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  • Elizabeth Vazquez

Plantation Dreaming

My goal is to take a field trip at least once a week to explore our new area. My destination this week was Sotterley Plantation in Hollywood MD, just 15 minutes from home. Sotterley is a National Historic Landmark managed by a board of trustees and cared for by a host of volunteers. The original 1703 residence was built by James Bowles, an import-export businessman who traded in slaves and crops. At its most profitable point, the plantation spanned 2000 acres and enslaved nearly 90 persons. After the Civil War, the house and grounds fell into disrepair, as many grand plantations did during that period. It wasn't until 1910 that a lawyer from New York, a Herbert Satterlee, purchased the property and transformed Sotterley into a Colonial Revival retreat. His daughter, Mabel, created a non-profit and opened Sotterley as a museum in 1961. The 95 acre property currently consists of a plantation house, barn, slave cabin, Colonial Revival garden, nature trails, wharf and visitor center.

I arrived in time for the first house tour at 10:30 on Wednesday morning. I had the guide and nearly the entire grounds to myself. My guide, Craig, was an incredibly bright young man who clearly laid out the timeline, peppered the historical accounts with anecdotes and pointed out the home's quirks and treasures. After the home tour, I was turned out to the grounds and gardens to explore on my own. My only regret was not packing a picnic!

I also might have signed up to volunteer in the garden and with their educational programs. I'm hoping to hear from them soon! Scroll through the slideshow below.

1. Front view of the plantation house

2. Schoolroom for the plantation children

3. Chinese Chippendale railing on the grand staircase

4. Victorian Era dining room set for dinner

5. George Plater's ivory inkwell

6. Exquisite oyster plates

7. Peony garden

8. Medicinal herb garden

9. View of the house from the river