To Document Chestertown’s Diverse History
Federal Grant Funds will Support Update to National Register Historic District Nomination
(July 22, 2022) CROWNSVILLE, MD – The Maryland Historical Trust (MHT), a division of the Maryland Department of Planning, today announced a $50,000 federal grant will support a project to update the Chestertown National Register Historic District to reflect its full, diverse history. The funding was awarded by the Underrepresented Community grant program, through the Historic Preservation Fund, which is administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior. This grant program supports state, tribal, and local agencies in their efforts to increase diversity in nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Town of Chestertown has an incredibly rich Black history, yet this story is not reflected in the National Register of Historic Places, our nation’s official list of places worthy of preservation. Chestertown was a site of enslavement, but also the home to a growing free Black population in the 19th century who espoused a strong entrepreneurial spirit as real estate speculators and restaurateurs. After emancipation and enfranchisement, Black residents organized with political acumen. They formed organizations to support their community during the era of Jim Crow and segregation, including Janes United Methodist Church and the Charles A. Sumner Post #25 of the Grand Army of the Republic, which today is one of only two surviving African American Civil War veterans’ lodges in the United States. Chestertown also witnessed racial terror, including the 1892 lynching of James Taylor on the courthouse lawn. Decades later, the Freedom Riders visited Chestertown during the fight for African American civil rights.
“This project to incorporate additional diverse history and context to the existing Chestertown National Register Historic District is essential to MHT’s goal of prioritizing the survey and documentation of understudied and underrepresented communities and histories,” said Elizabeth Hughes, MHT Director and the State Historic Preservation Officer. “In addition to African American history, this project will also explore other underrepresented facets of Chestertown history, including the impacts of women, workers, and other groups. MHT will solicit the input from the community on this project and disseminate the findings at its conclusion.”
MHT has previously received Underrepresented Community grant awards, which have supported projects to survey and document the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Suffrage Movement, Asian American heritage, and American Indian heritage.
Questions or comments about this project can be directed to Heather Barrett, MHT Administrator of Architectural Research, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) is a state agency dedicated to preserving and interpreting the legacy of Maryland’s past. Through research, conservation and education, the Trust assists the people of Maryland in understanding their historical and cultural heritage. The Trust is an agency of the Maryland Department of Planning and serves as Maryland’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.