Welcome Our New Deputy Director!

The Maryland Historical Trust is pleased to announce that Anne Raines will be our new Deputy Director.  Anne is no stranger to our partners and constituents, since she has served as our Capital Grants and Loans Administrator since 2010.  Her duties have taken her around the state for workshops, site visits, and outreach for the African American Heritage Preservation Program, the MHT Capital Grant and Loan Programs, and the National Park Service Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Grants.

anne-in-hamburg

Anne Raines in Hamburg

Hailing from a small textile town in North Carolina, Anne studied architecture at the College of Design at NC State.  During undergrad, she enjoyed designing projects set in a strong existing context; once, she proposed creating a spa in the old E.B. Bain Water Treatment Plant in Raleigh – an interesting if questionably sanitary adaptive reuse proposal.  Outside of studio, she particularly enjoyed “North Carolina Architecture,” an elective taught by Catherine Bishir, the state’s foremost architectural historian.  This class led to an internship as a research assistant to Catherine and co-author Michael Southern for A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina.  Anne readied maps and documents in preparation for long, lovely days driving the back roads, learning from the two experts while vetting houses, mills, country stores, and churches.  It’s hard to imagine a better first job in the field!  During this time, Anne also reviewed rehabilitation tax credit applications for the North Carolina SHPO, which took her further afield into eastern and western parts of the state and gave her a strong foundation in technical preservation issues.

In 2002 Anne relocated to Baltimore to join Klaus Philipsen, FAIA, at ArchPlan Inc. / Philipsen Architects, a small architecture, urban design, and planning firm, where she worked on both new construction and rehabilitation projects, including Printer’s Square Apartments and the Professional Building in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon.  Her duties ranged from feasibility studies through construction administration, and she could often be found on job sites proudly wearing her bright pink hard hat.

In 2007 Anne and her husband, Eric Leland – also a “recovering architect” – moved to Cornwall, England, to satisfy a lifelong yearning to live abroad.  Eric earned an MA in Illustration while Anne commuted on a charming branch line train to work at Barlow Stott Architects in Truro.  The following year they moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where Anne pursued the MSc in Architectural Conservation from Edinburgh College of Art (University of Edinburgh), the oldest historic preservation degree program in the UK.  While absorbing new vocabulary such as “harling,” “rendering,” and “pinning,” she also learned to appreciate preservation challenges as diverse as ancient stone buildings and modern public housing.  Her thesis, undertaken with the guidance of program leader Dr. Miles Glendinning, focused on the conservation of industrial heritage sites in the Ruhrgebiet area of western Germany.

Upon returning to the US, Anne made it her mission to find a public-sector job in historic preservation, remembering fondly her first job in the field.  Her design school training as a creative problem-solver, as well as her desire to put her skills and education to work for the good of her community, have been the hallmarks of her work at MHT.  Please join us in welcoming Anne to her new post!

Interpretation at Sotterley Plantation: The Road to Relevance

By Jeanne Pirtle, Education Director, Historic Sotterley, Inc.

Historic Sotterley Plantation has a long history, to be sure. It has also been open to the public as a museum since 1960.  Let’s see, what was happening in the 1960’s? Schools were still segregated. Jim Crow was still alive.  And in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, Sotterley’s last private owner had decided to open Sotterley and create a non-profit so that it could be preserved.  As with most house museums at that time, the early tours focused on the furnishings and lives of the owners with a little legend, lore and myth mixed in.  After the owner’s death in 1993, ownership went to the Sotterley Foundation, which is now Historic Sotterley, Inc.

DCIM102GOPRO

In the early 1970’s, a visitor and her father came to the museum.  They paid their two dollars for a tour.  They noticed a slave cabin on the property, but on their tour of the house nothing was mentioned about the slave cabin.  The visitor was Agnes Kane Callum.

Agnes was born in Baltimore in 1925.  She had raised her family while working for the post office. After retirement she earned two degrees from Morgan State University.  She continued to research her family and found a connection to Sotterley.  Her ancestors, Hillary and Elsa Cane, were enslaved there in the 19th century. Agnes made it her passion and mission to have the story of her family told in Sotterley’s narrative. She kept visiting Sotterley with research in hand, bringing large groups of her family and friends with her.  Eventually, Agnes became a trustee on Sotterley’s board and developed an education program for middle school students that is still taught today, Slavery to Freedom.

