Built in 1893 as a wedding gift, Mary's Hope on Church Cove remains a symbol of love and gracious living more than 120 years later. The home was a showpiece of its time and was the namesake of a previous owner, James Angel, who stated in a will dated May 10, 1736, that land referred to as Mary's Hope was bequeathed to his daughter Mary and her heirs.
John Grey Hopkins Lilburn, an industrious planter, waterman, and later president of the St. Mary's County Commissioners, purchased the property known as Pleasant Valley in the late 1800s to create a home for his fiancée, Annie Elizabeth Thomas. Annie herself was well educated and served as principal of the St. Mary's Female Seminary, which would later become St. Mary's College of Maryland.
By 1910, the Lilburn family had a modern and spacious home, which included such luxuries as running water and a septic system, something quite unusual for rural St. Mary's County at the turn of the century. John Lilburn passed away in 1918, leaving the house to his wife who died in 1932.
More than 50 years later, another successful local businessman, William E. Raley, purchased the home and began renovating the house. "Bill" Raley and his wife Judy, owners of Raley's Furniture, began restoring the home to its former grandeur. During the renovations, an old pine board was discovered while replacing boards in the porch roof. Upon examination, it revealed the names of Augustine McClanahan and John Haman. The two men had been working on the house and had signed the board saying they would "dine and sup tonight at the wedding of John Lilburn and Annie Thomas." The men dated the board July 26, 1893. Today it is proudly displayed in the "Lilburn" room located just off the front foyer.
After generations of living in the home, The Raley family decided in 2002 to turn the home into the ideal spot for social gatherings and weddings. All members of the Raley family coordinate the many events that take place each year at Mary's Hope on Church Cove, as well as maintaining the beautiful grounds surrounding the manor.
With its idyllic waterfront setting on a point high above Church Cove, the grounds are adorned with old growth oak, walnut and poplar trees. Crepe myrtle, magnolia, and lilacs are just some of the many flowering trees and plants found on the grounds. A gazebo overlooking the water provides the perfect backdrop for wedding portraits.
The house lends a sense of stateliness to any function. The grand foyer features antique furnishings and original pine flooring. The large staircase with restored hand-carved oak newel post gives visitors their first glimpse at a bygone era. Grand windows fill the Lilburn room with plenty of natural light, which plays off the cheerful yellow walls.
Upstairs, several bedrooms give anxious brides and grooms-to-be a place to relax and prepare for the festivities. Also upstairs is access to the two-story balcony, which overlooks the front lawn and is a favorite place for brides to throw their bouquets.
With its majestic setting and connection to the past, Mary's Hope continues to stay true to John Lilburn's original vision of home - a place built in the name of love, which provides love and hope to those who gather there.
Tours are by appointment only.
P.O. Box 3964 Prince Frederick, Maryland 20678
Street Address: 18050 Church Cove
Lane, St. Inigoes, Maryland 20684
Events Coordinator: Michelle Morren