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Holiday Cheer Fills Perry Hall Mansion

Community members crowded into the historic mansion Saturday evening.

A 12-foot Christmas tree, holiday treats and several dozen community members upstaged the peeling wallpaper and cracked walls.

The Friends of the Perry Hall Mansion, a nonprofit working to restore the historic structure, held a at the mansion Saturday evening.

Jeffrey Smith, president of the Friends organization, estimated that the event raised about $2,500 toward the . The event's food, decorations and activities were provided by volunteers, individual donors and businesses.

But beyond fundraising, Smith said the event was a unique opportunity for local residents to get better acquainted with the structure and its history. The mansion, constructed in the 1770s, remained under private ownership until it was purchased by Baltimore County in 2001. It has only rarely been opened to the public over the last decade.

"We hope there will be additional awareness in the community, because there are still folks who don't know about the mansion and its importance in Perry Hall," he said.

Attendees ranged from curious community members to some whose ancestors were former residents.

"I had seen the outside and driven by it a couple of times, but never been inside. ... It's incredible. It really is a wonderful, historic place," said John Owen, whose family performed Christmas carols during the event.

Shirley Wales, a member of the , said she was excited to enter the mansion after contributing to a to the Friends.

"They've done an excellent job of fixing it up with the little bit of money that they have. I'm really impressed," Wales said.

Members of the Kief family in attendance, however, already had an intimate knowledge of the mansion.

"I grew up hearing stories about the mansion from my grandmother, who was born here," said Sean Kief, a member of the Friends board, whose family owned the mansion between 1888 and 1915. "Any opportunity I have to come here, I jump on it. It just brings back so many memories."

"It's sad to see what it looks like, but we're hopeful about what it could look like again," said his mother Dale Kief. "There are a lot of volunteers and a lot of people interested in preserving this."

Members of the Friends board are currently working with to secure a with Baltimore County that would allow for a more proactive approach toward the mansion's restoration, Smith said. 

"We're hoping that moving into 2012, we'll be able to work out a lease agreement to gain direct operational control of the building, and then we'll be able to deal with some of the cosmetic work," he said. "Hopefully, by 2012, we'll be able to make it pretty as it was back in the 1770s."

Did you attend the event? Load your photos to the gallery.

Would you like to see the mansion opened up to the general public more often? Tell us in the comments.

Selma Kahl December 19, 2011 at 02:18 AM
My daughter attended, and had a great time. Her only wish was that would have had name tags so those who would like to know more could have know who they were talking to. She is planning to once again join our community as a retirement home town , after have been away for many years.
John Cluster December 19, 2011 at 04:19 AM
Great event. My wife Carla and I were glad we attended. Just wanted to thank all the volunteers especially Laura Kimball who did a great job on the decorations. Delegate John Cluster
David Marks December 19, 2011 at 12:17 PM
This was a fantastic event. Kudos to the volunteers who care deeply about Perry Hall's history. It is so easy to complain about things; they are making a real difference by helping to restore this landmark.
Selma Kahl December 19, 2011 at 01:54 PM
David, I hope you did not take the remark I made about name tags as a complaint. It was meant more as a suggestion for next time. I would never complain about the work of volunteers. I was a volunteer for many years. And when my daughter buys her new property she will be a neighbor of the mansion and I am sure she will become a volunteer. The reason why she wanted name tags' was to get to know her neighbors better. She now lives an hour away. She grew up as almost a neighbor on Perry Hall Rd on. Leo Kahl,s farm. I am writing this because My post is the only one that may have sounded like a complaint.
David Marks December 19, 2011 at 03:52 PM
Selma, I'm sorry...that wasn't directed to you in any way. Your family has been very supportive of many community efforts. Take care.
Mary Karmasek December 25, 2012 at 07:04 PM
You forgot to invite the Plummer family that lived in the this home. My mother had attended previous Christmas Open Houses and she was not notified this year. Check out all your people her name is Sybilla Plummer Kramer and she lives at Oak Crest Retirement Village today.

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