Help Save Whites Hall: Johns Hopkins' Birthplace
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Built in circa 1785, Whites Hall is the birthplace and boyhood home of Johns Hopkins, who went on to found the world-renowned university and hospital that bear his name. Johns was born at Whites Hall in 1795 and it was his home until he left for Baltimore at the age of 17 to work in his uncle's grocery business.
Whites Hall operated as a 500-acre tobacco plantation, employing slave labor. However, abiding by the local Society of Friends' (Quakers) decree Johns' father, Samuel Hopkins, emancipated their slaves in 1807. As a result young 12-year-old Johns was forced to interrupt his studies to work in the fields at the Whites Hall plantation. This experience is thought to have imbued in him a sense of both hard work and social justice.
Whites Hall remained in the Hopkins family until 1910 when it was purchased by the Stewart Fruit Company, and continued operating as a farm until the early 1940s. From the 1940s until just 12 years ago Whites Hall was a private home.
The 13-acre Whites Hall property is now owned by a Maryland developer. There was consideration given to demolishing the house, however, realizing the historical significance of Whites Hall, our non-profit has been given a chance to purchase and restore this truly remarkable home.
The Current Plan!
The Johns Hopkins House, Inc. non-profit, with the help of all of you, intends to purchase and fully restore Whites Hall. We have been granted approval by Anne Arundel County to develop a museum at Whites Hall. This will tell the story of not only this historic property, but also of the life and impact of Johns Hopkins. (it was his very specific vision, spelled out in his bequests, that, not by accident or chance, resulted in two of the worlds' great institutions)
To help support this mission, we have also been given approval by the county to operate an "accessory" restaurant and inn - The Johns Hopkins Inn. The Inn, part-in-parcel of The Johns Hopkins House, Inc. is intended, in the long term, to create self-sufficiency. It also is meant to provide further means of opening Whites Hall up to the public.
Our "Preservation Consultant"
We are fortunate enough to have Dennis Pogue as the Preservation Consultant on the Whites Hall project!! He is the long-time curator and VP for Preservation at the Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens.
Dr. Pogue specializes in the study and interpretation of the American colonial and early federal eras, with a particular focus on the plantation culture and society of the Chesapeake Bay region. Dr. Pogue is arguably the most qualified preservation consultant in the country for the Whites Hall project. We are, and hopefully you are are, exstatic to have him overseeing the restoration of our project!
... in fact, if we are successful enough in our fundraising, Dr. Pogue will be directing the construction of two replica 18th-century structures on the Whites Hall property: a tobacco barn and a slave cabin (the latter of which he oversaw at Mount Vernon).
Whites Hall: the House and Property
Whites Hall sits on 13 acres and is located in Crofton Maryland. It is 26 miles from Baltimore and 23 miles from Washington D.C.
The main center structure of the house, built in the second half of the 18th century, is Flemish bond brick Georgian and is representative of a house type of which few examples survive in north Anne Arundel County. The wings were added later on. There are 6 fireplaces and 2 staircases.
In a recent "walk-thru" Whites Hall was found to be structurally sound, in all respects. Having sat idle for over a decade there is the expected disrepair, but nothing of great significance.
Those present for the walk-thru included:
Dennis Pogue: former Vice President of Preservation, Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens
Elizabeth Hughes: Director and State Historic Preservation Officer, Maryland Historical Trust
Larry Tom: Planning and Zoning Officer, Anne Arundel County
C. Jane Cox: Chief of Cultural Resources, Anne Arundel County
Myself, Robert S. Brown
The Whites Hall purchase contract is for $800,000. An additional $350,000 will likely be needed to fully restore the house to living condition. Our fundraising goal will allow for the purchase and restoration of Whites Hall, and development of an onsite museum... and for us to fulfill all of the Rewards.
However we're hoping to far exceed our stated goal, which would enable us to construct the aforementioned Tobacco Barn and Slave Cabin, and to expand the capacity of the restaurant and inn. And, in the spirit of the public good, exemplified by Johns Hopkins' bequests, with greater resources our non-profit would commit to exploring more ways for Whites Hall to serve the community.
Note: Anyone wishing to assist with the Whites Hall project over and above the Rewards listed here, please contact us. For example, we will have 'giving categories' on the Patron Wall in the Museum of $25,000, $50,000, $100,000, $250,000, $500,000, and $1,000,000. (and, of course, these gifts would be eligible for a tax deduction)
Risks and challenges
After having worked for over a year on this project, prior to commencing this Kickstarter campaign, I feel we've developed a good sense of the challenges this undertaking faces. Maybe most importantly, we have already received approval from Anne Arundel County to develop a museum at Whites Hall, and, equally important, approval to operate an "accessory" restaurant/inn, in support of the nonprofit goal. The property was already zoned for these things and no variances were needed.
Second, restoration of such a historic property requires a rare expertise. And here I couldn't be more thrilled... having Dennis Pogue as our "Restoration Consultant" is a dream come true. As I wrote elsewhere on this Kickstarter page, Dr. Pogue is arguably the very best person in the entire county to oversee our project (having been the long-time curator and VP of Preservation at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate!)
In addition, we have the backing and support of the preservation community in Maryland. For this I am grateful.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)