The mansion is getting some face-lifts.

Phase I
The ballroom floor:

Phase II
Repointing the mansion
and Improving the
drainage on the right side.

Phase III
Replacing the windows
and shutters:

The mansion will be going thru some upgrades and will no longer be available for rentals. The first floor will become mostly office space. The chapel is closed for renovations.

From the Director

    Meet Richard "Rick" Smith - Guardian and Keeper of Orianda
    by Roberta Sharper

Sitting in his office surrounded by memorabilia reflecting the lives of former residents of the mansion, time tends to stand still. It takes very little time, however, in his presence to reveal much about the man who has undertaken the task of preserving the rich history of this magnificent house.

Rick grew up in a military family and lived in Frankfurt, Germany and other places in Europe from the ages of four to six. Aside from that experience abroad he has lived most of his life near the Leakin Park Crimea Estate.

As a child he spent much of his time playing and hiking in the park surrounding the mansion. He recalls his fascination with the huge boulders that were an integral part of the landscape, wondering what might be buried beneath them. His parents introduced him to gardening and he learned to understand the characteristics of various plants.

His education reflects diverse institutions of learning both public and private, providing a broad perspective which influences his interest in many areas. Having grown up with few children, his life has been shaped by the adults who told stories about their lives which centered around the park. He recalls sitting on the porches of elderly neighbors and family friends sipping cool drinks and being enveloped in living history lessons.

Rick Smith

From 1987-1991 he worked at the Carrie Murray Nature Center. During this time he fondly remembers the Fisher Family who lived near the Center and who often invited him to tea. They, and later other family members, were happy to share their stories of life in the park and many photographs with Rick. This material became the nucleus of the large collection he has acquired.

Rick worked for Parks and Recreation from 1991 until 1993 when the tailgate of a dump truck fell on him causing debilitating injuries, the aftermath of which persist to this day. From 1993-1996 he worked at the Conservatory and continued to educate himself by attending Catonsville Community College for Park and Recreation Studies and Goucher for Historical Preservation.

In 1996 Rick left city employment and started his own business but continued to connect with people who had lived in the park or knew others who came to the park for recreation and who might have historical information or materials they would like to add to his growing collection.

Sundays in the park were special times for him and he became such a fixture that Dave Starnes, past Director of Outward Bound, asked him to display some of his materials. By this time he had acquired a tremendous amount of valuable materials with no permanent place to house them. In 2006 Dave offered him office space in the mansion and Rick has become the ultimate volunteer and caretaker of the mansion for the past three years, where aside from his job he can be found daily at the mansion from 9:00-3:00. He also directs the planning for Christmas Open House and other special events when the mansion is open to the public.

His vision for the future of Orianda is its restoration to accommodate multiple usage, an additional building to house educational facilities for history, music, and an art gallery which reflects the period when the mansion was a family residence.

When asked how others may help now and in the future, he said by realizing that Orianda is an asset to the city and that its history should be kept alive. This can be done by becoming stewards who will continue to care for it.

And how does Rick care for the mansion? "Oh, mopping floors, taking care of trash, cleaning restrooms, cutting grass, historian, curator, etc." Without a moments hesitation when asked what has been most fulfilling about this labor of love, he said "The mansion has become a home for my enormous collection (which by the way continues to grow), it has inspired a strong belief in my ideals and afforded me an opportunity to give something back to the city."

Rick had the great fortune to be adopted by a loving family who instilled in him and nurtured his talents for decorating, singing and poetry, and a love of nature. He is a warm and caring individual and an adoring father whose life centers around his son Ricky, Jr. who was born in 1997. He says this is the most precious thing that has ever happened in his life. His love for his son and for nature are vividly expressed in this letter written to his son and buried in a time capsule in the park to be unearthed in 2057:

"Dear Ricky, I looked down at you the day we placed this box in the ground. A tear rolled down my cheek. Since you came home from the hospital as a baby, I have raised you on my own, loving you with all my heart and soul. You are my 'rock' in my life. If I am not here when you open this box, look around you, for I am in the trees, in the flowers, in the history of this park I loved, standing next to you always. (Can you feel me hugging you?) I hope you have grown into a great man. Love always and forever, Daddy."