Clifton Mansion: Take a tour and enjoy the view

OK, here’s a place I’ve bet you’ve seen many times and never paid any attention to what it was. This is especially true when driving around the intersection of Erdman Avenue and Harford Road.

You look off into the distance, into Clifton Park, and see a building with a tower. What is it I imagine you never asked. That’s okay, I’m going to tell you.It’s the Clifton Mansion, first built in 1803 by a ship owner.

Then it gets really interesting. In 1841 it was sold to a guy named Johns Hopkins, yes that guy. He remodeled it into a country villa of the Italian Renaissance era. It basically served as his summer retreat. It was originally 300 acres.

He completed it in 1852 and the view from the top was terrific. He made quite a bit of money as a merchant and the tower allowed him to see his ships coming into the harbor. The tower is now closed to the public, but word is it will reopen this summer.

His early plans called for the park to be the home of his university. That didn’t work out for various reasons. The city bought it in 1895 and it became part of a system of parks and recreation resources. Today the park is home to a very nice golf course and of course the mansion.

Today the mansion is the headquarters of Civic Works, a community service and skills building nonprofit. I had the chance to chat with a key volunteer and they are indeed doing great community work.

Tours of the mansion are offered the 3rd Saturday of the month at a cost of $5.00. The exact address of the mansion/park is 2701 St Lo Drive. It can be entered via Harford or Belair Road.

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