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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com).
We are pleased to announce the FY2020 African American Heritage Preservation Program (AAHPP) grant recipients! Twelve projects were awarded funding for preservation projects throughout the state. Jointly administered by the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Maryland Historical Trust, the AAHPP provides capital funds to assist in the preservation of buildings, sites, or communities of historical and cultural importance to the African American experience in Maryland. The Commission and MHT are excited to support these projects, which include unique sites such as a World War II memorial park, an early 20th century bowling alley, a historic swimming pool, and tunnels that were part of the Underground Railroad. Read more about all our newly funded projects below.
If you are planning to apply for funding for a project, the FY2021 grant round will begin in the spring of 2020, with workshops in April and applications due in July. For more information about the AAHPP, please contact Charlotte Lake, Capital Grant and Loan Program Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about organizations receiving grants, please contact the institutions directly.
Project: Sotterley Plantation: Slave Cabin – Hollywood, St. Mary’s County ($78,000)Sponsor: Historic Sotterley, Inc.
Sotterley Plantation is a 1703 Tidewater plantation with more than 20 original buildings still standing. After its restoration, the 1830s slave cabin was dedicated to Agnes Kane Callum, a Baltimore resident whose great-grandfather was born enslaved at Sotterley, and who was instrumental in telling the story of Sotterley’s enslaved community. The grant project will include repairs to the cabin as well as accessibility improvements to the paths leading to it.
The Fairmount Heights World War II Monument was built in 1946 to honor local citizens who served in the armed forces during World War II. The grant project will include repairs to the monument and site improvements within the park.
The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was constructed in 1903 and is the oldest African American church still standing in Cambridge. This grant will fund structural repairs to the church, as well as repairs to windows and doors.
Emmanuel Episcopal Church was built atop the remains of Fort Cumberland, forming a series of tunnels beneath the church that eventually came to be used as shelter by African Americans escaping slavery on the Underground Railroad. Local oral traditions describe a quilt panel with a cross on a hill representing Emmanuel Episcopal Church as a stop on the road to freedom. This project will improve lighting and ventilation in the tunnels, as well as improve accessibility for visitors touring the tunnels.
The Warren Historic Site is likely the last in Maryland where the traditional triad of buildings constructed in most post-Emancipation African American communities – the church, school, and lodge hall – still exist. The grant project will include roof and foundation repairs on the church, as well as roof, foundation, and floor repairs on the school.
Project: McConchie One-Room School – La Plata, Charles County ($99,000)Sponsor: Charles County Fair, Inc.
The McConchie School was constructed around 1912 to serve African American children in central Charles County. The school was closed in 1952, was converted to a residence, and had been abandoned by 1980. The Charles County Fair purchased and moved the building to the fairgrounds in 1990. The grant project will include structural repairs so that the school can continue to be used as a museum.
Zion Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1931 and features stained glass windows and ornamental woodwork on its tower. The grant will fund accessibility and drainage improvements to the site, as well as structural repairs to the building.
Project: Robert W. Johnson Community Center: Swimming Pool – Hagerstown, Washington County ($100,000)Sponsor: Robert W Johnson Community Center, Inc.
In 1959, the North Street Swimming Pool was constructed as part of the Robert W. Johnson Community Center in Hagerstown’s Jonathan Street Neighborhood. It was the only pool in the city where African Americans could swim, and the pool itself is relatively unchanged since it was built. The grant project will repair the swimming pool so that it can be returned to community use.
Project: Ellsworth Cemetery – Westminster, Carroll County ($65,000)Sponsor: Community Foundation of Carroll County, Incorporated
Six African American Union Army veterans established the Ellsworth Cemetery in 1876 to provide a burial place for the African American residents of Westminster. The grant project will include mapping of the cemetery and conservation of grave markers.
Project: Asbury M.E. Church – Easton, Talbot County ($100,000)Sponsor: Historic Easton, Incorporated
Asbury M.E. Church was dedicated by Frederick Douglass in 1878. The church also served as a temporary high school for Black students in the 1930s and is now both an active church and a community center. Grant funding will be used to make structural repairs and accessibility upgrades to the fellowship hall within the church.
Project: Fruitland Community Center, Wicomico County ($44,000) Sponsor: Fruitland Community Center, Inc.
