Houses featured on tour Md. Historical Society visits 5 Carroll sites

April 30, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

"Battle stations, everyone," shouted one of several guides, a guests filed into the 175-year-old Homestead Farm in Silver Run, one of five stops on the Maryland Historical Society's spring tour of Carroll County yesterday.

The owners, Iven and Suzie Rathbone, had stationed their friends in each room and provided each with brief descriptions of furnishings and items of interest.

"I am not going to memorize mine," said Marie Evans, practicing her part just before the guests entered the dining room.

"The fireplace print by a Russian artist Oriental Bowl," she read. "Something is missing here. Suzie, you need to go back to school."

"Don't worry, fill in the blanks," said Mrs. Rathbone. "Each time you read, it will get better."

Mrs. Rathbone hurried off wondering, "Where is Liz? She isn't in her room."

The Russian artist's name was probably the only element missing in the showing. Guests commented on the beautiful home, the perfect weather, and the gracious hospitality.

Even the pets and farm animals -- including Jerome Bonaparte the bull -- behaved themselves.

"Jerome is never fazed by visitors," said Mr. Rathbone of the huge animal grazing in the pasture next to the front yard. "We play music for the animals. It keeps them calm."

Mae Musgrove said she "got to do a little bragging" about family history as she pointed out pictures in her room. The family claims Betsy Patterson Bonaparte among its ancestry, she said.

"That's why all the cows have French names," said Mr. Rathbone.

For about 10 years, Harriet Fauntleroy of Westminster has planned the Carroll tour. When she saw the Rathbones' farm last fall, she asked Mr. Rathbone if he would be part of the next tour. He said he would be delighted, noted the date on the calendar and promptly filed the tour away in his memory, he said.

Not that Iven Rathbone isn't proud of his home, but managing a 217-acre farm with about 50 head of Limousin cattle took priority.

As the tour date approached, Suzie Rathbone asked her husband how many tourists would be visiting. He answered just a few, but called Mrs. Fauntleroy to be sure.

"I found out she was bringing a busload of about 60," he said. "Suzie told me to start cleaning."

He performed the dusting chores well. By the time the bus rolled into the driveway, every surface in the house had passed Mrs. Rathbone's white glove test and every room had a fresh floral arrangement.

"This was just another project; I have one going all the time," he said with a laugh. "If I don't, Suzie finds one for me."

Mrs. Rathbone said she wasn't nervous. Many friends were helping and 60 people was mild compared to having her daughter's wedding at home. Then, she entertained 250 guests. Family pictures from that day fill a table in the den.

"Are you the one who got married here?" asked one guest of the bride, Lou Anne Wellford.

"Letting us go through these lovely homes is so gracious," said Jean Wroten of Baltimore. "We ask so many questions and everyone is so free with information."

Many tourists lingered in the Rathbones' solarium, an addition built off the original back porch of the house. The sun poured in through the glass walls and offered a view of the surrounding countryside, the pool and the stone spring house.

"You almost feel like you are outside," said Jane Sharpe of Westminster.

The Rathbones brought a little of the outside into the room. The ceiling timbers came from trees on their farm.

The Homestead was the third stop on the tour that began at Huntingfields, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wright's home in Hampstead, and then traveled to Belle Fangmeyer's Westminster farm.

Each stop gave visitors about an hour to see the home and grounds. After Silver Run, visitors toured Glenburn Farm in Taneytown with owners Mr. and Mrs. Robert Neal and ended the day in Uniontown with the youngest -- 30 years old -- home, of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Scott.

"We choose mostly old farmhouses, some with historical significance," said Ms. Fauntleroy. "The hosts were all very receptive to the idea of the tour."

Many tourists said they had never had such a close look at Carroll County.

"I have wanted to come here for a long time," said Mrs. Wroten. "Like a lot of country areas, Carroll is changing, but people here are taking care of it."

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