Blandair’s North side to be a nature park

The north side (Part 2) UPDATED

Blandair Regional Park comprises three hundred acres straddling MD-175 in the middle of Columbia. The two hundred acres on the north side consists of open meadows, forests and wetlands, as well as a large manor house, barns, and several smaller outbuildings, including a former slave quarters. This land will become accessible to the public once an interchange is constructed connecting the two sides.

This post (with lots of images) describes the upcoming phases to be constructed in the Park, and what it will mean to open up the north side.

Blandair Regional Park

Capital Project N3102 PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE September 11, 2008

The majority of the land is preserved to protect sensitive environmental features such as small streams, ponds, wetlands, forest stands, hedgerows and meadows that will provide quiet places for nature study and contemplation, as well as including approximately five miles of trails and pathways. The pathways will connect with the existing pathway network.

from the Master Plan, Blandair Regional Park (Howard County Dept. of Recreation and Parks) CLICK ON IMAGE FOR VIEW OF ENTIRE PARK

A small nature center will concentrate on backyard and meadow wildlife, with an observation deck and nature activity room. A Children’s Garden will provide three to four acres of creative child-level and hands-on flower and garden experiences.

from the Master Plan, Blandair Regional Park (Howard County Dept. of Recreation and Parks) CLICK ON IMAGE FOR VIEW OF ENTIRE PARK

The historic Blandair Mansion will be renovated to provide rooms for meetings, social gatherings and classes, in addition to displaying historic information about the evolution of the agrarian lifestyle of Howard County. The garden/orchard area behind the mansion will be restored as a place to stroll or be seated outdoors.

from the Master Plan, Blandair Regional Park (Howard County Dept. of Recreation and Parks) CLICK ON IMAGE FOR VIEW OF ENTIRE PARK

The farm’s outbuildings, including a smokehouse, slave cabin, springhouse, tenant houses, three barns, and several small sheds — all clustered in the central farmstead area — will provide actual examples of a working farm’s structures, and an authentic background for historic re-enactments.

from the Master Plan, Blandair Regional Park (Howard County Dept. of Recreation and Parks) CLICK ON IMAGE FOR VIEW OF ENTIRE PARK

Children’s Garden

Howard County Dept. of Recreation and Parks has not yet begun planning the Children’s Garden but hopes to begin construction in FY2022.  I think of a Children’s Garden as a different kind of  playground, designed to engage a child’s imagination by exposing them to the wonders of nature.

Herb Schaal of EDAW,  who designed the world-famous Hershey Children’s Garden in Cleveland, developed a concept plan for the Children’s Nature Adventure at Blandair using a slightly different configuration than the Blandair Master Plan.  Thunder Hill Park Alliance, a nonprofit organization, organized Schaal’s four day visit here with funding by The Horizon Foundation.

Conceptual drawing, Children’s Nature Adventure, Blandair Regional Park (Thunder Hill Park Alliance) CLICK ON IMAGE FOR BETTER DETAIL

History of Blandair [Abridged]

by Preservation Howard County

Blandair is an exciting property in many ways, not the least of which relates to the many discoveries still to be made about the history of the home, its outbuildings, occupants, owners and the land itself. Because Blandair has only recently come under the stewardship of Howard County, reclaiming its history from the past is a relatively new undertaking, one that is in process and yielding exciting findings even in its earliest stages.

previous state, Blandair Manor House (from Smugmug)

 

Blandair Manor House today (by Harry Schwarz)

The earliest record of the site can be found in 1757, when Blandair was part of a larger tract of land that was transferred as the patented “Talbott’s Resolution Manor.” . . . Many of Blandair’s occupants and owners have served in elected political positions and appointments, and thus gained prominence or an historical footnote. They were present at meetings of historical significance and their names were signed on documents that set law and policy for hundreds of years to come.

