Baltimore’s Chinatown

MHT has an ongoing project to document Asian American heritage in Baltimore City and the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, with funding from the National Park Service’s Underrepresented Community Grant program. Check out this research update from architectural historian Nicole A. Diehlmann of RK&K who is working on this exciting project!

Large-scale immigration from China to the United States began in response to the discovery of gold in northern California in 1848. Many immigrants arrived in San Francisco from the Guangdong province in southern China, which had suffered from political instability and natural disasters. Seeking opportunity in the United States, Chinese immigrants first found employment in northern California’s gold mines and later on the Transcontinental Railroad. When the railroad was completed in 1867, some Chinese workers began to move out of California to the eastern United States.

Chinese immigration to Maryland did not accelerate until the late nineteenth century. The 1870 census indicates only two Chinese people living in the state. Ten years later, that number had only increased to five, but by 1890, there were 189 Chinese people living in Maryland. In 1900, the number had nearly tripled to 544 individuals—480 were foreign born residents, while 64 people had been born in the United States. The vast majority, 426 individuals, lived in Baltimore City. Most lived near the intersection of Marion and Liberty Streets, not far from Baltimore’s bustling port in the Inner Harbor. This area, which became known as “Chinatown,” was the residential and commercial center of the Chinese immigrant community. Some Chinese people lived outside of Chinatown, but still within the city, particularly those who operated laundries, which were found throughout Baltimore. Others lived outside of the city, such as members of the Lee family who were vegetable farmers in Lansdowne. As the number of Chinese residents in the Baltimore area grew, they established organizations and businesses to provide social, economic, and political support for the growing community.

1901 Sanborn Map indicating “Chinese Joints” and a Chinese Restaurant at the northwest corner of Park and Marion Streets in Baltimore (LOC).

Historic maps and newspaper articles record the history of these early immigrants. Language in these newspaper articles reflected prevailing attitudes of Caucasians toward Asian immigrants at the time, and the articles often used derogatory terms and condescending tone, at best treating the traditions and customs of the Chinese community as novel spectacle and at worst with derision.  Many newspaper articles relate to police raids, illustrating the suspicion and over-policing suffered by Chinese residents; however, they also provide a wealth of details about the people and places associated with the Chinese community. Chinatown contained a diverse mix of businesses and residences. Many of the buildings were multipurpose, housing businesses, restaurants, and domestic and religious spaces under one roof. The 1890 Sanborn fire insurance map indicates Chinese laundries at 10 Park Avenue and 677 West Baltimore Street. The 1901 Sanborn map indicates a Chinese restaurant at 114 Park Avenue and other establishments referred to as “Chinese Joints” just west along Marion Street. Lum Bing was the proprietor of the restaurant on the second floor of 114 Park Avenue, according to an 1896 Sun article. The building also housed the San Francisco–based Chinese importing firm of Quong Hing Lung Chong Kee & Company, which was run by Lee Yat and Hop Lung, as well as residences. The family of Lee Yat lived at 311 Marion Street. An 1894 Sun article noted that the Lee’s two daughters were the first Chinese babies born in Baltimore. Mee Lim was the proprietor of the Park Avenue restaurant in 1923. Upon his death he had an estate worth over $12,000 dollars that was distributed to the School Board as he had no heirs. In addition, the 1901 Sanborn map indicates a Chinese laundry at 102 Liberty Street that was operated by Wang Sing and Su Hong in 1899 and Der Pop in 1902, all of whom also lived in the building. At 208 West Fayette Street, there was a “Joss House,” which is the English term for a Buddhist or Taoist temple or altar.

1914 Sanborn Map indicating Chinese restaurants, dwellings, and a Joss House along Marion and West Fayette Streets, west of Park Avenue (LOC).

