House and garden pilgrimage allows entry into historic So. Md. dwellings
Annual event highlights history and architecture
Visitors will have the opportunity to tour the home of a Confederate supporter who aided in the escape of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, among other local historical properties, during an annual tour designed to celebrate the area’s architectural and cultural heritage.
The Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage (MHGP) will take place for five weekends in April and May throughout five counties in the state. The tour has been an annual state tradition since 1937 and will end this year with a grand finale tour in Charles County on Saturday, May 28.
The event is organized by county garden clubs and for co-chairs Melissa Bolton Willett, Rebecca Bolton Bridgett and Michelle Bolton Connor, sisters and lifelong Charles County residents, being part of the Charles County Garden Club is a family tradition.
“I’ve always been a part of them really,” Willett, of La Plata, said in an interview.
Willett said she first began participating in the tours was when she was about 8-yearsold when she would help her mother. Through organizing this year’s tour, she discovered some unexpected connections to her grandmother.
Of the eight properties featured on the tour, three of them predate the Revolutionary War: Burlean Hall, a three-part telescopic house built in the last 18th century; Timber Neck, a Federalist style home built between 1780 and 1790 by Col. Belaine Posey, both in Faulkner; and Chandler’s Hope, established by Job Chandler in 1639 and home of Leonard Neale, the first Archbishop ordained in the United States, in La Plata.
Unbeknownst to Willett, the last time Burlean Hall was part of the tour was 1960, the year her grandmother organized the event.
“I was driving around and thought about places that I always wanted to see,” Willet said. “It’s so funny the way things have just fallen together.”
The tour begins at the Charles County Maryland Veterans Museum in Newburg which will also be the recipient of all funds raised during the tour. Proceeds will go towards enlarging and enhancing exhibits about the Revolutionary War in preparation for events commemorating its 240th anniversary. Also on the tour is Huckleberry House, the primary residence of Thomas Jones, who assisted John Wilkes Booth and David Nelson as they eluded capture from the Army in 1865 after Lincoln’s assassination. Huckleberry House sits on the front of the Loyola Retreat House grounds in Faulkner. The structure is a Jesuit retreat house that opened in 1958 and is also on the tour along with a renovated century old tobacco barn used as the centerpiece of St. Inigoes Youth Camp at Loyola on the Potomac. Catered lunches will be served at the Loyola site for $10.
Rosewood Manor, a 1930s French-style manor house built in 1997 in Port Tobacco, will also be on tour and will be the site where dinner is served.
Advance tickets are $30 per person and will be $35 the day of the event. Lunch tickets are $10 and dinner tickets are $24.99. For general information, tour details, tickets and meal reservations, go to www. mhgp.org, call 410-821-6933, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.