Preserve America Community:
St. Mary's County, Maryland
St. Marys County (population 86,211) was the site of the first English settlement of Maryland in 1634. Today, the archeological remains of Marylands first capital, St. Marys City, are interpreted through reconstructed buildings, stabilized archeological sites, and living history demonstrations.
From the countys initial settlement, tobacco was its cash crop, resulting in a primarily agricultural landscape with many large plantations such as Sotterley, which is now interpreted to the public. The Civil War brought Union occupation and establishment of the Point Lookout Prisoner of War Camp for captured Confederates. The war also destroyed the countys economy by ending slavery, which had made large-scale tobacco cultivation profitable.
A more diversified agricultural economy evolved in the late 19th century, followed by expansion of the technical and service sectors after establishment of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station during World War II.
One of the most popular heritage tourism destinations in St. Marys County is the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum, which tells the story of the Navys aviation research, development, testing, and evaluation activities. St. Marys County is partnering with the museum, the State, and the U.S. Navy to fund and develop a new building to house the museums collections.
To promote visitation to the museum and other heritage assets, St. Marys County participates in the Southern Maryland Heritage Area, a State-designated heritage area. The heritage area management plan and the Countys historic preservation plan help to protect the countys many historic properties. St. Marys County has also instituted a preservation tax credit to encourage the compatible rehabilitation of historic properties.
For more information
St. Marys County: www.co.saint-marys.md.us
St. Marys County Historic Preservation Commission: www.co.saint-marys.md.us/voluntr/historicpreservcomm/hpindex.asp
St. Marys County Division of Tourism: www.co.saint-marys.md.us/Tourism
Posted April 23, 2009