Belmont Manor and Historic Park
Statement regarding survey for access road from Landing Road (3/23/15)
6555 Belmont Woods Road, Elkridge, MD 21075
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The County’s purchase of Belmont Manor and Historic Park will insure the stewardship of this beautiful site for the residents of Howard County. Belmont is a unique setting that lends itself to a variety of events and programs which will be phased in over the next 6 to 10 months. The County has some clean-up and site enhancements to accomplish before the total use of the site can be realized. With Patapsco State Park adjacent to the site, the county hopes to create a partnership with the Department of Natural Resources to explore opportunities for a variety of shared programs and projects.
The County will establish a schedule where there are times for public access to wander the grounds and visit the manor house. There will also be times when public access will be limited based on the type of programs scheduled (i.e., no public access during a wedding ceremony).
The County also intends to enter into a partnership with a local environmental organization to provide nature based programs on site. A Request for Proposal (RFP) will be constructed to determine which organization can best meet the needs of the community. The County will also work to coordinate a “Friends of Belmont” to serve in an advocacy and advisory capacity to the site. A management plan will be developed to guide the philosophy, public use and goals for the property.
Find information on weddings at Belmont at wedding411.com.
In 1732, Caleb Dorsey, of Annapolis and Hockley-in-the Hole on the Severn River had purchased the land in which Belmont now resides. Caleb Dorsey’s son had several iron forges on the creeks that fed onto the Patapsco River. A bustling and prosperous port thrived then in Elkridge. One of Dorsey’s sons, also named Caleb, was an avid foxhunter. Once, while tracking a rare gray fox, he found himself in unfamiliar territory, near the home of Priscilla Hill. Their fortuitous meeting resulted in friendship, then marriage. The elder Dorsey gave the land to his son as a wedding present and the younger Caleb built the manor house. On either side of the front door were placed two carved plaques, “CPD 1738”. Caleb and Priscilla had three sons and six daughters. When Caleb died in 1772, his son Edward inherited the property, along with the iron forges and several other tracts of land.
After Edward died, his headstrong daughter, also named Priscilla, gained ownership of Belmont. Priscilla eloped with Alexander Hanson in 1805. Hanson founded the Federal Republican, a pro British newspaper and he poured money into the endeavor. Hanson’s unpopular views resulted in his being
attacked during the war of 1812 and he suffered permanent injuries. In 1815, Priscilla received her
inheritance, Edward Dorsey’s property that she would name Belmont.
After Hanson’s death at the age of 33, Priscilla tried to run the farm, but financial problems beset
her and she sold parcels of land in the 1830’s. In 1839, she mortgaged the estate for $1,500. Realizing
that her son, Charles, was addicted to horses and gaming, Priscilla stated in her will that if Charles ever compromised the estate, it was to be transferred to his wife and to her family. In 1875, the property went to a sheriff’s auction, where it brought $25. However, because of Priscilla’s foresight, the auction was contested and the property reverted back to Charles’ children in 1879. His daughters Anna Marie and Florence stayed on the property while other siblings moved away.
In 1917, the property passed to Mary Bowdoin Bruce, a descendant of Caleb and Priscilla Dorsey. Mary and her husband, Howard, restored the estate to its original beauty. Howard Bruce was the vice president and general manager of Bartlett Hayward Company, a small steel factory. His prominence increased during World War I, and he became well respected in the financial and political arenas.
During World War II, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his vital contribution to
the war production effort.
Although Belmont remained a working farm, Bruce’s predominant interest was in raising and breeding his stable of thoroughbred horses. He became the owner of the famed Billy Barton, who won numerous races including the Grand National Handicaps and the coveted Maryland Hunt Cup. Billy Barton is buried with full tack on, in an upright position, alongside another one of Bruce’s horses near the time-worn barn. In 1961, after Howard Bruce’s death, the property passed to his cousin David Bruce, the former ambassador to Britain, who in turn gave Belmont to the Smithsonian Institute. The Smithsonian converted Belmont into a conference center, where generals, vice presidents, astronauts and many other notables were able to meet in a quiet and controlled setting.
In 1983, the 85 acre estate was sold to the American Chemical Society, which continued the
tradition of providing excellent hospitality to the world leaders.
In 2004, Belmont was purchased by Howard Community College. The Community College
added hospitality classes to the Belmont experience while continuing the same traditions as the
two previous owners.
On June 21, 2012, Howard County Government purchased Belmont to ensure the stewardship of
this beautiful site for the residents of Howard County. When fully operational, Belmont will become
a popular venue for executive retreats, corporate trainings, weddings, company picnics and other
special events. Environmental, preservation and historical programs will also be major components
of the management plan.
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For information on Belmont Manor and Historic Park, contact Cathy Allen at email@example.com or Mary Ellen Baker, General Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or