© 2013 The Restorers of Mount Carmel in Maryland, Inc. | 5678 Mount Carmel Road, La Plata, MD 20646
This website's purpose is to provide a historical resource to the general public. Data, photos, etc. have been gleaned from both private and public sources. Material from private sources is copy righted and may not be used without the written consent of the owner.
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Our History

Founders

Chronology of Events

Our Mission Today

Board Members

Committee Chairs
High on a hill in the Port Tobacco Valley lies a lifestyle set apart from the world by prayer, work and a continuous desire to give glory to God. Mount Carmel Monastery of Port Tobacco is home to the cloistered Discalced Carmelite nuns who originally settled on this land in 1790. In 1935, The Restorers of Mount Carmel was established for the purpose of restoring and preserving the site of the first convent of religious women in the 13 original colonies. 

For more than 75 years, the Restorers have continued their dedication to Mount Carmel and the Carmelite nuns through their spiritual, physical and financial support.

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OUR HISTORY 
The Mount Carmel Monastery was founded after the Americal Revolution by Carmelite nuns from Belgium, three of whom were originally from Southern Maryland. After almost 41 years of labor and prayer on the site, the eight or more buildings on the property fell into disrepair and the nuns were living under conditions of extreme hardship. To provide better financial support, Archbishop James Whitfield transferred the 24 Carmelites to the City of Baltimore in 1831.

The Old Monastery Restored
After 100 years, the original Mount Carmel Monastery had almost disappeared. At the time when Archbishop Whitefield transferred the community to Baltimore, the Mount Carmel farm was sold to Edward Sanders.

Through God’s goodness, however, the site and two surviving buildings known as “The Old Monastery” were visited in 1933 by descendants of the Maryland Colonists, who realized that quick action was needed to save the remnants of America’s first Carmel.

Through the efforts of Mrs. Benjamin Talbott of Washington (born Mary Cecelia Hamilton) and her daughter, Mrs. John Hagerty, a restoration campaign began. In 1935, The Restorers of Mount Carmel was established for the purpose of restoring and preserving the site of the first convent of religious women in the 13 original colonies. With the help of the Archbishop of Baltimore, seven acres of the property were purchased, including the two buildings that remained of the original group and the cemetery.

The first pilgrimage to the Shrine was in 1936 and the first Mass was celebrated in June 1937. Chapters of the Restorers were established in Washington D.C., Boston, Charles County, MD, St. Mary’s County, MD and New York City to permenantly maintain Mount Carmel as a priceless relic of Catholic religious life.

In the following year on November 7, a large cross, redolent of those along the wayside in Catholic European countries, was erected, and twelve years later in May, 1949 an outdoor set of Stations of the Cross was set up and indulgenced by a son of St. Francis.

A Pilgrim’s Chapel
In 1954, the Chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was built of rose-colored brick on the site of the original chapel to accommodate the hundreds of pilgrims who journey to this holy mount to glorify God, honor Mary, attend Mass and find inner peace.

Pilgrim Hall was built in 1968 and enlarged in 2006. It includes a gift shop and meeting rooms. Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle of Washington, in his remarks at the first dedication in 1968, stated, “How nice it would be to have a monastery of contemplative nuns here praying for the spiritual welfare of the Archdiocese.” This was the prayer of both laity and nuns from the day the Carmelites left in 1831. This became one of the goals of the Retorers of Mount Carmel: to see nuns return to Port Tobacco.

Through the efforts of the Restorers, the monastery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 1, 1973. Three weeks later, a group of Carmelites arrived in Maryland at Great Mills, and with the support of the Archdiocese of Washington, the wish to move the nuns to Port Tobacco became reality in 1976. 145 years since their departure in 1831, the Discalced Carmelite nuns came home.

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FOUNDERS 
In August of 1933, Mrs. Benjamin E. Talbott (born Mary Cecelia Hamilton) of Charles County, and her daughter, Mrs. John Jenkins Hagerty, were visiting "Hawthorne," the ancestral home overlooking Port Tobacco Valley. She was eager to locate the grave of a Revolutionary ancestor, Colonel Edward Hamilton, in the small Catholic cemetery at Mt. Carmel. She found the Hamilton family plot, and with it, the graves of other well-known Maryland families. . .the Semmes, Spaldings, Davises, Jamesons, Brents, Brookes, Clements, Sanders and Farrels.

