Hampton Mansion: Relic of Colonial America

By Alex Ziolkowski

Two weekends ago, on Saturday, October 17 and Sunday, 18, 2015 tourists roamed the grandeur and opulence of Hampton National Historic Site. On cloudless, breezy, mild, fall days they were absorbed by the serenity and beauty that encompasses Hampton National Historic Site.

Hampton is a remnant of American history intertwined with an outstanding legacy of one of America’s earliest prominent families. For 200 years, Hampton Mansion, was the Ridgely’s country-side escape, but the vacation spot was a front for their various entrepreneurial enterprises.

“Hampton reflects the United States we live in today”, said Ranger Vince Vaise. “Visiting Hampton allows us to understand the present.”

Ranger Vince Vaise began his stint with the National Park Service as a volunteer at Fort McHenry. Vaise found it fulfilling and trained to become a seasonal ranger. He eventually transitioned to being a full-time Park Ranger.

“Hampton had many landlords,” said Ranger Vaise

In 1695, Lord Baltimore gave his cousin Darnell, North Hampton. In 1745, Colonel Charles Ridgely bought 1,500 acres of North Hampton from Darnell’s daughter, Ann Hill; he later purchased another 11,000 acres.

In 1760, Charles Ridgely Jr. inherited North Hampton. Charles Jr. his brother John Ridgely and their father Col. Charles Ridgely established an iron mill at Gunpowder River. The iron mill introduced servitude to the Ridgely estate.

Hampton Mansion was built in seven years, and christened Hampton Hall.  Under Captain Charles Ridgely’s supervision construction began in 1783 and completed in 1790. Because of Hampton Hall, Capt. Charles, was nicknamed the “Builder”. The Builder died a patriot sympathizer; supplying colonial armies with: weapons,grains, tools and other implements.DSC01387

In 1948, Hampton Mansion was declared a national historic site through David Finley Mellon. Mellon visited Hampton Mansion in 1944 to buy art; instead he returned after creating the Mellon Foundation; which is dedicated to preserving Hampton Mansion.

The last Ridgely continued to live on the estate, but in a lower house near the mansion until 1978. In 1979, the National Park Service obtained the reins to resurrect the mansion and the immediate 60 acres surrounding it.

Hampton houses the rise and fall of a culture that still influences us today. The Ridgelys attempted to remain relevant until history caught up with them, and their lifestyle became obsolete.  Hampton’s architecture would stand the test of time.

Hampton followed the principles of Georgian Architecture. The mansion’s aesthetic provides  balance through symmetry.  Hampton’s design  personified its place in American history; mirroring the past and present.

The gardens and greenhouses are still being excavated. The Great Terrace, the backyard just behind the mansion. Just below a hill the Parterres or gardens are lye behind the Great Terrace. The Ridgelys grew exotic plants in their greenhouses and transferred them to the Parterres.


The Orangery, Greenhouses, Ice House and original Entrance Gates are west of Hampton Mansion. A mound of grass and dirt, a bared-gate and a stair case illustrate the Ice House. The Entrance Gates reminded me of Disney’s movie the Haunted Mansion; an eerie first impression.

For 100 years the Ridgelys indentured servants and slaves resided in the Workers’ Quarters. “Domestic” indentured servants and slaves, people working in the mansion not the fields, lived in bungalows behind the mansion.

East of Hampton are the: Storage shed, Privies, Garage, Smokehouse and Pump-house. The Orchards and Family Cemetery are southeast and down a dirt road behind the mansion. They stored their carriages and cars in the Garage.

The Ridgelys: Stables, Mule Barn, Dairy Shed and Dove Coats are north of Hampton. The mules assisted servants and slaves till crops. Dove coats housed birds until eaten. The Dairy Shed became a valuable source of income after the 1800’s. The Stables were revered for their thoroughbred race horses.

Capt. Charles lived in the Lower House or Farm House before the mansion was completed, and his descendant, John Ridgely Jr., returned to the Farm House after Hampton was handed to the National Park Service; intersecting the past and present.

The rest of the Ridgelys were fortunate enough to call Hampton home. The childless Builder and his wife, Nancy, adopted their four nephews.  Their nephews could inherit the estate if they took Ridgely as their legal surname.

Family tradition decreed that the eldest brother inherits the most property. Charles Ridgely Carnan, 1760-1829, received 25,000 acres; his three brothers split the remains.  Carnan served three terms as governor of Maryland and freed most of his 350 plus slaves.

John Carnan Ridgely married Eliza Eichelberger Ridgely. No incest was involved. John assumed 4,500 acres and no slaves. Eichelberger had an affinity for botany tending to the gardens and greenhouses. She traveled around the world for two years, and returned to renovate the Drawing Room.


