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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Susan Deeney, 12/1977
Old Joppa Site
Inventory No.: HA-1315
Other Name(s): Rumsey Island
Date Listed: 8/24/1979
Location: Old Church Drive , , Joppa, , Harford County
Category: Building,District,Site
Period/Date of Construction: 1712
The nomination is marked Not for Public Access. Qualified Medusa accountholders should please contact the MHT Librarian for a copy.
Description: The location of the colonial town of Joppa has always been known to local residents. However, the details of specific locations remained obscure until 1965, when Panitz Brothers surveyed the property which they planned to make part of the new development called Joppatowne. Attention was given to the possible locations of historical property in order that the original "God's Acre" could be deeded to the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. In addition to land records, two maps were useful in identifying features of the original town: a plat of the town, as surveyed in 1725, and an 1814 map of "Part of Joppa." The historical records leave no doubt about the identification of the town site, and the potential for archeological remains seems high. It is not known, however, in what state of preservation these remains have survived. The boundaries of the district include the southern half of the town as laid out in 1725,and those areas between the town and the old shoreline as determined by a topographic survey of 1964. Excluded are those areas to the north where intrusions have eliminated all archeological value. Significance: The town was begun by Queen Anne's decree as county seat of Baltimore County in 1712. It sprang from previously undeveloped land, became a center of northern Maryland commerce and government, but began an irreversible decline when the seat of power was transferred to the younger town of Baltimore in 1768. The land on which Joppa flourished reverted to its former use as lots were purchased and buildings destroyed, and the plow sealed 50 years of history under cropland. Today, only one building from the 18th century remains, the home of Benjamin Rumsey, lawyer, member of the local Committee of Correspondence, first Judge of the Maryland Appellate Court, and eventual owner of most of the destroyed town in which he had lived his most significant years. No other physical reminder of this Maryland patriot's life is known. Although altered by the present owner to accommodate the requirements of modern living, the house retains the character and appearance of the 18th century. Within the town area itself, erosion and excavation by industry have revealed evidence which strongly supports the theory that many foundations remain in situ below the surface.


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