Announcing FY2023 African American Historic Preservation Program Grant Recipients!

By Ivy Weeks, Capital Programs Administrator

We are pleased to announce this year’s African American Heritage Preservation Program (AAHPP) grant recipients! Jointly administered by The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Maryland Historical Trust, the AAHPP promotes the preservation of Maryland’s African American heritage by funding construction projects at significant sites throughout the state. This year’s projects include museums, cemeteries, an interpretive memorial, a historic lodge, community centers, and a historic school. Read more about our newly funded AAHPP grant projects below.

Mount Auburn Cemetery – Baltimore City ($100,000) | Sponsor: Mount Auburn Cemetery Company

Dedicated in 1872 and originally known as “The City of the Dead for Colored People,” Mount Auburn Cemetery was one of the first—and now only remaining—cemetery owned and operated by African Americans in Baltimore. It is a unique representation of the values and burial traditions of this community from the late 19th century to the present. Grant funds will support repairs to damaged decorative and security fencing, as well as resurfacing inner roadways.

Hoppy Adams House – Annapolis, Anne Arundel County ($100,000) | Sponsor: Charles W. “Hoppy” Adams Jr. Foundation, Inc.

Celebrated African American radio broadcaster for WANN Annapolis, Charles “Hoppy” Adams Jr was widely known for spreading soul and R&B music to Black and white audiences. Adams hosted popular concerts at Carr’s Beach, an important venue on the “Chitlin Circuit” during segregation. This project will rehabilitate the home Adams built for himself in 1964, which was left to the elements when he passed in 2005. Future phases of work will convert the space into a museum and event space to celebrate the life of Hoppy Adams and the unifying effect of R&B music during this divisive era.

Mt. Calvary United Methodist Church – Arnold, Anne Arundel County ($86,000) | Sponsor: Mount Calvary United Methodist Church

Mt. Calvary United Methodist Church began gathering on this site between 1832- 1842, making it the oldest African American congregation in Arnold. Grant funds will support the replacement of the 40-year-old roof and repairing the deteriorating handicap ramp that is currently causing moisture intrusion for the church, as well as adding a second ramp.

Eastport Elementary School, 3rd Street – Annapolis, Anne Arundel County ($100,000) | Sponsor: The Seafarers Yacht Club, Inc.

Originally built in 1918 as Eastport’s school for African American children, Eastport Elementary School closed when Anne Arundel School finally integrated, nearly a decade after Brown v Board of Education. Today, the building is owned by the Seafarers Yacht Club, Inc., formed in 1959 by a group of Black men with a shared interest in boating. They purchased the vacant building in 1967 after they were inspired to form their own club in response to marinas that routinely refused Black boaters to dock at their piers, as well as yacht clubs that denied membership to Black captains. This grant project will fund interior and exterior repairs and security improvements.

The club officers in dress whites, honoring a recently deceased member. Courtesy: Seafarers Yacht Club

Old Wallville School – Prince Frederick, Calvert County ($27,000) | Sponsor: Friends of the Old Wallville School, Inc.

A representation of the segregated educational facilities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Old Wallville School is a one-room wooden schoolhouse that was used to educate African American students in the unincorporated village from 1880-1934. In 2006, the building was moved and placed adjacent to Calvert Elementary School. Now restored to its appearance in the early 1930s, it is used as a popular heritage tourism destination. This grant project will fund rot and roof repairs, structural signage replacement, and painting to protect the building from the elements and heavy use.

Parren J Mitchell House and Cultural Center – Baltimore City ($100,000) | Sponsor: Upton Planning Committee, Inc.

Originally built 1880, this rowhome is probably best known for its resident Parren Mitchell, the Black Congressmen to represent Maryland. This renovation project will return the long-vacant building to its historic role as a center of political and social life for the community and region as the new Parren Mitchell Center, which will serve as an events and retreat center. Grant funds will support exterior masonry restoration and repointing, window restoration, and accessibility improvements.

Boyds Negro School – Boyds, Montgomery County ($50,000) | Sponsor: Boyds Clarksburg Historical Society, Inc.

