Posts Tagged 'Four Rivers'

Great Pics of the Historic Snowstorm of 2010

I know we are all tired of the snow here in the Mid-Atlantic. But, one day when it is sweltering hot outside and the humidity is 100%, you will be able to look back at these photos and wish for snow. I scoured Flickr yesterday for the greatest snowpocalypse photos from Annapolis and yonder.

Here is a photo of the Inn at Horn Point, one of our Maryland Day Celebration partners! What about West Street? It wasn’t deserted, surprisingly. I love this one of Duke of Gloucester – just gorgeous! Maryland Hall looked inviting. I’m going to cheat a little bit, because this photo of the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley memorial is from December, but hilarious all the same. Again, this one of the Governor Calvert House on State Circle appears to be from December, but I like the vibe.

I got hit pretty hard too, up here in North County. Check out these pics of my house and yard.

This is me pointing to the snowdrift "waves." Makes me want to go surfing.

Looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. This is the remaining live tree in our front yard from, believe it or not, the drought from a few years ago.

Backyard River

See the Patapsco River in the background? Yeah, me neither.

Now for a little spring preview to warm your toes…

Feel better yet?

Keep toasty,

Aleithea

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A Story Quilt and a Spirited Ceremony

Apparently it was a well-kept surprise to Dr. Joan M.E. Gaither that she, along with her extraordinary documentary story quilt, were the honorees at a spirited dedication ceremony this past Wednesday. The artist received various accolades, too many to enumerate, celebrating her Black Watermen of the Chesapeake quilt. Imagine being asked to show up for a “small” dedication ceremony to find a hundred friends, family, local students, community members, and other supporters there to tell you how much of an impact you have had on their lives. Music and poetry framed the ceremony, including a rendition of Ave Maria by Banneker-Douglass Museum’s own Gen Kaplan, winter and water-themed selections by Bates Middle School choir, and a capella spirituals. Oh yes, there were tears.

 Let me back up a little; when I say her quilt, what I mean is her vision, her expertise, and her talent. But Dr. Gaither did something remarkable: She shared all this with the community and allowed anyone who wished to add their story, their photos, and their stitches to the quilt. She is the first to say that this was a community project. This particular documentary story quilt, as there are quite a few more, tells the stories of African American men and women who spent their lives working the water of the Chesapeake: Their struggles, their triumphs, their families, their LOVE of the Bay. As Jeff Holland, Director of the Annapolis Maritime Museum said, “this is our history,” no matter who you are. If you live by the Bay, you will be touched by these stories.

If you haven’t seen the quilt yet, well, you have to wait until March when it returns to its home state – this piece is traveling! Its first stop is in Hartford, Connecticut then back to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.

Reflecting on this past Wednesday, though, I can say what a great way to start the day! If you weren’t able to attend the dedication ceremony, check out some of my photos below. Then get in the car, and go to Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center in Annapolis to check out some of her other pieces while they’re still on exhibit!

— Aleithea W.

The Bates Middle School choir sings for the audience

Karen Rowe and Olivia Gray from the organization Quilt: Art to Mend the World (from my hometown, Riverale, MD!) lead the audience in a spiritual

Dr. Gaither stands in front of (only a small section!) of the Quilt

Mr. Ted Mack prepares to present Dr. Gaither with an accolade with the entire quilt in the background

In Memoriam, Roberta Cassard

The sign at the Galesville Heritage Museum
The sign at the Galesville Heritage Museum following Roberta’s passing

Roberta Cassard, who passed away unexpectedly on September 30 after a brief illness, was a lovely person who will be greatly missed.

Back in 2007, Four Rivers honored Roberta, together with another Galesville Heritage Society founder, Jack Smith, with our highest honor, our Heritage Award. The notes from that night cite their tireless efforts to preserve, interpret and share the heritage of Galesville. “The Galesville Heritage Museum stands as testimony to their vision and their determination to secure a place in which to house the artifacts, manuscripts and oral history collection that helps document and tell the rich and diverse history of Galesville to residents and to visitors. Roberta Cassard’s tireless dedication to the community is also evident in the moving Veterans Day program that she coordinates for local veterans every year. Both have served as Presidents of the Galesville Heritage Society, and as board and committee members.” Soon after, she was awarded a Community Service award by Leadership Anne Arundel.

