Preparing for Future Floods

By Nell Ziehl, Chief, Office of Planning, Education and Outreach


Hoopers Island

As we turn from Ellicott City’s disaster response to recovery, and watch hurricanes threaten Florida and Hawaii, it’s hard not to think about all the places throughout Maryland that are prone to flooding. We built our earliest towns, cities, roads and rail lines along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. As ports and fishing industries boomed, we developed more. And let’s be honest: we all love to live and play near water.


Westernport, located on the Potomac

With support from the National Park Service and the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund,the Maryland Historical Trust has hired Preservation Design Partnership, LLC to help us think about how to plan for and adapt historic buildings and districts threatened by flooding from tides, coastal surges, flash floods and sea level rise. Earlier this summer, we accompanied Dominique Hawkins and her team to riverine and coastal communities in western Maryland, Cecil County, Prince George’s County, Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County, and the Eastern Shore, to try to get a handle on what property owners and local governments face when preparing for floods.


Mill No. 1 on the Jones Falls in Baltimore City

Before the end of the year, we hope to release a paper to help guide our agency, local governments and partner organizations as we consider how to maintain the integrity of our irreplaceable historic sites while preparing for increased flooding and precipitation. I’m sure we won’t have all the answers, but it will, we hope, be a starting point for a conversation that we look forward to continuing with all of you.

My Summer in Maryland Archeology

By Justin Warrenfeltz

As the 2016 Summer Archeology Intern with the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT), I have worked on a wide variety of projects, each more interesting than the last. In June, I assisted with the planning and implementation of the Archeological Society of Maryland annual Tyler Bastian Field Session in Maryland Archeology. As a former archeological crew chief, this was a perfect opportunity for me to contribute substantially to MHT’s work at the River Farm site. Under the guidance of archeologists with the Lost Towns Project, I assisted with excavation and site management.

Justin Janes Island

The author at Janes Island State Park in Crisfield

After the Field Session, State Terrestrial Archeologist Dr. Charles Hall asked me to plan and implement a research method for oyster shell analysis of artifacts recovered from the Willin Site in Dorchester County, most recently excavated by MHT archeologists in 2009. Using the MHT Library to research current literature on oyster shell analysis, I created a new shell catalog and collection forms and analyzed thousands of oyster shells recovered from the site. I learned – and practiced – valuable skills in artifact analysis, research planning, and project management.

Justin River Farm

Excavation at River Farm

Finally, working under the supervision of Dr. Troy Nowak, Assistant State Underwater Archeologist, I helped plan and implement both a marine survey, conducted by remote sensing, and a terrestrial survey of archeological sites in and around Janes Island State Park in Crisfield. This project introduced me to many different aspects of archeology with which I previously had no experience: I learned how to drive a small boat; conduct controlled archaeological surface collection and soil coring; and assist with magnetometer and side-scan surveying.

Justin with Charlie Hall

The author with State Terrestrial Archeologist Charlie Hall

My time with MHT has been an immensely rewarding experience. I learned a wide range of skills and developed important professional relationships with members of the Archeological Society of Maryland, Lost Towns Project, Maryland Archeological Conservation Lab, Maryland Historical Trust and Department of Planning, and the Maryland Park Service. I am immensely grateful to MHT and its staff for this unique opportunity.

A Fond Farewell to Roz Racanello

By Maryland Historical Trust Staff

Not long after the State of Maryland certified the Southern Maryland Heritage Area in July 2003, Roslyn “Roz” Racanello saw a job ad for an Executive Director of a new heritage preservation and tourism organization serving Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties. She wasn’t sure what a “Heritage Area” was exactly, but she thought her background in the arts, marketing and communications, planning and partnership building, and fundraising and advocacy might be a good fit. Having recently moved to Maryland from the New York City region, she had worked largely in the private sector doing creative and design work with world renowned firms such as Time-Warner, Readers Digest, and the New York Stock Exchange. The Steering Committee recognized Roz’s skills and hired her to build Maryland’s sixth Heritage Area from the ground up.

Roz & Mayor Bojokles

Roz Racanello with North Beach Mayor Bojokles in 2010

Under Roz’s leadership, the Southern Maryland Heritage Area worked with partners to secure over $5.4 million of grants and matching funding for heritage preservation and tourism projects in the three-county region. She played a leading role in the creation of the Religious Freedom National Scenic Byway, now managed by the Southern Maryland Heritage Area, and recently served as principal staff to the Steering Committee for the development of a Piscataway Indian Heritage Trail. For these and many other projects, in 2010 she received a Governor’s Award for her outstanding work in Cultural Heritage Tourism from the Office of Tourism Development, and another Cultural Heritage Tourism Award in 2014 for the publication Destination Southern Maryland: A Regional Guide to War of 1812 Events.

