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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage - Baltimore County



When a garden tour includes a house tour it makes for a much more interesting time.  When you get to meet the owner it is even more interesting!  Last weekend we went on such a tour in the Worthington Valley area of Baltimore County.  The day was overcast with misting rain but after the first house I was able to put my umbrella away.  I've included the write-up from the Tour pamphlet:

SHAWAN HOUSE - 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.

I was able to meet the owner who was selling/collecting the tickets at the door.  We were not allowed to take photos so I will try to describe the general layout.  You entered into a center "hall" that took up a third of the main floor.  There was a door to the backyard, a staircase, doors to the living room on one side and one to the dining room on the other side at the back of the house.  In the front on the right was a hallway that led to a guest bathroom and small den and on the left was a hallway to a smaller dining room, another staircase to the second level, and a hallway leading to the modern kitchen.  Next to that was the original house (on the left)  and contained a 1700s walk-in fireplace for cooking. . . 


The original house on the west (left) side. . .


Through the above gate you could access the back of the original house. . . 


To your left were a couple outbuildings. . .

The chickens resided there. . .

Around back you can see the original 1700s house on the right (with the porch) and the main house that C. Wilbur Miller added on in the early 1900s.  I did some further research and discovered that Miller lived down the road in a 50-room mansion with 20 bedrooms and bathrooms that he had built between 1911 and 1916.   He bought the Shawan House farm and did the add-on, using it as the farm manager's residence.  In 1932 he sold his mansion and moved his family to the farm.  I love that his granddaughter is now living there. . .



This covered walkway to the little garden room is on the east side of the house. . . 



It offers a gorgeous view of the surrounding countryside. . . .


Stepping out the back you can see the steps leading out the back door of the main house's hall. . .

The owners obviously spend time enjoying this southerly view. . .

There were two darling Cairn Terriers running about in and out of the house along with a Fox Terrier. . .


Between all the pets, family photos on the walls, tables, and grand piano I felt I was a family visitor rather than a spectator on a tour!  Ken saw one of the Cairn Terriers go for a swim in the pool that is a little further down this way. . . .

This is looking back up at the east side of the house. . . .

We were told to be sure not to miss the rock garden.  After a bit of searching I finally found it on the west side of the house down this path on the other side of a hill. . . .


I was reluctant to leave, but there were more houses and gardens to tour.


LONGVIEW FARM - 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.”

 



The house was built in 2012.  I was not impressed.  It was too sterile.  Ken remarked that he didn't think the owners lived there full time.  He researched it when we got home and found that it was indeed not their principle residence.  I loved the flowers, though. . . .
Peonies

Clematis

Bluebells


 Their water garden, however, WAS impressive. . . 


You could walk along the pond on the stones on the right side of the pond. . .





There were other little secret paths leading to and from the pond. . .




We skipped house #3 because it was used as the clubhouse of the Green Spring Valley Hounds and wouldn't have the personal feel of the first house we loved so much.

House #4 was set back in the woods on a long lovely drive. . . 

WELSHE’S CRADLE - 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.


The drive led back to the stable converted to a tenant house where we parked. . . 

From there we walked back to house.  It is long (width) and narrow (depth).  We could walk along the porch and peek in the windows at the living room that looked out onto the glassed-in back porch.  On the left the porch ended at a charming little "library" with a fireplace.  There was a half-door there so we could see into that room. . .

At the other end of the porch was a small dining area with a half-door also.  We could see into the kitchen from there.  We didn't get to see what was in the room attached at the from on that side. . .

Then we walked back to the middle of the porch and entered the center hall where we could peek into the living room on the left and the larger dining room on the right.  From there we exited through the glassed-in back porch.  This was the view from there. . .

We walked over to the terrace behind the kitchen side of the house.  So much charm to take in!  The owner was out there talking with some people so I hung around until I could ask him how many acres were remaining with the property (98) which is in conservation.  We got to talking about land conservation since our little 2.5 acres is in the conservancy, too.  I love that his children were the 5th generation to live in this house!  

We continued around to the side of the house where you could see another entrance to the kitchen. . .


I didn't take very many photos of house #5, but wanted to include the history of the property. . .

MELINDA’S PROSPECT - 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.

I wonder if the Jenkins of house #4 is related to this Jenkins.  The house was quite large but the gardens were mostly lawn. . .

House #6 was built starting in 1939. . .

UPPER MELINDA - 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.

Note the name Foster appears in the house #5 write-up as well as this one.  I wonder if all three owners of the last three houses are related.  All the houses are within a couple miles of each other.  With the amount of acreage involved they could actually be neighbors!  There was a circular drive in front of the quite large house. . . .

The house had its charm.  I love stone.  But it did not feel homey to me. . .

What it had going for it, though, was its view!  The write-up should have noted that you could see the mountains in Pennsylvania. . .

All in all it was a lovely day.  We took the back roads home, avoiding the Interstate.  Because we'd explored a new-to-us area of Maryland and drove home a new route, I felt I was on vacation!

5 comments:

  1. Absolutely lovely!

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  2. Hello Sis. I have not been checking my mail box for some time. You are the only one that has my mail box. Mostly, my friends & family keep in touch w/ me over Facebook or a phone call. I enjoyed seeing all of your beautiful pictures & learning about the history of the people that lived there. You do such a good job putting it all together. I appreciate all the time it much take you to do so. Love & miss you, Your Sister, Sandy xoxo

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    1. Thank you, Sandy. Love you, too! ❤️

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  3. You came to my part of the world - sort of!
    I do not live in this area but have travelled through it countless times enjoying the beautiful countryside on my way to other parts. I'm sorry I didn't know about the tour. But, I'm delighted to read your travelogue and view it all through your eyes. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. I thought about you as we drove home over the Reservoir because I know you often go there!

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