This site was owned by barrister Charles Carroll, who called his estate Mount Clare and built a Georgian plantation house on its tallest hill in 1763. The Carroll family owned many slaves and was one of the few in Maryland with more than 100 enslaved persons. The landscape immediately adjacent to the Mount Clare home included a kitchen garden, while an orchard fanned radially outward from the hilltop down the southwestern slope. An ornate terraced garden, beginning with a bowling green attached to the house, cascaded down the sloping grounds toward the Middle Fork of the Patapsco River, while the outermost expanse of the property included woodlands and plantation fields. In the early nineteenth century, brickyards exploited clay deposits on the property, and the Washington turnpike was constructed immediately adjacent to the estate in 1814. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad’s 1829 and 1848 projects further defined the edges of the site, and a rail depot was located on the estate for much of the nineteenth century.
From 1890 to 1907 the City of Baltimore incrementally acquired 170 acres of the estate and gradually began to shape the public space now known as Carroll Park. From 1904 to 1915 the Olmsted Brothers firm was hired to continue improvements. The firm’s designs include a curvilinear path system throughout the park and clusters of active recreation spaces on the eastern half of the grounds; the sloping terrain near the center of the park was designed for leisurely use, with trees planted to complement the existing hilltop mansion and terraces. A nine-hole golf course was built on the southwest portion of the site in 1923. The course was the focus of civil-rights protests before becoming racially integrated in 1951. The park’s drives are lined with maples and oaks, while the playground at the eastern edge is surrounded by American lindens. Remnants of a horse chestnut allée and a pair of elms near the Mount Clare house predate city ownership. The Mount Clare estate was added to the National Register of Historic Places and named a National Historic Landmark in 1970.