“Aunt” Margret started a girl’s school in Liberia, perhaps to atone the Ridgelys of their century of enslaved labor. Nancy Brown Davis was the only slave buried in the family cemetery. She stayed with the family despite the Emancipation Proclamation. Contrary to the Ridgely’s affection, another slave named Charles Brown escaped on Christmas but was later captured and sold South.

“Documentation specific to certain rooms, tells Hampton’s story”, said Ranger Vaise.  “Rooms became associated with people and vice versa.”

Certain Ridgelys became associated with specific rooms. Historians, archeologists and Hampton’s various caretakers revealed its secrets

“It started several years ago with the Society of American Antiquities, said Ranger Vaise. “Now the Preservation of Maryland.”

The Mansion Office resembled the Ridgelys lifestyle during the 1930’s. The Ridgelys conducted all of their fiscal enterprises in the modestly decorated room. It was also their laundry room for some time.A Ridgely could be comforted by the symphonies across the hall.


The Ridely children learned to play instruments, relaxed and studied in the Music Room, fondly dubbed the “Library”. Eichelberger’s harp once abelonged to the French royal family is the centerpiece of the room. It was her 15th birthday gift. A portrait of Eichelberger leaning on the Harp is mounted in the Great Hall.

The Great Hall was the “Soul of the Mansion” hence being originally called Hampton Hall. Weddings or funerals for Ridgelys, slaves and servants, parties and lavished dinners occurred in the Great Hall. The room is decorated with various oriental ceramics, large mirrors and family portraits. The entire room is white with massive crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The room remained generally the same for 200 years.

Their Parlor flaunted 1800’s interior design. It included portraits of the Builder and Nancy. The walls are covered with yellow wallpaper incorporating green floral designs that is complimented by matching patterned carpet and drapes. They lounged on blue and white striped sofas and chairs in between maple furniture.


The wallpaper came in squares and had to be pasted on a wall in specific way. The task was tedious and delicate but you can’t notice the seams unless you are standing six inches from a portion of the wall.

The Ridgely Dining Room is parallel to the Parlor. The Parlor and Dining Room swapped functions multiple times. The walls are turquoise with a yellow trim accompanied by matching drapes and patterned carpet. The lower half of the walls depict a “Parisian City”.

After further research they confirmed the city should be Italian. It was very popular among Baltimore’s elite to have rooms with wallpaper inspired by European landmarks. The Ridgely’s had different sets of dishes, silverware and table cloth for each meal. All utensils, glassware and plates were graved with their coat of arms.

“The Ridgelys borrowed their coat of arms from another Ridgely family, still living in England”, said Ranger Vaise. “The Maryland State Legislature allowed the Ridgelys to adopt it.”

The Kitchen like the Mansion Office is a bare room with cooking essentials. Bells hanging outside of the kitchen were designated to specific rooms in the mansion. Chefs and servers became so attune that they could tell which bell rang by its distinct jingle.

The Drawing Room was decorated with floral wallpaper, white gold trimmed walls and patterned carpet. Eliza Ridgely was inspired by her two year vacation traveling the world.  She returned with many souvenirs. There are two different styles of furniture in the room: Empire and Rocco; which were renovated to mimic popular painted Baltimore furniture.


The Nursery sports a baby blue theme and a floral trim. The children’s rooms were actually on the third floor but there is no public access. The furniture and carpet was of the 1860’s. The room was heated with a cast iron stove from the cellar.

The Guest Room is plain white with patterned carpet and has large, red, velvet, leisurely, furniture. A portrait of Aunt Margret hangs above the fireplace. Margret was suspicious of electricity, she feared it would burn the mansion down. The Ridgelys didn’t have electricity until the 1920’s.

The Master Bedroom depicts 1790’s-1800’s interior design. The family bed had to be brought in pieces then assembled in the bedroom. There are few bathrooms throughout the mansion. For the longest time each bedroom was fitted with chamber pots; indoor plumbing wasn’t introduced until the 1850’s.

“A window into America’s past”, said Ranger Vaise. “It allows us to explore the history of the entire country.”

Hampton National Historic Site is a time capsule, a fragment of America’s genealogy focused through the legacy of the Ridgelys. The mansion is a double helix and its inhabitants are the chromosomes. Like chromosomes the Ridgely’s belongings are records of history. For the past 70 years dedicated individuals and organizations have devoted themselves to decoding Hampton’s secrets.


Poised Grit

The United States Marine Corps slogan should not be taken for granted or mistaken as a joke. They issue an open challenge to everyone; the Few, the Proud, the Marines. If you are confident in your abilities to accept their challenge then they introduce you to a sour taste of reality; freedom isn’t free. You embark on a grueling ten week journey, and it is not just for anyone.

