Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Carroll-Caton House

"Sisters of Fortune: America's Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad" by Jehanne Wake is about the lives of the four granddaughters of Charles Carroll of Annapolis, signer of the Declaration of Independence.  The Caton sisters were very interesting, well-educated and cultured women, having a very close relationship with their grandfather who was active in overseeing their education.  Their education included excellent training in finances which they put to good use investing their inheritences, and protecting them from their husbands who were not as good with finances.  The book includes very interesting Maryland history of the Carroll and Caton families.  It also includes several references to the Caton House and leaves one wondering about the location of this historic home that is not known locally.

Richard Caton, son-in-law of Charles Carroll and father of the four Caton sisters, was given the task of developing some land for his father-in-law near Baltimore, MD.  The area was named Catonville for Caton.  The town's name was later changed to Catonsville. (1) 

A web search turned up a Caton House Restaurant and a Caton House Apartments in the Baltimore area, but no other Caton House.

Caton House Restaurant - Halthorpe

The Caton House Restaurant in Halthorpe is located at 1506 South Caton Ave.  A call to the restaurant was answered by an employee who had no knowledge of the Caton family, where the original Caton House was located, or any history of the restaurant.  She mentioned that the current owners were not the original owners and doubted that they had any more knowledge of the history.

There is an article on the web titled "Famous Baltimore Restaurants That Burned Down" by Vernelle Nelson.  It says, "Caton House Restaurant first opened in the Cross Street Market in 1846. It moved to an Italian Revival-style building in 1871, which burned down in 1951. Today, Caton House is in the same location that it has called home since 1952." (6)

Caton House Apartments - Catonsville

The Caton House Apartments are located at 417 Wheaton Place, Catonsville.  An employee at the Caton House Apartments said she thought that they were built in 1969.  No other information was found.

Castle Thunder - Catonsville

Castle Thunder, Catonsville (4)
A staff member at the Catonsville Historical Society said that Richard and Mary Carroll Caton had a country home named Castle Thunder in the area now known as Catonsville.  There is a commemorative plaque for Castle Thunder at the Baltimore County Public Library's Catonsville Branch at the corner of Beaumont Avenue and Frederick Road.  The plaque says that the house was a gift to the Catons from Mary's father, Charles Carroll, and was there from 1787 until 1906.

Castle Thunder Historical Marker, Catonsville (5)
"Sisters of Fortune" says of Castle Thunder, "Part of Mary Carroll's marriage settlement included a small 1,000-acre estate situated on part of the 30,000 acres of Carroll land near the small town of Baltimore, an area still known as Catonsville.  Her father built a new house here for her which was named "Castle Thunder,"  although the plain late eighteenth-century stucco building bore little resemblance to a castle.  Mary, however, shared the Carroll fondness for Voltaire, especially Candide, in which Castle Thunder is an "earthly paradise" of calm and unquestioning optimism."

However there is some debate whether this is the actual location of Castle Thunder as noted on the Baltimore County Public Library web site (2) and the Historical Society of Baltimore County web site (3).

While Castle Thunder was a home of the Catons, it was not known as Caton House.


Carroll Mansion - Baltimore

Carroll Mansion, Baltimore
Studying "Sisters of Fortune" more closely, it is stated that when Emily Caton McTavish inherited Caton House in Baltimore from her parents, "she gave the property to the Sisters of Mercy, after which it was (and continues to be) known as the Carroll Mansion." (p. 333)

The Carroll Mansion is located at 800 East Lombard Street in Baltimore.  Carroll Mansion should not be confused with Carroll House in Annapolis, the home of Charles Carroll.

Charles Carroll passed away on November 14th, 1832 at the Carroll Mansion which may be the reason its name was changed from Caton House to Carroll Mansion. 

Carroll Mansion is also sometimes know as Carroll-Caton House.  It is now a museum that is open to the public and can be rented for events.

Caton House Restaurant and Apartments Connections

It is unclear how the restaurant and apartments became know as Caton House since they are not especially close to the Carroll-Caton House on Lombard street.   While the restaurant is on Caton Ave., it appears that it was not originally located there according to the article referenced above. (6)  The apartments are possibly named for Catonsville, where they are located.

Additional Links

Baltimore County Public Library Catonsville Room
Has reference materials, "display cases with photographs, even a brick from the original Castle Thunder."

Catonsville Post Office "Incidents in the History of Catonsville" Murals

"Arrival of Mary Carroll Caton at Castle Thunder" Mural Photo from
Catonsville High School, Baltimore County

Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume 17
Information about
Mary Carroll Caton and Castle Thunder

Richard Caton, Buried in Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore 

Mary Carroll Caton, Buried in Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore

Emily Caton MacTavish, Buried in Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore

(1) Catonsville Historical Society -
(2) Baltimore County Public Library - Castle Thunder History -
(3) History Trails 42, no. 4, "Castle Thunder, The Catons, and Catonsville's Historical Myths", John McGrain -
(4) Castle Thunder photo and caption from "Catonsville" by Marsha Wight Wise -
(5) Castle Thunder Historical Marker -
(6) "Famous Baltimore Restaurants That Burned Down" by Vernelle Nelson -