Meet Harford County, Maryland’s Newest Certified Local Government!

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

As the State Historic Preservation Office, the Maryland Historical Trust administers the Certified Local Government program, a federal-state-local partnership designed to highlight and support counties and municipalities that have made a special commitment to historic preservation. Local governments with historic preservation commissions must meet certain standards to qualify for the program, in return for which they have the opportunity to access funds for education and training, as well as compete for project grants (for example, to support preservation planning, architectural or archaeological survey, or nominations to the National Register of Historic Places). To learn more about the Certified Local Government program, visit our website.

In December 2019, we were pleased to welcome Harford County into the program. This year, in honor of Preservation Month, I asked Jenny Jarkowski, Deputy Director, and Joel Gallihue, Chief of Long Range Planning in the Harford County Department of Planning and Zoning, to share their thoughts on preservation in the county. The Q&A follows.

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Lee’s Merchant Mill, Jerusalem Mill Village (photo courtesy of Harford County)

What is it about the historic character of Harford County that makes it special?

Harford County has such a diverse collection of resources, starting with the archaeological sites of Susquehannock people and early English colonial cabins. We have existing examples of homes and mansions that demonstrate the major architectural styles built in the eastern United States. We have important African American history, including two Freedmen’s Bureau schools and documented stops on the Underground Railroad. A crossroads of maritime, transportation, and military history, with easy access to major cities, we feel the potential for heritage tourism and heritage lifestyles for those who choose to invest in our resources.

What is your favorite historic place in Harford County?

It is difficult to choose, but with everyone sheltering at home (despite some beautiful spring weather), we suggest HA-469, better known as Rocks State Park. A visitor to the King and Queen Seat can see the same view local author Thomas Wysong lauded in 1880 as a “[r]are picture of sublimity and beauty … embracing within its range hill and dale, forest and field, river and brook, farmhouse and hamlet.” With a little extra care to observe social distancing, this historic resource can help relieve cabin fever.

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King and Queen Seat at Rocks State Park (photo courtesy of Harford County)

Why did Harford County want to become a Certified Local Government?

Our 2016 master plan HarfordNEXT states, “These [historic] resources provide a direct link to our past, contributing to our sense of community and offering continuity as Harford County continues to grow and evolve.” Gaining Certified Local Government status was an implementation strategy of that plan.

What are some of your preservation priorities over the next few years?

We have many implementation strategies in HarfordNEXT, the county’s master plan. Some of these include the identification and prioritization of threatened or endangered resources which are of significant value in the county’s history. A big thrust in the coming years will be to expand the county’s landmark list. During this expansion, we would like to examine the documentation of historic districts that together have significance to the history of a locale. We will also be exploring the establishment of an archaeology component to our existing program.

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The main house at Bon Air, built c. 1794 in Fallston (photo courtesy of Harford County)

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Harford County has very diverse cultural and historic resources, from the King and Queen Seat to the north, to the Route 40 corridor to the south. In the middle is the Town of Bel Air, which is also a Certified Local Government, with its bustling historic Main Street. To the east we have the cities of Havre de Grace and Aberdeen: Havre de Grace and its beautiful homes and waterfront and Aberdeen with its strong ties to the Aberdeen Proving Ground. When we can travel again, come visit!

Maryland Paleoindian Sites on the National Register of Historic Places: A Newly Reported 13,000 Year Old Fluted Point from the Katcef Site

By Zachary Singer, MHT Research Archaeologist

The Maryland Historical Trust’s Office of Archaeology is delighted to participate in the celebration of Preservation Month by highlighting the Ice Age inhabitants of Maryland, which archaeologists refer to as Paleoindians. Researchers can recognize Paleoindians in the archaeological record by the distinctive types of stone projectile points they made, which are typically lanceolate in shape and usually fluted (i.e. thinned from the base to create a channel scar). The re-established Maryland Fluted Point Survey is generating data to learn more about the lifeways of the Paleoindians who lived in Maryland between 13,000 and 10,000 years ago.

The National Register of Historic Places includes three Maryland archaeological sites with Paleoindian components: the Nolands Ferry Site in Frederick County, the Katcef Site in Anne Arundel County, and the Paw Paw Cove Site in Talbot County. National Register listing indicates that these archaeological sites have been recognized for their significance in archaeology and identified as worthy of preservation.

