MD 21074 to place reservations. Checks should be received by April 20th. A limited number of lunches will be available to purchase on the day of the tour. Additionally hot and cold drinks and light fare will be available at Callahan Gardens on the day of the tour. Tables for lunch will be available behind the Outpost at 2212 Old Court Road. Public restrooms are at the Red Livery, the Fire Museum and

at Hampton.

 

Directions from I-695: Take I-695 from the west or the east and exit at York Road, Rt. 45. North to Lutherville which is Exit 27A from the west or Exit 26 from the east. Go North on York Road. In approximately 600 ft. turn Right to Green Ridge Road. The Fire Museum will be on the left.

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#1. Fire Museum of Maryland

1301-R York Road, Lutherville 21093

Fire Museum of Maryland, 1301-R York Road, Lutherville 21093. This child-friendly fire museum engages young and old alike. Surrounded by shining red fire equipment beautifully restored and operable, visitors learn how our young country fought fires with a bucket brigade. Pumping equipment called a Pat Lyon pumper from Independent Fire Co. Number 2, Annapolis, Maryland (1806) begins the journey. Mayor of Baltimore Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. fire boat ‘Tommy’ (1956) highlights work to extinguish flames being fought by sea from the harbor. The Fire Alarm Office features the telegraph system which was once a new mode relaying emergency messages. STEM lessons in the Science of Fire Safety teach the scientific composition of a fire and why sometimes water is just more fuel for a fire. Please start your tour here. Public restrooms are available.

Shuttles will be available at Meadowood Regional Park

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#2. Rockland Historic District

The industry that grew in this area followed the development of Ruxton. In pre-settlement times these roads were paths used by native Americans as they moved through the region. The district of mostly stone buildings contains a large grist mill and a series of excellent examples of 19th century genre architecture, as well as several commercial structures, all of which run on either side of the Falls Turnpike Road and along Old Court Road. This is the oldest continuously occupied mill village in America with the first structures built in approximately 1806 just after the turnpike was completed. This was a place where farmers brought corn and wheat to be milled at the large grist mill. In 1830 it was converted to a cotton mill and in 1836 it was the site of an

innovative and early calico printing factory—the Maryland Print Works Company. Over a century later it became the site of Dorothy Lamour’s cosmetics factory.

A. The Rockland Tavern,  Circa 1810, the Tavern consists of two individual fieldstone residences. The easternmost served as the chief miller’s residence, with a millstone leaning on the front wall. The front clapboard section connecting the two stone residences served as the hall for the Rockland Tavern restored by Dr. Robert Johnson in the 1920s. This establishment operated through 1964. Note the original wrought iron hanger for the Rockland Tavern sign at the eastern entrance. The owners have lovingly restored these buildings as a residence. If you are lucky you might even see or feel the presence and spirit of the oldest resident, “Our Ghost,” who lives at the Rockland Tavern to this day. The family that have been here for over forty-five years include Twill, Julie and Thomas M. Bruggman, along with all the wild animals in Rockland.

 

B. Blacksmith and Wheelwright House, The 18th century stone blacksmith and wheelwright’s shop modeled on the English style has a later 19th century clapboard addition that replaced the original 1815 log residence. The clapboard section has served as a residence, antique shop, coffee supply warehouse, and the Brooklandville post office. It retains the original hand wrought strap hinges on the north door entrance. It was designated on the National Register when restored in 1983 by the present owner, Thomas M. Bruggman, Ph.D. Part of the original mill chase is in the yard. In front of this building–at the edge of the road near the guardrail is one of the original stone mile markers, “8 M’s To B” which designates eight miles to Baltimore.

 

C. The Outpost,  Next to the Red Livery Stable is a two-story clapboard building with an orange door and green shutters. Its rather plain front hides a secret which tour goers will discover when entering at the back. The second floor has been renovated into open office space used by Callahan Gardens, with large windows that look out over the bucolic landscape behind, which includes a pond, stream and newly installed statuary and plantings. The building has served as tenant housing in Rockland Village and was once the Brooklandville post office. In the parking lot of this space will be the food truck offering lunch for this year’s tour. Operating out of a former ambulance company’s food truck Mr. Callahan will serve lunch along with light refreshments, coffee and more. Seating is available behind the building on a large lawn under beautiful sycamore trees with a view of the stream. Indoor seating will be available on the second floor of the Red Livery Stable.

