Travel reviews by
Hampton National Historic Site
Based on 58 traveler reviews
Amazing property with great tour
Dec 26, 2014 by: Ross P from
A really special look into a property from the 1800s. Our tour guide volunteer was the most knowledgeable person I have ever met on a park property, a real treasure to have on such a interesting park. Take the time to explore the out buildings as they can be easily overlooked.
Beautiful Trip into the Past.
Dec 21, 2014 by: Mary H from Ellicott City, Maryland
Enjoyed the day with a Holiday Viewing of the Main House. Decorations and Singers added to the events of the Christmas Season.
Great place to visit for a sense of history...
Dec 14, 2014 by: ArleneB435 from Corona, California
We spent an afternoon at the Hampton mansion and enjoyed it immensely. It was the largest house when it was built in 1979, has 17 foot-high ceilings and is grand! Most rooms are the same size and the furniture and decor is consistent with the era of the mansion. The art work and family portraits are worth the visit. The Ridgeley family owned it for 7 generations. It was decorated for Christmas and was really lovely. There are many out buildings, a family cemetery, and other things to visit on the grounds. The museum - gift shop - is lovely too. And, it's FREE, with great volunteers to provide commentary while you tour the house.
GRAND MANSION BUILT TO IMPRESS
Nov 19, 2014 by: Maurene_K from Dover, New Hampshire
One of the first facts the NPS Rangers tell visitors is that George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello could fit inside this three-story Georgian mansion with plenty of room to spare. The plantation house is massive. Everything is on a grand scale with 17-foot-high ceilings. Hampton was built to impress. In 1745, Col. Charles Ridgely, a tobacco farmer and trader, bought the land that already had some houses, tobacco barns, and stables. His son Capt. Charles Ridgely began construction of the grand mansion at Hampton in 1783. Castle Howard in England, owned by his mother’s relatives, inspired the design. When completed with additions in 1790, it was the largest private home in the United States. In all, seven generations of Ridgelys owned the estate from 1745 to 1948. Today it is considered to be one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the United States. The National Park Service has done a superb job at restoration and preservation of this fabulous property. On the tour, one sees a copy of Thomas Sully's famous portrait titled “Lady with a Harp” (1818) which is of Eliza Ridgely. It is in the central hallway. The original now hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. She was a musician. She and her husband collected most of the furnishings, the family's collection of oil paintings, silverware, and ceramics comprising that one sees on the tour. The estate’s inventory contains about 7,000 items. The parlor and dining room are elegantly furnished. The dining room table service and silver serving pieces reflect the Ridgely family's great wealth. One will also notice ornate carvings on woodwork and trim even up near the ceiling. The Ridgelys employed many artisans in building and finishing this mansion. As one would expect of such a grand plantation mansion, there were slaves---about 300---that worked there at various tasks from housekeeping and cooking to farming and tending the stables. Charles Carnan Ridgely freed most of his slaves upon his death in 1829; however, indentured servitude continued under Charles’s successor John Carnan Ridgely and lasted until the American Civil War ended. In 1945, “Lady with a Harp” was sold to the National Gallery of Art. David Finley, director of the gallery, became an advocate for the preservation of Hampton. In 1948, he helped to arrange the deal whereby The Ridgelys sold Hampton to Ailsa Mellon Bruce's Avalon Foundation. After 30 years of administration by Preservation Maryland from 1949 - 1979, the National Park Service acquired the property in 1979. In January 2005, the mansion closed for almost three years as it underwent the major restoration project. The mansion’s rooms were refurnished with historical accuracy right down to wallpaper from an English company that had made the original wallpaper. Fire suppression and climate control systems were installed to protect and preserve the mansion’s interior and furnishings. Hampton National Historic Site reopened to the public on November 30, 2007. As a historian and preservationist, I was pleased to hear that the mansion is historically accurate on furnishings, paints, wallpaper, etc. and that it is all being preserved with A/C, dehumidifiers, etc. It is so much more telling and meaningful to tour a home/mansion that is historically accurate with the actual belongings of the family that lived there as opposed to period furniture gathered from various sources. For those who participate in the Passport to Your National Parks Program, the location of the passport cancellation station is on the side table near entrance to the gift shop/bookstore. There are two cancellation stamps. They read: ● Hampton National Historic Site - Towson, MD ● Hampton NHS - Underground RR Freedom Network This is one of many National Park Services units that features free admission. After the mansion tour, go for the full experience and explore the grounds, gardens, orchards, and outbuildings that include the orangery smokehouse, woodshed, garage, pump house, privies, ice house, greenhouses, and stables, plus the family cemetery. Across Hampton Lane one will find the dairy, Long House Granary, the Lower House, Dove Cote, the worker’s quarters, the mule barn, and the corn crib. From 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM on November 1, 2014, the special event Maryland 150th Emancipation Day Commemoration to celebrate that landmark new state constitution. There are other special events on the site’s calendar periodically. Hampton National Historic Site should be on the itinerary of everyone visiting Baltimore and/or Northern Maryland. Towson is about 15 miles / 20 minutes from Downtown Baltimore and about 18 miles / 25 minutes from Joppa, MD. One can easily spend ½ a day here. My visit was during the height of fall foliage season; and, although it was very beautiful then, I would revisit Hampton National Historic Site in the spring or summer when there are flowers in the gardens and the trees have green foliage. If you found this review helpful, kindly click YES below.
Oct 15, 2014 by: Karen M from Baltimore, Maryland
This a good place to check out. Best of all it is FREE. You can stroll all around the huge grounds that extend across the street to include servants quarters and a dairy. The house is beautiful and if you get the chance go when it is all dressed up for the holidays.
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