In 1979, as part of the Maryland Fluted Point Survey, Lois Brown reported one crystal quartz fluted point from the Nolands Ferry Site and one crystal quartz fluted point from the Katcef Site.

Crystal quartz Clovis point from the Nolands Ferry Site (Source – JPPM Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland).
Crystal quartz Clovis point from the Katcef Site
(Source – Maryland Fluted Point Survey, photo by Zachary Singer).

Subsequently, Dr. Darrin Lowery has shared information on the fluted points from the Paw Paw Cove Site with the Maryland Fluted Point Survey.

Paw Paw Cove fluted points from left to right: jasper, chert, jasper, orthoquartzite
(Source – The Chesapeake Watershed Archaeological Research Foundation, photo by Darrin Lowery).

The re-established Maryland Fluted Point survey has recently recorded a second fluted point from the Katcef Site.

Orthoquartzite fluted point from the Katcef Site
(Source – Maryland Fluted Point Survey, photo by Zachary Singer).

The two fluted points from the Katcef Site (both the crystal quartz point and the newly recorded orthoquartzite one) were found by Robert Ogle, a professional surveyor and avocational archaeologist who spent over 50 years collecting artifacts from central and southern Maryland and Virginia. In 2009, Bob Ogle donated his artifact collection to Anne Arundel County’s Cultural Resources Division. Through a grant from the MHT’s FY 2020 Historic Preservation Non-Capital Grant Program, Anne Arundel County’s Cultural Resources Division is rehousing, enhancing, and studying Ogle’s collection. As part of their grant project, Anne Arundel County’s Cultural Resources Division has organized public workshops to assist in sorting and rehousing the Ogle materials. During a recent workshop, the second fluted point from Katcef was discovered in Ogle’s collection.

The newly discovered fluted point from Katcef is a mid-section fragment, which is identified as a fluted point based on the distal terminations of the flutes present on both faces. The raw material of the fluted point is a large grained orthoquartzite, a preferred toolstone during the Paleoindian period. Paleoindians likely procured the stone material from Maryland’s coastal plain at quarry localities exposed along an ancient paleochannel of the Susquehanna River, which was created due to the lower sea-levels caused by glaciation during the terminal Pleistocene (Lowery and Wagner 2018). Due to deglaciation, sea-level rise, and sediment infilling over the past 13,000 years, the Susquehanna paleochannel and associated quarry localities are now inundated by the Chesapeake Bay. Systematic test excavations at the Katcef site in 1989 and 1990 identified stratified archaeological deposits, which suggests that there is the potential for deeply buried Paleoindian activity areas to be present at the site. Future research aimed at locating and carefully investigating stratified areas of Katcef to document buried Paleoindian materials may yield valuable information about the early inhabitants of Maryland, perhaps including the recovery of archaeological features like hearths that could provide radiocarbon datable materials and evidence for Paleoindian diet in Maryland.

Architectural Fieldwork

By Allison Luthern, Architectural Survey Administrator

Architectural fieldwork is an important part of understanding and preserving historic places. When MHT staff investigate a site, we look closely at the historic fabric of the buildings to reveal clues about their history, changes over time, and significance. Many of these answers will be found in the building’s form, features, materials, and details. In addition to investigation, we document the built environment, analyze and interpret findings, and archive our discoveries. This process helps MHT’s architectural historians and preservationists to realize the types of historic places that survive or have already been lost. (In fact, past completed fieldwork is one of the only ways we have information about demolished historic buildings!) We use this information to create better plans and strategies for future preservation efforts. Fieldwork helps us to advance MHT’s mission of identifying, documenting, and evaluating Maryland’s diverse cultural heritage.

When possible, MHT’s Office of Research, Survey, and Registration conducts fieldwork at the request of people who want to learn more about their historic buildings. Earlier this year, MHT staff responded to one such request by a property owner in Washington County who had recently purchased a home and discovered that there were three small log buildings located on the property. Log construction was very common in western Maryland from its earliest European American settlement through to the twentieth century, and MHT hoped to help the property owner understand the age and significance of the structures on their property. 