Built in 1895, Boyds Negro School is Montgomery County’s only remaining one-room schoolhouse for African American children that is regularly open to the public. This project will focus on engineering and site work to protect the building and grounds from flooding. It will also add a handicap ramp to make the building ADA accessible.

Richard Potter House – Denton, Caroline County ($50,000) | Sponsor: Fiber Arts Center of the Eastern Shore Inc.

Richard Potter published a book in 1866 – The Narrative of the Experience, Adventures and Escape of Richard Potter – documenting his experiences from when he was kidnapped in Greensboro, Maryland, enslaved in Delaware, and eventual escape and return to Caroline County to what is now known as the Richard Potter House (c.1810). The site is included as part of the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom. This project will restore the first floor of the home to its 1855 interior, using it as a museum and classroom space.

Mt. Zion Memorial Church– Princess Anne, Somerset County ($86,000) | Sponsor: Somerset County Historical Trust, Inc.

Mt. Zion Memorial Church survives as one of the few late-19th century African American churches in Somerset County and its intact condition enhances its architectural significance. Inside, one of the most distinctive features of the building — the early-20th century bead board ceiling – is at risk due to a leaking roof. While Mt. Zion is no longer used to hold regular church services, it does reflect the lasting influence of Methodism on the African American community in Somerset County. Grant funds will repair severe water damage.

New Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church – Berlin, Worcester County ($67,000) | Sponsor: New Bethel United Methodist Church, Inc.

Founded in 1855, New Bethel is the oldest African American Methodist congregation in Worcester County. Known as the Godfather of gospel music, Rev. Charles Albert Tindley was a member of the church in boyhood, and attended when he would visit from Philadelphia as an adult. The grant project will fund roof replacement and carpentry repairs.

Ridgley Methodist Church – Landover, Prince George’s County ($50,000) | Sponsor: Mildred Ridgley Gray Charitable Trust, Inc.

Through exhibitions and educational programs, the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center shares the county’s untold stories of African Americans. The grant-funded pre-development project will involve the design of facility renovations. They will also build an addition to provide support and affordable housing space for Black artists.

St. James African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church – Towson, Baltimore County ($30,000) | Sponsor: St. James African Union Methodist Protestant Church, Inc

In 1881, the St. James African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church was built on property believed to be the first documented African American landholding in Towson. The church began as a one-story wood-frame building and was raised to two stories in 1906 to accommodate the congregation’s growth. This project will fund structural repairs to the roof framing and chimney, as well as full roof replacement.

Buffalo Soldier Park – Eden, Wicomico County ($74,000) | Sponsor: Greater Washington Dc Chapter Of The Ninth And Tenth (Horse) Cavalry Association, Inc.

Named “Buffalo Soldier House” for his time in the United States 9th Cavalry Regiment Company C, Thomas Polk, Sr. built a two-story home on his property sometime in the late 1920s and rebuilt it in 1962-63 after it was destroyed in a fire. This project will focus on the pre-development and renovations needed to convert his home into the Buffalo Soldier Living History Site, which will include a visitors’ center and exhibit space.

Adams Methodist Episcopal Church and Cemetery – Lothian, Anne Arundel County ($80,000) | Sponsor: Adams U.M. Church

Adams Methodist Episcopal Church site contains two church buildings: the original 1883 church, a simple weatherboard-sided late-Victorian structure; and a more modern brick church, completed in 1968. Work for this project will focus on the brick church and on the graveyard on site.

If you are planning to apply for funding for an AAHPP project, the FY2024  grant round will begin in the spring of 2023, with workshops in April and applications due July 1. For more information about AAHPP, please visit our website or contact Ivy Weeks, Capital Programs Administrator, at ivy.weeks@maryland.gov.

Announcing the FY2022 Historic Preservation Capital Grant Recipients! 

