The Clifton Mansion

Clifton Mansion serves as the headquarters for Civic Works’ community service programs and as an important resource for the neighborhoods surrounding Clifton Park. For over 200 years, Clifton Mansion has anchored the Clifton Park communities. Now care of the Mansion is stewarded through Civic Works, with large scale restoration work being conducted by the Friends of Clifton Mansion.

History

The Clifton Mansion was originally built in 1802 as a Georgian style stone mansion, by Baltimore merchant Henry Thompson, who served as Captain of the First Baltimore Horse Artillery in the War of 1812. The building was later purchased by famed philanthropist Johns Hopkins, who transformed the mansion into a Victorian era Italian villa that served as his summer estate.

Clifton Mansion features an eighty-foot tower with a commanding view of Baltimore, an extensive porch arcade (row of arches) which wraps around three sides of the building. The entrance hall featuring a black walnut grand staircase, marble floor, intricate plasterwork, and ornate hand painted ceilings and walls, featuring a mural of the Bay of Naples.

The City of Baltimore purchased Clifton Mansion and its grounds in 1895 from Johns Hopkins University. It has been put to many uses ever since, including a headquarters for the Department of Recreation and Parks, and the clubhouse for the golf course. Although the Clifton Mansion fell into considerable disrepair during its years of transition, the building is being carefully restored by Civic Works and the Friends of Clifton Mansion. Renovation of the mansion will ensure the future of this Baltimore landmark and will also enhance the capacity of Civic Works’ programs.

Learn more about this unique Baltimore historic landmark! Contact John Ciekot (410-366-8533) or cliftonmansion@civicworks.com. You can also learn more about becoming a volunteer at Clifton Mansion.

Enslaved People at Clifton

The Clifton Mansion, like many historic buildings, has a complicated past.

Captain Henry Thompson, the mansion’s original owner, did own enslaved people and used their labor in Clifton’s orchards and fields and, presumably, inside the Thompson home.  Enslaved people and paid workers were both involved in building the first Clifton Mansion.

Johns Hopkins did not have enslaved people at Clifton.  His family, who were Quaker, owned slaves at Whitehall, their home in Anne Arundel County, until freeing them in 1807 when Johns Hopkins was 12.  Johns Hopkins became a life-long anti-slavery advocate who worked to support Abraham Lincoln and the Union during the Civil War.  He hosted meetings at Clifton Mansion to secure local support for the Union Army. 

We are researching this early period in Clifton’s history in the hopes of learning more about the people who lived here and worked as enslaved individuals.  We invite researchers who may be able to help in this goal, as we want to reveal an increasingly full picture of the Clifton Mansion in our community story. 

  • A Day at Clifton


Rent Clifton

Make your special event all the more exciting by having it at the historic Clifton Mansion! Rent Clifton for your wedding, family reunion, corporate event, or other special occasion, and support Civic Works’ stewardship of this historic structure. For more information, contact Jayna Powell at jpowell@civicworks.com.

Upcoming Clifton Mansion Events

Virtual Mansion Tour

Saturday, September 19th, 2020
10:00 am – 11:30 pm

2701 St. Lo Drive, Baltimore, MD 21213

Join Baltimore historian and educator Wayne R. Schaumburg as we remember Defenders Day in a program entitled “The Star-Spangled Town in 1814.” This illustrated program will focus on what life was like in our city at the time of the War of 1812. By 1814, Baltimore’s population had surpassed 50,000 people making it the largest city in Maryland. It’s economy was based on trade, ship building, and flour milling among other activities. We were a thriving commercial center as well as the county seat for Baltimore County.

The program will look at major landmarks from the period that are still around in 2020. We will also identify “the movers and shakers” of the city including two men with direct connections to Clifton: Henry Thompson and Johns Hopkins!

Tours will begin at 10:00am. Tours last approximately an hour and a half and feature a Q & A at the end to answer any and all of your burning questions.

RSVP in advance to www.eventbrite.com and pay $5 online

For more information contact us at 410-366-8533.