Eight Southern Maryland nonprofits, heritage tourism organizations and local jurisdictions received matching grants totaling $331,000 from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority on July 11.
The grant funds support heritage tourism projects with the goal of increasing economic development and job creation.
“It was an amazing year,” Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium Executive Director Lucille Walker said. “Every county was fully represented.”
The Southern Maryland consortium is one of Maryland’s 13 certified heritage areas.
Walker said there are two levels of funding that groups can apply for in the heritage area. One is local or “seed” grants for up to $5,000, which can be applied to the local consortium. The other can be applied through the local consortium to the state to acquire $50,000 to $100,000 in grants.
“So, that’s why I call mine seed — from ours the bigger ones grow,” Walker laughed.
This year, through partnering with the Tri-County Council of Southern Maryland, the consortium received $100,000 in MHAA funds, $14,000 more than last year. The funds will be used for what is more commonly known as Destination Southern Maryland and will be used for administrative needs and marketing initiatives in the region.
Charles County received one MHAA grant award. Maryland Veterans Memorial Museum got $10,000 for its Revolutionary War Trail: Through Southern Maryland to Victory at Yorktown project.
Located in Newburg, the nonprofit museum recognizes all U.S. military veterans and houses historical artifacts and offers a variety of exhibits and figurine reenactments.
Larry Abell, president of the Maryland Veterans Museum, said the grant would be used to highlight Southern Maryland locations along the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route.
Abell said the museum was contacted several years ago and invited to become part of the route by the National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association.
The route highlights historic sites and museums along the route taken by the Continental Army, under the command of Gen. George Washington, and the French Expeditionary Force, under the command of Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, on their way to fight the 1781 Battle of Yorktown, the decisive victory in the American War of Independence.
The 250th anniversary of the Battle of Yorktown is in 2021, and Abell said the $10,000 matching grant will be used to feature historic locations along the route in preparation for the anniversary.
“It will develop the history of what happened along the route — who was there and what they did,” Abell said. “It’ll be a great way for Southern Maryland to be featured on the national stage.”
“It will help develop the history of what happened along the route, who they were and what they did,” Abell said.
St. Mary’s County received three heritage area grant awards. Greenwell Foundation in Hollywood was awarded $21,870 for its Explore Greenwell: Interactive Heritage Tourism Project.
“The park represents all the environmental features Maryland has to offer: the Patuxent River, forests, watershed, meadows, marshes, prairies,” lists Barbara Wille, development director for the Greenwell Foundation.
Willie is responsible for fundraising and said, “We are very excited — grateful for the grant.”
Wille said the foundation wanted people to know about Greenwell’s social, agriculture, equestrian history as well as what is happening at the 600-acre park today.
The grant is for the foundation to create additional web pages that people can click on when they are visiting various areas of the park to retrieve its history and how the areas are being used today.
“The Manor House on the property has an interesting history of its own that people need to know,” Wille said.
April 2020 is the project completion date.
“Because it is a state park, physical display will be at a minimum,” Wille said, noting that the interactive pages will be accessible by visitors’ mobile phones, not kiosks in the park.
The plan is to offer a wide variety of ways to access pages and hopefully have signage in the park telling people how to access that information.
The St. Mary’s County commissioners were awarded $100,000 for a new building for St. Clement’s Island Museum. In addition, the Friends of St. Clement’s Island and Piney Point Lighthouse Museum received $6,700 for an interpretive panel project.
Calvert County received three grant awards. The county commissioners were awarded $20,000 in Heritage Area Authority grant money for archaeology at the Calverton historic site.
“The Calverton was Calvert’s first county seat. It was laid out in 1668 on the shores of Battle Creek,” Kirsti Uunila, Calvert’s historic planner, said.
Uunila said the seat of government left Calverton in 1724 and moved to where it remains today in Prince Frederick.
The funds will be used to hire a professional archaeologist to continue the archaeology that began as far back as 1936 at the sealed site, and to perform a more directed excavation at the site to uncover more of the historic town.
Uunila said it was urgent now because parts of the town are in danger of eroding.
“The impact of storm surge, erosion, rising water … on that site has just been devastating,” Uunila explained.
In addition to a professional archeologists and rescuing shoreline remains, funding will complete processing of all artifacts recovered during the project writing and completion of a report on the archaeological investigations, the creation of one public program off-site to present the results of investigations and a story map to be posted on the Calvert government website and linked to the Southern Maryland Heritage Area website.
Uunila said one of the most interesting artifacts found is a James I silver shilling from 1604 that was hand hammered. It was found under a supporting post of a former structure.
The artifacts collected so far are stored at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum and its conservation laboratory in St. Leonard.
The American Chestnut Land Trust received $20,000 for its “Research for the Parkers Creek Heritage Trail” project. Friends of the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum received $52,600 for “Renovation of the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum Core Exhibit.”
“They are a great example of our seed grants at work ,” Walker said, noting the railway museum received $4,425 last year to do an interpretive master plan. “The seed grants are excellent stepping stones to the larger grants.”
Walker said she is excited for all the recipients and believes that “all voices need to be heard.”
Staff writer Jamie Anfenson-Comeau contributed to this report.