by Allison Luthern, Architectural Survey Administrator
Historical architectural survey describes the process of locating, identifying, and recording historic places. It is the important initial step of all historic preservation activities – we need to start by understanding what exists where. The Maryland Historical Trust has supported architectural survey since our founding in the 1960s. The results of our architectural surveys are contained within the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties (MIHP).
MHT’s Historic Preservation Non-Capital Grant Program recently funded survey work by architectural historian Paul Touart in Somerset County, including properties on Smith Island. Smith Island is the last surviving inhabited island off the shores of Maryland in the Chesapeake Bay. Early in its history, the island was occupied by the Pocomoke and Assateague peoples, Native American tribes who also lived along the Eastern Shore streams. The first English landowner was Henry Smith (the island’s namesake) in the middle of the 17th century. Anglo-Americans continued to inhabit Smith Island through the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
The recent survey project documented one of the oldest surviving buildings on Smith Island, known as Black Walnut Point. Its inventory number in the MIHP is S-536-6. The architectural survey provides a physical description of the house: It has a two-story, three-bay side hall/parlor plan main block supported on a stuccoed masonry foundation with an exterior sheathed in beaded weatherboards. The gable roof is covered with wood shingles. Attached to the back of the main block is a two-story, two-part service wing that dates from the third quarter of the 19th century, around 1860-70.
The survey also details the property’s history through its ownership by two prominent Smith Island families, the Tylers and Marshalls. Today, it is the Smith Island Education Center.
Beginning in the second half of the 19th century through the early 20th century, the Lower Shore region experienced growth and economic prosperity associated with new railway lines, agriculture, and the seafood industry – the latter being particularly important for Smith Island. During this time period, each of the three Smith Island communities (Tylerton, Ewell, and Rhodes Point) built a new Methodist church building. These three churches were also surveyed in our recent project.
Ewell United Methodist Church (S-536-1) is a single-story, gable front building on a raised, rusticated block foundation. It has a symmetrical façade and is topped by a square belfry. It was built in 1939-40 on a site that has long been associated with the practice of Methodism. Adjacent to the church is a parsonage, a tabernacle, and a cemetery.
Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church (S-536-4) is located in the center of Rhodes Point. It is a single-story, L-shaped building with a marble date stone that reads: “1921 / Calvary M.E. Church / Reverend J.L. Derrickson.” It is also surrounded by a large cemetery with both in-ground and above ground vaulted burial plots.
The third church, Union Methodist Episcopal Church (S-536-8), is in Tylerton. It was built around 1920-1930, using salvaged materials from an earlier 1896 church. It is a rectangular shaped church on a raised, rusticated block foundation with a large columned projecting pavilion flanked by towers. Like many historic Methodist churches, the sanctuary inside is on the upper level.
Enjoy the following guest blog by Nicole A. Diehlmann, co-author of the new MHT Press publication on the architectural history of Charles County, In the Midst of These Plains: Charles County Buildings and Landscapes.
Since 1920, major changes in Charles County’s economy, demographics, and physical development shifted it from a primarily agricultural economy to a bedroom community of Washington, D.C. The legalization of gambling was one little-known feature of this shift.
The construction of Crain Highway (US 301) in the 1920s and the Potomac River Bridge in 1940 opened a major north–south transportation corridor, which linked Charles County to the larger urban centers of Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and points south. The new road brought an increase in automobile traffic and tourism, and restaurants and hotels began to spring up along the US 301 corridor. After the end of Prohibition in 1933, small taverns opened, which became popular places to have a drink or two and play slot machines. At that time, slot machines were widely regarded as innocent amusement, even though gambling was outlawed by the State of Maryland.
