The Mount Airy Plantation house is perhaps one of the finest and most historic homes in all of Maryland. It has been visited by presidents and since being turned into an elegant restaurant, it has been dined at by both tourists and the regional elite.
And according to the home's long-standing tradition.... it has also played host to a number of ghosts!
Mount Airy was the home to Maryland's Calvert family until 1903. It is located in Upper Marlboro, in southern Prince Georges County and was built in 1725. The plantation and it attached 9000 acres of land were a gift to Benedict Calvert from his father, Charles, the fifth Lord Baltimore, in 1751. About 20 years later, the plantation received it first presidential visitor when George Washington arrived for a marriage celebration between his step-son John Parke Custis and Eleanor Calvert. Washington was a close friend of the family and visited the house often.
The house was finally converted to a restaurant in 1903 and after that it was visited by other presidents, including Hoover, Taft. Coolidge and Wilson. In 1931, the house was sold to Eleanor Patterson, then editor and publisher of the Washington Times-Herald. She was responsible for making the last restorations of the house, prior to the current owners. During this time, the house was again visited by a president as Mrs. Patterson was a supporter of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and he and his wife visited there often.
In 1973, Mount Airy plantation was acquired by the state of Maryland and the land holdings were converted into the Rosaryville State Park. The mansion stood vacant for nearly ten years before it was purchased by the Kulla family and once again was opened as a restaurant. The house was restored and renovated.... giving new life to both the mansion and its ghostly inhabitants.
Rumors of the house being haunted circulated for years before the Kulla restoration. In the 1930's, it was even visited by the London Society for Psychical Research, who detected the presence of Elizabeth Bresco Calvert. She is said to walk the halls of the mansion at night, searching for some of the family's missing jewels. Additionally, there is also said to be the ghost of a girl in white, an old woman who roams from room to room at night waking the sleeping occupants and a horseman who has been seen on the grounds in old-fashioned riding attire.
The stories of the house tell of a haunted room, where candles will not stay lit and of a former occupant named Miss Eleanor Calvert who lived in the house until 1902. It seems that Miss Eleanor lived at Mount Airy until age 81 and was regarded as a bit of an eccentric. According to the legend, she did not like the front parlor to be used and always kept it locked. She passed away after a fall down the stairs and for her funeral, she was laid out in the front parlor on the night before the service. The next day, the key to the room, whose door had been locked could not be found. The parlor had to be broken into and the key was discovered inside.... on a table next to Miss Eleanor's coffin!
The current owners regard the colorful stories of the house with a good sense of humor, but admit there are things that happen there which cannot easily be explained. Besides odd things that sometimes happen in the restaurant itself, the workers involved in the restoration had some strange stories to tell..... stories of apparitions and of doors opening by themselves. At one point, the contractors simply refused to work on the house after dark.
Mount Airy Plantation is located in Upper Marlboro in Prince Georges County at the junction of Highway 301 and Highway 4. The plantation restaurant can be found within the borders of the Rosaryville State Park.
Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor
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