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