S Md 1812 Guide

This award-winning publication helped steer residents and visitors to tourism offerings in Southern Maryland.

For nine years Roz also served as Chair of the Maryland Coalition of Heritage Areas, the independent professional organization of Maryland’s 13 State-certified Heritage Areas. In this role, she was a highly effective and respected spokesperson, representing the organizations with the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority that governs the overall program. Her efforts with the Office of the Governor and the Maryland Legislature helped secure full State funding of $3 million annually. Her professional knowledge and innovative approaches also made her a highly sought-after and valued Board member of over a dozen government and non-profit organizations, including the Executive Directors Council of the Maryland Tourism Development Board; the Maryland Historical Trust’s PreserveMaryland Steering Committee; and the Star-Spangled 200 War of 1812 Bicentennial Events, Programs and Grant Review Committee. As a member of the Preservation Maryland-led Tobacco Barns Summit Coalition, she helped distribute Save America’s Treasures grants to save 30 endangered historic tobacco barns.

RRacanello MHAA CakeBefore retiring this summer, Roz attended the July 7, 2016 meeting of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, which awarded her a Certificate of Appreciation, as did the Maryland Coalition of Heritage Areas. Last month she was also honored by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan with a Citation in recognition of her thirteen years of outstanding service to the people of Maryland. She will be missed at the Maryland Historical Trust, and we thank her for all that she’s done to promote preservation and heritage tourism in our state.

A Summer with the Maryland Historical Trust – by Andrew Chase

The Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) enjoys hosting interns during the summer months. This year, we asked our interns to share their experiences with all of you! If you enjoy these blogs, please consider applying for an internship with MHT in 2017. 

Andrew Chase Visiting Crimea

The author on a site visit to Crimea, Baltimore City

I am a rising senior at Severna Park High School, and ever since I was young, I have had a profoundly great interest in history. I enjoy reading all sorts of histories, from political to economic to art and architecture. This summer, I spent two months completing an internship with the Maryland Historical Trust, Maryland’s State Historic Preservation Office. During my internship, I was able to get a closer look at Maryland’s history and see how we preserve our past.

Andrew Chase Inventory Files Galore

Learning about records management

Within the Office of Research, Survey, and Registration, I worked with MHT’s Inventory Registrar and Librarian on records management, including various projects involving the architectural survey files which comprise the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties, housed in MHT’s Library. In addition, I updated records on the database “Medusa”, combed through rediscovered binders of records to find information on historic properties that had been lost over time, and matched unidentified slides of bridges to their inventory numbers. I also had great experiences, ranging from discovering new (to me) technologies, such as the typewriter, and even visiting Crimea (a property in Baltimore), along with the MHT Easement Committee.

Andrew Chase New Technology

Experimenting with historic technology

With all the material I have worked with from across the state, I have seen the great deal of work that goes into preserving Maryland’s historical resources. To me, what is interesting about historic preservation is that one of the most common ways to preserve a historic site is to survey and document the property. MHT’s Library preserves documentation on the entire spectrum of historic sites in Maryland.

Harriet Elizabeth Brown: “The Quiet Heroine of 1937”

By Michael Gayhart Kent, Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture

Harriet Elizabeth Brown

Harriet Elizabeth Brown

1937 was an explosive year in history.  On May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg airship ignited over New Jersey and crashed to the ground in flames.  The June 3, 1937 wedding of Wallis Simpson to the former King of England also shook the world, dominating the news until the shock of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance over the Pacific on July 2, 1937.  The most earth-shaking event for the black community in Maryland came on November 11, 1937, when Harriet Elizabeth Brown, a Black teacher at Mt. Hope Elementary School, filed a lawsuit against the Calvert County Board of Education.

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An Uncertain Future for America’s Cultural Heritage

By Elizabeth Hughes, Director and State Historic Preservation Officer, Maryland Historical Trust and President, National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO)

As we celebrate Preservation Month and the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, federal funding for historic preservation hangs in the balance.  Since 1976, the Historic Preservation Fund has supported state and local efforts to identify, protect, and enhance historic places that matter to Marylanders. In addition to special competitive grants, the Maryland Historical Trust receives approximately 20 percent of its annual budget from this fund.  Yet the fund’s authorization, supported by a small percentage of offshore drilling revenue, was allowed to expire on September 30, 2015.

