Ever wondered what the history is behind Gramercy Mansion and the Carriage House? We’re starting 2018 with a background about our property so you know all about our 45 private acres when you come and stay with us!
In 1902, Cassatt bought a heavily wooded piece of property in Greenspring Valley containing 45 acres of the present estate. This was to be a wedding present for his daughter, Eliza, who married W. Plunkett Stewart. Plunkett, under the leadership of his brother, Redmond, was one of the school boys who started the second oldest steeplechase race in Maryland. He was also the founder of the still existing Greenspring Valley Hunt Club. Alexander Cassatt was famous in his day as the president of The Pennsylvania Railroad. Today, Cassatt’s fame is overshadowed by his sister, Mary Cassatt, who was an impressionist painter. As of 2005, her paintings have sold for as much as $2.87 million.
Alexander Cassatt was a generous father and wanted to give his daughter a magnificent wedding present. What better than a new home for the newlyweds? Gramercy Mansion was built to resemble Cassatt’s summer home, Four Acres, on the ocean in Bar Harbor, Maine. In the style of an Old English Tudor Manor house, the Mansion had 25 rooms. Construction on the property also included an 18-horse stall Carriage House along with an ice pond and ice house, a barn and creamery. Sadly, Cassatt died in 1906 before Gramercy was completed. The family moved to Philadelphia and the property was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Landstreet in 1907.
Felix S. Landstreet
Landstreet was the Vice President of the Western Maryland Railroad. His wife was the niece of a West Virginian Senator. The Landstreets lived at Gramercy for five years before selling to industrialist Benjamin H. Brewster in 1912.
Benjamin H. Brewster
Brewster was the only child of U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Harris Brewster and Mary Walker (great great granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin). Brewster was also grandfather to Senator Daniel Brewster. Daniel Brewster was the Maryland Democratic Senator from 1963-1969.
The Brewster Family lived at Gramercy for thirty years. After Benjamin Brewster’s death, his widow, Elizabeth, sold it to Hugo R. Hoffmann, builder and financier. The Hoffmann’s lived at Gramercy for eight years and sold the estate in 1950 to the Koinonia Foundation.
The Koinonia Foundation was created by a group of twelve visionary Christians who in the aftermath of WWII, wanted to spread the importance of Christianity around the world. Koinonian leaders recruited students who were taught organic agricultural and literacy skills as well as techniques on coping with language barriers, differences in religion, politics and attitudes. These missionaries went abroad to make the third world a more habitable place. The demise of Koinonia as a missionary center came after the creation of The Peace Corps in 1961. The Peace Corps mirrored many of the aims that the Koinonia Foundation had created.
In the 1960’s, Koinonia changed its focus. A new age mentality arose and the foundation became tied to ideals of spiritual discovery and growth. The center taught yoga, meditation, organic gardening, art, dance, music and psychology. Gradually, the foundation faced bankruptcy, necessitating the sale of the estate. Koinonia was sold at an auction to Dr. Ronald and Anne Pomykala in 1985.
Ronald & Anne Pomykala
In 1985, luck and opportunity was on the Pomykalas’ side when upon visiting a friend in Baltimore, they heard Koinonia was for sale. Not intending to buy a new house or engage in a new enterprise, their emotions overtook them upon viewing the estate. They fell in love with the property, placed a bid and won.
The property required a tremendous amount of work. Massive restoration projects began, including replacing 80% of the decorative beams on the roof, new shingles and eaves, removal of layers of paint and reglazing of windows, rebuilding of the chimneys and plumbing and electrical restoration in all buildings.
In 1986, the Baltimore Symphony Show House helped with a portion of the restoration. The wallpaper in some of the rooms comes from the showcase, as do the cloth swags in the dining rooms. That same year, they opened one room for the beginning of what is now an eleven room bed and breakfast. Shortly after, Gramercy became a beautiful wedding reception and ceremony site. Gramercy Mansion and the Carriage House currently hold over 100 weddings and parties each year.
History About the Mansion
The foyer, living room and parlor have American chestnut panels and the library has cherry wood. The historic tile above the fireplaces in the library, dining room and parlor, is Moravian tile. These are some of the first art nouveau tile produced in the U.S. The chandelier hanging in the foyer was purchased in Turkey for $800 and has a pulley to raise and lower it.
Come Visit Us
The Gramercy Mansion Gift Shop is loaded with beautiful artwork, sparkling dish sets, beer steins, unique items and so much more. Shop weekdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. or on the weekends by appointment by calling 410-486-2405. We hope you’re able to experience the rich history and vast gardens that Gramercy has to offer in 2018! Click here to view our B&B rooms.
Happy New Year from the Innkeepers at Gramercy Mansion!