Leakin Park/Crimea (18BC101)
This site represents the mid-19th century stone house Orianda and a
"fort"/battlements commemorating the Crimean War, as well as an
early-to mid-19th-century residence. The site is on a hill overlooking
Gwynn's Falls to the south.
The Crimea estate is in what is now Leakin Park in northwestern Baltimore.
Before its 1855 purchase by TD Winans, the area was a small community of
upper lower class factory workers and middle class craftsmen (Harris
2016:40). One of the residents between 1835 and 1854 was Mary Boyd, who
purchased 25 acres of land along Windsor Mill Road and is shown on the
1850 Sidney Map of Baltimore County. Winans began purchasing small parcels
to consolidate into his Crimea estate in 1855.
The Crimea estate included the former summer home of Thomas DeKay Winans,
an engineer of the Russian Railway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Winans
purchased the estate in 1855, and it eventually grew to encompass over 1,000
acres by the late 1850s (Heritage Landscape 2006). The Italianate stone mansion,
Orianda, was built around 1855. The estate also included other stone structures built
around 1857: a gothic chapel, a "honeymoon" cottage and a carriage house. An
iron water wheel built around the same time period once pumped water to the
mansion. Other outbuildings, like barns, are located on the property. The ruins of
a stable are still present.
The fort at the Crimea estate was built to celebrate the Crimean War and was
built in 1859 by Winans. It is thought to have been modeled after the Battle
of Balaklava where the Russian stand against the British was immortalized in
Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (Johns Hopkins
2017). The 1876 Hopkins city atlas showed a "Fort, 6 Guns" southeast of the
mansion. The only trace of the fort that remains today is the wall.
There is also evidence of an early mill along the Gywnns Fall River and
this mill may have been associated with a mid-19th century carpet
Saved by a group of dedicated Baltimoreans, the estate remains a central element
in Leakin Park. The estate was purchased for use and development as a Baltimore
City Park in two parcels in 1941 and 1948. In the 1950s, a tenant farm was removed
to construct ball fields and a nature center was added in the 1980s. The mansion
and its associated structures are currently leased to the Outward Bound
program (Heritage Landscapes 2006).
Archaeological site 18BC101 spans the ridge top down hillslopes to Dead Run and
includes all of the known surviving elements of the former Thomas Winans summer
estate of Crimea. The site was first discovered during a Phase I archaeological
survey that was sparked by plans to route Interstate 70 through the park and
through the former Winan estate. The house and estate was ultimately saved from
destruction. The 1977 work consisted of a walking survey with test pits dug in
selected locations deemed favorable by topography (Harrison 1977). Only one
prehistoric artifact – a small rhyolite biface surface find – was
discovered during this survey. A number of standing structures and foundations
were noted during this walking survey.
During subsurface testing, a thick layer of ashes and mortar and quartz cobbles
were found in the vicinity of a possible millrace along Gwynns Falls (Harrison
1977:3). The layer of ashes and mortar was found in an area formerly occupied by
the Calverton Carpet Company was located in the mid-19th century (1856-1860
Additional work was completed in 2015 in conjunction with a gas line project. EAC
conducted the Phase IB and Phase II survey, which involved work on both 18BC101
and 18BC188 (Harris 2016).
During the 2015 survey, 676 shovel test pits were dug at 25 and 50 foot
intervals, as well as six one meter square test units (Harris 2016). A
concentration of 19th-century artifacts was discovered within the boundaries
of 18BC101. This plowzone concentration appeared to have been an early to
mid-19th-century domestic site, possibly associated with Mary Boyd (who
purchased 25 acres in 1835). No intact subsurface features were discovered
during the testing. Since artifact density was low (900 artifacts recovered)
and no features were found, the site was not determined to be eligible for further
(Written by Patricia Samford)