Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing. ~ Wayne Dyer
I don’t know what made me do it. After a few weeks of eyeing a website of interest I decided suddenly I needed to make a call. I felt an overwhelming urgency.
“Hello,” a pleasant voice said on the other end of the phone line, “this is Liriodendron.”
“Hi, ” I said, “I am going to be in your area this coming Saturday, and I know from your website you don’t do tours on Saturdays, only on Sunday and Wednesday.”
“Yes, you are right,” the lady said, “but I just found out I have to be here on Saturday for something else, and I’d be happy to give you a tour.”
“Really?” I asked. “That’s awfully nice.” I was only calling to see if the grounds were gated or accessible all the time. I certainly didn’t expect a private tour.
“My name is Leslie, and I’ll meet you at the back of the house at 3 o’clock on Saturday. I’ll take you inside.”
“See you then,” I said, “And thanks a lot.”
If you’ve read my memoir, you know the importance Johns Hopkins Hospital played in my successful pioneering heart surgery in my childhood. So, you might imagine my thrill of being offered a private tour of the summer home to Dr. & Mrs. Howard Atwood Kelly and his family of nine children. Dr. Kelly, was one of “Big Four” physicians who founded Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1887 along with William Stewart Halstead (a surgeon), pathologist William Henry Welch and internist William Osler.
(The original of this painting of “The Four Doctors” by John Singer Sargent is housed at Johns Hopkins –
the image hanging at Liriodendron is a reproduction.)
Of course during my tour our discussion led to the doctor’s publications. Leslie explained, “Dr. Kelly lived during the era of author H.L. Mencken (1880- 1956), and the two Baltimoreans were friends, despite Mencken’s unease with his friend’s proselytism.” You see, Dr. Kelly was a devout Christian and wrote “A Scientific Man and the Bible.” Well-known for his prayer meetings before surgery, the faith talks he gave around the dinner table and writing sermons for ministers of all faiths, he also supported many missionaries.
When Leslie my tour guide broached this subject, I couldn’t help but think of Dr. John C Krantz, Jr. a Baltimore pharmaceutical scientist whose writings held great evidence of his own faith in God. I’ve often wondered how a person working in the medical field could not have a degree of faith going about the work of healing and witnessing miracles.
Liriodendron Mansion, the eight bedroom home, which at one time held a 100,000 volume library, is now owned by Harford County and has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a premiere wedding site as well as an art gallery. Beautiful grounds provide an outstanding venue for concerts. Enormously tall tulip poplar trees, magnolias, wisteria and other horticultural delights you typically think of when you hear the words “southern mansion” abound. Dr. Kelly’s wife, a German woman, Olga Elizabeth Laetitia Bredow, daughter of Doctor Justus Bredow helped design the five story Palladian mansion, with some interior Georgian influences, in accordance with the standards she was used to.
I found the two rooms filled with medical memorabilia telling the story of Dr. Howard Atwood Kelly‘s career and Christian life fascinating.
Thank you to Leslie, the manager of the property for giving me a private tour. Yep folks, Bel Air, at the heart of Harford County Maryland is indeed filled with kindness. I look forward to returning – next time on a Wednesday or Sunday!
Want to know more about Liriodendron, please follow this link to the website.
This blog about Liriodendron is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard. For more information on her award-winning memoir, please visit this website.