Hampton – A Community of Historic Homes
For those of us living in the Hampton Community, we may be inclined to associate the term “historic” with the mansion that is the namesake for our community – the Hampton Mansion. This building’s 18th century legacy, plus the thousands of acres which supported its agricultural and industrial underpinnings, still have a legacy in the development of the Hampton Community from 1930 to 1961.
However, we might take a moment to assess our twenty-first century existence and realize that, technically, any building of significance that is over 50 years of age is worthy of being considered historic. This broad criterion covers essentially the entire Hampton community. One might argue that the building stock in the Baltimore metropolitan area is generally of this vintage, so what makes this particular area more significant than that of our neighbors?
First, we would argue, is diversity of architectural style. That is not to say, that there is every imaginable style of domestic building style represented within Hampton. However, be it colonial, ranch, neoclassical, cape cod, split level, or any more dramatic modern style, this area comprises a truly designed context. Hampton predates developer “cookie cutter” development patterns, and we are much richer for the fact. In my own particular instance, my wife and I possess the blueprints that were the construction documents for our house – stamped and sealed documents that were designed by an architect for the site on which the house was built. We imagine that this is the case for many of the houses in the area. A building was not imposed on a site; rather, the site was the inspiration for the building that was tailored to fit it.
To dispel any fears with the notion that might come with the idea of owning a home that is “historic,” we are not suggesting that the age and significance of your home should make you feel that you are compelled to treat it as a museum artifact. The fact is that houses are living, growing things that respond to the needs of its inhabitants. On the other hand, it would be a loss if an aspect of your house that makes it historically significant were to be lost merely because it was not appreciated.
To that end, we propose to follow this article with a series of explorations of the development of the Hampton Community from a chronological and architectural viewpoint, discussing issues such as style, materials, historical context and landscape. The goal would be to deepen our appreciation of our neighbors’ properties beyond being “nice houses” – although, arguably, they are that. Also, we would love for this exploration to be interactive, so that if any of our readers of this in the Hampton Community have information about their built environment that they would like to share with their neighbors, please let us know so that it might become a part of this conversation.
I can be contacted through comments on this article, or if you prefer to email, you can reach me at johnhellmuth at yahoo dot com. I am a registered architect with a certificate in historic preservation. I have as well as over a decade in professional practice on new construction; but, on the other hand I am also just a homeowner who enjoys maintenance and renovation of a beautiful house. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.