In 1912 local community members built the Morris Street Colored School, now known as the Fruitland Community Center, for Wicomico County’s African American children. The building is still used for educational purposes, with summer and after school programs for children as well as an archive. The grant project will include roof replacement, accessibility improvements, and upgrades to the electrical and mechanical systems of the building.
By Peter Morrill, Curator Program Manager, Department of Natural Resources
Along the south side of Big Pool Road in Washington County, Maryland, sits a non-descript vacant house. It’s easily overlooked by passersby, but hidden beneath additions, layers of asphalt “brick” and aluminum siding, lies a 19th-century one-room schoolhouse built to serve the area’s African American community. Though it is not immediately recognizable by the casual observer as a school, a closer look reveals that much of the school’s original fabric remains intact and waiting to be restored in order to tell its story about Maryland’s racially segregated past and one of the county’s most interesting families.
In 1857 Nathan Williams, a free black man, purchased about 115 acres of land in Washington County, including the remains of the colonial Fort Frederick, and began what would become a successful farming operation. Beginning in the 1870s, the family operated a schoolhouse for local African American children; family members also taught at the school. By 1892, a 36’ by 24’ by 12’ frame school had been constructed by the county and was designated the “colored” school for the Indian Springs Election District, #11. The teacher was Charles A. Williams, and the school enrolled 14 pupils. By 1895, it was determined that this schoolhouse was unsatisfactory and that a new one should be built. For $3, the Williams family deeded a quarter-acre parcel of their land to the county for the erection of a new school. This school was completed by 1900 for a cost of $297.76 and remained in service until 1914, when it became a residence. Over the years, the original one-room schoolhouse became virtually unrecognizable: the door was relocated, porches were added, and the interior was divided into three rooms. A two-story addition was also added to the west, further obscuring the tiny school’s historic form. The house has long been known as the Hornbaker House after the family who owned the house from 1950 until 1973, when they sold it to the State for inclusion into Fort Frederick State Park, which had been formed in 1922. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources rented the property as a residence for a number of years, but it is now vacant.
Thanks to a generous grant from the African American Heritage Preservation Program[AR1] , donations from the Friends of Maryland State Parks and the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Department of Natural Resources will begin to peel back the layers and restore the schoolhouse to its circa 1900 to 1914 appearance. In collaboration with staff from the Maryland Historical Trust, selective demolition has been carried out to begin to identify the original locations of windows and doors, identify later additions to the structure, and document these changes prior to the beginning of restoration work. In the coming months, later additions will be removed and the exterior of the schoolhouse will be returned to its former appearance for the first time in over 100 years. Once complete, the school will serve as a gateway to Fort Frederick State Park and an educational center to interpret the rich history of the Williams Family and the experience of African American families living in Washington County after the Civil War and emancipation.
By Lara Westwood, Librarian, Maryland Historical Trust
Woodstock nearly came to Maryland this summer. Organizers of the 50th anniversary celebration of the legendary music festival of August 15th through 18th, 1969 attempted to move the event from Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in New York to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Howard County in a last ditch effort to save the show. But plans never quite came together. Several of the big name acts, including Miley Cyrus and Jay-Z, dropped out, and the show was canceled. Even without hosting the legendary Woodstock, Maryland has a rich musical history, and many concert venues, theaters, and related structures are listed on the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties.
Music has always been a vital part of culture in Maryland. Each Native American tribe that settled the Chesapeake Bay area had its own musical style and rituals. Enslaved people and free Africans brought their native traditions to the colony which spurred the development of new styles and genres. Colonial elites often hosted performances in the drawing rooms of their plantations, while the popular music, such as ballads and dance music, could be heard in the taverns. Francis Scott Key’s poem, “The Defense of Fort McHenry”–today called “The Star-Spangled Banner” and arguably Maryland’s most famous contribution to American music history–became popular after it was set to a well-known drinking tune. As the colony developed, concert halls and theaters were opened and musical social clubs were formed in the cities and larger towns.
