The mansion that served as the exterior inspiration for Disney's Haunted Mansion ride is located just an hour away in Baltimore, and -- although it kinda pains us to say it -- it offers visitors a far more enriching experience than the popular Disney experience.
Tucked away between the campuses of the College of Notre Dame and Loyola College sits the magnificent former home of railroad tycoon John W. Garrett. The Garrett family's gorgeous, 48-room estate -- complete with 23-karat gold-plated bathrooms and a theater painted by an iconic Russian artist -- was designed in classic Italianate style to reflect their eclectic cultural interests.
The home also features a bowling alley and gymnasium, as well as a red Asian room displaying Chinese and Japanese artifacts the family collected throughout their travels overseas.
Since being acquired by Johns Hopkins University in 1942, the 19th-century mansion has been transformed into Evergreen Museum (4545 N. Charles St., Baltimore), an exquisite venue featuring a wide-ranging collection of fine and decorative arts including paintings by Picasso, Modigliani and Degas, as well as a library with nearly 30,000 rare books and manuscripts on display.
The mansion is surrounded by 26 acres of Italian-inspired horticulture, through which guests are encouraged to wander. The estate is also home to the famed Bakst Theater, which often hosts concerts, films and lectures.
Evergreen is open to visitors Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The exhibitions and collections can only be viewed via a guided tour, which is offered hourly.
Museum admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $5 for students.
Starting this month, the museum will feature an exhibit entitled Herbert Hasetine: Sculptor of the Modern Age. Hasetine, a renowned American sculptor, was a close friend of the Garrett family and contributed several works to their private collection, which are on display in the mansion's main library until May 26.