Historic Homes, Churches, Bar on This Spring's Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage

The 2014 tour includes about 50 private homes, gardens, farms, churches and historic sites across five areas in Maryland. Learn about the War of 1812 and where the term "bar and grille" originated.

Darnall’s Chance on Governor Oden Bowie Drive in Upper Marlboro is one of the dozens of historic properties featured this spring on the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage. Credit: MHGP website
Darnall’s Chance on Governor Oden Bowie Drive in Upper Marlboro is one of the dozens of historic properties featured this spring on the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage. Credit: MHGP website

Explore some of the state’s most historic and well-preserved properties when the annual Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage returns for six weekends this spring from Saturday, April 26 through Saturday, May 31.

A Maryland tradition for 77 years, the Pilgrimage offers the opportunity to explore some of Maryland’s most fascinating and noteworthy properties, including the grave of a man who played a key role in the creation of our national anthem and other landmarks of great import in the War of 1812, according to a news release.

The 2014 tour includes about 50 private homes, gardens, farms, churches and historic sites across five areas in Maryland. They are Prince George’s County (Saturday, April 26); Baltimore County/Parkton (Sunday, May 4); Talbot County (Saturday, May 10); Calvert County (Saturday, May 17) and Kent County (Saturday, May 31).

Each tour is $30 when purchased in advance; proceeds help support preservation projects in the host communities. Lunches will be available on all tours. Purchase tickets and get more information at mhgp.org or 410-821-6933.

“In this 77th year, we are proud to present so many unique and vastly different types of properties,” said Meredith Boren, Chairman, Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage. “In addition to getting a glimpse of the important role that these individual counties played in the history not only of our region, but of the nation as a whole, guests on the tours will explore Prince George’s County’s War of 1812 landmarks, experience examples of both white and African American one-room schoolhouses in Calvert County, see an inn that offers a visual explanation of the term ‘bar and grille’ (which does not involve the cooking of food) in Parkton (Baltimore County), enjoy the flora and fauna of Talbot County and take in the beauty of a church and grounds that date back as many as 400 years in Kent County.”

Guests will be offered lunch (at an additional cost) on each of the county tours.

Highlights for each of the jurisdictions on the 2014 tour include the following.

Prince George’s County:

The tour offers a mini history lesson about the War of 1812 and follows part of the Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail and Byway. Among the highlights of the 15 attractions is Bellefields, the main block of which was built in the first half of the 18th century. It was the home of Major Benjamin Oden during the War of 1812 and the site of a meeting between Gen. William H. Winder and then-Secretary of State James Monroe during the war. Another site of interest along the tour is the grave of Dr. William Beanes, who was taken hostage by the British and confined to a vessel on the Chesapeake Bay. Francis Scott Key helped to negotiate his release, watched the British attack on Baltimore, saw that the tattered American flag still waved at the end of the bombardment and penned the lyrics to the National Anthem. The tour concludes at Darnall’s Chance, another 18th century home that played a role in the war, where locally produced wine and cheese will be served. 

Baltimore County/Parkton:

A standout on this eight-stop tour is the Castle Calder. The original dwelling burned and was replaced by the two-story brick Federal-style home in 1876, which was lived in by many generations of the Calder family. Calders are undoubtedly included in the guest log of Wiseburg Inn, in existence since 1810 as a one-stop shop for travelers providing food, lodging, horse changing, sleighs, animal tending and entertainment. The current owner retained the original wooden grille work that protected the liquor, which was traditionally locked at night, thus giving rise to the phrase “bar and grille.” 

Talbot County:

The Historical Society’s Gardens are the first official stop on a tour that boasts breathtaking flora and landscaping at almost all of the eight venues. The River Bank offers an explosion of color inside and out, with vibrantly hued needlework adorning the rooms and a riot of blooms ringing the pool and croquet court. Wheatlands features 20 raised beds for organic vegetables and greens. The grounds at Lombardy include many trees and boxwoods that are believed to predate the original house, built in 1775. The tour concludes at the Wye Heights Plantation, where the Federal-style plantation house is complemented by 10 acres of formal gardens. 

Calvert County:

This 11-stop tour offers a glimpse into Calvert’s past – including two very different examples of one-room schoolhouses. The first, the Old Wallville School, was used to educate African-American students from the 1880s until 1934. Originally located in Wallville, the building was rescued from destruction and relocated to its Prince Frederick site. Later in the tour is the Port Republic School No.7, an all-white institution, which was built around 1876 and in continuous use until 1932. The Calvert Retired Teachers Association restored the facility in 1976 and it is now a living history site for children. The other sites on the tour include Spout, Tynewydd and Windy Hill Farm, the latter featuring gardens that date back to the early 1900s, and include daylily, bearded iris, herbs and virgin forest trees.

Kent County:

There are eight historic stops on the Kent County tour. Discover what “222 bushels of good merchantable wheat” would buy in 1780 when touring the Simon Wickes house, a Georgian home purchased with that quantity of grain. Today, the owner has opened her riverside gardens to the tour providing visitors with a breezy stop from the Chester River. Among the additional stops on the tour is 360 year-old St. Paul’s Parish, one of the two earliest surviving Anglican churches on the Eastern Shore.

For more information, tour details and tickets, visit www.mhgp.org or call 410-821-6933 between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or send an email to mhgp@aol.com.

Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage (MHGP), a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of architecturally significant properties in the State of Maryland. The Pilgrimage has remained constant with this purpose since its formation in 1937. It is the only statewide house and garden tour organization and the oldest tour in the State of Maryland, raising and distributing well over $1 million dollars in its 77-year history to support preservation projects in each host community.

Interrobang March 10, 2014 at 03:44 PM
Why are there no homes in Montgomery County?
Lincoln Blake May 27, 2014 at 09:03 AM
I don't know if anyone has ever been a big fan of old christian churches. Or just any church really. Because I've always loved visiting old churches. And looking at their architecture. Because looking at the structure type, and seeing the year that the church was made in. Can be pretty impressive. Andrew Blake | http://chcus.org


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