Informal hunts with private packs were popular throughout colonial times. Then, after the Revolution, the first few foxhunting clubs were organized near the towns of Baltimore, Washington, and Annapolis. The Baltimore Fox Hunting Club was active as early as 1793 and, according to a newspaper of those days, held meets at Baltimore and Gay Streets, Govanstown and North Point.
The Elkridge Fox Hunting Club was incorporated on March 6, 1878 and is believed to be a descendant of the Baltimore Fox Hunting Club. Hounds were originally kenneled at Elkridge Landing in Howard County, but by 1888 kennels were moved to Charles Street in Baltimore City. The Club began with seven and a half couple of hounds and fifty members. General George S. Brown, at that time head of the investment banking firm Alex. Brown & Sons, was the first President of the Club and Murray Hanson was the first Master. Dues were $12.00 per, paid semi-annually. Meet cards in 1881-1884 included Reisterstown Road, Randallstown, Cockeysville, Homeland, Charles Street and Hydes Station. Travel to meets beyond hacking distance was by means of boat or train and members arrived the night before a meet. All communication was by mail because phones were “rare and uncertain” and fixture cards contained box car reservations.
Eventually kennels were moved to the Elkridge Club on Charles Street. A rivalry began between the Elkridge members and members of the Greenspring Valley Hounds. One night, following a joint meet, a heated discussion ensued about the riding abilities of the members and jumping abilities of their respective mounts. The dispute was settled by agreeing to a race on the last Saturday in April and the Maryland Hunt Cup was born. City pressures began to encroach on fox hunting and additional country was lost with the development of Essex, Dundalk, Roland Park and Guilford. There was increasing pressure at the Elkridge Club for golf, tennis and swimming. In 1919 the Club bought a farm in Timonium, called “Long Quarter” at Dulaney Valley and Pot Spring Roads, including a house and 307 acres. The Club purchased the house and 107 acres for $16,000.00 and two other members bought 100 acres each for the Club’s purposes. At this time Dulaney Valley Road was not yet paved. The Loch Raven reservoir was not yet created and consisted merely of the Gunpowder River spanned by a wooden bridge. The war had drained the resources of most farmers resulting in the invention of wire fences. In order to make fences jumpable, the chicken coop was created.
The Harford Hunt Club was incorporated on July 7, 1915 and original Directors included John Rush Streett and Frank A. Bonsal. Hounds were kept at Mr. Streett’s farm, known as “Farmington,” the site of the present Club. The property was purchased by the Club in 1927, including 411 acres, house and barns for $40,000.00. During this time a number of hunt clubs were being forced out of Long Island and other places in developing New York. Members of those clubs were canvassing the East Coast searching for the best fox hunting country available and they selected the Harford Hunt. According to a history of the “Elkridge-Harford Hunt Club,” published by J. Rieman McIntosh in November 1978 (on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Elkridge Fox Hunting Club):
“At the height of its activity, the Harford Hunt Club was run on a very elaborate scale. Bryce Wing remembered that there was a man in charge of the men’s dormitories with two boys and two valets. There were three maids to take care of the ladies. In the kitchen the cook was assisted by three kitchen maids and two kitchen boys. Mrs. Mary Johnson was the housekeeper. In the mess hall for grooms there were two cooks and two mess boys in order to serve an average of 30 grooms and some private valets and chauffeurs. There was a man who lived in the cellar to look after the Club furnace and who also took care of the grounds. The top floor was equipped with 14 stalls for boarding stables. E.L. Smith, owner of the City Garage on Morton Street in Baltimore, provided taxi service to the Club for $5.00.”
Growing increasingly concerned about the reduction of its hunting country and because of housing developments, the Elkridge Club voted to consolidate with the Harford Hunt Club. Again quoting the McIntosh book:
“On account of the seniority of the Elkridge, the name of the new organization was to be the Elkridge-Harford Hunt. The cream white color of the Harford Hunt was chosen instead of the old gold color of Elkridge. The Hunt button was designed as a combination of the button of both Hunts.”
The two Clubs were then combined and have operated at the present location ever since. The present Club house was rebuilt after an extensive fire in 1938. When reconstructed, many small rooms were eliminated in favor of a large public room. Harvey Ladew, with the assistance of his architect, James O’Connor of New York, assisted in the redesign. The barn siding in the fox’s lair came from an old barn on the property. The house as then reconstructed remains today and serves as the central focus for the Club’s activities.
*Photographs 1 & 2 - McIntosh, J. Rieman and Michael J. Davies. Elkridge-Harford Hunt Club History. Monkton, MD, 2003.
*Photographs 3 & 4 - Freudy Photo archive