In the early 1940s, many county residents questioned the legality of slot machines, and the status of gambling became a contentious community issue. A grand jury was charged with studying the presence of illegal slot machines throughout the county. The grand jury’s report stated that there was no evidence indicating that any slot machines were in operation in Charles County, but in reality, establishment owners had successfully hidden or removed them prior to inspections. Subsequent reports concluded that the problem lay in a lack of law enforcement and argued that since gambling was so pervasive, it might as well be legalized so that the county could collect money from licensing fees. A bill was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly in 1949 for legalization as a “local option” that would affect only Charles County. The bill outlined several benefits of legalization, including how revenue generated would be used to reduce real estate taxes, pay off school bonds, and provide support for the library fund, the fire department, and the hospital. On the momentous day of June 21, 1949, gambling was legalized in Charles County by a vote of nearly 2 to 1.
People from surrounding areas had been coming to the county for years to play the slots, but legalization spurred an extraordinary number of tourists to visit and thus, growth in all sectors in order to support the influx. The combination of legalized gambling, transportation improvements, and postwar mobility combined to dramatically increase the volume of traffic passing through the area and transformed Waldorf, the northernmost county town on US 301, into a tourist destination. Crain Highway was widened to four lanes to accommodate the traffic. Between 1949 and 1968, along a fourteen-mile stretch of US 301, 21 hotels with a total of 600 rooms popped up alongside restaurants, gas stations, and entertainment facilities that accommodated tourists and gamblers. This concentration of restaurants and hotels, each with its own array of slot machines, turned the once sleepy village of Waldorf into a large center of commercial activity. The largest sites for gambling in Waldorf in the late 1950s were Club Waldorf Inc. with 140 slot machines and the Waldorf Restaurant with 60 machines. Other casinos were clustered along the Potomac River, including the Reno, off the shores of Colonial Beach, Virginia, with more than 300 machines, and Marshall Hall, across from Mount Vernon, with 193 machines. At the height of the gambling era, revenue from slot machine licensing fees provided a full quarter of the county’s income.
The slot machine era in Charles County was a time of extravagance, excitement, and growth. The slots were everywhere, and everyone—adults, children, residents, and tourists—played them. At first buildings intended for other commercial uses were adapted to accommodate slot machines, but eventually special structures were built as gambling and entertainment houses. The demand for construction continued to increase, so that by 1960 there were 57 restaurants along the highway, with the larger ones billing themselves as casinos. The neon lights on restaurants and hotels made the US 301 strip look like “Little Las Vegas,” as it came to be known. Many of the restaurants offered dancing and live bands, often attracting famous performers.
In Charles County, most of the motels were constructed as fully integrated buildings under a single roof. The dominant styles were vernacular interpretations of Colonial Revival and Modernist styles, although Craftsman, Western, and Spanish Colonial Revival styles were present in motels in other jurisdictions. While they were often architecturally non-descript, motels and restaurants distinguished themselves by their roadside signage. Large neon signs dominated the grounds visually, enticing passing motorists to stop at the establishment. The Waldorf Motel, demolished in 2017, was an excellent example of the type, containing several rows of motel rooms, a large neon sign, and a two-story restaurant topped by a neon sign. One of the most notable of the casinos was the 1950 Wigwam. It included a casino building with an attached teepee, a decorative wooden totem pole, and a large Western-themed neon sign. After demolition in 2013, the neon sign was acquired by Charles County and now marks the entrance to the Indian Head Rail Trail on US 301 in White Plains. The extant Blue Jay Motel served African Americans who came to US 301 during the era of segregation. It was constructed by Arthur Farrar and featured in the Negro Traveler’s Green Book between 1959 and 1964.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the pervasiveness of slot machines began to worry many residents. A 1958 issue of Man’s Conquest magazine called Crain Highway the “301 sin-strip,” Charles County “dirty, drunken and debauched,” and accused residents of profiting from “slots, sex and sin.” Another magazine, Real Adventure, described the county as a “modern Sodom with thirty gin mills to the mile and a populace of gun-carrying gangsters and sleazy dames.” By 1961, Maryland had three times as many slots as the state of Nevada and they produced an average annual revenue of $13 million. Reformers in Charles County pushed their case to end gambling, and just as legalization had been a community-wide fight, so was its demise. Due to continuing pressure from many groups, in 1962 Governor J. Millard Tawes announced the establishment of a committee charged with creating procedures to remove slots from the county with the least possible harm. Beginning in July 1965, the slots were phased out slowly over a three-year period. On June 30, 1968, store and restaurant owners watched as the last of the machines were removed from their establishments, and the slot-machine era in Charles County came to an end.
