Colonial Christmas in Baltimore

img_5530img_5539Mount Clare, the colonial house of Charles Carroll the Barrister and his wife Margaret Tilghman Carroll was once the place to see and be seen. The guest list sounds like something out of “Hamilton.” (I don’t know if Alexander ever visited, though.)

The Marquis de Lafayette stopped by and George Washington not only visited. He came to consult with Margaret, an avid horticulturalist, when he was building his orangerie. Hers, now sadly gone, were famous. (You can still visit George’s though.)

img_5538Carroll, a member of the influential Carrolls, was a patriot and author of Maryland’s Declaration of Right and took part in the development of the state’s own Constitution.img_5537

The Carrolls might not recognize their house today. After 200 years of hard wear, it has lost its hyphens, replaced by wings that spend 50 years in use as bathhouses from 1910 to 1960. Now one wing is a striking library and the other is a kitchen.


Musicians performed during the open house last week. Not even the grandfather clock on the landing escaped decorations. All quite stunning.

For the holiday season, the house near the original Baltimore and Ohio Railroad tracks is decked out in its evergreen finery. Beautiful. And so close. I went to see the beaten biscuit demonstration for a class I’m teaching next summer but I lingered because the house is so beautifully decorated for all its guests.

The house is open until the end of December and


April Smith shows the proper way to beat your biscuit dough. Beating it made the dough dense but the biscuits flavorful and long lasting.

then closes until spring. Train enthusiasts might want to pair a visit here with a visit to the wonderful Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum. You can hop a train for the one-mile visit to Mount Clare.

I travel far and wide to see homes decorated for the season. Here is one right in my backyard and this was the first time I’ve seen it. So glad I did. And now I’m telling all my friends about it. Near Baltimore this holiday season? Go; it’s quite lovely.

Ⓒ  Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman





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