Archive for May, 2012

May Monthly News Round-Up

Downtown Columbia (Howard County)

Below is a round-up of news articles on preservation and heritage issues in Maryland and beyond. 

Clifton Mansion to be restored
Baltimore Sun 05-26-12
Inmates rehabilitate Mount Auburn Cemetery –
Baltimore Brew 05-15-12
Unexpected demolition causes stir: Park Hall work prompts outcry from preservationists – Frederick News Post 05-23-12
Frederick War Memorial gets $14,300 in upkeep –
The Gazette 05-03-12

$100 million project to bring upscale apartments, retail to downtown Columbia
Baltimore Sun 05-16-12

Competing Visions for Farmland Set Johns Hopkins against Donor’s FamilyThe Chronicle of Higher Education 05-27-12
First Baptist Church of Silver Spring makes list of endangered historical sites –
The Gazette 05-02-12

Colonial courthouse roof needs replacingThe Star-Democrat 05-11-12
Centreville Wharf, ‘Captain’s houses’ get historical marker  – The Star-Democrat 05-04-12

Commissioners recognize preservation efforts in Washington County
Herald-Mail 05-22-12

Historians fret fate of War of 1812 sites
Baltimore Sun 05-27-12
Western Maryland Trail extension work could start later this year –
Herald-Mail 05-16-12
Interior Secretary Designates Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail –
Southern Maryland News Online 05-16-12
To Know The Bay, We Need Stories –
Southern Maryland News Online 05-01-12

If you have a news article on a preservation-related issue you wish to add to our monthly news round-up, please send the link to me at

Jessica Feldt      

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Governor Sharpe Would be Envious

Whitehall (picture courtesy of the Hammond-Harwood House)

Maryland’s last Provincial Governor Horatio Sharpe lived only briefly at Whitehall, near Annapolis, which he began building in 1764. He sailed for England in 1773 as hostilities between that country and its rebellious colony intensified. And though he never returned to see how it was modified by John Ridout, secretary to Governor Sharpe, who acquired the property in 1780, you have that opportunity if you attend the June 5 reception to honor Preservation Maryland’s Heritage Society. Beside those leadership donors to Preservation Maryland we honor that evening, we will recognize the Ridout family, descendants of Governor Sharpe’s secretary and preeminent members of Maryland’s historic preservation community.  The Ridout family occupied Whitehall for 116 years until the late 19th century.

The magnificent Georgian mansion was returned to its 18th century appearance by the last owners in the mid-20th century. Now owned by the Brandywine Foundation which will permit limited access to the interior, Whitehall is a National Historic Landmark and one of Maryland’s least visited landmarks. We hope you will join us on June 5 to see for yourself why it is one of the most significant. To register to attend, click here.

Louise Hayman

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Colleagues Corner: War of 1812 Fever!

As I sift through emails, tweets and Facebook posts each day it is hard to ignore. The War of 1812 Bicentennial is fast approaching. This summer is an exciting one for anyone with an interest in history or preservation. There seems to be events happening in every corner of Maryland and indeed that is just the tip of the iceberg with events being held in many states and Canada.

This weekend kicks off the start of the signature War of 1812 events. New York’s Fleet Week will celebrate the Bicentennial with a huge collection of Navy, Coast Guard, Coalition, and Tall ships descending on the Big Apple. From there the tour goes to Norfolk, Virginia and then it will be Maryland’s turn!

I’ve had June 13-19 circled in my calendar for awhile now and I hope you will be able to visit Baltimore and be a part of the celebrations. The Star-Spangled Sailabration is a week of events that should spark the interest of even those who have only a vague idea of what happened during the War of 1812. The ships will be open for tours, there will also be concerts, air shows and other programs.

While this is the biggest event in Maryland this year relating to the War of 1812, it is by no means the only one. Check out the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission’s website to find a bevy of events and sites that will educate and entertain. Baltimore also has a website set up with sites, events, and more information.

Looking for something to do right away? The Baltimore National Heritage Area will be holding a History Happy Hour on Friday, May 25 and tomorrow, May 30, Maryland Public Television will be holding a sneak peak of their documentaryThe War of 1812 on the Chesapeake: Home of the Brave.

Hope to see you on the ships in June!

Jessica Feldt

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For Everyman, an Oar – Four new designations for the Captain John Smith Trail


Capt. John Smith

It’s been over 400 years since Captain John Smith and his crew set out in an open boat on their exploration of the Chesapeake Bay, forever transforming the future of these waters, the landscape and her culture.  It was between the years of 1607 and 1609 that Smith mapped nearly 3,000 miles of the Chesapeake Bay and her rivers and provided the first documented history of the Native American communities he encountered along the way.

Smith knew then what so many of us have come to understand today; that the Chesapeake Bay is a unique and vital resource whose gifts are both plentiful and staggeringly beautiful. What Smith could never have foreseen was that well before the turn of the millennia the Chesapeake Bay would be in alarmingly acute condition, having suffered from a variety of ailments that would leave her literally gasping for air.  

