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.
In recent years, major efforts have been made to begin restoring the mansion to its original glory.
A grand staircase, sitting room, lobby, wrap-around porch, 80-foot tower and landscaping bring amazement to all who enter. Even the rooms that are not yet restored offer historical and magical sites for events of all kinds, including weddings, meetings, parties, fundraisers and more.
The city bought the mansion and grounds from Johns Hopkins University in 1895.
Today the mansion hosts Civic Works, a nonprofit that provides job training, skills development and community service opportunities. Civic Works has hosted Ghost Tours (with restless ghosts who have a past with the mansion), a visit by Charles Dickens to read his “Christmas Carol” while guests sipped wassail and nibbled Victorian treats, and a Victorian Valentine’s Tea complete with hostesses in costume from the 1860s.
It’s cool to imagine what the house was like in the 1800s and to explore all that the house can be now: a home for philanthropy, community service and a place where Baltimore families can continue to make memories.