The Ridgely Estate at Hampton
Colonel Charles Ridgely bought 1,500 acres of land north of Baltimore in 1745, and soon added additional acreage for a total of 11,000. Eventually the estate would hold 25,000 acres. Wealth was increased through an ironworks, grain, beef cattle, horses, coal mining, marble and mills.
His son, Captain Charles Ridgely, Jr., stated that his mother was related to the family at Yorkshire, England’s Castle Howard, and a mansion was planned on the Ridgely estate that was inspired by the castle’s architecture. In 1783, slaves and indentured servants provided much of the labor for the construction of the new home, with help from local workers using stone found on the Ridgely property. When completed in 1790, it was the largest privately owned home in the new country.
Much of their furniture reflected the finer tastes of the wealthy, reflecting interests in Greek and Roman form. Victorian styles entered the mansion in later years. The property was enhanced with formal gardens and trees unusual to the area.
Captain Ridgely was elected Governor of Maryland in 1815. Later, upon his death, his slaves were gradually freed over a number of years. The end of slavery for Maryland in 1864, along with general economic changes, began a slow decline in the viability of the land.
In 1948, the Hampton mansion and surrounding 43 acres were declared a national historic site. The National Park Service began administering the 60 acre Hampton National Historic Site, including the home, in 1979. The mansion was closed for three years (2005-2007) for a $3 million major restoration.
National Park Service
A gallery of twenty-three photographs taken in 2008 and 2012 is available for viewing by clicking here.
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