In recent years there has been a powerful movement to restore the Chesapeake Bay to health, conserve her shorelines and reintroduce her to the American public as one of the most historically and naturally significant resources in our country.  A game changer in this effort came on December 19, 2006 when President George W. Bush signed into law the bill officially creating The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, commemorating Smith’s exploration of the Bay between 1607 and 1609 and managed by the National Park Service.  Since that time a collaborative framework of multiple states, agencies and organizations has come together to further the vision and foster the first all-water National Historic trail in our nation. Their goal is not only to enhance stewardship of the Bay and its heritage, but includes such elements as increased public access and tourism opportunities to large scale landscape conservation and educational programming.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Governor Martin O’Malley and NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis and other leaders at the ceremony designating four new trails

Just this week the Trail was expanded even further. In a ceremony held alongside the banks of the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, joined by Martin O’Malley and other leaders designated four water trails as new historic connecting components of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Spanning five states, the four connecting rivers which include the Susquehanna, Chester, Upper Nanticoke and Upper James add 841 miles to the existing trail and their significance speaks directly to the history, cultural heritage and exquisite natural resources that comprise this 3,000 mile long national historic trail in the Chesapeake Bay. It was a privilege and a joy to see these efforts realized and more than comforting to know that there are those whose vision still stretches out well beyond the next turn in the river.

Elizabeth Beckley

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Cruise Control in Charleston

The Battery

Last week I was in Charleston for an executive retreat of statewide and local partners of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  About thirty organizations were represented.  We toured historic sites, discussed current preservation issues and organizational challenges, and learned more about the Trust’s new strategic framework and signature National Treasures program.

The National Treasures program will be a portfolio of 100 historic properties across the country that the Trust will focus its staff and programming on preserving.  To date, 22 Treasures have been named including Charleston.  The threat: the growing cruise ship industry.

The Charleston Market

Charleston was America’s first local historic district.  It was established in 1931 the same year that Preservation Maryland was founded.  The city played and important role in America’s history and is comprised of an incredible collection of residential, commercial, religious and civic architecture ranging from 1700 through the mid twentieth century.  Like many popular historic destinations, including Annapolis, Charleston has to strike a balance between the economic benefits of tourism and protecting the quality of life of its residents.

In June 2011, Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, Coastal Conservation League and Preservation Society of Charleston filed suit against Carnival Cruise Lines.  The suit alleges that provisions of the City of Charleston’s existing ordinances apply to Carnival Cruise Line ships that use Union Pier, which is adjacent to Charleston’s historic district.

Carnival Fantasy

So what’s the big deal?  Charleston has become both a cruise ship destination and the new home port for the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship.  So not only do thousands of visitors disembark from visiting cruise ships into the historic district including residential neighborhoods on a daily basis, every week over 2,000 passengers drive into and out of Charleston for the Fantasy cruise to Florida and the Bahamas.

Tyler Gearhart

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The Tax Credit and Next Week’s Special Session

A special session of the General Assembly will begin on Monday. This Wednesday Governor Martin O’Malley, joined by Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch, laid out the outline of the proposed budget plan. This special session is to finish the work left from the regular General Assembly session. As you likely know, the session ended in April without passage of a budget that would have prevented the so-called “doomsday budget,” resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts from a wide spectrum of programs. Among these cuts would have been the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit for commercial projects.

We are happy to say that funding for the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit was included in the plan laid out on Wednesday. The Tax Credit is considered Maryland’s most effective historic preservation and community revitalization program, resulting in the rehabilitation of over 4,000 historic residential and commercial buildings while leveraging $1.6 billion of private investment. Losing this funding would be devastating to preservation efforts in Maryland.

So what can you do to help make sure this money stays in place during the special session? Let Governor O’Malley, President Mike Miller, and Speaker Michael Busch know that you appreciate their support of the Tax Credit and let your representatives know how important the Tax Credit is to Maryland’s historic resources. Please take a few moments to send them a note or call their offices. There are lots of issues on the table in the special session and we need to make sure our voices in support historic preservation are heard.

If you need material about the Tax Creidt’s benefits, you can find out more on our Advocacy Resources page and Economic Benefits page.

Jessica Feldt

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Maryland Historic Preservation Commission Training Workshops

I recently completed historic preservation commission workshops presented by the Maryland Association of Historic District Commissions (MAHDC).  The training is targeted toward historic preservation commissioners, staff, code officers, elected officials, and attorneys. The pilot program is located on the Eastern Shore with plans to replicate the training around the state. 

The training initiative is comprised of an online tutorial (and companion manual) and two on-site workshops. The online tutorial introduces and reviews core concepts and principles of historic preservation and roles and responsibilities of the commission.  The accompanying manual includes the following topics and more: legal fundamentals and special legal issues; designation, protection and treatment of historic properties; and project review. Two on-site workshops focus on design review and legal issues.  The workshops are an opportunity for commissioners and staff to share best practices and define and discuss objective procedures resulting in defensible decision making that is fair and uniform across the board.

There are still opportunities to complete this training.  The on-line component and manual are available on MAHDC’s website –  The schedule for the remaining on-site workshops is also available there.  I strongly encourage all historic preservation commissioners, staff and anyone interested in how commissions work to sign up for an upcoming session.



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