In 1996, Sotterley was on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “11 Most Endangered” list.  Agnes joined forces with owner descendants to save Sotterley. It was rescued and grant money was used to help restore the house and cabin. For some years, tours focused on this restoration with a few stories of the enslaved, but still it was not a complete and inclusive narrative.

snow-1-09-038

Sotterley’s slave cabin

In 2010, with grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Sotterley began work on a re-interpretation and developed research-based tours that moved past the romanticism to reveal a realistic view of the plantation’s story seen through different perspectives.  An exhibit in the slave cabin, as well as other projects focused on changing perspectives in interpretation at Sotterley, were assisted by grants from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.  In 2012, Sotterley was recognized as a port site through the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP).  In 2014, Land, Lives and Labor became Historic Sotterley Plantation’s first permanent exhibit created to focus on the people who lived and labored for the owners from 1699 into the mid 20th century.  It is housed in the Corn Crib, which was restored using funding from the African American Heritage Preservation Program, administered by MHT and the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture.

corn-crib-exhibit-1

“Land, Lives, and Labor” exhibit, housed in the Corn Crib

Agnes Kane Callum passed away in 2015.  Sotterley will remember her life and legacy as we dedicate the new Slave Cabin exhibit to her memory this April.  This exhibit will focus on the lives of her ancestors, Hillary and Alice Elsa Cane and their children and allow visitors to experience a window into their lives.

At Historic Sotterley, we continue to tell the stories of all who lived and worked here, as we remember our roots and the people who helped us along the way, not just in February, but every day. We welcome every visitor who anticipates a new discovery and finds relevance in our collective past.

A Black History of America in 110 Buttons

By Albert Feldstein, Trustee of the Maryland Historical Trust

In honor of Black History Month, I want to share with you “A BLACK HISTORY OF AMERICA IN 110 BUTTONS: The Events, The Issues, The Organizations, The People.” Derived from my 11,000+ button collection, this poster consists of original buttons related to Black history, from the Scottsboro Boys in 1931 to Black Lives Matter today. Many of buttons stem from advocacy campaigns; a few are controversial and most are self-explanatory. However, historical footnotes describe basic information, relevant dates, names, and when the various organizations were founded

Print

A special effort was made to incorporate Maryland and Baltimore subject matter. Among these buttons is one from the Maryland Freedom Workers Union which was formed in 1966. Assisted by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Union’s initial purpose was to help organize nurse’s aids, housekeepers, and kitchen staff at a Baltimore nursing home. It spread to other venues, such as small retail establishments, resulting in the sncc-we-shall-overcomeformation of Maryland Freedom Local #1. Another button commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Baltimore based Afro-American Newspaper which was founded by John Henry Murphy Sr., a former slave. It is the oldest African-American family-owned newspaper in the nation. The button depicted here, from 1992, was issued in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the newspaper, which is also popularly known as “The Afro”. Along with its coverage of news and current events, the Afro-American newspaper remains a strong advocate of equal rights, and economic opportunity. All three buttons from the 2015 Maryland History Day Program depicting Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Thurgood Marshall are also portrayed.

I began collecting buttons almost fifty years ago, as a student at the University of Maryland. I was attracted to the graphics and the colorful way these buttons depicted the people and issues that were front-page news at the time. The collection goes all the way back to 1896, when buttons as we know them today were first introduced. In recent years, I realized that, while some of what is portrayed on these buttons is still part of our popular culture, important people and events were being forgotten about by each new generation. Projects like the Black History of America poster represent my attempt to share this knowledge for the future.

maryland-history-day

The poster has sold nationwide and has been accepted for exhibit and sale at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. For more information, please visit http://www.blackhistorybuttons.com.

Preserving Our Legacy: The Archives and Artifacts Ministry of Union Baptist Church

By Evelyn J. Chatmon and Dr. Dorothy Coleman, Co-Chairs, Archives & Artifacts Ministry, Union Baptist Church, Baltimore MD

A casual conversation between Lucretia Billups, Co-Chair Emeritus, and Evelyn Chatmon outside of church one Sunday morning, about a beautiful writing created by the then pastor, Rev. Vernon N. Dobson, blossomed into an acknowledgement of how many church documents were being accumulated in our homes.  That conversation led to our wondering if there was any unified effort to save the history of our church, which was already in the beginning stages of preparing to celebrate its 150th Anniversary.  We learned that there had never been a concerted effort to save the church’s history and were able to convince Rev. Dobson that her history needed to be preserved.  Thus was created the Archives and Artifacts Ministry of Union Baptist Church.  That was 20 years ago.  A well-known Baltimore archivist, by the name of Wayne Wiggins, gave us invaluable guidance, explaining at the outset of our efforts that what we were doing, though unusual, was of great importance.  The effort has been well worth it. union-baptist-1928-membership-photo

