Oakland Manor

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Oakland Manor
Oakland Manor.jpg
Oakland Manor
General information
Location 5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, Maryland;
Coordinates 39°13′20″N 76°51′21″W / 39.222274°N 76.855709°W / 39.222274; -76.855709Coordinates: 39°13′20″N 76°51′21″W / 39.222274°N 76.855709°W / 39.222274; -76.855709
Completed 1811
Roof Standing seam metal
Design and construction
Architect Abraham Lerew

Oakland Manor is a Federal style stone manor house commissioned in 1810 by Charles Sterrett Ridgely in the Howard district of Anne Arundel County Maryland (now Howard County). The lands that became Oakland Manor were patented by John Dorsey as "Dorsey's Adventure" in 1688 which was willed to his grandson Edward Dorsey. In 1785, Luther Martin purchased properties named "Dorsey's Adventure", "Dorsey's Inheritance", "Good for Little", "Chew's Vineyard", and "Adam the First" to make the 2300 acre "Luther Martin's Elkridge Farm".


In 1785, John Sterrett purchased 1,626 wooded acres with several buildings named "Felicity" from Mathias Hammond, a participant in the 1774 sinking of the Peggy Stewart. Sterrett died two years later, with his wife Deborah Ridgely Sterrett selling 567 acres of the property to their son Charles Sterrett Ridgely, and 533 acres to his brother James Sterrett. Charles Sterrett Ridgely was born Charles Ridgely Sterrett, but changed his name to inherit from his maternal great uncle. He was a graduate of St. Johns College in 1802, a future Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, and commissioned the manor house in June 1810. The house was completed in 1811 including a 100 ft-long stone carriage house.

To the east of the Manor, a grist mill was built which stayed in production until being demolished by fire in 1890. The site known as "Oakland Mills" served as a postal stop, and the name was later used for one of the Rouse development company villages.

Charles Sterrett Ridgely forfeited the house in 1826, selling it to Robert Oliver for $47,000 after failing to make payments toward the property. His son Thomas Oliver purchased the manor, expanding it to 775 acres by adding "Talbot's Resolution Manor","Howard's Fair and Amicable Settlement", "Josephs Gift", "Dorseys Search Resurveyed" and "Dorseys Search". Stone outbuildings with a capability for 1200 bushels of ice were constructed. He sold it for $58,459.95 in 1838 to George Riggs Gaither, who operated the manor as a productive slave plantation producing wheat, corn, oats and hay.[1] The nearby "Oakland Mill" operated as "Gaither's Mill".[2] A small granite quarry was also operated by the plantation. George Riggs Gaither built the stone Bleak House on the property for his son, George Riggs Gaither Jr, who would become Attorney General of Maryland. As the civil war approached, Gaither formed "Gaithers Raiders" part of the "Howard County Dragoons", sixty men which practiced at Oakland Manor prior to becoming a confederate army unit furnished by Governor Thomas Holliday Hicks.[3] The troops marched on 19 April 1861 through Ellicott City to Baltimore, responding to the Baltimore riot of 1861, before heading South to join J. E. B. Stuart.[4]

In October 1862, six Union troops from New Jersey raided the Oakland Manor as a Southern sympathizing plantation with the owners joining the Confederate Army. The farm was sold again after the Civil War to the Phillip and Katherine Tabb who switched from slave farming to raising thoroughbreds with a half mile oval track situated along Columbia pike.[5] In 1874, Katherine Tabb's father Francis Morris of New York purchased Oakland, testing corn silage and trenching techniques that gave Oakland an agricultural engineering status from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.[6] Five trench 117 ft long silos were put to use onsite. In 1877, Morris began a significant grounds improvement program removing Hawthorn hedges and replacing them with wood fencing throughout the property manufactured at the Oakland Mills sawmill.[7]

The property had been subdivided to 406 acres in 1909 by owner Thomas Findlay, who removed the racetrack. Oakland was reduced to 350 acres by 1921 with one 8-room tenant house. From 1950 to 1966 the property was operated by Miriam J. Keller as the Oakland Manor Health Farm.[8] After divorce proceedings, the property became the most important land purchase for Rouse Company development project of Columbia. Attorney Bernard F. Goldberg negotiated the deal early in his career before his prison term for misappropriation of land development funds.[9] In 1966, the Rouse Company purchased Oakland and used it as temporary headquarters, then leased it to Antioch College and Dag Hammarskjöld college.[10] By 1976, The property surrounding Oakland Manor was reduced to 8.26 acres. The building was leased to the Red Cross from 1977 to 1988. In 1988, Rouse divested itself of the property maintenance by selling Oakland to the Columbia Association for $185,000. The same year, the association leased 1060sf of the former slave plantation to the African Art Museum of Maryland.[11][12][13]