 

D. Red Livery Stable, In the early days of the 19th century the Red Livery Stable housed cows. In the mid 20th century it served as the Rockland Woodworks under Mr. Williams and continues in this use today for Twill and Thomas M. Bruggman, who are third and fourth generation cabinet makers. Mr. Bruggman’s workshop is housed in the back section of the lower floor. Callahan Gardens operates a floral studio on the front at the street level and their greenhouse and outdoor space will be open on tour day for pilgrims.

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#3. Squirrel Hill

Built in 1890, this charming clapboard home had a humble beginning. It was the caretaker’s cottage to the estate house next door. This property was part of a larger working farm which included horses, cows, chickens and numerous outbuildings. The current owner’s father purchased the little house with half an acre from a neighbor in 1959. At that time the house was painted a pale pink with white trim. The double front porches are original to the home and lend a farmhouse charm. Around 1965, another acre was purchased from the neighbor next door so that now 1720 consists of one-and-a-half acres with the house, barn, chicken house and two sheds. There is evidence of an early greenhouse just east of the house. Whenever digging into the soil for gardening or planting, glass shards are found. Old concrete steps in the front yard (still present) led to the greenhouse. Early maps indicate a small road running behind the barn along the catalpa trees, which may have led to the Roland Run stream. The house was painted pale green in the 60s and in the 70s it was painted white with black shutters. In 1970 a whole house renovation was embarked upon by the owner’s parents. East and west wings were added, the small living room was doubled and became the dining room. The small den and bedroom above were doubled and a primary suite with full bath was added. The 1980s brought more renovations with a pool added and a new north wing added with a basement, kitchen, laundry room, back stairs, art room and side porch after the removal of the old kitchen. The current owners brought big changes in 2006. Termites were found in the barn apartment, called “the studio.” It was torn down and the house was again added on to the north with a family room and new primary suite. The pool was updated and the hardscaping enhanced to what it is today. At this time the house was painted yellow. The architect for this project was Henry Warfield and the builder, Taylor Reed Builders of Monkton. Today the old caretaker’s house is a beautiful family home full of antiques and charm. Outside gardens are constantly being added and old trees are highlighted. With an all wood house and four outbuildings to maintain it is an ongoing process and a huge love affair with Circle Road and the surrounding community.

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#4. St. John's Chapel of Ruxton

Although small in size, this gem-like Gothic Revival Church built in 1886 is loaded with history. Stylistic features include the unique lancet windows and shutters, a large round window on the front gable, board and batten siding. Historically, this church, parsonage and cemetery are the oldest black parish in Baltimore county. The history of St. John’s Chapel stretches back 240 years to a charitable act of kindness. In 1752 an enslaved person named Tobias Scott saved the life of the man who enslaved him. Tobias and his descendants were granted their freedom and this act of humanity cast a spiritual light over generations of the Scott family, and indeed over the congregation today. James Aquila Scott I, the first child in the family born into freedom, moved to Bare Hills in Baltimore County and established an early African American free community. He built the church and was the minister until his death in 1858 and he is buried in the graveyard along with many others who started their lives in slavery, but ended them in freedom. His son James Aquila Scott, II succeeded his father as minister and lived until 1892. The Scott family maintained ownership of the church, parsonage and graveyard and paid the taxes on the property for many years after the doors closed due to declining membership. For thirty years they maintained the property and in 1982 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Shortly after it was added to the Baltimore County Landmarks List. The property is owned today by the St. John’s Church Foundation.

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#5. A Baltimore Home

This century old Cape Cod style home sits along the edge of Towson Run with gardens surrounding the home. The beauty of these gardens inspired the owners’ children to submit the property to a competition in the Baltimore Sun and they won the top prize. Ten years later the owners continue to hone their horticultural skills by incorporating design concepts from Atlanta-based Landscape Architects Hugh and Mary Palmer Dargan. The home’s front garden beds greet guests with a show of limelight, mop heads and lace cap hydrangeas, a peony hedge and tropical cannas making a rich show into the summer and autumn months. To the right of a working shed the visitor enters a secret garden enclosed by seven foot American boxwood the owners have nurtured from seedlings found on their property. This beautiful enclosure laid in symmetrical rectangular beds blossoms later in July with dahlias, a favorite cutting flower for local florists and designers. A pink front door greets guests and a Mary Beth Marsden, “My Gucci Scarf” painting adds more color to the dining room. Walk through the house to an outdoor deck where the owners have created more garden rooms to harden off their seedlings and prepare for spring plantings. Below their awning covered conversation area, eight raised beds of edible flowers serve to garnish local caterer’s displays, including their daughter’s business, Locavore Catering. Hundreds of peach and apricot narcissus blanket the front and back lawn for a spring show. Through the couple’s continuing education in landscape design, master gardening and flower farming courses, these accidental gardeners committed themselves to grow wisely and enjoy the fruits of their labor with family and friends.