By Barbara Fisher, Capital Grant Administrator

We are pleased to announce the FY2022 Historic Preservation Capital grant recipients! The Historic Preservation Capital Grant Program provides support for preservation-related acquisition and construction projects, as well as for architectural, engineering, archaeology, and consulting services needed in the development of a construction project. All assisted properties must be either eligible for or listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the list of historic and culturally significant properties maintained by the National Park Service. Nonprofits, local jurisdictions, business entities, and individuals may apply for up to $100,000 per project. Projects compete for funding out of our $600,000 program allotment each year. 

In FY2022, MHT received more than 40 applications requesting a combined total of over $3.2 million, which demonstrates a very strong demand for this funding.  MHT awarded seven preservation projects throughout the state, including a unique window restoration, a 19th century bank barn, and the home of a significant civil rights advocate. Read more about all our newly funded capital grant projects below.  

Chase-Lloyd House, Anne Arundel County ($99,000) | Sponsor: Chase Home, Inc.

Located in downtown Annapolis, the Chase-Lloyd House was completed by noted colonial-era architect William Buckland in 1774. The house is associated with Samuel Chase, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, among other prominent figures in early Maryland and American history. For over 130 years the house served as an independent living facility for elderly women, but is now used as the headquarters for the facility operator, Chase Home, Inc. The grant supports the restoration of the large, Palladian window, a dominant feature visible from the entry hall, stairway, and surrounding garden of this three-story Georgian mansion. Named for Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, these three-part windows derived from classical forms and were often incorporated into the design of wealthy American homes in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. 

Image by MHT Staff

Charles H. Chipman Cultural Center, Wicomico County ($100,000) | Sponsor: The Chipman Foundation, Inc.

The Charles H. Chipman Center is the oldest African American congregation and the first site for African Americans to hold religious services in the region during and after slavery, the first school for children of freed slaves in the region, and the first Delmarva high school for African American children after the Civil War. The original church dates to 1838 but has been enlarged and evolved stylistically to what you see today. The building currently serves as a cultural center and small museum focusing on African American heritage on Delmarva. The wood shingle roof of the building has reached the end of its useful life, so the capital grant funds will help replace the roof in-kind. 

Image by MHT Staff

Buckingham House and Industrial School Complex – Bank Barn, Frederick County ($100,000) | Sponsor: Claggett Center

Established in 1898 to provide housing and education for boys in poverty, the Buckingham Industrial School for Boys includes a 6,300 square foot, hemlock-framed Pennsylvania Bank Barn. The barn represents a type of large agricultural outbuilding found throughout central and northern Maryland, and still retains its original pine siding, wood roof and interiors. These barns were generally built into the side of a small hill and have an earthen ramp which provides access to a second floor. Capital grant funds will help restore the barn’s doors and stone cheek walls and reconstruct the roof vents to match the original design. The barn will be used as a meeting space and for youth summer camp programming. 

Image by grantee

Elk Landing – Stone House, Cecil County ($61,000) | Sponsor: The Historic Elk Landing Foundation, Inc.

The Stone House at Elk Landing, built in 1782-83, is significant for its architecture and association with early Scandinavian and Finnish settlement in Maryland.  Its simple fieldstone construction, center hall plan (although missing due to deterioration), and symmetrical massing are characteristic of late 18th-century vernacular dwellings in northeastern Maryland. The house includes a rare exterior-corner fireplace that is vented at the eaves (pictured below). More typical in Maryland is the other fireplace in the house, which are found back-to-back at interior corners and share a common chimney stack that exits at the roof ridge. The Historic Elk Landing Foundation currently operates the house for historical interpretation and fundraising activities, although limited due to its condition. Capital grant funds will help restore the stone fireplaces and exterior masonry work. 

Image by grantee

Parren J. Mitchell House and Cultural Center, Baltimore City ($100,000) | Sponsor: Upton Planning Committee, Inc.

This property is best known as the long-time home of Parren J. Mitchell, a renowned professor, scholar, and Maryland’s first African American U.S. Congressman, serving from 1971-1987. A WWII veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Mitchell also helped found the Congressional Black Caucus. In 1950 he won a landmark legal case against the segregated University of Maryland to allow him admission into their graduate school. He became the first African American to graduate with a master’s degree from the University, and his case is considered instrumental in desegregation of higher education in Maryland. Capital grant funds will help complete an overall interior and exterior rehabilitation of the house, which has a planned use as a community and resource center.

