Captain Charles Ridgely's Hampton is like aristocratic homes such as Castle Howard in Yorkshire, England, with its large octagonal cupola. The Ridgely family descendants lived here from 1790 until after 1948, when the mansion and 43 acres were designated a national historic site. John Ridgely Jr. and his wife continued to live at Hampton, residing in the farmhouse, while the mansion was open for tours. This picture was taken in 1970.
In 1979: National Park Service took over administration of the mansion and 60 acres.
Hampton is the largest Georgian style residence extant in this country.
Hallmarks of Georgian design: rigid symmetry, 5-part composition, axial entrances, geometrical proportions, pedimented gable ends, and sash windows. Items of interest:
1) The central pavilion with pediment and bold pilasters (the part between the two large columns)
2) The Palladian window which is in the pediment (peak) of the room of the central pavilion.
3) The scroll decorated dormers
4) The cupola which seems to be proportioned for a public building rather than a residence.
5) On the exterior, windows are framed simply, but the interior treatment is with elaborate broken pediments and trim in the central portion. On this picture you can also see where there appears to have been repairs done around the first floor windows - the masonry is a different color there.
6) Urns topping the pediment are typical in the late-Georgian, however, at Hampton they have become elaborate crowning finials.
7) The bold cornice detail is typical of the style. This detail continues on the East and West wings and connecting segments, called hyphens, but the scale is reduced for these smaller links in the five--part design.
8) There are two horizontal lines of masonry which stand out from the main body of the building. The bottom one is called the Water Table and the upper one is the Belt Course
The building is flanked by small buildings called hyphens between the main building and the wings.
There really isn't anything to do in Towson. It is the County Seat (which means the County Courts). The first photo was taken around the courthouse of the Old National Guard Armory. There are several instititutions of higher learning there - Towson University and Goucher College and you can visit their campuses.
There are several big hospitals - Greater Baltimore Medical Center (where our brother was born - photo 4 of us 'visiting' the hospital), St. Joseph Medical Center (SJMC), and of course Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, which is a psychiatric hospital. The hospital originally called the Sheppard Asylum was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971. You can go look at the building (photo 5 is of the gatehouse) although it is to be hoped that you won't need their services. You can visit another historic building - Hampton National Historic Site.
My grandmother went to Goucher back when it was in Baltimore. Goucher was founded in 1885 as The Woman's College of Baltimore. She graduated in 1931 and she was planning to attend her 75th reunion when she died. I (Beth) applied to Goucher but eventually went to Virginia Tech. Deb applied to Towson as her default school in case she couldn't get in to the one she wanted to go to. And Barb never even considered a school in Towson.
Our family spent several years of our lives living in Towson which is where our grandmother lived. When we lived in Florida, we would come up for Christmas, and if we were lucky there would be snow (photo 3) My grandmother took us to church, and in the spring, we would go to the May Day celebrations and get a lemon peppermint stick (photo 2)
But if you aren't a resident, a lawyer or a student, there's really NO REASON to visit Towson. It is not a Destination type place.
We love Towson, but really, there is no need to inflate the number of tips you have here with tips on Baltimore. Really... just admit that there are very few place to see in Towson.
1866 Towson University opened its doors in Baltimore as the Maryland State Normal School. In 1915, it moved out to Towson. Stephens Hall (1915), the oldest academic building on campus dating from the move from Baltimore, is home of the College of Business and Economics. Its clock tower is a campus landmark.
By 1935, Maryland State Normal School had become a degree-granting institution called the Maryland State Teachers College at Towson. That's the name that it went by when my parents moved us to Towson in 1950. As a child, my husband attended the elementary school where the student teachers trained (Lila Lee Todd ES).
In 1963, following expansion of programs in the arts and sciences, its name was changed to Towson State College.
University status was accorded in 1976, in recognition of Towson State's broadened role in Maryland higher education.
In 1988, Towson State University joined 10 other public institutions in the new University of Maryland System.
On July 1, 1997, another name change took effect. Towson dropped the designation "state" from its name to become Towson University.
Towson University is the largest comprehensive university in the Baltimore area, the second largest university in Maryland and a member of the University System of Maryland, the nation's 12th largest public university system.
This is the closest park from Towson. The reservoir is a watershed area and provides Baltimore with 60% of its water. There are plenty of hiking and mountain bike trails around the reservoir. Canoing and fishing as well as trap shooting are also available. There is a beautiful drive through the park and over the reservoir that is closed during weekends to automobiles. This alows pedestrians, runners, bikers, and rolerbladers to enjoy the strech of road without the danger of autos.
For the mall-a-holic in all of us, Towson Town Center is truly a shopper's paradise. Located in Towson proper, 14 miles north of downtown Baltimore, the Towson Town Center is a spot where the generations collide and shop. Towson hosts the more upscale end of merchants in the area, including Nordstrom, Talbots, Williams Sonoma, Benetton and Crate & Barrel. Salons are on every floor, and 25 shoe stores fill the place. Every type of food and drink can be found here: yogurt milkshakes, snow cones, Cajun cuisine, burgers, Chinese food, croissants, lattes, deli sandwiches and salads, to name a few. And for those looking for a nice place to sit down and relax, the mall also has a T.G.I. Fridays. Although the Towson Town Center can get quite crowded (especially at night and on the weekends), huge parking complexes bookend the mall, and there's an outdoor lot as well.
One reason Towson is such a consummate city-suburb is the thousands of college students who inhabit the area for nine months of the year. Towson University is the second-largest of the Maryland state universities. Its 320-acre campus serves about 15,000 full- and part-time students. Originally opened as a teacher's school in 1866, the university now offers over 50 undergraduate majors and 26 master's degree programs.