Theodorick Bland (from Wikipedia)
Manor House, Blandair Regional Park (by Harry Schwarz)

Theodorick Bland, acquired it in 1836. Theodorick Bland served in a number of private and public positions throughout his career, advancing rapidly in Maryland politics. . . . At the top of his profession by 1824, Bland became the Chancellor of Maryland, the highest paying judicial post in Maryland at that time, and one he would occupy under ten Governors, resigning just shortly before his death in 1846. The current manor house, which was extensively repaired after a fire, thought to have occurred in the early 19th Century, is believed to date to the years during which Bland served as Chancellor.

badly deteriorating Seed Barn, Blandair Regional Park (by Harry Schwarz)
badly deteriorating Seed Barn, Blandair Regional Park (by Harry Schwarz)

In the second half of the 19th Century, Blandair . . .[became] a working dairy farm under the ownership of Henry & Emma Stern Brossene . . . . The final private purchasers of Blandair were Mr. and Mrs. Henry Smith, who lived on the farm with their daughter Elizabeth, known to many as Nancy. Miss Smith remained at Blandair throughout her life, not marrying.

Blandair Regional Park (by Harry Schwarz)
Blandair Regional Park (by Harry Schwarz)

When she died in testate in 1996, the property transferred to her two surviving and non-local relatives, both of whom chose to sell Blandair. The most recent and final transfer of the property was to Howard County, Maryland, which purchased the property from the heirs of Elizabeth C. Smith.

http://www.preservationhowardcounty.org/Blandair/index.htm

Many more pictures of the buildings: https://flyaway.smugmug.com/History/Blandair-Farm/Blandair-Manor-House/i-b2HMCwp

More pictures of the land: https://flyaway.smugmug.com/History/Blandair-Farm/Beauty-in-Neglect/i-XM4QLzh

Slave Quarters

by Thomas Reinhart (Maryland Historical Trust), June 2004 [Excerpt]

Documentation suggests 1845 as a date for the quarter’s construction. When Bland was negotiating the purchase of the property in 1844, he noted the necessity “of putting upon the land such new edifices as would be indispensably necessary, of which there are none, that is a Negro quarter, stables, etc.” He had a team of carpenters working on the dependencies after closing the sale.

Blandair Slave Quarters (Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress)

The quarter is an excellent example of mid-19th century slave housing and reflects the “reforms” in design and construction implemented by plantation owners who wished to protect their investment in their slave labor force. During this period, planters began to allocate more money, time, and materials to building slave quarters in order to improve the living conditions.

interior, Blandair Slave Quarters (Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress)

The double-pen quarter measures approximately 12-feet by-32-feet, with a gable roof and a large central brick chimney. . . .  The first floor is divided into two rooms by the central chimney stack with passage on either side. Each room has an exterior door, two windows, and a fireplace. A stairway from each room leads up to a separate room on the second floor, but only the south stairway survives.

Blandair Slave Quarters drawing (Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress) CLICK ON IMAGE FOR ENLARGED VIEW

From Heritage Matters, National Park Service:  https://web.archive.org/web/20070715132626/http://www.nps.gov/history/crdi/publications/HM9.pdf

Phasing Plan, Blandair Regional Park

An interchange is planned for construction FY 2020 – 2021 that will connect the two sides and open the north side to the public. According to the plan, Oakland Mills Road will then be closed on the west side of the park.

Overall Site Plan, Phase J, Blandair Regional Park (Howard County Dept. of Public Works) CLICK ON IMAGE FOR ENLARGED VIEW

 

Rendering of Blandair overpass at MD-175 (Howard County Dept. of Public Works)

The Blandair Park Phasing Plan shows Phase 1 and 2 complete, with Phase 3 now under construction. Efforts to rehab the Manor House and stabilize the other historic structures (Phase H) are already underway. Subject to funding, the Howard County Dept. of Recreation and Parks hopes to begin construction in FY 2022 of Phase 4 on the north side, consisting of basic infrastructure, landscaping the festival lawn, and developing a Children’s Garden. Phase 6 on the south side, consisting of indoor courts and a skate park, may also be constructed at this time.

Phasing Plan, Blandair Regional Park (Howard County Dept. of Recreation and Parks). CLICK ON IMAGE FOR ENLARGED VIEW

 

To see the south side (Part 1):  https://hocomd.cc/2018/10/01/playgrounds-for-all-ages-at-blandair-regional-park-columbia/

 

Advertisements

Published by

Harry Schwarz

Nicknamed “The Professor” by his colleagues, Harry is a native Marylander who moved to Columbia in 2001. Harry’s wife, Cathy, is a Columbia acupuncturist and the family includes two college-age children, a dog and a cat. Harry is a partner with BearsolutionsLLC, assisting charter school authorizers to provide effective financial oversight. He is underemployed at this time and welcomes conversation about how he might help you.

One thought on “Blandair’s North side to be a nature park”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s