Maryland Historical Trust Spring 2018 Newsletter

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Welcome to the Maryland Historical Trust's Spring 2018 Newsletter! Each quarter, we deliver the news you need to keep up to date on our preservation programs. 

African American Heritage Preservation Program Grants

The FY2019 funding round of the African American Heritage Preservation Program is now open! This program funds capital (construction-related) projects related to African American heritage and culture in Maryland. Visit our web page for more information about the program and the April workshop schedule. Online applications are due July 1, 2018.


Come Work with Us!

We're now hiring for the Executive Director position at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum! The successful candidate will be an entrepreneurial and creative thinker with strong interpersonal skills and a solid background of effective staff and volunteer management. Click here to learn more about the position and apply.

PreserveMaryland 2.0

In 2018, MHT will update the statewide preservation plan - a five-year guidance document for government agencies, non-profit advocates and others involved in historic preservation, archeology and cultural heritage. We will hold public forums in the early summer to solicit your thoughts - please stay tuned! In the meantime, you can help chart progress toward the current plan's goals by sharing your great preservation projects via Google forms provided online.


The Legacy of Alice Ferguson at Hard Bargain Farm

By Heather Barrett, Administrator, Research and Survey

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we honor the contributions and achievements of Alice Ferguson -- a progressive and spirited artist and designer, successful businesswoman, and early conservationist and preservationist. In 1922, Alice, who trained and exhibited at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC, and her husband Henry, a distinguished geologist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), purchased a 130-acre parcel and began working toward their vision of rural life. With sweeping views of the Potomac River and George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, Hard Bargain Farm became the country retreat of this young, avant-garde couple and, over time, a center for regional conservation efforts.       

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Gardens surrounding main farmhouse, Courtesy of Lisa Davidson, National Park Service.

Utilizing the hilltop location of an earlier dwelling, Alice designed the two-story, frame vernacular farmhouse with a nod to the Colonial Revival style. Completed between 1923 and 1927, the U-shaped dwelling features a rectangular main block with two projecting wings, and is simply detailed with German siding, a side-gabled roof accented by overhanging eaves and cornice returns, and exterior brick chimneys. Influenced by the Country Place era, Alice also planned and executed the designed landscape surrounding the house.

The farm soon became a playground for neighbors and friends wishing to escape the city. The Fergusons hosted frequent garden parties, regular Sunday volleyball games, and archeological digs along the riverbanks. As an amateur archeologist, Alice was instrumental in early excavations of the Potomac River shoreline, which ultimately led to the landmark designation of the Accokeek Creek Archeological Site. Regular visitors to the farm, known as “The Gang,” included New Deal-era artist Lenore Straus, architect Charles Wagner, and Henry’s colleagues from the USGS.

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Hilltop outbuildings adjacent to the main farmhouse. Photo by Kate Ritson, 2013.

During the tumultuous years of the Great Depression and WWII, Hard Bargain became a working farm that provided food and jobs for the local community. In her book Adventures in Southern Maryland: 1922-1940, Alice wrote: “Everything built by our W.P.A. was permanent, everything was something that we really wanted and that we have enjoyed ever since. When the New Deal began to take shape we abandoned our amateur relief work. But we frequently chuckle and say that the W.P.A. was started right down here in our little corner of Maryland.” During the war, Alice also maintained a Victory Garden adjacent to the farmhouse where the community could gather fruits and vegetables.   

Shortly after the war, Alice began buying nearby land and subdividing it for sale to purchasers who would maintain the rural character.  A minimum lot size of five acres ensured preservation of the wooded environment and privacy of the residents. After her death in 1951, the Moyaone Company (later Association) was established to carry on the real estate business, purchasing additional tracts until a total of some 800 acres were protected by covenants.

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Interior of main farmhouse. Courtesy of Lisa Davidson, National Park Service.

Today, Hard Bargain Farm includes over forty-five extant buildings, structures, and landscape features, and is home to the Alice Ferguson Foundation, an environmental and cultural education center established in 1954 to continue and expand upon the important conservation work of the Fergusons. In a unique groundbreaking transaction, the Foundation transferred a portion of the property to the National Park Service for the formation of Piscataway National Park in 1968.

Hard Bargain Farm and the accomplishments of Alice Ferguson will be featured prominently in the upcoming Vernacular Architecture Forum conference A Shared Heritage: Urban and Rural Experience on the Banks of the Potomac on May 3, 2018.  The farm, the Fergusons, and now, the Foundation have contributed greatly to the Accokeek community and more broadly, to Maryland.

ICYMI: Jim House Receives Governor's Award

Governor Larry Hogan presented Jim House, Maintenance Chief, with an award in appreciation of his tireless community efforts and dedication to Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum. Congratulations to Jim! 


Inside MHT: Staff News

We recently welcomed Courtney Hotchkiss, Capital Grants Administrator, and Barbara Fisher, Architectural Survey Data Analyst, to the MHT team in Crownsville. Congratulations to Rachelle Green, newly appointed Acting Director of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, and Dixie Henry, Acting Chief of Archeology!