Greater Ruxton is made up of many unique individual neighborhoods. Most have an interesting past with historic connections to productive and prominent citizens. The area on the south-west corner of Charles & Bellona is known to current residents as Hurstleigh. Bounded by Woodbrook Lane on the south, Charles on the east, Bellona to the north and Betty Bush Lane and the Tyrconneill estate on the west, this area consists of about 100 acres. Many fine homes graciously adorned with aged plantings, varied topography on spacious lots and eclectic architectural styles make for a most pleasant residential area with a proud past.
The record will show this land was originally part of a 500 acre parcel granted by the Proprietor’s Land Office in 1694 as Morgan’s Delight to a Morgan Murray. Morgan’s Delight was a rectangular grant that extended down to Lake Ave and included all of the Elkridge Club property. Its northern fringe along what is now Bellona was also the most southernmost portion of Samuel’s Hope, a grant of equal size. Samuel’s Hope stretched westward over to what is now Lake Roland, north to Dunlora Road and then eastward to other GBMC property encompassing the land we know as Ruxton. (See grant map in Middling Planters MHS 1996)
Subdivision of Morgan’s Delight began when Benjamin Bowen sought to enlarge his plantation. In 1754 he purchased 110 acres of Morgan’s Delight contiguous to Samuel’s Hope. (BB No.J folio 252) At Ben’s death in 1770 the property was willed to son, Josais who is still shown owning the property in the 1804 Assessment. It is this portion that contains the Hurstleigh we know today.
After a series of further transfers we find that by 1877 there were three parcels considered now to be the Hurstleigh community: one owned by Thomas M. Keerl along Charles Street, a second, C.M. Betts to the east of Bettye Bush lane and finally, Samuel Bevan’s the manor house “Glendon” on Perot Lane (Woodbrook Lane). (See Hopkins map 1877)
Mr. Bevan dies in 1881 and his country seat is put up for auction with a descriptive sales notice in the Sun paper. This gives us an idea of what a prosperous Baltimorean enjoyed as a county home.
“The desirable COUNTRY SEAT, known as “GLENDON” formerly owned by Benj. W. Jenkins, Esq. containing 25 acres situate on Perot’s Avenue, a short distance west of Charles-street avenue, 4½ miles from the city and immediately opposite the attractive residence of Wm. Perot Esq. This property is only a few minutes’ drive from the Northern Central Railroad but a few minutes’ walk from the Baltimore and Delta Narrow-Gauge Railroad. Fine shady lawn, with forest growth, abundance of pure cold spring water, fruit, kitchen garden with growing vegetables, ice house filled, etc. The improvements consist of a large handsome FRAME MANSION, containing about 16 rooms, in good order, supplied by ram with pure spring water; also has hot and cold bath etc. A neat FRAME COTTAGE or Porter’s Lodge at the entrance gate, Stone Dairy, commodious Stables and Carriage House, Ice House, Poultry House, etc. Ready for immediate occupancy…” (Baltimore Sun 4/29/1881)
By 1898 prominent Baltimore business and civic leader John E. Hurst had acquired all three parcels including the handsome country residence he renamed, as was his prerogative, as Hurstleigh. During the winter he lived at 416 Eutaw Place.
John Edward Hurst was born on a farm in Dorchester County in 1832. In1849 he came to Baltimore and received apprentice training in banking and wholesale dry goods. By 1856 he had joined his distantly related family firm of Hurst & Co. and by 1868 became its managing partner. During the course of his career, Mr. Hurst is mentioned many times in the Baltimore Sun for his various business, social and political activities. He was a local civic leader of high ethical standards and deeply respected throughout the community.
In an ironic twist of fate, Mr. Hurst died exactly one month before the Baltimore Fire (2/6/1904) which bore the unfortunate circumstance of having started in the basement of his building in Hopkins Plaza. Being the responsible and committed civic leader he was, we can only assume the burden of guilt he would have carried.