A house could hardly hold more history than this one, which sheltered all three of Maryland's famous Charles Carrolls. It was built on a bank of Spa Creek for Charles Carroll (I) the Settler (1661-1720), a French-educated Irishman who came to America in 1688 to escape the English persecution of Catholics. The same year co-religionist Lord Baltimore was deprived of his rights, and his Maryland proprietorship became a royal colony until the official anathema against Catholics was lifted in 1715. Carroll (I) became Maryland's first attorney general and the holder of 60,000 acres. His son, Charles Carroll (II) of Annapolis (1703-1783), struggled for religious freedom all of his life. He passed the torch to his son, Charles Carroll (III) of Carrollton (1737-1832), who was born in the house. In 1776 CC III became the only Roman Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence. He outlived all the 55 other signers, and when he died a national day of mourning was declared. CC III also was a founder of the B&O Railroad. The mansion, said to be one of only 15 signers' residences still standing in the United States, was bought from Carroll's granddaughter in 1852 by the Redemptorists, a society of Catholic missionary priests. The much-altered interior is currently being restored; one of the discoveries has been of a cache of crystals and other religious objects secreted by Carroll slaves. The house remains open during the long-term restoration project and offers frequent living history programs, 18th-century teas, period music and hands-on architectural history and archaeology demonstrations.
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