Faith at Folly Quarter

The Manor House

The Manor House at Folly Quarter, 1928.

The new estate was immediately named “Folly Quarter” (often called “Folly Farm”). When applied to land, the term “folly” was a colonial expression used for a hillside residence shaded by many trees, a situation so common in Maryland. The word “folly” derives through the French from the Latin “folium,” meaning “a leaf.” Charles Carroll III died in the arms of his beloved granddaughter at the mansion on Lombard Street in 1832, shortly before Folly Quarter was completed. He was 95 years old, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was buried in the chapel at Doughoregan Manor.

The manor house, finally completed in 1832, was a handsome structure of Woodstock granite. The severe neo-classical design was softened with the addition of forest green shutters and climbing ivy. Both the carriage front and the lawn front have identical porches with six massive granite columns measuring 71 inches in circumference. It was said that the ballroom at Folly Quarter had the finest floor for dancing—and true to her Southern nature, Emily loved parties. Two basements housed the kitchen, storage rooms, vegetable cellars and wine cellars.

The Carroll family as a whole enjoyed an enviable reputation of having few problems with their servants. The property itself is reputed to have been used as part of the Underground Railroad, offering a temporary haven for slaves seeking freedom to the North. A short distance from the house a private chapel with a steeple and belfry was built for the use of the family and servants on the spot where the Shrine of St. Anthony now stands. On the south side of the manor was built a spacious greenhouse and fruit garden. Healthy trees of apples, pears, peaches, plums and cherries were cared for meticulously.

Mr. Van Lear Black

Mr. John Lee Carroll, great-grandson of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and Governor of Maryland 1876-1880.

After Emily Caton MacTavish died peacefully on January 26, 1867, Folly Quarter was eventually sold to a Baltimore merchant, Charles M. Dougherty, “who kept the place handsomely” as a summer home until he sold it in 1881 to Royal Phelps of New York. John Lee Carroll, governor of Maryland from 1876-1880, had earlier married Anita, the daughter of Mr. Phelps, thereby retrieving Folly Quarter into the possession of the Carroll family once again. When Charles Carroll, the son of the governor, inherited the house, he renamed the property Carrollton Hall. It was during this time that the house and grounds fell into terrible disrepair.

In 1910, Mr. Van Lear Black, the famous publisher of the Baltimore Sun, purchased the house rescuing it from neglect and abuse. With generous devotion he “overhauled the house and put it into repair,” restoring or replacing furnishings, woodwork or marble mantles which had been defaced or stolen. Mr. Black also took pains to construct a beautiful formal garden on the south terrace just below the retaining wall. Once again there was a great period of family joy and festivity through the halls of the old house.

Mr. Van Lear Black's airplane the Maryland Free State which he flew over 200,000 miles in five years, to promote the safety of air travel.

At the end of The Great War, Mr. Black was a delegate from the state of Maryland to the convention for the League of Nations. He also served as a Goodwill Ambassador to Europe on several occasions at the request of President Woodrow Wilson. In the mid 1920's Mr. Black was credited with covering more miles in an airplane than anyone else in the world, a spectacular and dangerous feat at the time. Mr. Black also enjoyed throwing enormous “Gatsby” parties on his front lawn where 700 or more people were invited, including President Warren G. Harding, a personal friend. In 1924, Mr. Black sold the house to Mr. Morris Schapiro, the president of the Boston Iron and Metal Company, who in turn sold the manor house and 236 acres of the original estate to the Franciscan Friars in 1928.

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