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Historic Howard County property will stay untouched

Ringed by crowded residential developments in central Howard County, much of what remains of the nearly 300-year-old Doughoregan Manor property will stay untouched.

The county settled a preservation deal this month with the owners of the property, descendants of founding father Charles Carroll of Carrollton, to leave 500 acres of fields and forests undeveloped.

That easement will cost Howard $19.1 million, plus interest, and follows others that have preserved pieces of the historic estate, located between Route 108 to the south and Frederick Road to the north.

“That’s almost 1,000 acres of land that will be preserved, in perpetuity,” Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said Tuesday.

Some 75 acres were preserved under a deal with a developer that used Doughoregan’s development rights on another property in the county. Another 94.5 acres that includes the historic manor house and other structures are preserved under a Howard County Conservancy easement.

“It’s the historic core of the property,” said Joy Levy, the county’s administrator of agricultural land preservation.

Other sections of the Doughoregan plantation have already been protected from development, and the property owners also donated land for the Kiwanis-Wallas Park to be used for ball fields, more parking spaces and a playground.

“It gives us a little elbow room [at the park],” Ulman said.

Doughoregan is steeped in history.

The summer estate of the Carroll family, it helped grow the fortunes of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, one of the most powerful men in Maryland and one of the richest in the country. It was also the home of John Lee Carroll, governor from 1876 to 1880.

“It’s one of the last places in Maryland that has extensive acreage that gives you a true sense of what a plantation in the area would have been like 100 years ago, 200 years ago, 300 years ago,” said State Archivist Edward C. Papenfuse.

Charles Carroll I bought 10,000 acres in what would become Howard County in 1717. The Georgian brick house was built in 1727 by Charles Carroll II and was expanded in 1830 in the Greek Revival style by Charles Carroll V, according to Maryland State Archives records.

Charles Carroll III — he added the “of Carrollton” suffix in 1765 to distinguish himself from his father, grandfather and cousins of the same name — used Doughoregan as his country home from 1766 to 1832.

He was barred from participating in state politics because he was a Roman Catholic, but was elected to the Continental Congress in 1776 and was one of the Maryland representatives to sign the Declaration of Independence. He later declined to serve in the Constitutional Convention, but was a state senator from 1776 to 1804 and was chosen as a U.S. senator from 1790 to 1792.

Carroll died in 1832 and was believed to be the wealthiest U.S. citizen at that time, according to the archives document. He was buried in the family chapel on the Doughoregan property.

“It was a remarkable plantation,” Papenfuse said. “It’s symbolic of a poor Irish lad — his grandfather — coming from a very humble background and making his way in the new world, to become through his grandson, one of the richest men in the United States.”

Pieces of the family estate were handed down to Carroll’s ancestors and many of them sold off and developed, such as the Harper’s Choice section of Columbia. The estate was listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1971 and is the last home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence still in the family’s hands.

The latest preservation deal leaves the Carroll family with 220 acres free to be developed out of their nearly 900. The family will receive the cost of the county’s easement and interest in installments over 20 years.

“That was part of a larger plan for the property, for the Carrolls to get the funding they need to maintain the estate,” Levy said. “My understanding is the manor house needs a lot of repairs.”

The owners, including Camilla Carroll, who still lives on the property, and the family’s attorney, Sang Oh of Talkin & Oh LLP in Ellicott City, did not respond to calls seeking comment.