We at Hammond-Harwood House think that old buildings are pretty special, and try to convince other people of that fact too. We appreciate it when someone else who feels the same way makes a clear, cogent argument for saving old houses. The Preservation Journey blog recently shared a short but sweet list of 6 reasons more Americans should care about saving old homes, which include the quality of old homes and the loss of history that comes with tearing them down. If you need some quick but useful points for your next argument about preservation, check out the original post here.
Category Archives: Friday Photo
It’s official: I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. Like Alice in Wonderland, I am lost in a swirling mass of information, unsure of where it will all end. Unlike Alice, however, I love every second of it.
You see, I have spent the past few days madly researching the Harwood family, trying to find information about the last residents of the Hammond-Harwood House so that we can include more details about their lives on our tours. This research is leading me every which way, from obituaries to property records. The most unexpected finding, and perhaps the most compelling, is the information I uncovered about Frances, or Fanny, Harwood. Frances was born in 1838 and lived here with her father William, mother Hester Ann, brother Richard, and sisters Lucy and Hester. That is, until sometime in the 1860s, when she was taken to the Maryland Hospital for the Insane.
When Fanny was first institutionalized, the hospital was located in Baltimore. It moved to Catonsville in 1872, and the Baltimore site was sold to Johns Hopkins. Fanny is listed as a patient at the Catonsville location on the 1880 Census, but her death record from 1896 says that she died and was buried in Baltimore. In 1910, she was reinterred in St. Anne’s Cemetery in Annapolis, and a headstone was erected for her and her sister Lucy. The Hospital is still operating, under the name Spring Grove, and its website has a wealth of historical information and images. I will let you know if I find any further details that illuminate Fanny’s life, but in the meantime, I’m left pondering the ways in which her mental illness must have affected her family.
Tomorrow we are having a Pride and Prejudice-themed tea at Hammond-Harwood House, so my brain has been all Austen, all the time. And I’m not the only one; since this year is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s best-known work, people all over the world are celebrating. The most impressive commemoration was put together by the BBC, and involved recreating the Netherfield ball described in the book for a program called, “Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball.” They brought together experts on Regency history, food, fashion, and dancing, and the results look stunning. The program should be available online soon, and I can’t wait to watch!
This year, the Hammond-Harwood House will be issuing the 50th Anniversary Edition of the Maryland’s Way Cookbook, which was compiled in 1963 by Hope Andrews and Francis Kelly as a fundraiser to support the House. This classic of Chesapeake cooking has inspired cooks ever since, and we’re thrilled that it will once again be available to everyone who wants to make crab cakes, corn pudding, and chocolate cake. And in case you’d like to make that chocolate cake this weekend, here is the recipe for Maryland Fudge Cake, which was contributed to the cookbook by Miss L.C. Claude.
Maryland Fudge Cake
1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 squares bitter chocolate, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup black walnut meats
Cream butter and sugar. Melt chocolate over hot water. Sift flour and salt. Beat eggs very light. Combine ingredients, adding vanilla and walnut meats. Mix well, and spread on paraffin paper in a shallow pan. Bake 10 minutes in a hot oven at 400 degrees. Ice and cut in squares.
Icing: 2 teaspoons butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, 3 tablespoons or less boiling coffee. Cream butter and sugar, add cocoa, then coffee gradually until of spreading consistency.
By Tara Owens
This Monday the Hammond-Harwood House hosted the event “Collector’s Corner Workshop: Silver Cleaning & Care.” Cohosted by our very own Allison Titman and the wonderful Samantha Dorsey from The City of Bowie Museums, the event welcomed other museum professionals and interested members of the community. The workshop discussed the differences between sheet, raised, and cast silver, what tarnish is and how to remove it, and the best methods of storing and displaying silver pieces. After the discussion, everyone got down to business and tried their hand at polishing some silver. Everyone put on their nitrile gloves and dipped their cotton balls into a mixture of calcium bicarbonate and distilled water. The results were quite astounding – pieces that originally looked dark brown or almost black transformed into a shiny silver. Interns Brianna Arnold and Tara Owens spent the next couple of days putting their newly acquired skills to work polishing various pieces of the Hammond-Harwood House silver collections.
This workshop was just the beginning. Planning for additional Collector’s Corner Workshops are underway. Topics to be discussed include furniture and textiles. Stay tuned for additional information regarding the dates and locations of future workshops, and please let us know if there is a topic of interest you would like to have included in an upcoming workshop. We are always open to suggestions.
On snowy Friday afternoons my thoughts can’t help but turn to hibernation. Or at least a long nap in a cozy bed. If I wasn’t such a rule-abiding curator, I could curl up in the high-post bed in the Northeast Bedchamber and put my doll (or cat!) in the miniature bed at its foot. But since I think someone would notice if there was snoring emanating from the furniture, I’ll have some coffee and get back to work.
It is usually impossible to take this particular picture of the Best Bedchamber at the Hammond-Harwood House. Like most historical house museums, we use stanchions and ropes to keep our visitors at a distance from the objects in the rooms. By doing this, we hope to avoid any damage to the furniture or, even worse, theft of the smaller items. But the stanchions do affect the physical experience of the room; I hadn’t realized how much they close off the space until this week, when I removed them because Maryland Public Television was here filming for an episode of Chesapeake Collectibles. I have been struck by how different the room feels without them. It is more spacious, and I can get a much better sense of how people could actually have lived in the room.
So, now I have a dilemma: how do I give visitors to the House the same experience I’m having without the stanchions, while still adequately protecting our collection? I’ll be pondering it this winter, and am open to suggestion.