MHT Projects and Partners

The Maryland Historical Trust participates as a partner in a variety of preservation-related projcets undertaken by local, State, and Federal agencies. We also sponsor our own research projects. This page contains information about some of the active and ongoing projects that Trust staff are working on.

MHT Archeological Synthesis Database Project

Map of Archeological Synthesis AnalysisThe synthesis database project was instituted and approved in 2007 to begin the process of synthesizing the archeological data from the thousands of excavation projects that have been conducted in Maryland over the past few decades. It consists of a searchable digital database that is linked to our Maryland Archeological Site Survey files, but is also tied to synopsis reports and cover sheets generated by reviewing each larger excavation project. The synopsis reports contain a shortened version of the overall site report, which is organized in a way that makes it easier for researchers to quickly pull out the most relevant information they would need for reconstructing the past activities at a site. The cover sheets deal more with the history of archeological activity at a site; specifically the justifications for fieldwork, research objectives, and the potential for future research at a given site.

Click here to learn more about the Synthesis project

Maryland Tobacco Barns After the Buyout

Mackall Tobacco Barn, St. Mary's CitySince the 17th century, tobacco has been a mainstay crop of Southern Maryland.  In the colonial era it was used as the standard for local currency and is often referred to by farmers as “the money crop.”  The wood-frame barns dotting the region’s rolling fields were essential to the process of air-curing the tobacco cultivated.   These iconic structures of Southern Maryland’s rural landscape are being lost at a rapid rate due to high labor costs and development pressure from the Washington Metropolitan area.  The State of Maryland's 2001 "tobacco buyout," which encouraged farmers to stop cultivating tobacco, accelerated the industry’s decline, leaving thousands of acres of agricultural land and scores of tobacco barns unused and deteriorating. 

In 2004, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the Tobacco Barns of Southern Maryland on its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.   In response to this listing, the Maryland Historical Trust collaborated with representatives of Preservation Maryland, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, county governments, heritage tourism organizations, and farm organizations to create the Southern Maryland Tobacco Barns Preservation Initiative.  The goal is to preserve tobacco barns across the five county region (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s, and St. Mary’s counties) through funding, public policy, outreach and education, survey, and information sharing.   

With funding from a federal Save America’s Treasures grant and private contributions, the Initiative created the Tobacco Barn Restoration Fund which has preserved over a dozen important barns. Through Non-Capital Historic Preservation grants the Trust has facilitated the development of a  ational Register Multiple Property Nomination form for tobacco barns in Southern Maryland as well as the documentation of several significant barns.

For more information on the Tobacco Barn Initiative, visit Preservation Maryland’s website.

Read about the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 11 Most Endangered listing for Tobacco Barns

Captain John Smith National Historic Water Trail

Capt. John Smith engravingOn December 19, 2006, President George W. Bush signed legislation establishing the Capt. John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail - the first national water trail in the United States. The trail will commemorate the exploratory voyages of Captain Smith on the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries in 1607-1609.

Administered by the National Park Service, the trail will provide significant opportunities for education, recreation and heritage tourism in the Bay region. The National Park Service will administer the trail in coordination with the existing Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network and the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program that is leading efforts to restore the estuary.

For more information, go to:

Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network

skiff in marshThe Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and one of the world's most productive bodies of water. For centuries, the Bay and its tributaries have sustained human endeavors, driven the region's economy, and defined the natural beauty, traditions, and culture of a vast area.

Congress recognized the regional, nation, and international importance of the Chesapeake Bay and its many related resources in 1998 through the Chesapeake Bay Initiative Act. The Act authorizes a broad-based partnership to enhance people's connections with these resources in meaningful ways that foster conservation and restoration of the Bay.

This partnership is creating a dynamic network of Chesapeake Bay Gateways linking a diverse array of special places within the Bay watershed, including parks, wildlife refuges, historic communities, maritime museums, waterways, and more. The Chesapeake Bay Gateways network will provide the physical and program links between these Gateways, allowing people to more easily explore, understand, and help conserve the Bay and its related resources. Gateway Hubs and Regional Information Centers will orient and educate people as they begin their exploration of the Network's Gateway sites and connecting byways and water trails.

For further information about the Gateways Program, visit their website.

Cove Point lighthouse, Calvert CountyMaryland Lighthouses

Maryland lighthouses are popular tourism destinations for residents and out-of-state visitors alike. Significantly, the survival and adaptive reuse of Maryland’s lighthouses would not have been possible without the work of the Maryland Lighthouse Commission which got its start on January 11, 1989 when former Delegate Ray Huff of Anne Arundel County introduced House Bill 148 before the Maryland House of Delegates. Entitled “An Act Concerning [a] Commission to Save the Lighthouses,” the legislation marked a concerted public effort to place historic lighthouses in the forefront of Maryland preservation efforts. The bill was passed by the Legislature and the Commission was formed in the fall of 1989, meeting for the first time on February 9, 1990. Chaired by Delegate Huff, the Commission was comprised of political leaders, lighthouse experts, and members of the public with a shared interest in historic navigational aids.

Click here to learn more about efforts to preserve Maryland's lighthouses

Maryland Petroglyphs (rock carvings)

PetroglyphPETROGLYPHS are prehistoric depictions carved in rock. The designs were pecked or carved into relatively soft rock, and possibly “finished” by polishing the cut grooves with sand and a blunt tool such as a piece of green wood. Many of Maryland's petroglyphs have been destroyed, most of the remaining ones are badly weathered, and only one is still found in its original location.

In Maryland, such prehistoric artwork is known from just two sites: (1) at Bald Friar in the lower Susquehanna River, and (2) at Great Falls in the middle Potomac River. The designs, though sometimes readily recognizable, are often enigmatic. In any case, the meaning behind the petroglyphs, which are thought to be some 500 to 1,000 years old, continues to elude modern researchers.

Vernacular Architecture Forum 2011

Staff members from the Trust's Office of Research, Survey, and Registration attended the 2011 Vernacular Architecture Forum Annual Conference in Falmouth, Jamaica. Orlando Ridout and Marcia Miller have prepared a summary report on their trip.

Click here to download the report.

This page updated: July 17, 2014