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.

History

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 factory.

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 Investigations

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 documentary references).

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 work.

(Written by Patricia Samford)

References

  • Harris, Tery
  • 2016. Phase I Archeological Survey and Phase II Evaluation Study of 18BC101 and 18BC188 for the Proposed Baltimore Gas and Electric Granite Pipeline Relocation Project Phase 2, Baltimore City, Maryland. Elizabeth Anderson Comer/Archaeology.
  • Harrison, Deborah W.
  • 1977?. Report of A Preliminary Reconnaissance Survey of the Archeological Resources in the Proposed I-70 Alignment Through Leakin and Gwynns Falls Park.
  • Johns Hopkins
  • 2018. Crimea Estate at Leakin Park. Baltimore Heritage. Website, https://explore.baltimoreheritage.org/items/show/30#.WUbZU2jytEY accessed 6-18, 2017.
  • Heritage Landscapes
  • 2006. Crimea Area Master Plan Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park, Baltimore, Maryland. Recreation & Parks, City of Baltimore. Website accessed June 18, 2017, http://bcrp.baltimorecity.gov/sites/default/files/GwynnsFalls_masterplan_0.pdf.

About the MAC Lab

The MAC Lab
Visiting the MAC Lab

Contact Us