A tribute to Roberta reads in part: “A longtime resident of Galesville, Roberta became a founding member and first president of the Galesville Heritage Society. She was instrumental in calling the first organizational meeting at the Galesville Memorial Hall on September 11, 1991. Being one not to dally, the morning after the meeting Roberta began a video series of the waterfront, historic houses, businesses, and, especially, taped interviews with local longtime residents such as watermen, farmers, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs.

“She initiated the museum collection with donations of her personal historical artifacts. Not to be dismayed by the lack of a display area, she started out storing the collection in the trunk of her car. As the collection grew,  it was moved to a shed behind the TopSide restaurant, then to the attic of Memorial Hall, then to the back room of the West River Market. Eventually Roberta served on a site selection committee to find a permanent home for the burgeoning collection. In the process, the house of a beloved local teacher was purchased with a grant that Roberta helped obtain.”

Citations for Roberta call her the “heart and soul of Galesville,” and that she truly was, for many of us who were privileged to know her. She seemed to be an unstoppable force, always just a phone call away, devoted to the museum and determined not only to keep it going, but to constantly improving it; and it is hard to think that she will no longer be waiting just inside the door for our knock as we bring another group for a visit. Our last visit with her was August 27th and was blogged by Aleithea (see “A Day in Anne Arundel County,” below), and there she is in one of our photos, as gracious and welcoming as ever. Upon hearing of her passing, Donna Hole, former Chair of the heritage area’s Coordinating Council, said, “Indeed, sad news.  Roberta was with us from the very beginning as we got the Heritage Area going.  A lovely, gentle woman. I will miss her.”

So will we all! Roberta lives on, I know, in the great work of her life, the Galesville Heritage Museum. If you’d like to visit this unique local museum and take part in their upcoming programs, check their website, http://www.galesvilleheritagesociety.org/, for more information.

–Carol Benson

1812 Star-Spangled Conference, part deux

I grew up in Riverdale, Maryland, so attending the Star-Spangled 200 Conference at the historic Riversdale Mansion in Prince George’s County last week was somewhat of a homecoming for me. The last time I visited Riversdale I was collecting information to write a paper for a grad school class (the docent, by the way, that gave me the house and kitchen tour was so good!). This time around we didn’t do the house tour, but got some great information from the War of 1812 historians, Dr. Ralph Eshleman and Vince Vaise.

Why the War of 1812? In 2009? We have to plan ahead, of course. The State of Maryland played a pivotal role in the conflict (which began when the United States declared war on Great Britain 30 years after the American Revolution) and commemorative events are being planned state-wide. Lest the nation, and especially Marylanders, forget – our National Anthem was derived during the bombardment of Ft. McHenry in 1814. As an aside, a significant piece of information I gathered during the conference came from local music historian, David Hildebrand, who told me that the description of the music to which Key’s poem, the Star-Spangled Banner, was set to was not a rowdy English drinking song, but more of a lilting “gentlemen’s club” kind-of tune called “To Anacreon in Heaven.” Go ahead, give it a hum…O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light…

I really enjoyed the rest of the day too. I was able to visit historic Bostwick in Bladensburg, where Don Linebaugh of the University of Maryland (and one of my former professors!) gave us  a tour and talked about the various preservation programs taking place at the house. We then drove over to the Bladensburg Waterfront Park for lunch and a walking tour of the 1814 Battle of Bladensburg area, took a drive through  historic Fort Lincoln Cemetery, then made our way to Mount Calvert Historical and Archaeological Park in Upper Marlboro where an archaeological excavation was in progress.

In difficult times like those we are in now, I tend to avoid using the word “celebrate” regarding past conflicts. However, we should remember that the legacy of the War of 1812 is the enduring friendship among the U.S., Canada, and England where there once was rancor.

To learn more about the War of 1812 and Maryland’s role in the conflict, I highly encourage you to visit www.starspangled200.org. The Four Rivers Heritage Area also supports organizations and sites that are seeking ways to commemorate 1812 events that took place in the heritage area. For more information, visit www.fourriversheritage.org or send us an email: heritage_area@aacounty.org.

