Baltimore County

Worthington Valley Area

Saturday, May 14, 2022

10:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M.

 

Worthington Valley Historic District is a national historic district in Reisterstown, Maryland. It is a largely rural district where the earliest standing structures date from the very end of the 18th century. Horse breeding and racing is a very large and lucrative business in the valley. Since 1922, Snow Hill and Worthington Farms have been the scene of the Maryland Hunt Cup Steeplechase. The significance of the Worthington Valley lies in its unaltered, rural atmosphere which has not changed appreciably in over 200 years. The land is divided into numerous farms, some up to 200 or 300 acres in extent. Many properties have been inherited by the present owners who are endeavoring to run them as in the past, retaining the open spaces, restoring, and occupying the substantial houses which dot the countryside. It has not always been thus: following a period of settlement and rapid growth in the 18th and 19th centuries, there occurred a time of depression and financial strain in the latter part of the 19th century when many of the large family estates fell into disrepair and were sold to others. During the 1930s and 1940s, still more change took place and there began an exodus from the more densely populated area to the south of the valley. Those who came were people appreciative of the qualities of the soil, especially for raising horses. They and their descendants have restored the dwellings and revitalized the farming operations, but they are, for the most part, businessmen rather than full-time farmers, as were the early occupants of the district.

 

Chairman: Hilles Whedbee, 13626 Falls Road, Cockeysville, MD 21030. Tel: 443-691-4245. hwhedbee@gmail.com.

Advisory Committee: Mary Louise Foster, Whit Foster, Annie Jenkins and Will Cook.

Special Project: Proceeds from the Baltimore County Tour will be used to support the work of the Stamford House Historic Preservation Foundation and their restoration project of the historic clubhouse of the Green Spring Valley Hounds on Mantua Mill Road, Glyndon.

Lunch: A delicious box lunch, including drink and dessert, will be available for pick up at the Green Spring Hounds Clubhouse, 13920 Mantua Mill Road, between the hours of 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. by reservation only. The cost is $15.00 per person. Please mail check to: Mrs. Thomas Whedbee, 13626 Falls Road, Cockeysville, MD 21030. Luncheon must be reserved by Monday, May 9, 2022. Other options include delicious sandwiches and luncheon items at The Butler Cabin, 14436 Falls Road, Cockeysville.

 

ROUTES FROM:

 

BALTIMORE AND POINTS SOUTH: I-695 E to I-83 North, follow for approx. 5 miles to exit 20B, Shawan Road, West. Continue 2.5 miles to Falls Road, turn right and proceed 1/2 miles to Site #1 on left.

 

FROM WILMINGTON AND POINTS NORTH: 1-95 South to I-695 W towards Towson. Exit onto I-83 N and follow Baltimore and Points South directions.

 

FOLLOW PILGRIMAGE ARROWS AND SIGNS:

 

1. SHAWAN HOUSE, 13626 Falls Road, Cockeysville 21031. The building this Georgian house of exceptionally elegant proportions is attributed to the efforts of three men. In the middle of the 18th century, Walter Tolley Worthington constructed the wing of the present main house. His son, John, planned more ambitiously to build the central hall and east wing when, according to local history, it is said, a disastrous card game, the house was lost in a bet, and all work was halted. The west side of the house remained bricked-up until Mr. C. Wilbur Miller, the current occupant’s grandfather, completed Worthington’s project. So skillfully has the addition been made that it is difficult to tell where the pre-Revolutionary house ends, and the modern construction begins. Two Rhinehart mantels in the dining room and living room are particularly interesting. Four separate gardens, including a walled kitchen garden and a charming rock garden have been renovated by the present owners.

 

Turn left out of drive, going north on Falls Road. In 0.4 mi. turn left on Geist Road. Follow to end and turn Right onto Mantua Mill Road. In 0.4 miles on Right is Site #2.

 

2. LONGVIEW FARM, 13901 Mantua Mill Road, Reisterstown 21136. Once through the gas lantern flanked gates, your eye is drawn to a beautiful house sitting atop a hill. The residence has European overtones, from the cobbled courtyard made with stones from Italy to the fountain transported from an Italian village, surrounded by a cutting garden that yields all year-round foliage for indoor arrangements. The 25-acre property includes fruit trees and numerous berry bushes. Not to be left out, wildlife is well served, the owners are avid birders and plants have been chosen specifically to attract migratory birds. The pond is stocked with trout and koi. A Peahen abode sits in a sea of wildflowers and peacocks majestically strut their stuff! The back of the house does not disappoint, with English inspired gardens and sweeping views as far as the eye can see, now you can fully appreciate the name, “Longview Farm.”

 

Turn Right out of drive. In 0.3 miles, Site #3 is on the Left.

 

3. STAMFORD HOUSE, 13920 Mantua Mill Road, Glyndon 21136. This house, called Stamford in honor of its owners’ family home in England, is the clubhouse of the Green Spring Valley Hounds and has been so since 1925. When built, it was considered a rather pretentious mansion at the turn of the 19th century. Alterations have been superficial and most of the original elements remain as do the original outbuildings—more than at any other property in the district. Brian Philpot, Sr., a merchant and one of the first settlers of Baltimore Town, owned a large amount of real estate on the waterfront there. (A street bearing his name is still in existence.) His son, Brian Jr., a man of apparent wealth, was one of the four partners who in 1757 purchased and divided Nicholson’s Manor, now part of the Worthington Valley. Although Philpot received three tracts of land in the division, he seems to have settled on the Stamford site and indeed his heirs remained there until 1925 when the property was sold to the present owners. The date of the house is a matter of conjecture. Scharf states that Brian Philpot, Jr. settled in the Valley soon after the end of the American Revolution. (1) Tax records of 1783 indicate that he owned 1005 acres there and that there was some improvement on the land as well as livestock and a brick dwelling—though it is questionable if it is Stamford or possibly the Tenant house, as the measurements do not match the historic house. Of interest, in addition to the brick main house, there are six outbuildings original to the property. A privy, stone smokehouse, brick tenant house, stone dairy house, small stone structure believed to be related to the dairy house, and the tack house, a stone building believed to be a small stable or carriage house originally.

