When Hampton was completed in 1790, it was the largest private residence in the United States. Captain Charles Ridgely and six generations of his family lived here until the estate was donated to the National Park Service in 1948.
Captain Ridgely built his wealth selling iron arms and ammunition to the Continental army during the Revolutionary War. His estate, named after his Northampton Iron Works, originally spanned more than 10,000 acres. Much of the land and structures were sold off by later generations of the family.
The massive Georgian mansion that still stands on the site was designed after an English castle, and it was built largely by slaves. Slaves worked the surrounding tobacco farms, orchards, and stables as well, until Maryland abolished slavery in 1864.
The long echoes of America’s political, industrial, and moral development as a nation haunt the halls and hills of Hampton. Guided tours of the furnished mansion and slave quarters provide insights into the people who lived and worked and loved and died here.
After you tour the buildings, wander the grounds, listening for the song of the sparrow and the rat-a-tat-tat of the woodpecker. Explore the stables and the family cemetery, and imagine life at Hampton from the various perspectives of its owners, its visitors, and its staff.
The history of Hampton is the history of our nation.