After slot machines were banned, the area’s popularity as a travel destination quickly declined. The construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 1954 offered Washingtonians ready access to Maryland’s oceanside resorts, which caused the decline of riverside resorts and further drained the tourism trade from Southern Maryland. Today, few vestiges of Charles County’s slot-machine era survive. Most of the larger hotels and restaurants along US 301 have been demolished for new commercial developments that serve the rising number of suburban residents living in the county. A few motels exist at the southern end of US 301 in the county, including the former White House Motel and the Bel Alton Hotel.
Learn more about Charles County’s “Little Las Vegas” in the book In the Midst of These Plains: Charles County Buildings and Landscapes, written by Cathy H. Thompson and Nicole A. Dielhmann. You can purchase a copy from the Historical Society of Charles County or from MHT press at https://mht.maryland.gov/home_mhtpress.shtml.
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.
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.
Subsequently, Dr. Darrin Lowery has shared information on the fluted points from the Paw Paw Cove Site with the Maryland Fluted Point Survey.
The re-established Maryland Fluted Point survey has recently recorded a second fluted point from the Katcef Site.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Heather Barrett, Administrator of Research & Survey
In mid-November 2019, MHT released an updated version of its Standards and Guidelines for Architectural and Historical Investigations in Maryland. This interim document addresses and clarifies existing policies and procedures for documenting historic resources in Maryland and contains several notable changes in requirements for consultants, preservation planners, state and federal agencies who conduct work in Maryland, and anyone preparing Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties (MIHP) forms, Determination of Eligibility forms (DOEs), or National Register nominations.
This version is meant as an interim update until MHT’s web-based MIHP/DOE form is released in 2021. Many exciting changes are afoot, which will necessitate substantial revisions to the Standards & Guidelines at that time, including: an electronic review and submission process; a combined MIHP/DOE form; and the inclusion of new fields on the inventory form, such as architectural style/influences, construction date, and materials. The new system will greatly enhance the ability to conduct more detailed searches in Medusa, our online cultural resource information system, and will facilitate comparative analyses of buildings across Maryland, for the benefit of scholars, researchers, and consultants.
In the meantime, we would like to highlight the significant changes in the 2019 version of the Standards & Guidelines. Overall, anyone producing inventory or nomination forms should pay particular attention to Chapters 4, 5, and 8. The most notable change is to the photo requirement. All grant-funded and National Register projects still require printed 5×7 black-and-white photographs or, now, color photographs. All other submittals, including for compliance purposes and owner-produced or county-produced forms, may now elect to use either printed photographs or digital photographs embedded in continuation sheets (see Chapter 4, pages 34-35, and Appendix A). The preparer may submit up to 20 images in print form or on continuation sheets and, if providing more than 20 images, then include the surplus photos as digital files only. The inclusion of all image files in TIFF format on an archival CD is still required for all projects. MHT will be uploading all images to a dedicated server.
Another important change is that MHT now requires a contributing and non-contributing list or chart of all resources included within survey or historic district boundaries (see page 26). The preparer may determine the format of this information. For example, if a district has been determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, the preparer may wish to include a greater level of detail, such as the address of the property, resource type, estimated construction date, a brief description of each resource, and status (CON/NC). This additional information is a significant improvement because it provides an exact account of what is included within the district boundary and recommends a contributing or non-contributing status based on the integrity of each resource. Many early nominations did not include this information, which is critical in determining eligibility for the State and Federal tax credit programs, as well as various grant and loan programs. Although this practice has become common for National Register nominations in recent years, survey districts rarely include this amount of detail.
