Rose Hill Manor Museum is a historic home and hands on children’s history experience in Frederick County, MD. The property once belonged to Thomas Johnson, the first elected governor of Maryland and has been preserved by the county for families and school groups to enjoy learning about the past.
This museum had so much more to offer than I thought from looking on its website! I knew there were parlor games and a toy room but had no idea of the extent of child friendly activities that we would find on our visit. Fees for visiting the house are $4 for children 3 to 17 and $5 per adult. Cash or checks are accepted for payment. Parts of the historic home must be visited with a guide and some areas are self-guided.
Your tour begins with a brief history of the house and the Johnson family. We were then left to explore the parlor and upstairs of the house at our own speed. The parlor had several sets of checkers and other “old” games like pick up sticks, dominoes and mancala. This held the attention of my 6 and 7 year old briefly but nothing like the toy room we would find upstairs.
The second floor playroom could have entertained my kids for hours. There was a wooden barn and animals, rocking horses, Lincoln logs, blocks, marble runs, wooden cars and racetracks, cloth rag dolls and wooden cradles and a huge dollhouse. We had the place to ourselves on an early summer Sunday and had a blast playing with all of these simple toys. The upstairs of the house also has two bedrooms and a sewing room with wool and cotton to touch, stuffed sheep to play with, wool brushes, and pattern blocks to recreate quilting squares.
Once we got the girls downstairs our guide met up with us to show us the dining area and kitchen. These areas were stocked with fun for kids as well. The dining room had two small tables and chairs as well as a kid sized buffet with plates, cups, saucers and teapots. The kitchen area was loaded with play food and utensils, pots and pans to play with, a laundry station and even a wood burning stove to “bake bread”. Our guide even showed the girls how to use a real mortar and pestle to grind allspice.
After the girls “cooked” and “cleaned” and we had eaten all the fake meals we could possibly eat we headed out with our guide to an authentic log cabin on the property. Here we got to see how a family of four could live in such tight quarters many years ago. The girls got to sweep the floors and we all learned the origins of the phrase “good night, sleep tight” (the mattress sat on a bed of rope that needed to be tightened with a key every night before laying down to keep the bed firm).
Our last stop was the carriage museum which was more of a look but don’t touch area for the kids. There are some beautiful old sleighs and buggies along with early cars and coaches to look at but without the promise of climbing on anything we only lasted about 10 minutes in here. The website for this property advertises a farm museum along with the children’s museum and carriage house but we were told that the farm exhibits are only open during the spring and fall festivals as well as select special events throughout the year.
If you plan to visit Rose Hill Manor during the week please note that it is a popular stop for school field trips and camp outings so call ahead of time to check to see if any groups will be visiting the property on your desired date. Rose Hill is also host to a variety of summer camps (including an American Girl camp) and has on-site birthday parties and scout programs. Coming July 14th and 15th is the Civil War Encampment complete with costumed participants and battle reenactments at 2pm on both days. Admission for the encampment is $3 per spectator.
Rose Hill Manor is a great place for kids to play their way into the history of Maryland! Our family really enjoyed our visit here and would highly recommend this fun outing for families with kids ages 3 to 8.
The Manor is open Monday to Saturday: 11am to 4pm and Sundays from 1 to 4pm. The museum is open weekends only in September and October.
Photo by Kim Engstrom.