Following are just a few of the reasons why Union Baptist Church is historically significant.  Located at 1219 Druid Hill Avenue, Union was organized on May 10, 1852.  In 2010, she was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.  Moving from its North Street location, the new edifice, dedicated in 1905, became the first church in Baltimore City to be built by Negroes for Negroes.  Ten pastors have served her over 165 years of existence.  The congregation, presently led by Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway, Sr., has had the distinction of also being led by two nationally recognized pastors.   Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson was her fourth pastor from 1872-1923 and Rev. Vernon N. Dobson her ninth from 1967-2007. During the tenure of Dr. Johnson, the congregation grew to 3,000 members.  Dr. Johnson won the first case in the United States striking down the identification of Negroes as cargo in interstate commerce in the case of “Stewart v s The Sue”.  Among other numerous civil rights accomplishments, Dr. Johnson led the litigation to get colored teachers pay equal to that of whites and to allow colored lawyers to practice in the state of Maryland. The tenure of Rev. Dobson saw a continuation of the work of the civil rights movement. Rev. Dobson began working with Dr. Martin Luther King and Union became one of the major sponsors of the March on Washington in the Poor People’s Campaign.  Union also was a staging ground for many civil rights meetings; a major achievement was the integration of Gwynn Oak Amusement Park.  Under Dobson’s leadership, a pilot Head Start program was tested in 1968, a full time program was established two years later, and a child care center was built to house the program in 1995 at a cost of $3.2 million. Union was a co-founder of BUILD in the 1970s, under Rev. Dobson’ s leadership.

Over these twenty years, we have been fortunate to collect from many nooks and crannies in the church, from church safes, from file cabinets and from the homes of many members, documents of great worth.  Examples of what we have collected include original deeds, celebratory programs, minutes of meetings, photographs, numerous artifacts, and the ledgers of the giving of members, which include the monetary gifts of Dr. Johnson as well as documentation of his salary.  Probably most valuable are the hundreds of funeral programs of our members, even dating back to that of Dr. Francis Wood, the first black superintendent of Baltimore City Public Schools in the late 1920s.  In addition, we have a copy of the program for the 50th Anniversary Celebration given for Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson.

1926-newsletter

Our current Pastor, Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway, Sr., whose dissertation was on the work of Dr. Harvey Johnson, and who is also a member of the archives ministry, is keenly aware of the importance of maintaining Union’s history.  It was at his urging that we sought an African American Heritage Preservation Program (AAHPP) grant from the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Maryland Historical Trust to create an environment to house and safeguard our collection.  Thanks to the grant, we have a separate, climate-controlled space that was dedicated this past October.

The collection will be of great value to those who want to find information about their ancestors or to note the contributions of those in Union’s leadership who came before.  The ministry has mounted displays of documents and artifacts of historical significance. Various members of the public have used our documents to do research for books and papers.  We have received requests for access to our new archives space to learn about what we are doing and why we are doing it.  We encourage other churches to be inspired by our work, and to find similar ways to preserve their legacies – not only buildings, but also photographs, papers, and records – for future generations.

 

Maryland’s Polling Houses: Vanishing Reminders of Elections Past

By Elizabeth Hughes, Director and State Historic Preservation Officer

On November 8th, Marylanders will cast votes in public places ranging from schools, community centers, and libraries to churches, fire houses, and office buildings. In years past, private homes, stores, and purpose-built polling houses also helped meet this need. Today, the handful of polling houses that survive speak volumes about how local communities have long valued their right and duty to vote on Election Day.

nutterselectionhouse

Nutter’s District Election House. Photo: Wicomico County Historical Society

On the Eastern Shore, the Nutter’s District Election House was built in 1938 as a simple one-room frame structure. Relocated in 1976 by the Wicomico County Historical Society to its current site in Fruitland, it now serves as a museum that houses the Society’s collection of presidential and inauguration memorabilia and political campaign items. In nearby Somerset County, Princess Anne’s Election House was moved to its current location in Manokin River Park in the 1980s. One of the state’s most decorative examples, this one-room structure boasts eave brackets, corner pilasters and (originally) a lath and plaster interior. It has the added distinction of serving its original purpose, as votes are cast here every two years for the Princess Anne town elections.

sang-run

Sang Run Election House. Photo: Al Feldstein

In the western part of the state, the unincorporated community of Sang Run in Garrett County is the site of the Sang Run Election House. Reputedly built in 1872, the one-room, board and batten sided structure served the voters of this once thriving lumber town.

Calvert County has, remarkably, retained four of its historic polling houses – the Sunderland Polling House (relocated to the White Hall property), the Old St. Leonard Polling House, the Sunderland Polling House in Huntingtown, and the St. Leonard Polling House. Utilitarian in nature, these one-room structures served the county from the late 19th through the mid-20th century. Most had two doors so that voters could move easily in one door, cast their vote, and exit out the other.

st-leonards

St. Leonard’s Polling House. Photo: Kirsti Uunila

Calvert County Historic Preservation Planner Kirsti Uunila notes that these structures have an important story to tell as the center of civic life. “These polling houses weren’t segregated – Calvert County’s black and white residents cast their votes together here. Following school integration in the 1960s, the polling houses were abandoned and voting often took place in schools.” Oral histories document that these sites served as important centers of social as well as political activity, with oysters, crabcakes, and fried chicken being sold to hungry voters here on election day.

Although the way in which we cast our vote may have changed, our responsibility has not. As you make your way to the polls this Election Day, remember the story of these humble landmarks….and then go get a crabcake!