On a high point near Baltimore and not far from Pikesville stands the mansion of Grey Rock, commanding the historic estate on which one of Maryland’s distinguished founders, Colonel John Eager Howard, was born in 1752. He was one of 11 children. The original bequest of 1698 was from Lord Baltimore to Joshua Howard, his grandfather. The land was called Howard’s Square. The simple stone house of one story and a half was the birthplace of John Eager Howard, hero of the Revolution, close friend of George Washington and our fifth, sixth & seventh governor of Maryland. No remains of this house exist, but the Howard family’s stonewalled graveyard containing the grave of Cornelius Howard, and several descendants, is located close by. Surrounded by ancient trees, Howard’s Square, or The Forest, remained in the Howard family for just over a century and a half.
Grey Rock Mansion was built around 1858 by Dr. James Maynard, and is located slightly south of the site of the old Howard house. Grey Rock Mansion is built of Maryland grey stone, stuccoed and painted white. It was constructed in an L-shaped, modified Italian villa style with a one-story porch. Later, owners changed this to a six column tall portico with hexangular brick flooring resembling Mt. Vernon. The ballroom was added at a later date.
Under the 1930s to 1950s ownership by Mr. & Mrs. Harold Duane Jacobs, many social events were held. They were art collectors and furnished the house with exquisite furniture. Mrs. Jacobs served on many historic and art committees.
An interesting connection to Gramercy Mansion is that the Howard property of 150 to 224 acres was sold off in various transactions. Fifteen acres of this property was sold in 1903 to Redmond C. Stewart, the brother of Plunkett Stewart, who married Eliza Cassatt and received Gramercy Mansion as a wedding present.
In the 1960s to 80s, Grey Rock was the home of the Trinitarians, who used Grey Rock first as a seminary, and then as a retreat center. Half of the property was again sold off, and the Trinitarians built a modern retreat center. Grey Rock became a catering and event center. The owners of Gramercy Mansion and the 1840s Plaza are now restoring it to past elegance as a third event center.