The 1914 Sanborn map shows a three-story Joss House at 217 Marion Street, two three-story Chinese-occupied dwellings at 203 and 205 Marion Street, and a restaurant at 202 West Fayette Street. 203 Marion Street was noted in an 1894 Sun article as a store operated by Joe Kee, who operated the Chey Shing Chung & Co., a Chinese grocery, dry goods, and embroidery dealer. 217 Marion Street was called a “Chinese resort” with Ah Goo as the proprietor in a 1901 Sun article about a police raid on the property where 13 individuals were arrested for playing fan-tan, a 2,000-year-old gambling game that Chinese immigrant workers brought to the United States. The 1914 Sanborn map indicates that 217 Marion Street also housed a Joss House, which was likely installed circa 1903. That Marion Street house was also the site of a celebration recognizing the new Republic of China and the rise to leadership of Sun Yat Sen in 1912, when a flag of the new republic was hung from the second story and a picture of Sun was placed on the wall. The restaurant at 202 West Fayette was called the Empire and was operated by Der Doo. In 1919, Rector’s Chinese and American restaurant, under the management of Dr. Wu, opened along the same block at 208 West Fayette.

Articles in the Sun from this era describe various Chinese cultural traditions from the perspective of white observers. An 1895 article describes Teng Meng, a day where offerings are left on the graves of ancestors. It notes that eight wagons left from the Chinese Masonic Temple in Baltimore—three went to Cedar Hill Cemetery on what is now Ritchie Highway in Anne Arundel County and five to Mount Olivet Cemetery on Frederick Road, where there were eight Chinese graves. The article states that offerings of “boiled chicken, bananas, raisins, nuts, cigarettes, opium and whisky” were left at the gravesites. A 1903 Sun article described the Lunar New Year celebration in Chinatown, noting that the Chinese grocery and supply stores and restaurants did great business serving the growing Chinese community. The festival, which traditionally lasts two to four weeks in China, occurred over four days in Baltimore due to “the restrictions placed on the enthusiasm of the celebrants by the police.”

Feeling development pressure from the booming department stores and five-and-dime stores along North Howard and West Lexington Streets, the center of Chinatown moved northward along Park Avenue to West Mulberry Street after World War I. The buildings north of Marion Street were demolished circa 1929 to make way for an expansion of the Julius Gutman Company department store. There were many Chinese businesses and residences along the 300 and 400 blocks of Park Avenue and the 200 block of West Mulberry Street. The 1922 Polk’s Baltimore City Directory lists six Chinese goods dealers on these blocks. The Baltimore branch of the On Leong Merchant’s Association was established in 1920 and had offices at 215 West Mulberry Street, but later moved 323 Park Avenue.

The On Leong Chinese Merchant’s Association moved to this building at 323 Park Avenue in 1950. (Nicole Diehlmann 2021)

Baltimore City’s Chinese population began to decline during the Great Depression. A Sun article from 1937 noted that “Baltimore’s 400-odd Chinese are scattered about, although they once lived homogeneously in the neighborhood about Mulberry Street and Park Avenue.” The article notes that those remaining in Baltimore still engaged in trades such as restaurants and laundries, although some became noodle manufacturers such as Tom You, proprietor of the Quong Chow Noodle Company at 209 West Mulberry Street.

Chinatown continued to shrink in the post–World War II era. The north side of the 200 block of West Mulberry Street was demolished for a parking garage by 1952, and buildings on the south side were slowly demolished over the late twentieth century. Other businesses opened outside of Chinatown, like the China Clipper at 1003 North Charles Street and the New China Inn at 2426 North Charles Street. Some growth continued to occur within Chinatown, however, as landmark restaurants, such as the White Rice Inn at 320 Park Avenue and the China Doll at 406 Park Avenue, opened in Chinatown in the 1940s. A combination of urban renewal in the late 1950s and the repeal and creation of several national laws in the 1960s led to an exodus of many Chinese Americans from Baltimore to the suburbs. By 1963, 2,188 Chinese people resided in Maryland, and of those, only 748 lived in Baltimore City. Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 removed barriers to race-based discrimination and allowed Chinese and other Asian Americans to freely move to suburban areas, further continuing the decline in Baltimore City’s Chinese population.

