What is Carroll's Hundred?
Baltimore's Sleeping Giant
Little-known Carroll Park is a mystery to most Baltimoreans! Despite being in the shadow of Camden Yards and downtown Baltimore attractions, the park is a sleeping giant of immense importance to Baltimore’s social, cultural, and economic development. A National Historic Landmark, it is located on the southwestern edge of the city about eight blocks west of Martin Luther King Boulevard in an area known lovingly to the community as Pigtown. The park and the historic site take their names from the family of Charles and Margaret Carroll and its “Hundred” — the 3,000-acre plantation that at its busiest produced not cotton or tobacco, not wheat, but iron! By the time of the Revolution in the 1700’s, The Baltimore Company Iron Works, managed by the plantation owner Charles Carroll Barrister and his partners, had become a major source of profit. Its importance today, however, is the economic and cultural legacy of its people, largely African, who powered the plantation.
Today, the original property is bisected by Monroe Street and the Montgomery Park office complex at Washington Boulevard, with Carroll Park proper to the east and the golf course section occupying what had been the western edge of the plantation. Its potential cannot be overstated as a prime tourism destination and heritage gateway only ten minutes from Inner Harbor attractions, and within blocks of I-95 and the Baltimore / Washington Parkway.
1754 Georgian Mansion
Today, if the park is known at all, it is from Mount Clare, a 1754 Georgian mansion — the only remaining structure from the colonial period. At the time, it was the princely centerpiece of a
“necklace” of attached buildings that stretched 350 feet across the top of the hill. It was surrounded by many other features, including quarters for the workers, and by falling gardens, orchards, vineyards, fields of wheat, pastures, and everywhere enslaved people and others working.
Pig Iron to Steel
In its entirety, the plantation stretched as far as the eye could see in all directions, its southern edge bordering the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River — still visible from what is now the park during colonial times. At its western edge, on the Gwynns Falls, an iron furnace operated 24-hours-a-day, one-quarter of a mile from the mansion. Manned largely by slave labor, it produced pig iron for export to England. The origins of Baltimore’s global steel industry start here.