Lawyers Hill Historic District
The Belmont Manor House (ca. 1738) and Estate are included in the Lawyers Hill Historic District.
|Nearest city||Elkridge, Maryland|
|Architectural style||Queen Anne, Georgian, Gothic Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||93001000|
|Added to NRHP||September 23, 1993|
The Belmont Estate, now the Belmont Manor and Historic Park, is a historic estate located at Elkridge, Howard County, Maryland, United States. Known in the Colonial period as "Moore's Morning Choice", it is listed on the Maryland Historic Trust (MHT), Inventory of Historic Properties (MIHP), and it is on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) as part of the Lawyers Hill Historic District, Elkridge, Maryland.
From the late 17th century, until 1962, the property was privately owned. Then the property was owned and maintained as the Belmont Conference Center, by the Smithsonian Institution, the American Chemical Society, and Howard Community College, successively. It is now the Belmont Manor and Historic Park.
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Historic preservation
- 4 Historic designations
- 5 Notes
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
The Belmont Estate has been associated with important personages from the late 17th century to the 20th century, including Dr. Mordecai Moore, Caleb Dorsey, Alexander Contee Hanson, and David K. E. Bruce.
The extant manor home, Belmont House (ca. 1738), is one of the finest homes in the Colonial Georgian architectural style in Maryland, and one of the oldest colonial buildings remaining in Howard County, Maryland. The Belmont Estate now comprises approximately 83 acres, and adjoins Patapsco Valley State Park. Facilities on the Belmont Estate include, the Belmont Manor House (ca. 1738), a carriage house, a cottage, a large barn, tennis and volleyball courts, and an in-ground swimming pool. The Estate also features a croquet lawn, walking trails, and formal and herb gardens.
Dr. Mordecai Moore received the grant of a tract of 1368 acres of land above Elkridge Landing, ca. 1690. The property was patented ca. 1695 "Moore's Morning Choice". Moore's patent was situated on a ridge from which there are views of the lower Patapsco River Valley. Belmont Estate included part of that land.
Caleb Dorsey (1710-1722), of Hockley-in-the-Hole on the Severn River, was an early industrialist and farmer. He operated forges and iron furnaces along the Patapsco River, near Elkridge. About 1735, Caleb Dorsey purchased Moore's property, and an adjoining tract Rockburn, for his sons Edward and Caleb Dorsey, Jr. operating it as a plantation with up to 94 slaves providing agricultural labor. Caleb Dorsey, Jr. built his home "Belmont", ca. 1738. Caleb Dorsey and his wife Pricilla Hill (-1781) was burred onsite at Belmont 
Caleb Dorsey, Jr.'s son Edward inherited the property and slaves. Edward later gave the property to his daughter, Priscilla, the wife of Alexander Contee Hanson. Hanson died at the Estate, and is interred in the family burial ground.
Belmont Conference Center
Smithsonian Institution (1962 - 1982)
In 1962, the then owner of Belmont, the noted American diplomat, David K. E. Bruce, former ambassador to Britain, France and Germany, sold the property for $500,000 and then donated Belmont and 339 acres to the Smithsonian Institution for $5.00 as a philanthropic gift. The Smithsonian Institution maintained the property as a Conference Center.
The Belmont Conference Center was established in 1964 and was in almost continuous operation until 2010. Belmont hosted numerous conferences, social gatherings, weddings, meetings, and other functions. Examples of the numerous academic, government, and non-profit conferences held at Belmont:
- In 1967, a conference entitled “Bibliography and the historian : the conference at Belmont of the Joint Committee on Bibliographical Services to History” took place at the Belmont Conference Center.
- In February 1976, a four-day conference on the use of Human Subjects for Research took place at the Belmont Conference Center. The Belmont Report, resulting partly from this Conference, was published in 1979.
