Archaeological evidence suggests Calvert County, Maryland (current pop. 85,000) has had human habitation for more than 11,000 years. With much history in its land and waterways, county leaders and current residents have made preservation their focus.
Calvert County found its early economic success in tobacco farming. Farms along the Patuxent River had easy access to water transport, but it was not without a price. Landowners relied on slavery to make tobacco farming profitable. Even though Maryland sided with the Union during the Civil War, many white citizens sympathized with the Confederacy. After the war, the county focused on seafood canneries, fishing, and boat building to recapture its bustling economy. World War II brought more changes to the county, when the hamlet of Solomons became the training site for Navy and Marine detachments. The invasion of Normandy was practiced on Calvert County’s own lower Cliffs of Calvert.
Calvert County, the smallest county in southern Maryland, is located 46 miles from Washington, D.C. Calvert is a peninsula, bounded by the Chesapeake Bay on the east and the Patuxent River on the west.
Education is key. The county’s comprehensive plan specifies actions including “continue to incorporate heritage and local history projects in the school curriculum, provide in-service instruction in local history and heritage for teachers.” Local history and heritage education is incorporated at all levels in Calvert County public schools. The Patuxent River Institute of Teaching is a summer program for teacher education. Teachers participate in an intensive, weeklong course focused on local sites and resources that can be used to engage their students in learning about major themes in American and world history. Fourth and sixth graders participate in educational programs at Calvert Marine Museum and Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, respectively, to learn about the environment, archaeology, and local history.
The Calvert County Historic District Commission passed a historic preservation ordinance in 1974, still in use as last revised in 2003. Its members designate historic properties in the county – there are currently 82 – and review development projects for the entire county for impact on cultural resources. The commissioners adopted a historic preservation tax credit to provide historic district building owners a credit of up to 10 percent of approved costs for exterior restoration and major repairs.
A heritage tourism plan for the Southern Maryland Heritage Area combines non-profit leadership for Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties providing grant funding, a Web site, and marketing and product production such as a bicycle map of the region.
Commissioners celebrated the 18th annual Calvert County Historic Preservation Awards in 2006, recognizing outstanding achievement in historic preservation projects, service, and education. All heritage sites and facilities in Calvert County have active volunteer programs.
Designated a Preserve America Community in January 2007.