History

 
Mount Airy Mansion, A Brief History


Lovely, serene Mount Airy virtually hums with the gentle vibrations of times past. Traveling the winding narrow road through the woods you can imagine the hoof beat and jingle of tack as a rider passes you from the seventeenth century bringing news from England to the Calvert's whose lively and attractive family inhabit the lodge.


The original part of the house was built as a hunting lodge by Charles Calvert, the Third Lord Baltimore, when he came from England around 1660. The dwelling then consisted of one 50 foot room with fireplaces on each end. This room is one of the loveliest in the house, which now consists of 13 large rooms.






On February 4, 1774 George Washington attended his step-son's, John Parke Custis, wedding to the beautiful, "Nellie", Eleanor Calvert. Washington had opposed the marriage due to their youth but finally gave in and joined the festivities in the the Calvert room of Mount Airy. He then became a frequent visitor and is said to have given the Calverts the boxwood in front of the home. Nellie's picture can be seen in the Bowie-Smith room.






Mount Airy has endured two major fires. The first in April of 1752, and again in 1931. At the time of the first fire the property belonged to Benedict Calvert, it was rumored to be arson. The second fire was in 1931, when Mount Airy had been operating as a fashionable restaurant named Dower House. It was after this fire that Cissy Patterson, the illustrious owner of the Times- Herald, bought and restored the Mansion. She also added the swimming pool, tennis court, guest cottages and a large green house to house her fabulous collection of orchids.She entertained lavishly and her guests included Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Robert Considine, author Adela St. John, and other well known people of the time.


In spite of the fact that she had several other homes, one as close as Dupont Circle, she spent summers as well as frequent weekends at Mount Airy from 1931 until her death in the house in 1948. She died in what was then her bedroom, now the offices for Pineapple Alley Catering. That ended a very public and glamorous era for Mount Airy, but it's far from the whole story of the House.



Parties, great and small, weddings, births, deaths, visits from seven Presidents all have left their mark, leaving a wonderful feeling of expectancy to the lovely old home. We hope you will want to come experience the history and atmosphere of Mount Airy. Your own celebrations and special memories will enrich and secure Mount Airy for the enjoyment of future generations.


The pictures and more information regarding the various Lord Baltimore's are on display at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore MD.

 
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