Location: Burnside Street at Chesapeake Avenue
Today it's an apartment building, but it doesn't take a lot of imagination to envision the old house at Site 14 during colonial times, when it was surrounded by farmlands that served as pastures for some of America's first thoroughbred racehorses. If you search hard enough, you just might find the unmarked grave of one of Maryland's earliest governors.
This century-old farmhouse is one of the only reminders of the agrarian past of Eastport. Yet, in the 18th and early 19th centuries, horse racing and farming were the economic mainstays. As late as 1798, there were only two buildings on all of Horn Point: a house and a blacksmith shop.
In the 1800s, most of the land was parceled out to small farmers who grew vegetables and fruit for sustenance and raised livestock for sale in Baltimore. This home was built for the Burns family in thee 1890s and is a typical farmhouse of the period. Architecturally, the house appears as it once did, although it is now divided into apartments.
Governor Benjamin Ogle used this land to raise some of Maryland's earliest racehorses. They were buried all around here.
The Burns Farmhouse is the oldest remaining farmhouse on the Eastport peninsula. It was built in 1890 by William H. Burns, who farmed the land above what is now Sixth Street. The house sits on only an acre of land. Although it’s been divided into apartments, its basic appearance has remained the same for 100 years, reminding passersby of Eastport’s agrarian past.
The area you see around you was part of the original patent for Horn Point and later was part of a 2,200-acre parcel owned by Benjamin Ogle, an early Maryland governor and one of the early horse breeders in the colonies. His father, Samuel Ogle, brought the first thoroughbreds over from England. Benjamin was so fond of his race horses it was rumored he buried each one with its own gravestone. Unfortunately, this story has never been verified.
The Maryland Jockey Club was founded in 1743 in Annapolis. During the 18th century, popular horse racing events were held here and in Annapolis. The land remained undeveloped for many years.
Shells rowed by the Naval Academy crew club pass along Spa Creek in front of the old farmhouse.
In 1895, Burns subdivided his land between what is now Bay Ridge Avenue and Back Creek, and between what is now Sixth Street and Burnside Street. Severn Avenue and Chesapeake Avenue were extended to serve the 37 new lots in this subdivision, but there was little pressure to build streets on this land until the early 1900s, when the area saw its biggest burst of development.
Throughout the next several decades, the land remained as farmland, but in small parcels similar to the Burns Farmhouse. On these small homesteads, farmers grew vegetables and fruits for local use and raised livestock that were shipped to market in Baltimore by steamboat.
After World War I, the population of Eastport grew. The farms south of Sixth Street were sold and subdivided into building lots. A few parcels were set aside for playgrounds and other public use.
The Feldmeyer farm became the home for the Eastport “Bone Crushers,” a local baseball team that reflected the growing popularity of baseball. As a part of the county league, the Bone Crushers had a fierce rivalry with the Annapolis team, a competitive spirit that lives on today.
According to local lore, the team chose their name because so many horse bones were found on this site — perhaps from the burying grounds of Benjamin Ogle’s horses.
According to legend, Benjamin Ogle himself was buried here on his farm in an unmarked grave.
Ogle was commemorated by the Poet Laureate of Eastport* in a ballad written in March of 2000:
Show me the bones of Benjamin Ogle,
Nobody knows where they buried the gentleman,
Ben’s father, Sam, was laid ‘neath St. Anne’s,
So there’s oodles of Ogles, but no one knows where,
Or they might be interred on their Tolley Point farm,
Ben let it be known that none should complain
So if your dog’s digging about in the yard,
*Jefferson Holland -- Poet Laureate of Eastport