Buildings on the 300 block of Park Avenue, at the center of Chinatown, continue to house variety of Chinese businesses and organizations (Nicole Diehlmann 2021)

The changes in the Baltimore Chinese community and the decline of Baltimore’s Chinatown were noted in a 1969 Sun article. Mrs. George Tang stated that Chinese serving in World War II gained new skills that allowed them to get jobs in new industries. Their prosperity allowed their children to attend college and embark on careers far different from the laundry and restaurant jobs that were the mainstay of the earliest Chinese immigrants. She further noted that they “have a freer kind of existence. They’re accepted by the rest of society.” New businesses and a small Caucasian “Bohemian population” were changing the composition of Chinatown. In the mid-1970s, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association attempted to acquire land at Park Avenue and Mulberry Street for a 14-story Asian Culture Center, but their effort was unsuccessful. Many buildings formerly occupied by Chinese immigrants in Chinatown are currently vacant and in poor condition; however, the vestiges of this once vital Chinese community are still apparent and worthy of preservation.

Architectural Survey on Smith Island

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.  

Smith’s Island, Lake, Griffing & Stevenson Map, 1877.

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.

Black Walnut Point, photo by Paul B. Touart

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.

Black Walnut Point, photo by Paul B. Touart

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.

Ewell United Methodist Church, photo by Paul B. Touart

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.

Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church, photo by Paul B. Touart

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.

Union Methodist Episcopal Church, photo by Paul B. Touart

If you want to learn more, you can view all MIHP survey records, including more properties on Smith Island, on our website, https://mht.maryland.gov/secure/medusa/.

Maryland Archeology Month 2021: The Archeology of Healing and Medicine

By Charlie Hall, State Terrestrial Archaeologist

When the Maryland Archeology Month Committee “met” (and we all know what it means to “meet” these days!) this past Fall our most important piece of business was to select the theme for the 2021 celebration. While this is a bit routine – choosing the theme is always the most important item on the agenda at our kick-off meeting – there was a difference this year. Try as I might to generate some debate (we had many excellent candidates), there really was no question that the Maryland Archeology Month theme for 2021 would echo the principal theme of these times: the worldwide effort to overcome COVID-19. The Committee was clear, however, that the theme should reflect the hopeful and positive aspects of the current stage of the pandemic. We are currently vaccinating over 3,000,000 people every day in the US, and are within weeks of the time when everyone will be eligible to receive a vaccination. This is indeed hopeful and positive. At this rate Maryland Archeology Month 2022 may mark the return to the usual menu of in-person public-engaging events including lectures, workshops, public excavations, open labs, and more.

2021 Maryland Archeology Month Poster - Featuring images of medically-related artifacts.
2021 Maryland Archeology Month Poster

That was no typo. I meant 2022. This year will mark the second COVID-19 affected Maryland Archeology Month (MAM). The virus hit with a vengeance last March just as we were preparing to celebrate. We were all reeling from the changes the response to the state of emergency meant in our day-to-day lives, and for MAM event sponsors this meant cancelations. Yet we
persevered! Governor Hogan declared that April 2020 was Archeology Month in Maryland. The mailing went out as usual. Within the confines of the restrictions that were being put into effect, efforts were made to mark the celebration. Several blogs and video lectures were posted on the internet, and a web-based storymap was launched.

This year we have the added benefit of being able to plan with the pandemic as the controlling factor. We know that most in-person events will not be possible. As a result, we have planned many more virtual events. Below is a sampling of events you can attend without leaving the comfort – and safety – of your home. Note that information regarding these and other events, as well as links to the host organization’s website, can be found on the Maryland Archeology Month website at www.marylandarcheologymonth.org. Visit this website often as the list of events will no-doubt grow!

Digging History: Screening with Q&A: Archaeological Discoveries at the Hagerstown Jonathan Street Cabin. This virtual event will stream live from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Tuesday April 6th. Hosted by Preservation Maryland with the Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Public Television, and the Western Maryland Community Development Corporation, this free event will feature a 5 minute mini-documentary featuring the archaeological investigation of the Jonathan Street Cabin in the heart of an African American neighborhood in Hagerstown. Archaeologists will answer questions from the audience following the mini-documentary screening. Visit https://www.preservationmaryland.org/ and look for Upcoming Events to register.