Image by grantee

Easton Armory, Talbot County ($90,000) | Sponsor: Waterfowl Festival Inc.

The imposing Easton Armory, also known as the Waterfowl Building, reflects the period when armories were built to resemble fortresses. Built in 1927, the building served as an armory and social space for the Easton community until it was acquired by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in 1976. Since 1997, the building has primarily served as administrative headquarters for Waterfowl Festival, Inc., providing space for staff, volunteers, storage, and is also used as an event space. Capital grant funds will help complete the rehabilitation of several original metal windows.  

Image by MHT staff

Hays House, Harford County ($50,000) | Sponsor: The Historical Society of Harford County, Inc. 

Constructed ca.1788, the Hays House was originally owned by Thomas A. Hays, the cartographer of the earliest known map of the town.  It is the oldest private residence in Bel Air, distinguished by its gambrel roof – the only one in town. The house has not been altered much over time; however, in 1960, preservation advocates moved it one block from its original site to save it from demolition. Hays House now serves as a house museum and the headquarters of the Historical Society of Harford County. The capital grant project will assist in restoring the north wall, which is severely deteriorated due to prolonged moisture issues. 

Image by MHT staff

***If you intend to apply for the FY2023 Historic Preservation Capital grant round, please join us for workshops and webinars this fall. Information will be posted on the program website and shared through our listserv and social media accounts. Online applications will be due in March 2023.

Announcing FY2020 AAHPP grant recipients!

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 charlotte.lake@maryland.gov. 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.

Project: Fairmount Heights World War II Monument –Prince George’s County ($12,250) Sponsor: Town of Fairmount Heights

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.

Project: Liberty Grace Church of God: Bowling Alley – Baltimore City ($100,000) Sponsor: Liberty Grace Church of God, Inc.

Liberty Grace Church of God was built in 1922 and has an early 20th century bowling alley in its basement. This historic bowling alley will be restored to working order. Read more about the bowling alley in our earlier blog post!

Project: Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church – Cambridge, Dorchester County ($100,000) Sponsor: Eastern Shore Network for Change, Inc.

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.

Project: Emmanuel Episcopal Church: Tunnels – Cumberland, Allegany County ($100,000) Sponsor: Emmanuel Episcopal Parish Incorporated

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.

Project: Warren Historic Site: Warren United Methodist Church and Martinsburg Negro School – Dickerson, Montgomery County ($100,000) Sponsor: Warren Historic Site Committee, Inc.

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.

Project: Zion United Methodist Church – Federalsburg, Caroline County ($100,000) Sponsor: Zion ME Church

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.

Introducing Map-Based Medusa: Viewing Maryland’s Historic Places in Real Time

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.

Blog1The 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.

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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.

To start using map-based Medusa, go to https://mht.maryland.gov/secure/medusa/.

For more information, please contact Gregory Brown, Cultural Resource Information Manager, at gregory.brown@maryland.gov.

New Roadside Historical Markers Installed

Stuart Grosvenor and members of the  Janet Montgomery Chapter of the DAR  dedicate the new Richard Montgomery  marker in Rockville.  Photo courtsey of Nancy Kurtz, MHT

Stuart Grosvenor and members of the
Janet Montgomery Chapter of the DAR
dedicate the new Richard Montgomery
marker in Rockville.
Photo courtsey of Nancy Kurtz, MHT

The Maryland Historical Trust, the State Highway Administration and local partners have developed and installed seven new markers along Maryland’s roadways.  The markers celebrate people, places and events important in the history of the state, including Ocean City, Maryland’s Atlantic Ocean resort; the Somerset County seat, established in the seventeenth century; a nineteenth century African American community and school in Anne Arundel County; the nation’s first war hero and namesake of Montgomery County; a hexagonal fieldstone school in Harford County; a seventeenth century battle along the Severn River; and a twentieth century African American community baseball park in Somerset County. Continue reading