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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: MHT Files, n.d.
St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish Historic District
Inventory No.: PG:86A-59
Date Listed: 12/30/2011
Location: Upper Marlboro, Prince Georges County
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: 1742-1959
Resources: 16 (6 contributing, 10 non-contributing)
Description: The St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish Historic District includes approximately 43.77 acres situated in the rural village of Croom in southeastern Prince George's County. The district is centered on St. Thomas' Church, erected c. 1742-1745 as a "Chapel of Ease" for St. Paul's Parish at Baden, Prince George's County. In 1850, the church became the parish church for the newly created St. Thomas' Parish, and continues this purpose in 2009. Shortly after the creation of St. Thomas' Parish in 1850, a rectory was built. In 1894, the parishioners of St. Thomas oversaw the construction of St. Simon's Mission Chapel, a chapel for African-American worshippers in St. Thomas' Parish and one of only three African-American Episcopal congregations in Maryland after the Civil War. St. Simon's Mission continued to serve the African-American communicants of the parish until the congregation merged with that of St. Thomas' Church in 1964. St. Simon's Mission and St. Thomas' Church are associated with the Croom Industrial and Agricultural School, which occupies the southeastern edge of the district. The school was established in 1902, first under the aegis of the Episcopal Church and later as a nonsectarian institution, to teach practical education to African-American children from Prince George's County, other neighboring counties, and Washington, D.C. The school continued until 1952; several buildings remain extant on the former school property, which now functions as a private residence. St. Simon's Mission Chapel was demolished c. 1974, and an associated cemetery, as well as a historical marker, provides the only physical vestiges of the former church. Significance: St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish Historic District is historically significant for its broad impact on the development and history of the rural village of Croom and its significant contribution to the larger African-American community. The site of the chapel provides evidence of the early African-American community of the Croom area. St. Thomas' Church and St. Simon's Mission Chapel served as the center of social life for rural residents. The district is also significant for its unique efforts in providing practical education to African-American children for the first half of the 20th century leading up to the eve of school desegregation in Prince George's County. The Croome Industrial and Agricultural School, initiated from the St. Thomas' Sunday School led by Susie and Katharine Willes, sisters of the then-rector of St. Thomas' Parish, was established in 1903 by Susie Willes. The mission of the school was to provide the extension and improvement of industrial, agricultural, and domestic education as a means of opening better and wider avenues of employment for African-American children. The school was the only one of its type in the county. In 1918, the school left the aegis of the Episcopal Church and became the nonsectarian Croom(e) Settlement School, which again attracted African-American children from throughout southern Maryland and Washington, D.C. The students lived on the school grounds, where they obtained skills in various agricultural and industrial sciences and learned general household skills. . The district derives additional historical significance as a religious property as it derives its primary significance from its historical importance to the community of Croom(e) and the larger African-American community as well as from its architectural distinction. The district is also architecturally significant for its notable examples of the Georgian and Gothic Revival styles of architecture, as well as for its exemplification of a specific type and period of construction. St. Thomas' Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 for its notable representation of a cruciform-church plan that contains Georgian- and Gothic Revival-style features and detailing. St. Thomas' Church Rectory is notable as the only Episcopal rectory in Prince George's County to be erected in the cruciform plan. The rectory is also representative of a mid-19th-centry building type featuring Gothic Revival-style detailing, including a steeply pitched roof, centered gable featuring a Gothic-arched window, and a one-story entry porch. The c. 1940 tobacco barn, recently restored, is significant as a representative example of a mid-20th-century tobacco barn, once common on the landscape of Prince George's County.

District Resources (16) (6 contributing, 10 non-contributing)

From associated listing in National Register nomination form. C = Contributing, NC = non-contributing, blank = not evaluated.

AddressStatusResource Name and MIHP (if any)
14300 St. Thomas Church RoadCPG:86A-7 -- St. Thomas Church (Page's Chapel)
14300 St. Thomas Church RoadCSt. Thomas' Episcopal Church Cemetery
10108 Croom Road (MD 382)CPG:86A-8 -- St. Thomas Church Rectory
10108 Croom RoadCTenant House/Sexton's House
St. Thomas Church RoadCPG:86A-12 -- St. Simon's Episcopal Church Site and Cemetery
14201 St. Thomas Church RoadCPG:86A-45 -- St. Thomas Parish Tobacco Barn
14409 St. Thomas Church RoadNCPG:86A-24 -- Croom Industrial and Agricultural Institute of Prince George's County
14409 St. Thomas Church RoadNCWorkshop # 1
14409 St. Thomas Church RoadNCWorkshop # 2
14409 St. Thomas Church RoadNCRuins/foundation
14409 St. Thomas Church RoadNCStorage Shed
10108 Croom RoadNCMilk House
10108 Croom RoadNCWood Shed
10108 Croom RoadNCHorse Stable
14300 St. Thomas Church RoadNCWilles Church House
14300 St. Thomas Church RoadNCCemetery House


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