Built in 1774 for patriot Mathias Hammond, by William Buckland, this five-part Georgian mansion has been a museum since 1940.
It's yet another example of the talent of Buckland, who was 22 when he came from England in 1755 as a skilled woodworker indentured for four years to the Mason family of Virginia. By his drive and talent he rose to become a master carver whose works grace some of the most notable homes of the Old Dominion and Maryland. Eventually Buckland became a contractor and then a full-fledged architect whose genius for design is evident from both the imaginative exterior and ornate interior of Hammond-Harwood House.
In November 1774, with the drawings complete and construction of the house underway, Buckland left to work on an Eastern Shore courthouse. Within a month he was dead at 41; the cause and his place of burial are unknown. Hammond, the first owner, never lived in the house. According to undocumented legend, the prospective bride for whom he was building it eloped with another in 1776, and Hammond never set foot in the place again. He retired to the country, where he died at 38 in 1786.
The house stood empty for eight years and then was rented and sold several times until, in 1832, owner Hester Ann Loockerman married William Harwood, Buckland's great-grandson. Their only son was killed in the Civil War and their three daughters never married. They lived in the house until the last of them, Hester Ann Harwood, died in 1924, and after a series of ups and downs the place became a permanent museum in 1940.