Fire Completes Time’s Task

March 29, 1923

Flames Sunday Afternoon Brought To a Swift Termination a Process of Obliteration Which Years Were Slowly Achieving

Four stone walls, gutted and gaunt, are all that is left to bear inarticulate and ineffectual testimony to the residential splendor which crowned a hill along the banks of the Patapsco half a century ago.

Sunday afternoon, flames, started presumably by sparks from an engine on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and encouraged by the winds, made their way up over the hill to the east and south of the Warfield College building, and consumed all that was inflammable of the Mansion House, the sole survivor of the original group.

The building occupied an elevated site about a mile east of Sykesville, and half a century ago it, with its companions, constituted one of the finest country seats in Maryland. The place was originally known as “Groveland”. The land was brought and the buildings erected about 1830 by George Frazier Warfield, a wealthy merchant of Baltimore. He was born in Baltimore on March 20, 1769 and died at “Groveland” on December 11, 1869, nine months after he celebrated his 100th birthday. His wife was Miss Rebecca Brown. She was born near Sykesville, December 24, 1774, and died March 4, 1852. Of this union, seven children were born. They were Lewis, George F., Warner W., William H. (of the U. S. Army), Susanna, Rebecca, who married Richard Holmes, and Elizabeth, who married a Mr. Wade, a lawyer of Massachusetts.

Miss Susanna was born 1794, and later became the owner of “Groveland”. She lived there for many years with her nephew, George W. Holmes.

Her family had been instrumental in the creation of Holy Trinity Parish, and built the church at Eldersburg and also the chapel at Sykesville.

Miss Susanna maintained this active interest in the Parish and provided in her will that at her death “Groveland” should pass into the possession of the Maryland Diocese of the Episcopal Church to be used as a boys’ school. With the land and buildings, she gave $10,000, to be employed in making such changes and additions as might be required to adapt the property to school purposes. The church accepted the trust, and for a period of about eight years “Groveland” became “Warfield College”, under the supervision of Rev. C. W. Stryker. The number of resident and local students never exceeded 35, and it was found impossible to make the school sustain itself. Because of this fact, the College was closed, and by a provision in the will, the property reverted to the heirs of the donor.

The farm, then consisting of 198 acres, was purchased by Senator Wade H. D. Warfield in 1906, and is still owned by him. He was just completing arrangements to deliver possession on April 1st to Webster L. Spencer, of Baltimore, who would have occupied the house after that date.

The Rectory property, adjoining the College Farm, is still owned by Trinity Parish by gift outright during the lifetime of Miss Warfield and others interested with her in the estate. her death occurred in February, 1890, at the age of 93 years. Her life and death are commemorated by a fine cross of ormulo and brass, given the church by Mrs. Anna E. Wade.

In this connection, it is interesting to note that the farm now owned and occupied by Senator Wade H. D. Warfield, has been in the possession of that family of Warfields, through William Warfield. Marcellus Warfield, Charles Alexander Warfield and the present owner, since 1835, a period covering now almost a full century.

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