American Chemical Society (1982 - 2004)
In 1982, The Smithsonian Institution sold the Belmont Conference Center and the majority of the Center's surrounding land to the American Chemical Society for $2 million. The American Chemical Society continued to maintain the property as a Conference Center. In September 2001 the oldest structure in Howard County was situated on Warfeild's Range in North Laurel. The log cabin built in 1696 was moved to the Rockburn park to accommodate a Newburn development, and was destroyed by arson two weeks onsite.
The John Clare Society of North America held their first international John Clare Conference at the Belmont Conference Center, March 21–22, 2003. The Society is a non-profit literary organization devoted to the study, preservation, and publication of the works of English poet John Clare.
Howard Community College (2004 - 2012)
The American Chemical Society sold the Belmont Estate to Howard Community College (HCC) for $5.2 million in 2004. The Government of Howard County, Maryland, provided a loan of $2.5 million to the College toward the purchase of the Belmont Estate. The College used Belmont's facilities, to provide educational programs for students enrolled in the College's Center for Hospitality and Culinary Studies Program, and to operate the Belmont Conference Center.
On September 30, 2010, Howard Community College announced that they could no longer afford to maintain and operate the Belmont Estate, due to the effects of the economic recession, and that they planned to sell the property. The Government of Howard County stated that they retained the Right of First Refusal based on their 2004 loan agreement with HCC. In June 2011, Howard County signed an agreement with Howard Community College to purchase the Belmont Estate. During the period September 2011 through May 30, 2012, the Government of Howard County conducted a detailed study of the feasibility of purchasing and operating the property for public purposes.
Belmont Manor and Historic Park
On May 30, 2012, Howard County Executive Kenneth Ulman announced that the County would exercise their Right of First Refusal and purchase the Belmont Estate from the college. The $5.2 Million dollar property was put up for sale with public offers half the purchase price 8 years prior. The purchase included a debt forgiveness and $89,000 to the college. And additional 13 acres were sold to for land development to subsidize the purchase cost leaving only 68 acres of the original property. Howard County officially assumed the deed of the Belmont estate from Howard Community College on June 21, 2012.
In a radio interview on June 29, 2012, Kenneth Ulman stated that the Belmont Estate will compliment other Howard County nature attractions, including the Howard County Conservancy, located in Woodstock, Maryland, on a 300 year-old, 232-acre farm; and the James and Anne Robinson Nature Center, located in Columbia, Maryland, on 18 acres of land adjacent to the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area.
A number of organizations have played an important role in promoting, and advocating for, the historic preservation of the Belmont Estate. These include, the Rockburn Land Trust, the Save Belmont Coalition, Preservation Howard County, Preservation Maryland, the Maryland Environmental Trust, The Friends of Patapsco Valley & Heritage Greenway, Inc, and The Land Trust Alliance.
The original historic site nomination for Belmont was researched and prepared in the mid-1970s for the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT). Further research and updates by Howard County and the State of Maryland were carried out in 2010.
The Belmont Manor House and Estate are U.S. National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), as part of the Lawyers Hill Historic District, Elkridge, Maryland, which was designated as a National Register of Historic Properties on 11/3/1993.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- Ruth Besse (17 May 1985). "Traveling Back in time". The Washington Post.
- Howard County Historical Society. Images of America, Howard County. p. 27.
- Stein, Charles Francis, Jr. and Howard County Historical Society (1972). The Origin and History of Howard County Maryland. Press of Schneidereith & Sons. pp. 41, 242.
- Elizabeth Janney. Elkridge. Arcadia Publishing; 8 July 2013. ISBN 978-0-7385-9927-4. p. 13.
- "300 Years of History Preserved at Belmont". The Business Monthly. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
- Seeking Freedom The History of the Underground Railroad in Howard County. p. 64.
- http://www.savebelmont.org/history.php[dead link]
- Helen West Ridgely. Historic Graves of Maryland and the District of Columbia. p. 156.
- "Runaway Slave ads". Baltimore Advertiser. 20 July 1790.
