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DNR Seeks Caretakers for Historic Manor in Cecil County

Grove Farm manor house. All white brick estate set amongst beatiful landscaping The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is seeking a partner to preserve the historic Grove Farm outside of Earleville in Cecil County. The 19th century Federal style manor is being offered through the agency’s Resident Curatorship Program, which grants lifetime leases on significant properties in exchange for restoration and maintenance. 

“The Resident Curatorship Program is a great example of stewardship through public-private partnership,” said Emily Burrows, manager of cultural resources and curatorships for DNR. “Through a curator’s investment, the State is able to save an important part of Maryland history and share it periodically with the public. Curators don’t pay property taxes or a monthly mortgage, which can be a financial advantage over a lifetime, and they get to live in a special place surrounded by protected land. It’s a win-win.”

Grove Farm was built in 1810 by the Tilghman and Earle families, residents of the area beginning in the 1600s. The estate was likely one of several plantations managed by tenants and worked by slaves or indentured servants. Remaining a working farm for nearly 200 years, today the large house and its outbuildings are a testament to Tidewater heritage and the history of agriculture on the Eastern Shore. In 2004, the historic farm complex and surrounding 750 acres were purchased by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and designated as a Wildlife Management Area, dedicated to the conservation of plant and animal species and habitat.

The main house features six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a library, parlor, kitchen, kitchen cellar, and formal dining room, all with plenty of intact historic features. The property has a new roof and windows, an HVAC system, as well as plenty of room for storage. While the primary focus of the restoration will be the main house, preference will be given to partners who incorporate the noteworthy ice house, corn crib, carriage house, bank barn, and other ancillary farm buildings into their preservation plans.

DNR invites resident families, nonprofits, and commercial entities to apply as long as their missions and use of the property are in-keeping with that of the Wildlife Management Area and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The farm’s curator should expect to invest at least $175,000 over a five to seven year period, and must be able to demonstrate their plans through a detailed proposal to DNR.

Tours of Grove Farm are available by appointment only. For more information on the property, the Resident Curatorship Program or how to apply, citizens may visit, or contact John Wilson at or 410-260-8412. The deadline to submit a proposal is June 30, 2014.