Gambrill House - Atlas Obscura

Gambrill House

This three-story Victorian mansion is now home to the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center headquarters. 


Forty miles northwest of Washington D.C., Gambrill House, also known as Edgewood or Boscobel (Italian for “among the beautiful woods”) was built around 1868 for James Gambrill and his family. Gambrill was a successful businessman who owned several local mills. The three-story tall structure, designed in the Second Empire style, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The house featured many stylish details, and Gambrill often hosted parties and balls in the large double parlor and third-floor ballroom, which had its own built-in stage. The house boasted seven fireplaces accented with imported Italian marble.

The house also boasted many top-of-the-line, 19th-century innovations, including wall-mounted gas lamps, hot and cold taps, a coal-burning furnace, a gas-powered cooking range, and sewage disposal.

Located in Maryland, near this beautiful mansion, an important U.S. Civil War battle was fought in 1864: the Battle of Monocacy. In the summer of that year, Confederate forces marched towards D.C. where Union troops met them in farmland northwest of the city.

As you head north on Route 355 towards Frederick, Maryland, visitors will find Gambrill House just before crossing the Monocacy River. Signage for the Gambrill Mill will lead visitors down a short road to a small parking lot. The mansion is located a brief walk up on the hill.

Also accessible from the parking lot is the start of the Gambrill Mill trail. This trail initially winds down a boardwalk that leads to an overlook of the Monacacy River. Here you can see the old railroad bridge as well as the current 355 bridge. You can leave the boardwalk and walk through mowed grass paths through the fields along the creek and eventually through the woods to the remains of an old stone dam. More info on the walking trails can be found on the National Park Service website.

While you can wander around the mansion and surrounding property, access to the house is limited to those employed at the preservation center. So short of peeking in windows, visitors are unable to see any of the magnificent details inside. However, the owner of the local vintage store Chartreuse & Co stated that her family once resided in this home and she was able to tour the inside. Her blog includes photos from inside the mansion showing the amazing architectural details and some sweet family findings. 

Know Before You Go

This is a great place to take kids. In addition to the mansion, boardwalk, trails, and creek, there is a small pond and picnic tables. Check the info on the NPS site for the trail distances and locations. 

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