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#6. A Towson Home

This two bedroom, Cape Cod style home originally built in 1950, was modified in 1970, when an attached garage was removed from the east side of the house. In its place, a large living room and bar were added, along with a colonnade to connect a new, separate, two car garage to the covered porch that sheltered the rear entrance to the house. When that improvement was completed in 1971, Wolfgang Oehme was commissioned to design the garden beds which surround the house, with a focus on the rear patio and pond. Typical of Oehme, the plantings with multi-season interest include various grasses and other plants giving a natural feeling. Here these include the giant Chinese silver grass near the stream, ferns, liriope, and hosta, along with ligularia, rudbeckia, lilies, and iris. Flowering magnolias, dogwoods, and crabapples, along with hollies and pines are popular with birds. When the current owners freshened up the house for their occupancy in 2001, they converted the back porch to a breakfast room, which provided a new rear entrance to the house. They also undertook redevelopment of the garden grounds. The rear garden beds and patio were expanded by addition of an upper patio, outdoor cooking island, and fire pit in 2004. Soon afterward, a fascination with Andy Goldsworthy inspired the owners to build the two curvilinear stone walls that frame the lower lawn and provide planting beds above the patio environments. The re-grading that followed demolition of a house on the west side of the property exposed a large number of daffodil bulbs, which have been massed in several locations to announce spring. Rock garden plants provide color through the summer months. Annual plantings freshen the perennial beds that surround the house, including the herb and rose garden that encircle Phoenix, a sculpture by nationally noted sculptor, Bill Duffy.

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#7. Concept House

The “Concept House,” as it is called by its owners, was designed to showcase the use of reclaimed building materials salvaged from homes and commercial buildings by Second Chance as well as materials that were donated. Second Chance workers took an unfinished and abandoned 1,600 square foot home from York, Pennsylvania and rebuilt it in Towson using reclaimed materials. (The home was abandoned fifteen years ago during construction.) Throughout this home of transitional design style they incorporated reclaimed materials including floors, windows, mahogany doors, cabinets, appliances, lighting, furniture, art, and more. Sustainability and reuse are key. The use of reclaimed materials drove the design and allowed the owners to highlight the beauty that may be achieved while helping the environment. A new composite roof and hardie-plank shingles compliment the fieldstone foundation and bluestone patios making this home gracious and welcoming. Oak leaf and hydrangeas paniculata, liriope and hostas reclaimed from deconstructed sites were replanted in the curvilinear gardens designed by Landscape Architect, Marcel Gavrelis. The outdoor living space includes an electric charging station, cobblestone from Rash Field and a meadow to reduce the use of turf grass and lawn cuttings to reduce the carbon footprint. A pool house, shed, and garden compliment the main house.

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#8. Hampton National Historic Site
535 Hampton Lane, Towson 21286

One of the most stately houses in Maryland, Hampton was at one time considered the finest example of Georgian architecture in North America. Construction on the home began for Capt. Charles Ridgely in 1783, and upon completion in 1790 it was probably the largest home in the United States. The estate once comprised over 25,000 acres and extended primarily north, south, and east of the home we see today. Prior to the American Revolution, Capt. Ridgely, his father Col. Charles Ridgely, and brother established the Northampton Ironworks, a wartime industry that created immense wealth for the Ridgelys built on the labor of the enslaved individuals, indentured servants, and British prisoners of war. The ironworks continued to be the principal basis of the family’s wealth until 1829. Improvement to the extensive gardens to the south of the home were directed by Eliza Ridgely (1803-1867) who was an accomplished horticulturist. She traveled extensively in Europe and purchased plants and seeds from around the world.  There are several trees on the property that are over 200 years old, and Eliza Ridgely had a Cedar of Lebanon planted ca. 1835 which still stands south of the house. Also south of the house are six parterres which were intricately planted with colorful and exotic plants grown in the greenhouses on the property in the 19th century. Today the park encompasses roughly sixty-three acres and includes the historic mansion, formal gardens, an orangery, farm buildings, former enslaved workers’ quarters, the original farmhouse (begun 1745) and a family cemetery. The Ridgely family sold Hampton in 1948 to the National Park Service, and it was designated a National Historic Site for “outstanding merit as an architectural monument.” Historic Hampton, Inc., a volunteer organization, supports this national site. Public restrooms are available at this site and picnic tables are available to enjoy eating on the beautiful grounds.

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