In 1800, Charles Carroll of Carrollton (the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence and the wealthiest signer to boot) decided to give his son (also Charles) and bride, Harriet Chew, a nice present: a country estate just north of the city. Taking his father's money but not his advice to renovate an existing farm house, the younger Charles and Harriet commissioned Homewood House. No expense was spared, and at a price tag of $40,000 (a fortune at the time), Homewood became a show place for the elite young couple.
The house is noted as one of the best examples of Federal style architecture in the country. Built on a Palladian-inspired five-part plan, Homewood is renowned for its elegant proportions, fine workmanship and materials, and the extravagant detail in all aspects of its construction, from the intricately carved wooden fireplace surrounds, doorways, and chair rails, to the marble painted baseboards and mahogany grained doors and the ornate plaster ceiling ornaments. Johns Hopkins University acquired the building, which gave rise to the "Homewood Campus" name, in 1902 and opened it as a museum in 1987.