'We are all connected'

AT WORK

Alan Gephardt, seasonal park ranger, Hampton National Historic Site, National Park Service

December 07, 2008|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Salary: $20,000

Age: 52

Time on the job: 19 months.

How he got started: Alan Gephardt began his career working in therapeutic recreation at a nursing home. He later worked at the Baltimore County Department of Aging, managing senior centers among other responsibilities. After several years, he also began volunteering at the former Baltimore City Life Museums.

He then went back to school, receiving a master's degree in history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. For the past 15 years, Gephardt has worked in the museum field creating programs and managing volunteers at historical sites such as the Phoenix Shot Tower and Mount Clare Museum House. Because his current job is seasonal, during the rest of the year he also works at the Baltimore Museum of Industry in programming and interpretation.

Typical day: From April through October, Gephardt's job is full time at Hampton Mansion in Towson, working three weekdays and the weekend. He works part time the rest of the year, about 16 hours a week.

Gephardt is one of three seasonal rangers. His principal responsibilities are giving tours and interpreting history for visitors. He also helps to assist and organize programming held throughout the year at Hampton. He performs basic maintenance tasks such as cleaning leaves and debris out of many of the historic buildings on site.

When there's time, Gephardt enjoys researching the historical records of the Ridgely family who owned Hampton Mansion.

"I enjoy being in an environment which involves history," Gephardt said.

Favorite find: A handwritten recipe for lemon sponge cake on the back of a 1900 calendar owned by Helen West Stewart Ridgely. He made the cake, handed it out to staff members, and eventually the dessert and copies of the recipe were given out to the public during events.

Favorite Hampton facts: The Georgian-style mansion was the largest private residence in the United States at the time it was completed in 1790. The Ridgely family owned land surrounding the site that reached to where White Marsh mall is today.

The good: "Interacting with the public. That's what it's all about."

The bad: "I would love to do more research."

Favorite Ridgelys to research: Helen West Stewart Ridgely (1854-1929) and her father-in-law, Charles Ridgely (1830-1872), because they both kept impeccable records of everyday life at the mansion and abroad.

Yuletide celebration at Hampton: During his off time, Gephardt dances with Choregraphie Antique, a period dance troupe from Goucher College. The troupe will be part of the holiday celebration at the mansion this Friday through Dec. 14. Other events will include storytelling, music, open house tours and carriage rides.

Philosophy: All of us are connected with people from the past.

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