Elizabeth Hughes HPF testimony 0215

Maryland State Historic Preservation Officer and NCSHPO President Elizabeth Hughes gives testimony before the House Federal Lands Subcommittee in support of the Historic Preservation Fund in February 2015.

Thanks to the leadership of Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland has positioned itself as a strong champion for preservation.  On April 11, Governor Hogan wrote to Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT), who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, which is responsible for the fund’s reauthorization. The governor expressed his support, noting “Reauthorization and extension of the Fund until 2024 will support states and tribes as they carry out the work of the national historic preservation program and would provide certainty for states and communities with historic preservation projects.” Local governments, developers, and private citizens depend on this support to document historic places for the National Register of Historic Places, to take advantage of federal tax credits, and to support local planning, among other critical preservation efforts.

Congress is moving slowly to ensure that there is a future for the Historic Preservation Fund.  The National Historic Preservation Amendments Act of 2015 (H.R. 2817), a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Fund for 10 years, has been introduced by Historic Preservation Caucus Co-Chairs Mike Turner (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D – OR).  A subcommittee hearing on the bill was held in February and co-sponsors on the bill are actively being sought.


Evergreen in Allegany County was recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places, a program supported at the state level by the Historic Preservation Fund.

Despite this forward movement, Governor Hogan’s support for reauthorization could not have come at a more critical juncture. Only last month, the House Rules Subcommittee proposed exploring limits on appropriations for programs and agencies whose legal authorizations have expired. The loss of federal preservation funding would be catastrophic to state, tribal, and local programs all across the country.  We hope that with the support of the governor and others, we will still be able to celebrate 50 years of preservation success in 2016, and not mourn a step backward for our nation’s irreplaceable cultural heritage.

Mark your calendar for the 45th Annual Field Session in Maryland Archeology!

By Charlie Hall, State Terrestrial Archeologist

Every year we invite the public to help us investigate a significant archeological site in Maryland. Held in partnership with the Archeological Society of Maryland, this year’s Field Session will be the 45th such opportunity to work side-by-side with some of Maryland’s most prominent archeologists, who guide participants in the use of the most up-to-date archeological methods. In exchange, these volunteers provide the support we need to conduct these important investigations.

River Farm site

River Farm site. Credit: Stephanie Sperling

This year’s Field Session will take us to the River Farm site along the upper Patuxent River in Anne Arundel County. Located at Jug Bay, the River Farm site is at least partially within the flood plain of the river that was damaged during Superstorm Sandy. Jane Cox, Chief of Cultural Resources for Anne Arundel County and this Field Session’s Principal Investigator, has been investigating the site for evidence of storm damage and to devise the means to mitigate future damage. The results of her work indicate that Native Americans occupied this beautiful location for at least 8,000 years, throughout the Archaic and Woodland periods. Over 1,000 ceramic sherds and dozens of projectile points were recovered from a limited investigation involving 131 small shovel test pits and a few larger excavation units. Non-local lithic material may connect River Farm to the near-by Pig Point site, where evidence of ritual mortuary behavior with links to the Ohio River valley has been found.

River Farm excavation

Excavation at River Farm. Credit: Stephanie Sperling

During the upcoming Field Session, at least three areas of the site will be investigated, including:
• a Late Woodland midden that yielded a C-141 date of 1010 AD;
• an area with a Late Woodland concentration that yielded evidence for numerous intact features, including hearths; and
• an Early Woodland concentration with a transitional Late Archaic component.
This will allow veterans of recent Field Sessions to contrast the Late Woodland of the Monocacy River valley with that of the Coastal Plain.

The Field Session will run for 11 consecutive days beginning on Friday, May 27th and ending on Monday, June 6th, inclusive of weekends and the Memorial Day holiday. You are invited to participate for as little as a few hours to as much as the entire 11-days. Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required (from the home page, click on “Field Session”).


River Farm artifacts. Credit: Stephanie Sperling

A full schedule of lectures and events will also be offered. Among them will be a lunchtime talk by Al Luckenbach on the latest Pig Point discoveries (Sunday, May 29th), and an afternoon guided tour of the Glendening Nature Preserve (Friday, June 3rd). The traditional end-of-session feast will be held on Saturday, June 4th, following the day’s digging. Camping is available on the site, and motel accommodations are available in nearby towns. Watch the Archeological Society of Maryland’s website for developing schedule and details, and we’ll see you in the field!