The title is from A Dear John Letter written by Billy Barton and made most popular by Pat Boone. That is, by the way, most definitely not the Billy Barton buried at Belmont Manor.
If you haven’t heard yet, you, as Howard County residents, are now the proud owners of Belmont Manor. Belmont is one of the great historic manors of the area. It’s even more special because the easements that are in place help guarantee that when standing on the porch looking out, you see things, more or less, exactly as those who stood on that porch in 1738. That’s truly remarkable and I am ecstatic that this treasure is now in the public trust and will have public access. If you are interested in a more detailed history of Belmont, the folks from Save Belmont have a fantastic description of the manor’s rich history.
Since Belmont is nestled nicely in Patapsco State Park, it will provide a perfect home for an environmental education center. To me, this purchase is fantastic (OK I promise never to use the word fantastic again) for many reasons, but two overarching ones are worth mentioning. First off, Howard County as a community now has three crown jewels for environmental education, Robinson Nature Center, The Howard County Conservancy, and now Belmont, any one of which would be a true prize for a community. To have three, spread through the County, is simply remarkable.
Secondly, I have, for many years, talked about how environmental preservation and historical preservation are actually two parts of the same “movement.” This is something that usually one either gets intrinsically or has a really hard time getting and agreeing with. Belmont provides the perfect opportunity to put that thought into action. Belmont Manor, besides being built in 1738, is surrounded by Patapsco State Park and the Patapsco River is a signature river of the Chesapeake Bay AND the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. The river valley is where our history and environment collide and we, the people of Howard County, now get to fully appreciate the keystone.