UMBC-1 Site (18BA445)

The UMBC-1 Site (18BA445) is the archaeological remains of a 19th- and 20th-century farmstead associated with the Wartman and Lurman families near the Arbutus area of Baltimore County. An undated prehistoric component is also present.

Historically, the Wartman-Lurman farm (18BA445) and the Sulpher Springs Hotel were held by the same property owner. In 1761, a John Owings acquired a 130 acre tract owned by the Dorsey family. By 1783, his son, farmer Caleb Owings, assumed control of the property. A 1798 tax assessment records several structures on the property, including a one story frame dwelling house, a one story smoke house, a frame barn, a frame stable, and a log house. When Caleb Owings died in 1816, he left the land his daughter Milcah. This property is the site of the current investigations. While farming and related property items composed a substantial share of Caleb Owings’ estate, the number of bedsteads, textiles, and furniture suggest other undertakings. In 1813, Mrs. Stewart (Owings’ daughter Susannah) advertised a boarding house in the American. The advertisement mentions the curative properties of iron, sulphur, and sulfuric acids contained in the spring waters.

The property stayed in the Owings’ family until 1842, when it was transferred to Dorothy Wartman. This property remained in the Wartman family until 1890. Dorothy Wartman also operated a recreational boarding house/hotel at the Sulpher Springs. In 1844, Wartman advertised in the Sun that the house located at the springs had been thoroughly repaired, expanded with a large addition, and painted. A detailed section of an 1877 Atlas of Baltimore showed the general vicinity of the site, including the hotel and the Wartman-Lurman residence under the ownership of J. Wartman. The Sulphur Springs Hotel complex contained two buildings and a small pool at the head of a stream that drained to the north. An unimproved road in the vicinity ended in a complex of 5 structures on the property. The Sulphur Springs hotel/boarding house probably was active until the Civil War or, at the latest, until ca. 1870.

Dorothy Wartman died in 1874 and the estate settled in 1890, when the property was sold and proceeds divided among her children. Between 1879 and 1889, the farm property (18BA445) was rented by Joshua Proctor. In 1890, John Wartman, the estate executor, sold the entire 105 acre property to Theodor Lurman for $10,581.00. Although the owner of record of the former Wartman property after 1890 was Theodor Lurman, maps of the period depicted that other family members resided on the property.

In 1908, Theodor Lurman sold the 105 acre property to Frank Primrose. Primrose continued to farm the property until he sold it to John Lohmuller in 1926. In 1929, Lohmuller et al. deeded 108 acres (including the farm) to the Board of Managers of the Spring Grove State Hospital, who owned the property until transferring it in 1965 to the University of Maryland for its Baltimore Campus.

In 1995, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) was beginning to undertake the construction of the UMBC Research Park and Playfields on the former Wartman-Lurman property. Phase I work at the site entailed the excavation of 58 shovel test pits and pedestrian survey. A total of 205 historic and 16 prehistoric artifacts were recovered and road traces were defined near the southern and eastern margins of the site. Extensive disturbance in the form of modern refuse, mounded earth, and truncated and disturbed soil profiles also were documented.

Phase II testing was carried out with ten 1 X 1 m test units excavated. Phase II work showed that 18BA445 was the remains of the Wartman-Lurman farmstead dating from the early 19th century. Although it is possible that the site originated as the Owings farmstead during the late 18th century, archaeological evidence for an earlier 18th-century occupation was sparse, while 19th-century occupation evidence extensive. The architectural remains of the domestic structure and barn shown on historic maps were not identified. The remains of a smaller structure, probably an outbuilding, were identified near the road in the southwestern portion of the site. The last vestiges of the site were probably destroyed as a result of the construction of a nearby road.

Historic features identified at the site included a pipe trench and a portion of a foundation wall. The pipe trench contained modern architectural, kitchen, and activities debris and probably dates from the last half of the 20th century. The foundation wall appeared to date from the 19th century. Its width and makeshift construction suggest that it was probably not the main house, but the remnant of an outbuilding, shed, or a porch connected to the house.

The historic artifacts recovered from the site included a wide range of architectural, domestic, and other materials ranging in age from the late 18th century to the present. The full Phase II assemblage included 3,285 historic and 90 prehistoric artifacts.

The prehistoric component at 18BA445 appeared to be concentrated in the eastern portion of the site within the Ap and various disturbed soil horizons. Historic and modern activities had clearly disturbed the component rendering its research potential moot. The integrity of the historic component of 18BA445 was found to be substantially compromised as well. Nearly all features and cultural deposits at the site were disturbed. The few that remained lacked a substantive context within which to interpret them. A few primary sheet refuse deposits were identified, but these were found to be of long duration, containing artifacts within them dating from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)


  • Maymon, Jeffrey H., Katherine Grandine, and Colby A. Child
  • 1999. Phase I and II Archeological Investigations for the UMBC Research Park and Playfield, Baltimore County, Maryland. 2 vols. R. Christopher Goodwin and Associates, Inc.. Frederick, MD.

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