Taking Another Look

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

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Secret Gardens

SGT 08 (3)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!

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Party Like Pride & Prejudice

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

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A 21st-Century Recipe for 18th-Century Cookies

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

Gingerbread “cakes” from the Colonial Williamsburg kitchens

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A New Look

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

A photograph of Hester Harwood as a young girl, now on display in the exhibit gallery

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A Few Minutes of Fame

The Hammond-Harwood House was featured on last night’s episode of Chesapeake Collectibles on Maryland Public Television. In case you missed our moment in the spotlight, the full episode is available here.

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Because Everyone Loves Cookies

As we wait for the debut of the new edition of the Maryland’s Way Cookbook, we will be highlighting the favorite recipes of our staff and volunteers. This week, Hammond-Harwood House trustee Dr. Charles Webb was kind enough to share his thoughts on the recipe for Albany Cookies:

The Albany Cookie or cake is a simple sugar and cinnamon cookie that became a Christmas treat in early colonial times in tidewater Maryland. It was such a part of the holiday season that it persisted in many families well into the late twentieth century. While it is delicious, it is by today’s terms a very basic cookie. On the Eastern Shore it was made by the Goldsborough family at Otwell so far back that its origin and the reason for the name are obscure. When one of the Goldsborough daughters married a member of the Holliday family at Readbourne on the Chester River, the cookie went there. But it was also used by the Lloyds and probably many families all around the Bay.

Perhaps the fact that cinnamon and sugar were precious commodities in early colonial days is the reason for its popularity. It is an easy cookie to make. Because it is formed into a bow (or pretzel) shape, the making of the cookie can become a family event. Children from 5 or 6 on can shape their own cookie for baking.

If you want to sample an historic holiday specialty try this recipe. It will be in the new edition of the Maryland’s Way cookbook… It is good any time of the year!

Readbourne, the home of Elizabeth Tilghman Hollyday, who contributed the Albany Cookie recipe to the Maryland's Way cookbook

Readbourne, the home of Elizabeth Tilghman Hollyday, who contributed the Albany Cookie recipe to the Maryland’s Way cookbook

Albany Cookies

6 cups flour (sifted), 1 lb. dark brown sugar, ½ lb. butter or margarine,
1 egg, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 cup cream (or 1 scant cup evaporated milk),
2 oz. cinnamon (10 tablespoons), salt, granulated sugar to roll cookies in.

Mix flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Dissolve soda in the cream in measuring cup. Cream the softened butter, add brown sugar and beat well. Add egg and beat well again. Alternately add flour and milk, mixing until all ingredients are incorporated. A pinch of salt may help. Cover the dough in a bowl and cool overnight.

To bake, divide dough into about 8 or 10 pieces. Take out one piece at a time, pinch off a small piece and roll on a sugar coated board with hands till about the shape and size of a pencil, coating the surface with the sugar. Loop the ends around to overlap the center of the roll making a bow or pretzel shape, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Let cool, then rap on underside of cookie sheet to loosen them. Enjoy a traditional Eastern Shore Christmas treat from an early era when cinnamon and sugar were scarce.

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