You’d never know, from its peaceful setting, that Hampton sits just a few hundred feet from the Baltimore beltway. A little traffic noise is all that hints that those trees at the edge of the formal garden covers a large concrete barrier wall that separates Hampton from an eight lane freeway.
At its largest, the Hampton property was 25000 acres. Today, Hampton is part of a 63 acre national historic park. Surrounding the house are terraced English-style gardens, a recreated orangerie, recreated dependencies, an original ice house, and, just slightly further afield, the family cemetery. One nonfamily member buried in the cemetery is Nancy Davis, a Civil War era nanny who stayed with the family after she was freed. The rest of the slaves are buried in an unmarked area outside the family cemetery gates.
About a third of a mile from the house is the farm part of the estate. To the right is a mule barn. It’s original, as are most of the buildings on the farm, including a dairy barn, a long house, slave quarters and a farm house.
During tourist season, there are animals and interpreters working on the farm. I guess early June isn’t tourist season, because was only one lone National Park Service ranger, staffing the farm house.
The Ridgely family lived in the farm house before the mansion was finished and after the mansion was sold to the Avalon Foundation. In between, it housed overseers and farm managers.
Inside are exhibits on farm history and farm life.
Hampton has the best examples of original slave quarters in the U.S., mostly because they were made out of stone. And they (and many of the other buildings on the property) were made out of stone because the Ridgelys owned a quarry. The small structure between the two buildings in the picture above is an ash house, used to keep ashes to make soap (soap was made from lye that was leeched out of the ashes).
Inside the slave quarters were exhibits on slave life.
The farm was built in a decorative style called “erme ornée,” in which the outside of the buildings were more decorative than necessary. This was to make the farm look like a picturesque village when viewed from the mansion above. Very Marie Antoinette.