Log buildings in Washington County. Source: MHT staff

On site, MHT staff closely investigated the log buildings, which consisted of one small story-and-a-half dwelling, one summer kitchen with a large stone chimney, and one very small storage building. Architectural historians refer to the form of these log buildings as “single pen” – they are one room enclosures with four walls. This form is associated with modest, simple structures. An important feature to consider when investigating a log building is its corner notching, or the way that the logs lock into place at the ends. Corner notching can reveal the complexity of construction as well as the builder’s regional influences. These buildings were constructed with “V” notching, as illustrated in the photo below. This was the most common notching technique.

A closer look at one of the buildings. Source: Staff photo

We also searched for nails used in the buildings. Because the form of fasteners changed over time with manufacturing technology, they are a very important way to help date a structure. We discovered that wire nails—widely used by the 1880s and still utilized today—were employed in the construction of these buildings. All of our investigation pointed to an early twentieth century construction date.

One of the log buildings examined by the MHT staff. Source: Staff photo

To document the buildings, we took notes, photographs, and basic measurements.

The next steps in fieldwork—analysis and interpretation—may not even occur in the field, but they are crucially important in giving meaning to our investigation. We used historic records to research the property, including land records, census data, maps, newspapers, and community histories. We also read through books, journal articles, and architectural survey reports in the MHT Library. From this research, we determined that the log buildings were constructed in the early twentieth century by a local family for residential use, given their small size and assemblage. The surrounding acreage was likely used for fruit farming around this time.

Fruit farming became widespread in western Maryland as refrigeration, urbanization, and transportation advanced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Historic maps revealed that a trolley (or electric railway) line was located directly adjacent to the log buildings and would have assisted in transporting both people and freight until its dismantling in 1936. It is possible that these log buildings were occupied until the mid-twentieth century when a new, more modern house was constructed, probably by a different owner who used the surrounding land for recreation more than agriculture.

U.S. Geological Survey, Hagerstown [map], 1:62500, Topographic Quadrangle Map, Reston, VA, 1912 Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Our fieldwork will conclude with the creation of a Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties (MIHP) form for the log buildings. The MIHP is a repository of information on districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects of known or potential value to the history or prehistory of the State of Maryland. This final step will ensure that the findings of our fieldwork will be preserved and available to researchers or interested members of the public via our library and our online cultural resource information system known as Medusa.

Fieldwork is a very rewarding process! As time and resources allow, MHT staff would love to help others with their investigations. Please contact staff in the Office of Research, Survey, and Registration with any questions (including Allison Luthern, Architectural Survey Administrator at allison.luthern@maryland.gov).

Maryland’s Cultural Heritage Organizations and Institutions Grappling with COVID-19

In late March, the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) and Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) launched an online survey, sent via MHT’s distribution lists, website and social media platforms. By the time the survey closed on April 13, we received 224 responses, with nearly 75% of participants representing non-profit organizations. The overall feedback was clear:  the COVID-19 public health crisis is having – and is expected to continue to have – a serious and detrimental effect on the financial and programmatic stability of cultural heritage organizations in Maryland. Although many museums and institutions have developed virtual tours and programs to keep people engaged and learning, these measures do not compensate for the loss of event revenue, on-site activities, and the experience of authentic history and public exchange available locally and around the state.

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Figure 1 – excerpt of survey responses showing majority of participants represent nonprofits.

While MHAA and MHT staff are still compiling the full survey report, some key findings include:

  • Lost Income. More than 69% of respondents reported they have already lost income, and only 6.3% anticipate that they will make it through the crisis without revenue loss. Losses varied widely by organization, with an average estimate of $61,500 from the beginning of the COVID-19 closures through the survey submission.
  • Staffing Cuts. More than 12% of respondents have already reduced staff, and an additional 12.9% have reduced salaries or payroll. Approximately half of respondents indicated that temporary or permanent staff reductions were likely.
  • Long Recovery Time. The majority of respondents (57.6%) predicted that recovery of their income streams to pre-COVID levels would take six months or more after the national and state emergency declarations concluded, with 29.5% predicting it would take at least a year.

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Figure 2 – excerpt of survey responses showing the majority of participants anticipate a recovery time of six months or more following the conclusion of the state of emergency.