By the mid-1800s and into the 1900s, Maryland had developed a strong musical culture. Baltimore saw several notable musical institutions established during this time. In the 1830s, William Knabe, a German immigrant, opened his piano repair and sales company. In partnership with Henry Gaehle, the company began manufacturing square, upright, and grand pianos. The partnership eventually ended. By 1861, Knabe built a new, larger factory on Eutaw Street after two of his other manufacturing locations burned and to accommodate the business’ growth. The factory operated until 1929 when new owners moved production to New York state. The Peabody Institute was founded in 1857. The city of Baltimore opened an academy of music as well as a free library and gallery of art in the Mount Vernon neighborhood with $300,000 donated by businessman and philanthropist George Peabody. One of the country’s best music schools, it became part of Johns Hopkins University in 1977. The Music Hall on Mount Royal Avenue opened in 1894 to much fanfare as the city had been without a major performance venue after the Concordia Opera House burned down. The first concert season promised to be of the “finest class” and promised to attract visitors to the city. The Boston Symphony Orchestra, accompanied by several renowned opera singers, including soprano Nellie Melba, kicked off the inaugural season. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra also regularly played concerts at the venue. The hall was purpose-built as a concert venue, designed for acoustic quality, but also hosted other theatrical events and was available for balls and banquets. Otto Kahn, an investment banker and patron of the arts, purchased the hall in 1909 and changed the name to the Lyric Theatre. The theater changed hands several times and was nearly torn down in 1903 to make way for a garage. The theater has undergone extensive renovations over the years, and is now known as the Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric.
Maryland also boasted several stops on what would become known as the Chitlin’ Circuit. In the era of segregation and Jim Crow laws, African American performers often played in venues where they would otherwise be barred from patronizing. The theaters and other performance spaces on the circuit, on the other hand, welcomed both black artists and audiences. Arthur Wilmer converted a Prince George’s County tobacco farm into one of the premier venues on the circuit. Wilmer’s Park in Brandywine hosted the likes of Patti LaBelle, Chuck Berry, James Brown, and Sam Cooke. Wilmer booked many famous artists before their careers took off. The park, which opened in the early 1950s, featured a dancehall, motel, restaurant, picnicking grounds, and ball fields. Music events were held at the park until it closed in the 1990s and has since fallen into disrepair. The Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World, more commonly known as the Black Elks, operated a similar venue at John Brown’s headquarters, also called Kennedy Farm in Sharpsburg, Washington County. Abolitionist John Brown orchestrated his raid on the federal armory in Harper’s Ferry from the farm in October of 1859. He and his followers stockpiled weapons at the farm in the months leading up to the raid. Almost 100 years later, the African American fraternal organization purchased it with the intent of establishing a national headquarters complete with a youth center, retirement home, tennis courts, and other amenities, as well as a national shrine and museum to honor Brown. It became a popular weekend destination for black residents of western Maryland and West Virginia and attracted many famous artists to play at the dancehall. James Brown performed the last concert there in 1966, just before the camp closed and the Elks sold the property.
The Baltimore Civic Center, now known as Royal Farms Arena, has hosted several historic concerts since it opened in 1962. The futuristic, Googie-style arena was built in an effort to revitalize the city’s downtown and served as a multi-purpose entertainment space. The Baltimore Bullets and Clippers called the Civic Center home court and ice, respectively, during the 1960s and early 1970s, and the Ringling Brothers Circus regularly performed there. Martin Luther King, Jr. also gave speeches at the Center in 1963 and 1966. The 1964 Beatles concerts cemented the venue in music history. The band played two shows on September 13 to a packed house. Beatlemania was at full froth. A large contingent of Baltimore City police officers had to be stationed outside the band’s hotel before the show. Two female fans apparently unsuccessfully tried to meet the Fab Four by mailing themselves to the arena in boxes marked “fan mail” before the show. Once the band took the stage, even greater pandemonium ensued. The Baltimore Sun described the scene at one of the shows: “The enormous cavern of the building had become a vibrant, pulsating shrine with waves of shrieking adulation that burst with concussive force.” Several concert-goers had to be treated for “hysterics” and fainting, according to the same article. A few years later, a Led Zeppelin appearance nearly caused a riot when 200 people without tickets to the show attempted to rush the doors of the arena. Ten people were arrested as a result. This and other raucous rock concerts led the city to attempt to limit shows that would “[appeal] to young people” to afternoons and require promoters to hire more security. The evening concert ban was eventually lifted, and the venue continues to host a wide variety of events every year.
Maryland’s musical legacy continues to grow. More concert venues are being studied for their architectural and historical significance, and notable concert events will assuredly continue to be held across the state.
 “The Music Hall.” Baltimore Sun, Oct. 29, 1894: p. 4.
 Levine, Richard H. “Thousands See Beatles Shake Civic Center”. Baltimore Sun, Sept. 14, 1964, p. 38.