Howard County Center of African American Culture
Vantage House - built over demolished remains of the 18th-century Stone House "Eye of the Camel"
  • Stone House "Eye of the Camel" - A 1 12-story eighteenth-century granite stone house located just north of the manor house. Used as a manor overseer residence. After purchase by the Rouse company, the building was converted to an art studio called "Eye of the camel" and kept in good repair through the 1980s. The building was later destroyed to build the Vantage House retirement community highrise in 1990.[14][15][16][17]
Oliver's Carriage House, converted to Kittamaqundi Community Church
  • Oliver's Carriage House, Wilde Lake Barn, Oakland Manor Barn. - An 18th century stone carriage house servicing the Oakland manor. Occupied by the Kittamaqundi Community for a church in May 26, 1972. Building substantially renovated in 1977.[18][19]
  • The Ralston Cottage – Built around 1840, two stone L shaped buildings formed the blacksmith shop, situated to the northeast of the manor house, on the shore of the man-made Wilde Lake at 10102 Hyla Brook Road. The building utilized as the first new post office to serve the Rouse development.[20][21] In 1981, building was purchased from Patricia Kittleman by her son Bruno Reich. Reich performed a $600,000 expansion, and clad the home with stone from the 1846 Moundland house in Guilford, Maryland that was demolished in 1990 to make way for the South Columbia Baptist Church.[22]
  • The Oakland Manor slave quarters are at the same address. The stone building predates Oakland Manor and was used in later years as a tenant house. An underground tunnel connects the building to the Old Oakland Manor House.[23][24]
  • Old Oakland Manor – A stone building predating Oakland Manor built in 1750 residing on modern 10026 Hyla Brook Road. Assumed to be the garrison for George Gaither's troops.
  • Sheep House – Stone building used for sheep, currently used as a Wilde Lake Boat House.
  • Bryant Woods Building – Stone building demolished to build Bryant Woods Subdivision.
  • Oakland Mills / Gaithers Mill; A onsite stone mill downstream of Oakland Manor along the Columbia Turnpike with an 1880 production of 450 barrels of wheat flour, 32,400 lb of corn meal, and 43,300 lb of feed. Paved over by Route 29 expansions[25]

Ownership Timeline[edit]

  • 1785 John Sterrett Ridgley[26]
  • 1787 Charles Sterrett Ridgley[27]
  • 1826 Robert Oliver (1757-1834); Robert was a director of the B&O Railroad and Maryland Insurance Company with holdings that included the Oakland Mill– Added pre-civil war vintage leaded glass windows to the manor.[28]
  • 1834 Thomas Oliver, sold the 587 acres estate for $84 an acre in October 1838.[29]
  • 1838 George Riggs Gaither
  • 1864 Philip and Katherine Tabb
  • 1874 Frances Morris - Introduced silage trenches
  • 1906 John V Finday – Electrified the house[30][31]
  • 1923–1934 Vacant after mortgage default.
  • 1934 Alpheus Ryan
  • 1950 Price Family – Operated as Nursing Home
  • 1966 Purchased by the Rouse Company – Used as Howard County Red Cross Headquarters
  • 1976 Columbia Service Property Inc. (Rouse Company)
  • 1977 Red Cross Lease
  • 1988 Columbia Association

See also[edit]


  1. ^ American. September 21, 1838. p. 3.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ 1860 Schedule of Industries and Manufacturers. 
  3. ^ "HO-32 Oakland Manor" (PDF). Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  4. ^ Rev Horace Edwin Hayden (May 1878). Southern Historical Society. Southern Historical Society Papers: 251.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Barbara Warfield Feaga. Howards Roads to the Past. 
  6. ^ "The Dairy Preservation of Green Corn Fodder". The American Farmer: 96. March 1878. 
  7. ^ "Oakland Items". The Ellicott City Times. 17 March 1877. 
  8. ^ "Loveley Historic Howard Homes". The Times (Ellicott City). 31 March 1965. 
  9. ^ Michael J Clark (15 April 1986). "Goldberg, attorney in Howard, receives prison term for theft". The Baltimore Sun. 
  10. ^ "Hammarskjold Gets Site". The Washington Post. 14 June 1973. p. F3. 
  11. ^ "Oakland Manor to house state African art museum". The Baltimore Sun. 11 September 1988. 
  12. ^ Lisa Kawata (3 August 2011). "Oakland's 200th: Family feuds, militias, racehorses fill plantation's past". The Howard County Times. 
  13. ^ "HO-32 Oakland Manor" (PDF). Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  14. ^ "HO-551 Eye of the Camel" (PDF). Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  15. ^ Barbara Kellner. Columbia. p. 96. 
  16. ^ Seeking Freedom The History of the Underground Railroad in Howard County. p. 54. 
  17. ^ Jeanne Garland (27 April 1980). "Red Cross raises funds to renovate its Oakland Manor headquarters". The Baltimore Sun. 
  18. ^ "HO-551 Eye of the Camel" (PDF). Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  19. ^ "HO 576" (PDF). Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "HO-185 Oakland Manor Blacksmith Shop" (PDF). Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  21. ^ "HO-184 Old Oakland Manor House" (PDF). Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  22. ^ Heather Tepe (15 September 1999). "After a 19-year renovation project, the result is a happy ending". The Baltimore Sun. 
  23. ^ Seeking Freedom The History of the Underground Railroad in Howard County. p. 59. 
  24. ^ Lisa Left (5 March 1987). "Columbia Board Votes To Double Capital Budget". The Washington Post. 
  25. ^ "Simpsonville Mill Survey" (PDF). Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  26. ^ Missy Burke; Robin Emrich; Barbara Kellner. Oh, You must live in Columbia. p. 128. 
  27. ^ "The Ridgleys, of Maryland". The Washington Post. 3 November 1893. p. 4. 
  28. ^ Missy Burke; Robin Emrich; Barbara Kellner. Oh, You must live in Columbia. p. 89. 
  29. ^ "Valuable Estate". The Baltimore Sun. 24 October 1838. p. 2. 
  30. ^ The Ellicott City Times. 28 June 1928.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. ^ "RICH FARMERS AT FEAST. Crothers and Warfield, at Ellicott City Gathering, Urge Good Roads.". The Washington Post. 8 December 1910. 

External links[edit]