by Heather Barrett, Administrator of Research & Survey
On October 9th, the Trust held its first Orlando Ridout V field survey day in honor of our friend, mentor, and cherished colleague. It was a crisp fall day in the village of Catoctin in Frederick County, a kind of day Orlando would have enjoyed. A large group of over 30 – past and present MHT staff members and our local guides – visited various historic buildings and sites throughout the district, including: the 1774 Catoctin Furnace; several stone worker’s cottages; a slave cemetery undergoing archeological investigation; the ruins of the late eighteenth century Iron Master’s House; and, the grand ca. 1805 house of Baker Johnson, one of the furnace’s original owners. Throughout the day, Elizabeth Comer, our tour guide and organizer, provided insight into the area’s rich history.
In the afternoon, we enjoyed a lunch on the terrace of Auburn provided by the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society. After a delicious feast of sandwiches, homemade soup, and a variety of desserts, Chris Gardiner, a descendant of Auburn’s original owner, led us on a tour of his family home, from cellar to attic. Then, we broke into several groups and began documenting the building and its site through observation, measured drawings, photography, and the creation of a preliminary site plan using the GIS Total Station. Although just the beginning of site documentation, some of us will return for further investigation of this significant early nineteenth-century house, which is only briefly mentioned in the 1971 National Register district nomination.
We ended our day with a toast to Orlando at the Springfield Manor Winery (historic home of another of the furnace’s owners) overlooking the Catoctin valley. It was a good day, shared with friends and colleagues – one that is sure to become an annual tradition. Thanks to our hosts for making it such a special day!