In response to this dire situation, MHAA automatically extended all grant reporting deadlines by 90 days and took the unprecedented step of allowing current MHAA grant recipients to repurpose project funding for emergency and operating expenses. Other grant programs at MHT, including the Historic Preservation Grant Program and the Certified Local Government Program, worked with grantees to extend existing deadlines and change grant scopes to better accommodate the COVID-19 situation and quickly offer support. The Maryland Heritage Areas Program also launched and concluded its first round of COVID-19 Emergency Operating Grant applications, in which nonprofit heritage tourism organizations within certified heritage areas were eligible to apply for grants of up to $20,000. MHAA received 114 applications requesting over $1.8 million by the May 1 deadline, and a committee of MHAA members are currently reviewing the applications as a batch with the goal of announcing award decisions in mid-May. Subsequent grant rounds will be subject to funding availability and decisions by MHAA.

MHAA and MHT will continue to monitor this situation as it progresses and identify ways to support our constituents. Over time, this may also include training and workshops to help improve institutional resilience overall, as well as disaster and emergency preparedness. We welcome your feedback and ideas as we continue this conversation together.

Preserving a Legacy: The Orlando Ridout V Collection

By Lara Westwood, Librarian, Maryland Historical Trust

Orlando Ridout V grew up surrounded by Maryland history. His family could trace its roots here back to 1753, and he grew up in a home built on the land of his family’s ancestral estate, Whitehall. His father, Orlando Ridout IV, known for his preservation work in Annapolis, was the Maryland Historical Trust’s founding director. After graduating from the University of Virginia, Ridout began his career at MHT and stayed for nearly 30 years until his death in 2013. In 1989, he became the Chief of the Office of Research, Survey, and Registration, where he built a robust program of architectural study and documentation, advancing the scholarship on Maryland’s architectural history.  

Orlando Ridout V at work in Annapolis. (Staff photo)
Orlando Ridout V at work in Annapolis. (Staff photo)

Shortly after joining MHT, Ridout began work on a comprehensive survey of Queen Anne’s County. His enthusiasm for thorough documentation led him to study nearly five hundred historic structures for which he conducted field survey and archival research, created measured drawings, and took countless photographs. The survey shed new light on the county’s architectural trends and historical development, becoming the high-water mark for future county surveys conducted by MHT. He was also passionate about the study of barns and agricultural buildings and worked early on with the Friends of Friendless Farm Buildings, a group founded to document these often forgotten structures, to record farm buildings on the Eastern Shore. His expertise was sought after for many significant preservation and documentation projects, including the Third Haven Meeting House in Easton, Maryland and the Nathaniel Russell House in Charleston, South Carolina. His extensive research resulted in a number of publications, including co-authorship of Architecture in Annapolis: A Field Guide and a chapter in The Chesapeake House: Architectural Investigation by Colonial Williamsburg. He also taught “Field Methods for Architectural History” at George Washington University, where he fostered the next generation of preservation professionals. 

Ridout took great pride in his work on the Third Haven Meeting House. (Source: Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties)

After his passing in 2013, the MHT Library received his research collection, a tremendous cache of papers filled with deep insight into the history of the state. Dozens of field and research notebooks, lecture notes and readings, architectural sketches, manuscript drafts of publications and reviews, and about 30 metal storage boxes  containing over 20,000 35mm slides comprise the collection. Ridout’s work on Queen Anne’s County is well represented, and further study of his field notebooks, census and tax record analysis, and other research notes may provide additional context beyond the final architectural survey report. Ridout also extensively researched the 1798 Federal Direct Tax, and scholars may benefit from reviewing his in-depth analysis for his  article “Reediting the Past: A Comparison of Surviving Physical and Documentary Evidence on Maryland’s Eastern Shore” published in the Fall 2014 issue of Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum. The collection includes research notes and correspondence related to his consultation work with George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Colonial Williamsburg as well. Among the thousands of slides compiled for lectures and reference are images of historic buildings from across the United States and England and representational examples of architectural styles, building plans, and interior details.

A few of the many slide boxes in the collection. (Staff photo)
A few of the many slide boxes in the collection. (Staff photo)

MHT staff are currently working to make the collection available to researchers, and the finding aid will be posted online in the coming months. The collection is currently being organized and inventoried according to archival principles, assessed for conservation issues, and rehoused in acid-free boxes and folders. Once the project is complete, the collection will be available for public use.