The updated version also incorporates a chapter on guidelines for completing National Register nomination forms in Maryland and an updated chart showing statewide survey coverage, the estimated percentage of buildings constructed prior to 1967, and the number of MIHP forms per county (see page 5). Appendices include an example of the new photo continuation sheet; the Standards for Submission of Digital Images to the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties; and a submissions checklist that underscores commonly overlooked procedures required to accession material into the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties.
We encourage all who are involved in the documentation of Maryland’s historic resources to read the updated Standards & Guidelines for further details. If you have any questions or comments about the content or new policies and procedures, please contact Heather Barrett, Administrator of Research & Survey, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lara Westwood, Librarian, Maryland Historical Trust
In honor of National Library Week, we are showcasing the library at the Maryland Historical Trust, an often overlooked resource for those seeking guidance on restoring and preserving historic properties, researching archeological sites, or simply interested in Maryland history, historic preservation, architectural history, and archeology. The library collection holds over 10,000 books, archeological reports, architectural drawings, as well as historical maps, oral histories, and over 100,000 photographic slides and negatives, which could benefit a wide variety of researchers.
Books in the library range in topic from prehistory, anthropology, and geology to biography, decorative arts, and modern architecture. The collection emphasizes studies of Maryland in county histories, genealogical works, and other resources, but is not limited in scope. The owner of a historic home, for example, may find catalogs advertising house kits and other building supplies, how-to manuals on repairing and preserving roofs and windows, and books on architectural styles useful. The wide selection of books on interior design, historic wall finishings, and house styles may appeal to students of architecture or historic preservation. Archeological research can be supplemented by books on Native American cultures, technology and theory, shipwrecks, and more. Dissertations, theses, and student papers by professors and university students on relevant themes have also been collected. New books are frequently added to the collection, including limited run, locally and self-published works. The library also maintains subscriptions to a numbered of local, national, and international professional and popular journals and periodicals, often not available in local public libraries.
Supplemental materials related to the nearly 50,0000 properties on the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties (MIHP) are some of the most unique items in our collection. This includes historic structure reports, field and research reports, published works, architectural drawings, vertical files, and photographs. Historic structure reports are typically in-depth studies of single properties with recommendations for rehabilitation and conservation work. A wide variety of structures have been investigated including houses, government buildings, lighthouses, and churches, and these reports are often helpful sources for chain of title information, property history, and modern and historic photographs. Paint analysis reports may also interest researchers seeking information on period accurate paint colors, and work in dendrochronology could assist in dating wooden buildings, which are cataloged with field and research reports. The architectural drawing collection is another underutilized gem for researchers of architectural history. All counties are represented in the collection and includes many different types of structures from bridges and public buildings to palatial estate houses to barns and tenant houses. The vertical files also hold a wealth of materials, such as research notes, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and photographs, on various subjects, including MIHP properties, historical events, and cities and towns.
MHT has collected thousands of images to document historic properties, historic districts, and archaeological sites in Maryland. These slides, negatives, and photographs are maintained in the library and supplement the images available in the MIHP form. They primarily date from the 1960’s to present, but older photographs can sometimes be found. The architectural images in particular are of tremendous value in the study of Maryland’s history and development. Many of the buildings photographed are no longer extant or represent structures beyond the well known historic sites. In some cases, these are the only known photographs of a structure. The collection also provides examples of many architectural styles, building types, and design features.
Oral histories and maps round out the library’s rich collection. The oral histories capture the state’s cultural traditions through written transcripts and audio and video recordings. Themes include African-American communities in Baltimore County, tobacco in Calvert County, lighthouses across the state, and more. Nautical charts, topographic maps, and other historical maps of Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region are also available to researchers.
The library’s collection is always expanding. While some collection material has yet to be cataloged, visiting the library catalog is the best way to start a search. More information on the library can be found in the user guide and on the library’s web page. The library is open to the public by appointment, Tuesday through Thursday. Librarian Lara Westwood can be contacted (email@example.com or 410-697-9546) to schedule library visits or assist with any research inquiries.