This week’s blog post is the first (but not last!) from new volunteer Katie Adams.
By Volunteer Katie Adams
I have been reading through my mother’s old copy of the Maryland’s Way cookbook, which she (according to a note on the flypage) picked up during an “architectural tour of Annapolis” with friends in April 1964. I well remember her perusing it, not only for recipes but for the wonderful photos and sketches it contains. In fact, she would often become sidetracked for good periods of time between the wonderful recipes — luckily, she never tried Calf’s Brain Cakes or the notorious muskrat soup — and the book’s insights into Maryland’s past. Now that I have her book, for me it is history in several ways. It is my history, with the Sally Lunn and Old Auntie’s Whiskey Jumbles I remember well; my mother’s, since it was one of her “go-to” cookbooks and a reminder of an enjoyable day in Annapolis; a piece of Hammond-Harwood’s, since it happens to be one of the earlier editions; and of course a view into our beautiful state’s history as well. As Hammond-Harwood prepares to issue the 50th Anniversary Edition of Maryland’s Way this September at its annual Garden Party, I find myself interested to see the pretty new book next to my much-used yellowing one. I plan to try some recipes neither my mother nor I have tried, and know that I will enjoy spending time with the photos and anecdotes, but I think I will still give the recipe for peacock with chestnuts a miss.
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.
Drayton Hall in South Carolina, an excellent example of historic preservation (and an excuse for me to post a picture from my recent vacation)
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.
The Maryland Hospital for the Insane in Catonsville, as it looked when Frances Harwood was a patient
It’s that time of year again! This weekend is our annual Secret Garden Tour from noon to 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Attendees will be able to tour 13 beautifully landscaped gardens within the heart of Annapolis’ historic downtown that are otherwise closed to the public. The tour this year features such historic gems as the Chase-Lloyd House, the Peggy Stewart House, and, of course, the Hammond-Harwood House. You don’t need to be an avid gardener to enjoy the sights and smells of these wonderfully maintained urban oases. Whether large or small, roses or hydrangeas, these gardens promise to be a special treat.
Tickets are still available. You can purchase them for the advance price of $25 by calling 410-263-4683 or by visiting our website. Please note that advance tickets end today, Friday, May 31 at 4pm. Tickets will be available at the Hammond-Harwood House (19 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401) on Saturday and Sunday for $30. We hope you come smell the roses!
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!
Scenes from “Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball” created by the BBC
I love reading 18th century recipes but have never been brave enough to try to actually use one. For one thing, the quantities of ingredients used are staggering to a modern cook, with recipes often including multiple pounds of butter. It’s very clear that they weren’t quite as health-conscious as we are today.
Luckily, Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways program has a blog called “History is Served: 18th-Century Recipes for the 21st-Century Kitchen,” on which they publish both original recipes and adapted versions for modern cooks and kitchens. So, if you’ve been craving cookies, try this recipe for gingerbread (and maybe deliver some to my office).
Gingerbread “cakes” from the Colonial Williamsburg kitchens
By Tara Owens
The Hammond-Harwood House opens for the season this Saturday, April 6 at 12pm. In preparation for opening day, my fellow intern Brianna Arnold and I rotated the objects in the exhibit gallery. The overall goal of this redesign was to provide a better introduction to the House for visitors and give them a glimpse of what they will encounter on the tour. After many hours scouring our collections, three themes emerged: occupants of the Hammond-Harwood House, highlights from the collection, and architecture. One section of the gallery focuses on the history of the occupants of the House with examples of family crests, a visual timeline of the owners, and items owned by the last occupants, Hester and Lucy Harwood. This will help visitors to understand the historical timeline of the House and make the information presented in the tour more relatable. Highlights from the collections present visitors with examples of the decorative and fine arts they will encounter within the House. The architecture section introduces the visitor to one of the key elements that makes the House historically significant. The Hammond-Harwood House is one of the best examples of American colonial architecture and the new exhibit gallery offers information on the House’s architectural details and history. We hope the new exhibit gallery will enhance your experience at the Hammond-Harwood House. So, starting this Saturday, we hope to see you there!
A photograph of Hester Harwood as a young girl, now on display in the exhibit gallery