Prove to be exceptional and you have the opportunity to complete Officer Cadence School (OCS). Constantly accompanied by your “bud”; he or she is literally always beside you. If you have to use the restroom he or she goes with you. Some have snapped under the immense pressure and succeeded in committing suicide. Your buddy, might literally be the difference between life and death.

Those who have trekked the path to regain their freedom; molded by the heat, fire and ash of experience have endured one of the biggest euphonies, life, will ever throw at them. Some are frightened by what they witnessed and endured, others move through life content with their choices. Few return to the forge with the privilege to educate and train the next generation of liberty defenders.

Calm, cool, collected, persistent, resilient and loyal; Kevin Heine is a 20 year-old sophomore and social sciences major from Fredrick Maryland attending Towson University with aspirations to graduate as a commissioned 2nd lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. He has wanted to be a Marine since his freshman year of high school. Kevin was intrigued by the Marine’s promise of physical, mental, emotional growth and challenge.

Kevin is the descendant of a military service legacy. His grandfather served in the Navy, his grandfather’s brothers served in the Army, and his great uncles stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day during World War II. Although he surpasses his heritage; Kevin will proudly be his family’s first commissioned officer and Marine. Kevin hopes to make an everlasting impression via the tools and skills provided by the Marine Corps.

All he wanted was to enlist right after graduation hoping to join the revered 1/8th Marine Scout Snipers.

K.H: “But my parents wouldn’t let me” said Kevin

Kevin spent his freshman year of college as a member of the Marine Corps ROTC program at NY-Maritime in New York City’s South Bronx, N.Y. He eventually made the decision to transfer to a school closer to home.

Dithering between the University of Maryland and Towson University, either school would have been a great fit. Towson was the more affordable option, closer to home, provided better opportunities for his major; social sciences, and he loves the Baltimore/Towson area. Ironically the social sciences are necessary if he is to pursue a career in the FBI or CIA.

Satisfied with his choice, Kevin has found another band of brothers among his teammates on the TU Club Rugby team. He was approached by a rugby player in Towson’s gym, Burdick Hall, and asked if he had ever played rugby? Naturally curious, Kevin watched them practice later that day, and instantly found comradery with the coaches and players. He knew he found where he belonged.

Kevin is on the far left from your perspective.

Scrum Squad: Kevin is on the far left from your perspective.

According to Kevin his comrades in the Marines and teammates on the Rugby team share unique dispositions.

 K.H: “ I think the toughness, certainly, and kind of reckless mindset; they are definitely a risk-taking crowd.

That same discreteness and toughness is what carries Kevin through Officer Cadence School (OCS). He has prospered thus far, but he is a changed man. Kevin has been humbled by the accounts his combat tested drill sergeants shared with him.

Kevin and Friend

Kevin and friend celebrating their success at Officer Cadence School (OCS) in Quantico, VA. Kevin is on your right

After college Kevin will venture towards military occupation code (MOS), 0203, formally known as intelligence reconnaissance but fondly dubbed (intel recon). Before he introduces himself to the FBI or CIA he desires to collect a befitting set of skills to defend his country. Kevin boldly weathers any storm and stays true to his words. He is among the Few, the Proud, the Marines.

Link to video: 

Patrick Young: Serving His Nation and His Community

Patrick Young is sitting and talking to his associate Brandon Haight.

Patrick Young is sitting and talking to his associate Brandon Haight.

Patrick Young’s journey is filled with trials and tribulations. Patrick’s commitment to serving his nation and community has never extinguished . Patrick has shown: valor, courage, dedication and loyalty in the face of adversity and sacrifice. As a Marine, as a former Towson University student and as the Towson University Veterans Coordinator. Now Patrick represents District 44B of Annapolis as Maryland’s new state delegate.


Towson University Speech: I Love Female Orgasms

A portion of all proceeds made at I Love Female Orgasms goes to breast cancer research.

My girlfriend Rebecca Kaplan with her new book. A portion of all proceeds made at I Love Female Orgasms went to Breast Cancer research. (Photo provided by Alex Ziolkowski, Towson University student)

“Pay attention to the clit (clitoris)!”, this is one of many responses that Towson University students and faculty are capable of delivering at the hysterical yet informative, I Love Female Orgasms speech.

The speech began with an introduction from their book, ironically dubbed I love Female Orgasms. With thunderous applause and gleeful cheers Towson University welcomed back Marshall Miller and Dorian Solot. Sex educators from Albany, New York.

Mr. Miller and Ms. Solot provided the backdrop to a unique, hilarious, playful, informative and mature discussion that spanned the spectrum of sexuality. From LGBT rights and sexual abuse to the female orgasm and sexual exploration. The audience offered new takes on topics that Mr. Miller and Ms. Solot hadn’t even considered.

