A few weeks back I had a meeting at 5430 Vantage Point Road. That’s all the information I had, and the address was pretty nondescript, so I figured it was just a standard business address. On my way there, I got lost for a bit, and even when I found the building I didn’t believe I was at the correct address. My phone, however, was pinpointing that exact spot. There was no other building around, so it had to be correct. I was standing in front of a gorgeous 19th century building with a sign that read Oakland, not a brick office building like what I’d expected.
I admit, I’m a sucker for the charm of historic homes and buildings. I have always wanted to live in an older home, dreaming of fixing it up like they do on This Old House. I found myself a bit distracted during the meeting as I was curious about this building and its history.
When I got home after the meeting, I looked up Historic Oakland on the internet — and once again I was in awe of Jim Rouse’s forethought in his planning of Columbia. There were several homes and buildings that he planned around when he built Columbia; Oakland Manor was one of them. He acquired these historic buildings, but he didn’t demolish them. He grasped the importance of showing the roots of Columbia and buildings such as Historic Oakland, which tells part of the backstory to what became Columbia.
I also learned that after several owners and many remodeling efforts over the years, CA decided to renovate Historic Oakland in 1986 to take it close to its original design. Since then it has been used for small meetings, lectures, concerts, weddings and other events.
Historic Oakland is open to self-guided tours too. I went back a few days ago to see the building again and I was awed at the attention given to finer details. Like the landscaping: It’s beautifully well kept and adds so much to the beauty of the home. What’s more, the landscaping also underwent a restoration done by Charles Shaw, a landscape architect. The plantings are those you might have seen in 1811 when the manor was built.
Now that I know the building is there right in the center of Columbia, I plan to make it a regular stop. Throughout the year there are many regular monthly events. There is Afternoon Tea, a parent and tots playgroup and a music series called Oakland Nights, which runs from September through May.
Melissa Sinclair works in the Communications & Engagement Division at Columbia Association (CA). Melissa recently moved to Columbia with her three-generation family. She has lived in more than a dozen cities and is looking forward to making Columbia, Md., her permanent home! Over the past year she has worked on losing weight, getting fit and doing volunteer work; she is now looking forward to working for CA after staying home with her family for the last several years. Melissa has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in educational administration. Click here to read more of Melissa’s Getting to Know CA series.