Belmont Estates

The Belmont Estate, now the Belmont Manor Historic Park, is a historic estate located at Elkridge, belmont estate and parkHoward County, 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 Historic Park. 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. Built in the 1730s, it is one of the oldest colonial plantations in the region. The plantation house, built in 1738, is one of the finest examples of Colonial Georgian architectural style in Maryland. The Belmont Estate now comprises approximately 68 acres, and adjoins Patapsco Valley State Park. Facilities on the Belmont Estate include, the Belmont Manor House, a carriage house, a cottage, a large barn, formal gardens, a pond, and an aqua garden.

Dr. Mordecai Moore, Society of Friends in Maryland founder, received a tract of 1,368 acres of land above Elkridge Landing called “Moore’s Morning Choice”, which was granted by King William III’s 1695 land patent. Moore’s Morning Choice 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”, in 1738. A pig iron forge was operated onsite along with nearby forges at Avalon and Hockley in a Hole. Caleb Dorsey and his wife Pricilla Hill (died 1781) was buried 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, a United States senator from Maryland.

Following the American Civil War, Belmont became the social center of a new wealthy elite, notably the many lawyers who built homes at “Lawyer’s Hill” near the Belmont property. From 1873 to his death in 1880, Charles Grosvenor Hanson allowed the house to fall into neglect following the death of his wife.

Howard Bruce, who bought the house in 1918, was the last owner to use it as a private residence. 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.

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.

The American Chemical Society sold the Belmont Estate to Howard Community College (HCC) for $5.2 million in 2004. The College used Belmont’s facilities, to provide educational programs for students enrolled in the College’s culinary 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. In June 2011, Howard County signed an agreement with Howard Community College to purchase the Belmont Estate.

Howard County subsequently established the Belmont Manor and Historic Park in 2012. The Park is operated by the County’s Department of Recreation and Parks, to be used as a conference center and a site for weddings, private parties, and environmental education programs. The Manor opened for public operations in April 2015.

belmont entranceThe original historic site nomination for Belmont was researched and prepared in the mid-1970s for the Maryland Historical Trust. The Belmont Manor House and Estate are include on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, as part of the Lawyers Hill Historic District, Elkridge, Maryland.

For more information about the Belmont Estate follow this link Belmont Estate on Wikipedia.