How Do I Get a Job in Archaeology These Days? If you are looking to get a job as an archaeologist then this webinar, hosted by the Council for Maryland Archeology and the University of Maryland is for you! Join host Jessica Brannnock and a panel of employed archeologists on Thursday April 8th from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM to learn how you too can get the job you want! Visit https://cfma-md.com/ and click on Announcements for information and to register.

Maryland Archeology Month: Rockville Students Excavate the Riggs House. Join this free Zoom lecture at 12:00 PM Thursday April 15th . Join the Peerless Rockville Historic Preservation, Ltd., and retired Richard Montgomery High School teacher and avocational archaeologist Bob Hines as they discuss the four seasons of archaeological investigations at the home site of one of Montgomery County’s most influential families. Visit the Peerless Rockville website (https://www.peerlessrockville.org/) and click on Events to register.

Finding Common Ground: Can Relic Hunters and Archeologists Work Together? Are metal detectorists and archaeologists the oil and water of the search for the material past? Is there a way the two can coexist and perhaps even benefit each other? Join a diverse panel of experts on Thursday April 15th at 1:00 PM for this free webinar, hosted by Preservation Maryland (https://www.preservationmaryland.org/, look for Upcoming Events).

Unearthing St. Mary’s Fort, the Founding Site of the Maryland Colony. Found it! If you follow the news you know about this national headline story. Funded by an MHT Historic Preservation Non-Capital Grant, archaeologists at Historic St. Mary’s City found the first fort built by the English colonists who settled Maryland in 1634. Learn about this historic discovery from the Director of Research and Collections Dr. Travis Parno between 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM on Thursday April 15th (visit https://www.hsmcdigshistory.org/events/ and click on Visit Us, then on Events to learn more about this YouTube event).

The Archeology of Healing and Medicine. Three authors of essays published in this year’s Archeology Month booklet will discuss their topics in a free webinar hosted by the Council for Maryland Archeology and the Maryland Historical Trust on Thursday April 22nd between 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM. Visit https://cfma-md.com/ and click on Announcements for information and to register. In addition to these live streaming events, the Council for Maryland Archeology and the Maryland Historical Trust will be posting short video interviews with each of the eight authors of the essays published in this year’s Archeology Month booklet on the Maryland Historical Trust’s YouTube channel. These video interviews will be available on demand this month (and beyond!)

You can expect additional written blogs and other online content as well. You’ll want to visit the Maryland Archeology Month website (www.marylandarcheologymonth.org) often as new content will be developed and links will be posted throughout the month. This website is also your source for this year’s Maryland Archeology Month poster and booklet, both of which can be downloaded there. Other content, including a listing of year-round volunteer opportunities, is available from this website, and will be updated often throughout the year. Cross listing of events on the hosts’ websites, as well as on the website of the Archeological Society of Maryland (www.marylandarcheology.org) will help to spread the word as widely as possible.

You’re going to be busy this April!

Historic Preservation at Home

By Lara Westwood, Librarian with contributions from MHT staff

The Maryland Historical Trust staff — like so many of you — have been spending a lot more time at home lately. We have turned to online resources and our home libraries to continue our education in historic preservation in these unprecedented times. For Preservation Month, here are few of our favorite resources that you can check out from the comfort of your couch.  

#HistoricPreservation on Instagram.

Social Media to Follow:

CheapOldHouses – If you are in the market for a historic fixer-upper, this Instagram account is for you. 

Heritage & Historic Preservation – NPS – Learn more on Facebook about historic preservation efforts led by the National Park Service across the country. 

#HistoricPreservation – A great hashtag to follow on Twitter and Instagram to find out the latest industry news, trends, and projects. 

Maryland Preservation Forum – Request to join this Facebook group to learn more about preservation projects and events around the state.

