Instawalk: Abandoned St. Mary’s College, aka “Hell House”


after having my fill of Wilmington i was at a loss for what to do the rest of the day, so i decided to just drive the extra 70 miles or so to Baltimore for lunch and whatever else. i ended up at Thames Street Oyster House, a highly-rated-on-yelp restaurant in one of my favorite sections of Bawlmer, Fell’s Point, where i splurged on a great seafood-overload meal of oysters, quahog chowder, and a lobster roll with a side of cassoulet. (it helped that i was working so late last night that i didn’t eat dinner, so my appetite was ginormous.)

after lunch, i was considering a driving tour of The Wire locations but decided against it because it would best be done with a navigator and i was solo today. so, left with no other ideas since i was just in Baltimore less than a year ago and didn’t need to do anything touristy, i googled “abandoned baltimore” (since i have a love of all things abandoned) and found a great page that listed several options.

i decided on the ones near Ellicott City (which, by the way, looks super-quaint). the Patapsco Female Institute was closed, but alas uninteresting since it was semi-rehabbed and not run-down (it’s operated by the park district now for events and such, in addition to being a park), so i had high hopes for St. Mary’s College (“Hell House”). while the buildings are largely not there anymore, it didn’t disappoint.

sure, i would have loved to explore an actual crumbling edifice or two, but the buildings were finally demolished last decade. what i got, though — a nice solitary hike in the snow-covered woods and some old ruins — was just fine and exactly what i needed after a crazy workweek.


this was the hardest part. i finally ended up finding it on yelp, which gave me the address, but GPS took me a bit past the actual location. so here it is on a map with some more info on getting there:


there is parking along the curve on River Road as well as right at the base of the hill by the railroad tracks. from what i can tell (but do NOT quote me on this), the only No Trespassing signs were on railroad property (tracks and bridge), so the ruins should be fair game. i really wanted to walk on the tracks over the bridge to the Ilchester Tunnel but alas, was a good boy. note, though, that an old article about the history of the college states that there are (were?) No Trespassing signs, i really did look for them, but didn’t see any. the wikipedia article on Ilchester states that at least part of the land was indeed incorporated into the surrounding state park.

the pictures

The first, long staircase. An off-duty firefighter was running up and down them for exercise. While there were hikers/walkers on the other side of the river and noisy teens nearby at times, he was the only person I actually saw on/near the ruins, and only here.


Twisted steel

Hole in the ground where a building used to be

A hole in the ground (scroll down for more on this hole)


More stairs


What the area looks like

If you look closely there is a Dharma Initiative tag.

I think this is the “decaying shrine” from the cemetery mentioned in the “Spooky Baltimore” article I linked to above, but I’m not sure. Note the Dharma Initiative logo someone spray painted.


Through one of the windows

Just me

It was just me and hills

This is what's inside the hole in the ground.

I probably should have been more observant, but it wasn’t until I was heading down the hill that I noticed the hole in the ground from before was actually the top of a building, not just a maw opening to a simple foundation. Descend into the rubble and voilĂ , two rooms.

Inside the far room are the remains of mattresses and hooligan detritus

Inside the far room are the remains of mattresses and hooligan detritus


Mattress springs

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