Situated on over five hundred acres, Swan Harbor Farm, a stately home on the Chesapeake Bay, boasts a long and proud history. In the 1700’s, the home was owned by several generations of the Giles family. The most significant owner, however, was John Adlum.
Mr. Adlum purchased the farm from Thomas Giles in 1797. From Swan Harbor Farm, John Adlum pioneered wine making in Maryland. In 1809, Mr. Adlum sent a bottle of his fine burgundy to his good friend, Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson was so impressed with the quality of the wine that he ordered 165 cuttings from Adlum’s vines to be planted at Monticello.
First 2 Wings
The house itself is the product of several periods of growth. The main part of the house is a two-story brick and frame structure consisting of several wings, probably built in two stages. The dimensions of the large wing are identical to the 20 foot by 61 foot structure cited in the 1798 tax rolls. A smaller wing housed the kitchen and above the kitchen was a low perpendicular wing that housed Mr. Adlum’s household staff.
Ground Floor Mantels
The mantels in the ground floor rooms are among the finest Federal era mantels in Harford County. Mantels on the second floor, as indicative of the times, are simpler. Interesting original hardware is evident throughout the house. Apart from the barn and various other outbuildings, there was a 15 foot by 15 foot wood building erected especially for Mr. Adlum’s gardener at Swan Harbor Farm. This was the first gardener’s house in the 1798 tax records.
After the Adlum era and series of short-term ownerships, John Kenney of Washington, D.C., bought the property in 1951. He added a pool, tennis courts, greenhouse, kitchen-pantry wing and a dining room to suit his upper class lifestyle. In 1986, Mr. Kenney conveyed 520 acres of Swan Harbor Farm to Johns Hopkins University. The University purchased an additional two acres along Oakington Road in 1990. Harford County purchased Swan Harbor Farm in 1994, as part of the State of Maryland's Program Open Space.