 O’Donnell, Jr., John B. “Rock Shows To Be Limited To Afternoon.” Baltimore Sun, May 7, 1970: p. C22.
By Elizabeth Hughes, Director and State Historic Preservation Officer
As we welcome the new year, I would like to share recent leadership changes on the Maryland Historical Trust Board of Trustees that will guide our organization into 2019. MHT’s 15-member Board includes the Governor, the Senate President, and the House Speaker (or their designees), and 12 members appointed by the Governor.
Chairman Brien Poffenberger
In 2018, Charles Edson completed a distinguished six-year term as Chairman of the Board, turning the gavel over to Brien J. Poffenberger, elected as Chairman in July. Brien has held leadership positions in the public and private sectors and has worked for a range of businesses, both large and small. Previously he served as President/CEO of the Maryland State Chamber of Commerce, as Executive Director of the National Association for Olmsted Parks, and in various positions at General Electric and on Capitol Hill. Brien also has experience teaching, acting as an adjunct professor at Northern Virginia Community College and Shepherd College in West Virginia, where he taught American Architectural History. Brien has an MBA from Georgetown University, an MA in Architectural History from the University of Virginia, and a BA in Government from the College of William & Mary. His family is originally from Sharpsburg (Washington County) and he now lives in Annapolis with his family.
Vice Chairman Laura Mears
Elected as Vice-Chairman of the Board is Laura Davis Mears, an Eastern Shore native with a passion for history and historic preservation. A graduate of Salisbury University, Laura subsequently studied and trained in various aspects of fundraising and nonprofit management, working in the nonprofit arena for 18 years. Laura has served on the Boards of several entities related to history and preservation, including the Somerset County Historical Society, Preservation Trust of Wicomico, and the Maryland Heritage Alliance. She is currently on the boards of Historic St. Martin’s Church Foundation and Rackliffe Plantation House Trust. Laura resides in Berlin (Worcester County) with her husband Tom, two sons Davis and Will, and their Golden Retriever, Captain.
Treasurer Sam Parker
Continuing his position as Treasurer of the Board is Samuel J. Parker, currently a partner with the consulting firm Parker Associates Global, which promotes economic and sustainable development in Africa. Mr. Parker is Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Prince George’s Community College in Maryland, a board member of the Aman Memorial Trust, and a board member of the Housing Initiative Partnership. From 2006 to 2011, Mr. Parker served as Chairman of the Prince George’s County Planning Board and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. He is a graduate of Catholic University of America and has a Masters of Regional Planning from Cornell University. Sam lives in Riverdale (Prince George’s County) with his wife Patricia.
Congratulations to Brien, Laura, and Sam on their election and thank you to all of the MHT Board members who generously volunteer their time to support our preservation mission throughout the year.
By Gregory Brown, Cultural Resource Information Manager
To kick off Preservation Month this May, the Maryland Historical Trust is pleased to announce a new interactive map-based tool, “map-based Medusa,” to explore the state’s inventory of historic places and archeological sites. Taking advantage of new web-based mapping technology, map-based Medusa offers the opportunity to view Maryland’s extensive geographic database of historic and cultural properties and to access the records linked to these resources, all within an easily accessible user friendly interface.
The new system allows both in-house and remote access to the documentation of over 60,000 architectural and archeological resources in a variety of ways. Consultants and staff can view a proposed project area and see all known cultural resources, with links to Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties forms, National Register nominations, determinations of eligibility, and other detailed documents. Map-based Medusa also allows you to look up a property by name, address or inventory number, and view that property on a map along with associated forms and photos.
Most architectural information is freely available in Medusa. Archeological site location is restricted to qualified archeological professionals as mandated in the state’s Access to Site Location Policy. Any qualified professional can apply for a Medusa account to get access. For assistance using map-based Medusa, tutorials and FAQs are available online. We will introduce webinars and introductory videos in the coming months.
The new map-based Medusa application was created with the technical assistance of the Applications Development team of the Maryland Department of Planning, the Maryland Historical Trust’s parent agency. We are grateful for the efforts of Information Services Manager Ted Cozmo, Doug Lyford, Greg Schuster, and Debbie Czerwinski, building on earlier database development work of Maureen Kavanagh, Carmen Swann and Jennifer Falkinburg. The online version of Medusa was supported in part through a Preserve America grant administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior, and by funding from the Maryland State Highway Administration through its Transportation Enhancement Program.