MdHistoricalTrust – Follow us on Instagram to find out more about our work. 

OldHouseLove – An Instagram account dedicated to the beauty of old houses, especially those in need of some TLC. 

PoplarForestRestoration – This Instagram account follows the restoration of Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s second home and one of the first octagonal houses built in America. 

#Preserve66 – A hashtag initiative on Instagram and Twitter to showcase historic preservation efforts on the famous Route 66. 

Rainbow Heritage Network – Learn more about efforts to preserve and document sites related to LGBTQ+ history. 

SavingPlaces – Follow the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Instagram account for updates on their latest initiatives. 

#ThisPlaceMatters – A hashtag campaign spearheaded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation on Twitter and Instagram to highlight forgotten spaces and neighborhood pride. 

USInterior – The official Instagram account of the U.S. Department of the Interior features photographs of the country’s most breathtaking spaces. 

What_style_is_that – An Instagram account curated by preservationist Karyn Wen that breaks down American architectural styles and features. 

WillieGraham1000 – Architectural historian Willie Graham shares beautiful photographs of his work in Maryland and Virginia on his Instagram account. 

A great resource on architecture and history in the Mid-Atlantic.

Books to Read:

The Chesapeake House: Architectural Investigation by Colonial Williamsburg by Cary Carson, Carl Lounsbury, and Colonial Williamsburg Foundation – An in-depth look at the development of the building practices and landscape of the Chesapeake region. 

A Field Guide to American houses: the Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America’s Domestic Architecture by Virginia McAlester, Lee McAlester, Suzanne Patton Matty, and Steve Clicque – An excellent reference for both the professional and amateuer architectural historian to learn more about the styles seen in your own neighborhood. 

Identifying American Architecture: a Pictorial Guide to Styles and Terms, 1600-1945 by John J-G Blumenson – A quick reference for identifying architectural styles. 

An Illustrated Glossary of Early Southern Architecture and Landscape by Carl Lounsbury, Vanessa Elizabeth Patrick, and Colonial Williamsburg Foundation – Learn the terms for architectural elements present in colonial buildings down the eastern seaboard.

Preserving African American Historic Places by Brent Leggs, Kerri Rubman, and Byrd Wood – A guide to documenting and preserving spaces that have been often overlooked by mainstream preservation efforts. 

Sah-archipedia.org, a peer-reviewed encyclopedia of architectural terms and images.

Websites to Surf:

ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) Photobank – Explore photographs of sites of historical significance across the globe. 

Library of Congress Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey – Search documentation on the country’s historic places created by the National Park Service since 1933. 

Our History, Our Heritage – The MHT blog where we share stories about our projects, grants, and research. 

Preservationdirectory.com – A one-stop website for all things historic preservation, including a listing of historic house museums, historic real estate for sale, law library, and more.  

SAH Archipedia – A comprehensive online encyclopedia of American architecture created by the Society of Architectural Historians.

Technical Preservation Services – Learn more about the National Park Service’s historic preservation work and find online classes and publications, such as the Technical Briefs. 

UNESCO – Learn more about worldwide initiatives to protect international heritage sites. 

A Visual Glossary of Classical Architecture – An image library of ancient architectural elements. 

Videos to Watch:

Baltimore Heritage Five Minute Histories – Learn more about Baltimore landmarks in these short but informative videos presented by Baltimore Heritage. 

Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans online classes – While focused on the history of the Big Easy, the Preservation Center offers webinars on a variety of historic preservation topics, including wood window restoration and home decor tips. 

Podcasts to Listen to:

99% Invisible – Host Roman Mars explores “the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world” on this podcast. 

Practical Preservation Podcast – Presented by Keperling Preservation Services, this podcast features interviews with industry experts and discusses the importance of historic preservation. 

PreserveCast – Preservation Maryland Executive Director Nicholas Redding conducts interviews on his monthly podcast on all manner of subjects related to historic preservation.  

Please note: appearance on this list does not represent an endorsement by the State of Maryland or the Maryland Historical Trust. Happy exploring!

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).

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.