Ann Milkovich McKee has put together this wonderful collection of photos, creating a pictorial history of historic Hampton House and its surrounding farm buildings. Hampton is one of the oldest surviving residential buildings in Maryland and serves as both a splendid example of 18th century architecture and a wonderful lesson in history. From the house and farm to the extensive gardens to the Ridgeleys themselves, the photos depict life on a plantation both before and after the Civil War. It shows how the family managed to keep the farm operating even after the ironworks and other sources of income were no longer operational. Sadly, time, taxes, and the encroachment of suburbia put an end to the once flourishing farm. However, those events are the same things that lead to the property being turned over to the National Park Service and opened to the public.
The photos in the book begin in the mid-1800s, continue throughout the decades of Ridgeley ownership and follow the transfer to the National Park Service up until the early 2000s. Having toured the mansion earlier this month, I really enjoyed seeing photos of the home when the family lived in it as well as pictures of buildings that have since been lost to fire or destruction.
I did think some of the photo captions became very redundant after a while. I would have enjoyed more photos of the interior of the mansion as well as the barns, but I understand that McKee and Arcadia Publishing had to work with what they had. I guess people in the late 1800s didn’t take photographs of the insides of their mule barns, dairies, and corn cribs.
Not to turn this book blog into a travel blog, but if you happen to be in the Baltimore area and want to spend a day immersed in history, Hampton is a lovely place to learn and explore. Whether you like history, agriculture, architecture, antiquities, or gardening, Hampton House has a little something for everyone.