Because of the unique history, they resolved to see what could be done to initiate a restoration program. The following year, 1934, the citizens of Maryland were celebrating the tercentenary of the founding of the Maryland Colony at St. Mary's City. Patriotism and civic pride were contagious, and buildings and landmarks were being restored. Why not restore the site and the buildings where the later faithful had planted the fruit of that religious freedom--the foundation of religious life?

Mrs. Talbott and her daughter set to work to organize a society to restore the buildings as well as acquire sufficient land for pilgrimages. Underlying these plans was the fond hope that Carmelites would one day return. Archbishop Michael Curley of Baltimore approved heartily and appointed Mrs. Talbott president and Rev. John Farley, S.J., of Washington, chaplain. The officers now consisted of the Archbishop as Honorary President, a chaplain, president, two vice-presidents, secretary, treasurer, historian and a board of four governors.

The organization of the Restorers was officially realized July 16, 1935. The legal name "Restorers of Mt. Carmel in Maryland" was suggested by the prioress of the Baltimore Carmel at that time, Mother Seraphim, with reference to St. Teresa of Avila, the great "restorer" of the Order of Carmel. Click here to download a PDF of the Restorers original constitution.

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CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS 
Oct 15, 1750: First Carmel in U. S. founded 
Oct 15, 1790: Nuns move to Mount Carmel
1836: Property sold to Edward Sanders except for 1 acre which had been used as the cemetery for the nuns
Sept 2, 1934: Cecilia Talbott & daughter Isabelle visit the Carmel Monastery and decide to restore it
July 16, 1935: Formal organization of Restorers is effected
Oct 23, 1935: Restorers adopt a constitution
Apr 2, 1936: 6.75 acres of land purchased by The Restorers
Mar 27, 1949: Restorer Constitution revised and adopted
Jul 18, 1954: Breaking of the ground for the new Chapel
Aug 15, 1954: Laying of the corner stone by Archbishop O'Boyle
Nov 14, 1954: Dedication of the Chapel by Archbishop O'Boyle
Oct 20, 1968: Pilgrims' Hall dedicated
Oct 23, 1977: The Restorers of Mount Carmel in Maryland is dissolved
May 14, 2004: The Restorers becomes a legal state of Maryland entity

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OUR MISSION TODAY
The Restorers is formed exclusively to carry on religious, charitable and educational activites. The principle purposes of the Restorers, besides the spiritual, shall be, as appropriate, to (1) provide financial assistance to Carmel of Port Tobacco, La Plata, Maryland; (2) help maintain the two historic buildings of the original monastery; and (3) help pay the property insurance for the entire Monastery.

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BOARD MEMBERS
President: Dan Bowes                      Vice President: ​Vacant
Treasurer: Jane Kemp                      Secretary: Peggy Goldsmith

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COMMITTEE CHAIRS
Finance: Beth Hungerford               Membership: Peggy Goldsmith
Historical: Mary Beth Chandler       Hospitality: Ruth Runyan
Spiritual: Bob Vacin                         Maintenance: John Coleman
Communications: Mary Beth Chandler

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Tentative sketch of the original monastery.
From left to right (in line) the Chaplain's cottage, the reception rooms, the choir (chapel to rear), the infirmary and kitchen. The two story structure below was moved up and attached to infirmary.
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The Old Carmel - 1933
The two buildings shown above had been occupied during the nuns absence from 1831-1935 by tenants engaged by the Sanders family to farm the property. In 1933 these two buildings were little more than a ruin.
Photo Courtesy of Mrs. Ellen Talbott
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Carmel Restored - 1937
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Mary Cecilia Hamilton Talbott  |  1876 -1946
Photo Courtesy of Mrs. Ellen Talbott
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Isabelle J. Talbott Hagerty | 11/21/1905 - 8/25/70
Photo Courtesy of Mrs. Ellen Talbott
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Rev. John Farley, S.J.
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A group of Restorers – July 16, 1936
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Gathering of the Restorers of Mount Carmel at Hawthorne on 15 July 1951. Henrietta Talbott is standing at the right of the center pole. 
Photo Courtesy of Mrs. Ellen Talbott
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Original monastery buildings restored & new chapel. 
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October 1976, Dedication at Mount Carmel. Return of the Nuns. Sister Mary Ann and Henrietta Talbott 
Photo Courtesy of Mrs. Ellen Talbott
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Ground breaking ceremony for Pilgrim's Hall
Photo Courtesy of Carmelite Monastery, La Plata, MD
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