–Aleithea

Historic Bostwick in Bladensburg. Notice the asymmetry between the dormers, second floor windows, and portico. Interesting...

Historic Bostwick in Bladensburg. Notice the asymmetry between the dormers, second floor windows, and portico. Interesting...

At Bladensburg Waterfront Park, a lone egret. Gorgeous!

At Bladensburg Waterfront Park, a lone egret. Gorgeous!

Panoramic view of Mount Calvert (far left) and the adjacent Patuxent River. The mansion houses a multi-room exhibition.

Panoramic view of Mount Calvert (far left) and the adjacent Patuxent River. The mansion houses a multi-room exhibition.

Actor Extraordinaire…Me

On September 15, 2009 museum docents, live interpreters, and living history performers came together at Historic London Town and Gardens in Edgewater to learn about new research on “Best Practices” in the field. Our leader for the event was Dale Jones, founder of Making History Connections, based right here in Maryland.

After watching a slideshow and a 10-minute segment of an informative video, Dale asked us to break into groups, gave each group an identical scenario, and asked that we figure out how to present the situation using whatever “voices” we thought appropriate. Did I mention this scene was supposed to take place in the 19th century? Oh boy.

I had to “act” out this scene playing the injured, and near-coma, young man who had just been hit by a fire engine (and not very convincingly, I was told). I haven’t acted since my senior year in high school last millennium. Luckily we had the very talented Scotti Preston, noted local performer, in our group.

I have a whole new appreciation for the individuals that do this type of historic interpretation. It takes a lot of practice and getting to know your audience. Engaging with the audience, finding common ground with them, knowing your own voice, and intuitively sensing the group dynamic all play into it. And since history isn’t always pretty, controversial subject matter sometimes makes visitors uneasy. Interpreters have to know how to handle it gracefully, and with diplomacy, yet remain “authentic” all at the same time.

Docents, interpreters, performers, historic re-enactors – what are your thoughts on the best practices in this field? Submit a comment below to start the discussion. If you attended the September 15 workshop and have ideas for another workshop, please let us know by emailing us or submitting a comment.  

If you missed my cringe-worthy performance, maybe you will get lucky by attending our next (to be determined) training workshop where I promise to deliver an Oscar-worthy soliloquy from a Neil Simon play. On second thought…

-Aleithea

Another group acts out the boy meets fire engine scene. I refused to lay on the floor due to having a skirt on. She (the woman in white) was much more convincing.

Another group acts out the boy meets fire engine scene. I refused to lay on the floor due to having a skirt on. She (the woman in white) was much more convincing.

The chairs are all askew from moving them to perform our scene, but the workshop was very well attended as you can see!

The chairs are all askew from moving them to perform our scene, but the workshop was very well attended as you can see!

Participants engaged each other by asking great questions and sharing experiences.

Participants engaged each other by asking great questions and sharing experiences.

A Day in Southern Anne Arundel County

Last week, Four Rivers Heritage Area was so pleased to host a tour of one of the region’s “hidden” treasures – Southern Anne Arundel County – for the staff of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau (the “CVB”). South County really could be considered Maryland in microcosm with its rural and agricultural landscapes, water front communities, horse farms, fruit and vegetable farms, marinas, wildlife, and, of course, historic places. It was such a treat to spend all day touring this part of the county that we want to share some of the images from these special places with our readers.

We began the day by heading down to Historic London Town and Gardens where Executive Director Donna Ware gave everyone a tour of the Visitors’ Center, Archaeology Lab, gardens, and reconstructed and original historic buildings.
 
We then drove down Muddy Creek Road to Galesville’s historic Main Street where Roberta Cassard and Norman Hazard of the Galesville Heritage Society shared the town’s rich maritime history with a tour of the Galesville Heritage Museum.
 