 

Turn Right out of drive onto Mantua Mill Road. In 0.9 miles turn Right onto Tufton Avenue. At the Roundabout, take the Second exit onto Greenspring Avenue. In 0.2 miles, turn Right onto Garrison Forest Road. In 0.5 miles, turn Left onto Park Heights Avenue. In 0.3 miles Site #4 is on the left.

 

4. WELSHE’S CRADLE, 12427 Park Heights Avenue, Owings Mills 21117. The Worthington Valley was originally patented between 1706 and 1740 in four parts: Melinda, surveyed in 1706 for William Talbott (400 acres), Welshes Cradle, surveyed in 1706 for Cornelius White (2000 acres), Nicholson’s Manor, surveyed in 1712 for William Nicholson (4200 acres) and Shawan Hunting Ground, surveyed in 1714 for Thomas Todd (1500 acres). The name of this house was taken from the original land grant. Welshes Cradle was built in 1929 by a New York businessman and publisher as his hunting lodge. He hunted with the Greenspring Hounds until he sold the house in 1945 to Elsie Jenkins Symington. The house remains in the Jenkins family, with the current owners’ children being the 5th generation to live here. The house originally had two story columns supporting a porch on the back of the house, but the porch was glassed-in in the mid ’80s, around the same time the swimming pool was made into a pond. The current owners updated the kitchen and mudroom areas but otherwise the house is as it was built. The stable was made into a tenant house in 2006. The gardens have been whittled down through the years largely because of the damage from deer and because the current owners are also the gardeners and caretakers.

 

Turn Right out of the drive onto Park Heights Avenue. In 0.3 miles turn Right onto Garrison Forest Road. In 400 feet, Site #5 is on your Left.

 

5. MELINDA’S PROSPECT, 12606 Garrison Forest Road, Owings Mills 21117. This house was built by the Cockey family. The probable date is between 1825 and 1830. Melinda’s Prospect was built partly on the Melinda tract, patented by William Talbott in 1706, and partly on the Prospect which adjoined it and was patented to Jonathan White in the same year. The Cockey family moved into Baltimore County in the early 18th century from Anne Arundel County. Thomas and Charles Cockey bought the land from Talbott heirs and Thomas left it to his son, Charles. Edward A. Cockey, son of Charles, was living at Melinda’s Prospect in 1829, when his son, Charles Thomas Cockey, was born here. He inherited both Melinda’s Prospect and the family estate known as Garrison, in Pikesville. He chose to live at Garrison where he established himself as a successful farmer who was interested in soil conservation and experimental agriculture. His son, Edward Augustus, became the manager of Melinda’s Prospect and eventually the owner. According to the Bromley Atlases of 1896 and 1912, Melinda’s Prospect was occupied by Edward. The farm was sold in 1929 by the Cockey family to the Foster family. Melinda’s Prospect was inherited by T. Courtney Jenkins and his wife, Muffie, who was a Foster. Descendants of the Jenkins family still reside here.

 

Follow Pilgrimage signs out the back drive to Bonita Avenue and bear Left. In 0.5 miles Site #6 is on the Left.

 

6. UPPER MELINDA, 12501 Bonita Avenue, Reisterstown 21136. Located on 280 acres overlooking the Worthington Valley and beyond, the main portion of Upper Melinda was constructed of stone and completed in 1939 by its original owner, Arthur D. Foster. World War II interrupted the project, and the house was eventually finished with an addition, also of stone, in 1946. Designed by the acclaimed architect, Louis McLane Fisher, a Princeton classmate of Mr. Foster’s, known for designing the Baltimore Sun building, and the building for the Princeton University School of Architecture as well as numerous homes in Baltimore. The interior of Upper Melinda was subsequently decorated by the legendary Baltimore native, Billy Baldwin. Elements of his style can still be seen in the form of smokey mirrors and red lacquer accents. The house has five main bedrooms, two of which are on the ground floor. There is a section of the house once reserved for staff consisting of three more bedrooms and a full bath. The staff quarters are currently used as home offices and an additional guest room. Other features of note are the 10 fireplaces each of which are distinctly unique and unlike any of the other fireplaces. The cork floor in the basement “game” room has inlays of monkeys, wildebeest, lions, and other exotic animals. Upper Melinda was extensively renovated and restored in 2005 both inside and out. Most notably, the kitchen was expanded and upgraded for modern living. Outside, the terrace was also expanded and enhanced to incorporate plantings, accent lighting, and a pergola. The current gardens surrounding the house were first created in 2005 and have undergone numerous modifications and enhancements to date. Be sure to take in the extraordinary view that, on a clear day, enables you to see as far as the fire tower in Jarrettsville, Maryland approximately 30 miles away.

Return directions:

 

I-83 S: Turn Right out of drive onto Bonita Ave. In 1.1 mi, turn Right onto Worthington Ave., at the Roundabout. Take the second exit onto Tufton Avenue, cross over Falls Road, onto Shawan Road. Proceed a total of 5.9 miles to I-83 S.