- Stein, Charles Francis, Jr. The Origin and History of Howard County Maryland. Published by the author in cooperation with the Howard County Historical Society. Baltimore, MD: Press of Schneidereith & Sons, 1972, page 133.
- "Belmont Conference Center Sold | Smithsonian Institution Archives". Siarchives.si.edu. 2012-01-13. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
- "Maryland State Archives". Retrieved 20 November 2013.
- "Bibliography and the historian: the conference at Belmont of the Joint Committee on Bibliographical Services to History, May 1967". WorldCat.org. 1968. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
- "The Belmont Report". HHS.gov. 1974-07-12. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
- "Centuries-old log cabin destroyed by fire". The Durant Daily Democrat. 25 December 2001.
- Conference Schedule. John Clare.
- "John Clare Conference 2003 - Photo Gallery". Johnclare.org. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
- "Tales Of Two Cities: The Belmont Blues Again". Writing-the-wrongs.blogspot.com. 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
- [dead link]
- Edward Grunts (20 September 2012). "The past is prologue for Elkridge's Belmont Manor". Baltimore Sun.
- "Howard County - County Decides to Purchase Belmont". Countyofhowardmd.us. 2012-05-30. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
- "County Executive Ken Ulman". HoCoMoJo. 2012-06-29. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
- Radio interview on June 29, 2012. hocomojo.com.
- Belmont Manor and Historic Park. County of Howard.
- NRHP Nomination Form for Belmont (Moore's Morning Choice). Maryland Historic Trust, Inventory of Historic Properties (Site Number HO-43).
- Lawyers Hill Historic District National Register of Historic Places - MARYLAND (MD), Howard County/Historic Districts/Lawyers Hill Historic District/Howard County - #93001000
- Lawyers Hill Historic District National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)/MIHP/Lawyers Hill Historic District/Site Number HO-610
- Lawyers Hill Historic District National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)/MIHP/Lawyers Hill Historic District/Site Number HO-610 (pdf file)
- Lawyers Hill Historic District (Note: Photo of Belmont Manor House. Photo credit: Amy Worden, 09/1991)
- Lawyers Hill Historic District/Boundary Map National Register of Historic Properties/Listings in Maryland
- Bruce, David K.E.. (Nelson Douglas Lankford, editor). OSS Against The Reich: The World War II Diaries of Colonel David K.E. Bruce. Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1991.
- Hall of Records, Ann Arundel County-1972. Annapolis, Maryland.
- Hall of Records, Howard County, Maryland. Annapolis, Maryland.
- Hammond, John Martin. Colonial Mansions of Maryland and Delaware. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and London, England: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1914.
- Howard County Historic Society, Inc., "Belmont'", Vol. I., No. 2, March 1959.
- Lankford, Nelson Douglas. The Last American Aristocrat: The Biography of David K.E. Bruce, 1898-1977. Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1996.
- Maryland: Belmont: Howard County, pp. 166–183. Families: Dorsey, Hanson. Index - references to Belmont: pages 10, 166, 168, 171-177, 179-180, 182. Belmont Illustrations (photos): Exterior, page 168; Entrance, page 178
- Newman, Harry Wright. Anne Arundel Gentry: A Genealogical History of Some Early Families of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Volume 3 (Volume 3). Annapolis, Maryland, 1933 (reprinted 1979).
- Stein, Charles Francis, Jr. The Origin and History of Howard County Maryland. Published by the author in cooperation with the Howard County Historical Society. Baltimore, MD: Press of Schneidereith & Sons, 1972. pp, 41, 133, 197, 242. Note: The geneaology and history of the Dorsey family is outlined, pages 193-201. Caleb Dorsey's purchase of Moore's Morning Choice" is outlined on page 197.
- Warfield, Joshua Dorsey. The founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland. Baltimore, Maryland, 1967.
- Belmont Manor and Historic Park - official Howard County Parks and Recreation Department website
- Belmont Manor and Historic Park/Site Map - official Howard County Parks and Recreation Department website