Executive Director Laurel Fletcher met us at the Captain Salem Avery Museum where we took a walk on the pier leading down to the West River and checked out a crab trap. Laurel also gave a tour of the inside of the museum where fantastic family heirlooms and other historic artifacts are neatly curated.
A delicious lunch, incorporating local peaches and rockfish, was provided by the staff of Herrington Harbour South, a local marina and resort. Anna Chaney Willman, the marina’s catering director, gave us an inside look at the “greening” initiatives of the marina and resort, such as wash water recycling, energy efficiency, and the creation of marsh land for wildlife habitat. We hopped over to Herrington Harbour North where Ruth Hazen of the Deale Area Historical Society gave a tour of the Historic Village situated at the entrance of the marina.
Last stop was the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) during which Karen McDonald talked about SERC’s education and public programs. John Parker of the Terrestrial Ecology department also took the group up to the ruins of the Contee Mansion, on top of a steep hill, to share a spectacular view of the Rhode River.
Thank you to all of our hosts and to the CVB for allowing us to share the rich heritage of South County with them. Visit the Four Rivers website to download a variety of brochures to help you create your own tour of South County. Explore, Experience, Discover Four Rivers and Landings (for all you boaters) are available online! Give us a call at 410-222-1805 or send a request to heritage_area@aacounty.org and we will send you a copy of our large History Explorer’s Map with detailed information about dozens of historic sites in the Heritage Area.
 Happy trails! – Aleithea
View of one of the gardens. Can you spot the tobacco?

View of one of the Historic London Town gardens. Can you spot the tobacco?

 

The gang talks with Roberta Cassard on the steps of the Galesville Heritage Museum (photo by Susan Steckman)

The gang talks with Roberta Cassard on the steps of the Galesville Heritage Museum (photo by Susan Steckman)

 

Laurel Fletcher pulls up the crab trap (Photo by Susan Steckman)

Laurel Fletcher pulls up the crab trap (Photo by Susan Steckman)

 

This sign post marks a segment of Herrington Harbour's mile-long eco-trail.

This sign post marks a segment of Herrington Harbour's mile-long eco-trail.

 

We spent some time at the Nutwell Schoolhouse at the Herrington Harbour Historic Village

We spent some time at the Nutwell Schoolhouse at the Herrington Harbour Historic Village

 

The pier at SERC overlooks a canoe/kayak ramp. I took this photo from a relaxing gazebo.

The pier at SERC overlooks a canoe/kayak ramp. I took this photo from a relaxing gazebo.

Preserving the Chesapeake Bay – My time with Earthwatch

Nearly a year ago, I spent a week at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Edgewater, Maryland as apart of the HSBC Climate Partnership program administered by Earthwatch Institute

As many preservationists will tell you, the field is not limited to historic buildings (the “bricks and mortar”), but to preserving landscapes as well. Especially here in the Chesapeake Bay region, many of us find it impossible to separate our cultural identity from our environment. We thrive on our relationship with the Bay and its associated icons, such as the Great Blue Heron, the Blue Crab, sailing and other maritime activities, oysters and oystering, otters and dolphins (yes, dolphins!), turtles (like, of course, the Diamondback Terrapin), and lush riparian (or streamside)  forests. 

At the weeklong workshop, we not only learned theories about global climate change, but also participated hands-on in on-going sustainable forestry research taking place at SERC, including the impact of deforestation on the carbon balance in our region. We identified, classified, mapped, tagged, and measured hundreds of trees growing near the Rhode River. The goal of this particular project was to track how healthy the forests are in this area in light of the historical past use of the land for agricultural purposes. Some of the forest cover is new growth, after having been logged for farming purposes as late as the early twentieth century. Researchers will use this data to help North American forestry management deal with the ever increasing human impact on the landscape.

 On another occasion, I had the chance to canoe the Rhode River with the SERC staff during which I learned of human impact on the tiniest of flora and fauna in the Chesapeake Bay and the research at SERC charged with stemming the tide (so to speak) of negative change. 

Below are photos of my week-long adventure at SERC; it was the middle of autumn and quite extraordinary. – Aleithea

Me standing in front of a root system of an enormous fallen tree

Me standing in front of a root system of an enormous fallen tree

I climbed this 50 meter tower to view the landscape. Researchers use it to study the tree canopy.

I climbed this 50 meter tower to view the landscape. Researchers use it to study the tree canopy.

View of the Rhode River from the top of the tower

View of Edgewater from the top of the tower

 

With two feet back on the ground, a view of the tree canopy

With two feet back on the ground, a view of the tree canopy


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