 Mr. Miller’s and Ms. Solot’s intentions are to educate and entertain the public on the spectrum of sexuality. They mentioned sexual abuse and assault. It was skimmed over as Ms. Solot inspired the women of the audience to take pride in their sexuality.

Ms. Solot delivered a beautiful approach to women’s sexuality. Her response empathizes the message she was attempting to get across; feel empowered by exploring and accepting your sexuality. Not just sexual desires, sexual orientation, but be proud of your gender.

AZ: “What is your best piece of advice?”

DS: “For women, don’t be afraid to explore and experiment with your own body, and as for partners; communication is everything.”

I didn’t attend I Love Female Orgasms alone. I was accompanied by my girlfriend Rebecca Kaplan. Rebecca has attended I Love Female Orgasms before and didn’t spoil it for me. She also reassured me that I wasn’t going to be the only guy in the room.

AZ: “What caught your attention or was your favorite moment?”

RK: “The whole thing was interesting, it was all just funny, they kept your attention.”

AZ: “Do you appreciate Mr. Miller’s and Ms. Solot’s approach to the facets of sexuality?”

RK: “They are knowledgeable, tolerant, understanding and accepting of everything.”

Rebecca was right I wasn’t the only guy in the auditorium. My friend Jared Swain evidently sat behind us. Jared has also attended I Love Female Orgasms before. He, “loves Mr. Miller’s and Ms. Solot’s down to earth, indiscriminant, yet, hilarious take on sexuality.”

AZ: “What did you like most about Mr.Miller’s and Ms. Solot’s approach to sex ed?”

JS: “They actually dived in to sexual abuse, the college campus trauma.”

AZ: “What caught your attention or was your favorite moment?”

JS: “I’ve never seen so much audience participation, it made everything feel less awkward.”

Mr. Miller and Ms. Solot were humbled by Towson’s participation. They enjoyed our refreshing and shameless sense of humor.

“Lick it before you stick it”, said a male Towson student; when asked what he was advised to do during sex.

“F##k her in the p***y!”, said a female Towson student; while discussing female orgasms.

I Love Female Orgasms lived up to it’s reputation as a hysterical, entertaining and enlightening discussion surrounding sexuality.

AUDIO: As One Chapter Ends, Another Begins

Francesca Ruth, sophomore  at Towson University (Photo by: Alex Ziolkowski, Towson University)

Francesca Ruth, sophomore at Towson University (Photo by: Alex Ziolkowski, Towson University)

Francesca Ruth is a relaxed and determined girl with a love for sports. Francesca is currently a sophomore and Mass Communications major seeking to transfer to another college that is closer to home and better fits her needs.  I wish her the best of luck with her future endeavors and it was a privilege to meet her.

A Black and Gold Autumn Photo Shoot


I caught my girlfriend, Rebecca, biting into her apple in front of Stephens Hall at Towson University.

Thy Lonely Tree

This majestic and wise tree stands alone towering over Richmond Hall at Towson University. Rebecca is basking under its warm and welcoming shade.


I snapped a photo of the elusive Charcoal Tiger roaming the lawn in front of Stephens Hall.

Q and A: Brian Stelter CNN Media Correspondant

Forward: Brian Stelter is the senior media correspondent at CNN. Mr. Stelter is also the host of CNN’s Reliable. Mr. Stelter is a former New York-Times reporter, and author of the New York-Times best seller; Top of the Morning.

Q and A:

Q: “What was your initial reaction to journalism’s merger with social media?”

A: “It’s mostly positive, slightly negative. Social media gives us new ways to interact with our audience.

Q: “How has your career benefited from social media?’

A: “Absolutely, social networking sites help me find sources, spot breaking news stories, trends, and talking with my audience.”

Q: “Who or what inspired you to become a journalist and what continues to inspire you?”

A: “I don’t know, I’ve wanted to be a journalist ever since I was a kid”

Q: What is your preferred method of social media, in regards to journalism and why?”

A: “Twitter is the most useful for my best, because lots of other reporters are on it.”

Q: “What has influenced your reporting the most?”

A: “I dunno, but I cover the media and there’s no shortage of stories to write about how the media is changing. That motivates me.”

Over the weekend I contacted Mr. Stelter about an assignment my classmates and I received in our journalism class; at Towson University, MD. The assignment involved engaging in a Q and A session with a professional journalist we could find on Twitter. We could contact them via phone, email or Twitter. Mr. Stelter was kind enough to answer my questions over a Twitter discussion. I deeply appreciate the valuable insight provided by Mr. Stelter.